Thursday, December 30, 2010

Things I Thought About Today

I realized the other day that a new freckle was born on my thumb. One day it wasn't there and the next it was. It wasn't gradual...it just appeared. I have ALOT of freckles..it's the Irish Girl in me...yet, I notice all my new freckles. I now have one on my left hand on my index finger, my middle finger, and now my thumb. They are all at the base of my fingers. Today I wondered if I will eventually get one on my ring finger and pinkie finger? I inspect them every day...I'm pretty sure they will appear some day...and I'm excited to see them.

Another thing I thought of today...and this is for the ladies...why do we grow fur like monkeys when it gets cold? Be honest with yourself...you let yourself go in the winter and your armpits and legs are a bit more furry than usual. I noticed in the shower the other day that my legs hadn't been shaved in awhile. In the summer I am scrupulous and shave them almost daily. Not so much in the winter. I actually don't even think about it once it gets cold. It's probably like animal instincts taking over and trying to grow my "winter fur". I'm not sure at what point my brain shuts off and I don't think about shaving but it happens. It might be Labor Day but I can't be sure.

My sister's kids came to stay for an overnight visit the other night, which both my kids and I enjoy each Christmas vacation. The next night my sister took the kids to her house and after 5 kids being kids for 24 hours there was silence today. It was nice, I have to admit. But I spent the night dreaming that I lost my kids on a bus and I wasn't sure where they were. My dream was probably only 20 minutes long but it felt like hours. I am not the only one that feels their loss when they aren't here. Our cats get out of sync. They do a lot of pacing and they follow me everywhere, staring at me. I imagine that inside they are screaming "Where are the kids???" "Do you realize the kids are missing??" and "Where did you leave them??!" When the kids come back they relax, rub up against them and then say to me silently, "Where did you find them?!"..."Were they just outside?" and "Thank God you realized they were missing!". I recognize that the last paragraph may induct me into the Crazy Cat Lady Club but honestly, I'm pretty sure the cats are asking these questions....you should see them when the kids aren't here.

Today, since the kids weren't here I slept in with my Baby Drowsy Cats. Nothing like two furry bodies laying on you to make you fall into a coma. I finally dragged my body out of bed at 9:45. Old Kelly would have stressed that she slept "half the day away". I would have frantically tried to do all the things I had planned on my to do list without success and would have spent the entire day chastising myself for sleeping late and "enjoying myself". When I got up late today I immediately made peace with it. I wasn't going to get as much done as I had hoped but it was a day to myself that I was going to enjoy. I didn't let myself feel bad for taking time to sleep...I obviously needed it. And I didn't let myself feel bad for all the things I didn't get done as a result. Oh well! I didn't clean the bathrooms today. Let's be honest...I wasn't dying to clean them in the first place....and I can do it tomorrow...no one will be harmed or die as a result. I got the things done that I "absolutely" had to get done and I let the rest slide. It was a good day...and I felt rested. That's good progress for me.

What are the strange things you thought about today? It's actually interesting when you stop and ponder the things that go through your mind during the day. It's quite an assortment of topics!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Barbie Pool Rocked!!

Well, here we are close to Christmas Eve and it reminds me of anticipation of years past. The excitement...the gifts...the energy of Christmas! When I was about 9 years old I found a Barbie blow up pool that my mother bought ...God, I wanted that so bad! It was hidden under her bed. Every day after school (I was a latch key kid), I would unwrap it..very carefully, blow it up, have an awesome pool party, dry it out, and then wrap it back up. I did this for about 4 weeks and my mother kept believing that hiding things under her bed was working. When I finally opened it on Christmas it was like something I had never seen before. I had those kind of skills from a young age...what can I say?

Fast forward to two years ago....we are opening gifts and at the end of the frenzy Tim says "I have a family gift" and he goes out to the garage to retrieve it. Now, we have always had family gifts and they have always been bought by me and have been games...this was so exciting! That Tim came up with a gift on his own and it was a mystery...well, that was almost incomprehensible...almost.

He comes in with this box...not wrapped..with a bow on it and I immediately think "Okay, it's not a trip to the Carribean"...cuz that would be an awesome surprise. Instead, it was ....and you should sit for this...it was a hard wood vacuum floor cleaner. Yes, you heard me right. A family vacuum.

It was as if that package represented a leper...we threw it away from our bodies. "What?!" we cried... "A What?!" Tim excitedly explained "These floors are a mess...we can take turns cleaning them now! How can you not love this?"

What the What??? How can we not love a chore appliance? Really? Does he want to clean floors for fun? He can't even clean the bathroom or his closet...why would he want to clean the hardwood floors? To this day he talks about the disappointment he felt when we werent't excited about his "gift" and we talk about the day he gave us an appliance. Neither memory evokes happy family memories. He has never gone out on his own to buy a family gift since...and quite frankly, that's ok.

The point of my story...chose your holiday gifts very, very wisely. I wish you all a very, very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

You Only Get One Life...Make It A Good One

I've had a few conversations with people in the last week who have made me, once again, really think about living life to the fullest and enjoying myself. It made me think of my "motto" which is the title of this post.

Recently, I was engaged in a group conversation, answering a question on how my "sabbatical" has been. I gushed on about my new obsession, knitting, how I took a watercolor class and have been painting here and there, and just how I had changed my personal view on what I "had" to get done on a daily basis vs. what I "wanted" to get done. Those are two very different things that take some thought to distinguish. We sometimes mix the two and often make the mistake of putting the "wanted" things at the bottom of the list, and then quite frankly, we hardly ever get to them.

One woman in the group said, in a rather exasperated tone, "Who has time to do those things? I'm too busy all the time." When asked what she was busy doing she replied "Driving my kids around, keeping my house spotless, working, ironing...." I asked her what she does for herself and she looked taken aback...not that I had asked the question but more that she had never even thought to do something for herself. She never even thought to put herself on the list. "You don't understand, " she said "I have so much stuff I have to do." Have to do, huh? Believe me, I do understand. I was the person that walked through the door after work running 100 miles a minute, barking out orders, "helping" my kids with their homework while I made a stir fry and folded laundry. Often I was up until 11 at night putting my house in order so I could start the next day on the "right foot". Believe me, I understand better than anyone that life doesn't have to be that way. Life is only like that if you make it that way. My house did not disintegrate when I stopped spit polishing it. My husband did not divorce me when I delegated to-do items to him. In fact, my whole family is happier because I am happier. It's a domino effect. I stopped short of asking this woman to reflect on the last year...what did she have to show for herself? A clean house and starched shirts? Kids that got to sports on time 100% of the time? But, what did she actually DO? Could she look back and say "It was a great year because...." and then she could fill in the blank with any number of things? Unfortunately she couldn't. Don't get me wrong...her heart is in the right place...she is doing this stuff for her family but no one should look back on their life and think "I should have ironed more."

Last week at Book Group we were discussing our "calling". I can assure you that no one felt they were put on earth to iron. However, everyone did agree that figuring out what you were put here to do is challenging. Half of the group wished someone would just tell them what their calling was while the other half said it was hard to figure out how to turn your interests into a "calling".

Fast forward to last weekend where I attended my friend Michelle's first photography exhibit at the Norfolk Public Library. Two years ago she was riding that work merry go round and couldn't get off. She was working crazy hours, traveling a ton, and definitely did not have a good work/life balance. She had always had an interest in photography and decided to do something about it. She started out slow by taking some classes and meeting people with similar interests. Within a year she was volunteering at Make A Wish Foundation by taking pictures when they needed that done and she started taking more serious courses at Rhode Island School of Design. She started integrating work travel with pleasure by extending business trips by a few days and exploring the places she visited. She has a beautiful picture in her house of a close up of a flower she took at a Seattle Fish Market that I swear is a painting. Michelle definitely found her passion and she has undeniable talent. (Check out her website on the left!).

What struck me on the way home was that Michelle was doing what she loved to do, even if it wasn't full time. I know I have gotten caught up in the idea that what we were "meant to do" should be a full time "gig" but I now think differently after seeing Michelle's exhibit. Perhaps some day she will be able to make a living with her photography but the more important thing she has done is shift her balance in life. She doesn't live to work anymore, but rather she is working to live. Her job is a job and her life is fuller. She is doing exactly what she loves and is enjoying every minute of it. Who knows what opportunities will open up to her as a result!

Living your best life doesn't necessarily mean finding your true passion or calling. To me, it just means finding the joy in life. I was recently talking to Tim's uncle Johnny who was sharing stories of the experiences his twin boys have had the last few months while spending their semesters abroad in Australia and Italy. Not only have they both had amazing experiences, but he and his wife have taken advantage of this time as well. He said "I know we have been traveling a ton and it isn't something we planned or would ordinarily do, but we didn't want to look back in a few years and ask ourselves why we didn't visit the boys and experience this with them." Exactly! Why not take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to us? I think too often we put up roadblocks for ourselves and look for reasons not to do things rather than reasons why we should do them.

Typically at this time, we reflect on the past year and think about things we want to do better, differently, and/or more of. This year I think we should all put down our irons and put ourselves on the list. This year we should all explore at least one interest that we have on the "want to do" list. This year I think we should open our eyes to the opportunities all around us and take advantage of them. This year we should stop saying how busy we are and fill our time with the things that make us happy. This year you should make your life a good one.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's Your Happiness Level These Days?

I don't know why but on Monday I woke up completely energized and ready to get stuff done. I was at the grocery store by 7:15 and home an hour later. I cleaned my house in record time, got some little "extra" projects out of the way, and then decorated our Christmas tree while listening to Christmas carols. There is nothing like Christmas music to put you in the right mood, especially Baby It's Cold Outside by Dean Martin.

The kids were not happy when they got home and saw the tree all decorated. I thought it might be "magical" for them to come home and see it all done and twinkling. They took offense that I hadn't waited for them but I have to say, it was my most stress-free Christmas tree moment to date. I'm a control freak...we know this about me. And I like to get the lights on just the "right" way and put the ornaments in "just the right" place. You would think with my new, relaxed attitude I would have been able to withstand the family tree decorating process but...not so much. I was excited to do it by myself. Given the reaction I got I will do it with the kids next year but I have to admit, I had a great time doing it myself this year.

Anyways, back to my great day....that night Mimi had her winter concert, in which she played the oboe. I love those concerts, despite the fact that the sound of the instruments can often make ones ears bleed. I love the songs they sing and play off tune. I love how all the kids look in their concert outfits. And I have loved seeing my kids sing and play instruments throughout the years. One caveat to that...because Mimi is so tiny I haven't actually "seen" her many times because she is typcially placed behind a tall kid and she gets blocked out. This year was no different...but in my mind I imagined how cute she looked with her cheeks puffed out playing her oboe.

Later that night Mimi and I were snuggling on the couch and she said "I bet you are going to miss being home when you have to go back to work." I agreed with her and then she said "Why don't you just be an artist in your office and paint all day? I will buy your paintings and then you can stay home." I told her I wouldn't be able to paint for a living and she said "But you can do anything you put your mind to. That's what you always tell me. Why can't you just do it?" Well, at least some of what I say is actually getting through to her. She is so thoughtful and sweet and she melts my heart. It was a great moment and rather than be sad that those moments might not be as often because I'll be going back to work soon, I just wrapped up the memory and put it in my treasure box to remember later, over and over again.

After the kids went to bed I went into obsessed knitting mode and knit for about 2 hours. This summer I couldn't stop reading...well, this fall I can't stop knitting. I love it! It is so relaxing and at the end of it you have something to show for all of your time and effort. 'Course I haven't picked up too many books lately but soon I'll be done with my three piece knitted suit. Can't wait to give Timmy his Christmas present.

I didn't want the day to end...and in fact I didn't go to bed until almost 1 am. I just felt very relaxed, accomplished, and happy all day. I know I haven't done my day justice with my description above but for some reason, this day just felt "perfect". When I got up on Tuesday, it didn't feel as magical, but for no particular reason. I spent a good deal of time thinking about how one day can be so great and the next can be ordinary or not so great...and I wondered why that was. Finally at the end of the day, I came to a conclusion. I chose to make the day great and recognize the special things that happened throughout the day, rather than waiting for great things to find me.

I can only speak for myself but when things don't go right in the day or if I'm cranky, I tend to label the day..."This day stinks". Then everything that doesn't go right during the day falls under that umbrella...and I probably look for things that aren't quite right to include in my list. On Monday, I chose to make it a great day and put all the good things that happened that day under my umbrella instead. Looking back, there were things that happened on Monday that weren't great. For instance, my cats ran away with about 1/2 of my ornaments and squirreled them away throughout the house. I spent a fair amount of time hunting them down. But I chose to look at that as amusing as opposed to being a pain in the neck. Instead of the cats ruining my tree decorating they were "mischievous" and "adorably playful".

I'm a glass half full kind of gal anyways but my days are generally labeled as good/pretty good rather than great. I realized I'm the one with the power to change that though. I can label the day however I want...and quite frankly, how you view the day and the contents within that day can greatly change your outlook on everything that happens. There are some people who are born with way...they have the innate ability to just look at everything as wonderful and happy. My neice Eleanor is like this. At the tender age of 8 she is this happy go lucky, roll with the punches, rose colored glasses kind of kid. She was born that way and just being with her puts you into a great mood. I'm not sure why we weren't all born this way...it would certainly make life more peaceful.

But we can choose to be like Eleanor every day, even if we weren't born with that innate happiness. We can choose to look for happiness throughout the day, or we can choose to look for the not so great things. We can choose to look at the things our kids do as endearing and save as a great memory or we can choose to overlook these moments and forget to file them away. We can choose to title our day as a great day or we can choose to fill our umbrella with the negative things that happened that day. It's all up to us. And yes, many days it will take a great effort to remain positive and look for the little things that make us happy...but we can do it if we want to. What will you choose today and tomorrow?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dancing With The Underdogs

Please tell me you have been watching Dancing With the Stars. Yeah, that's right...I just admitted I watch that show. Honestly, I'm not sure why...I probably had a hole in my line up on Monday nights so I plugged that in. There is something amusing about watching has been/trying to be up and coming stars trying to learn to do the cha-cha and the waltz while their sadistic ballroom partners yell at them. This season has not been disappointing, especially with the Hoff. He was voted off week one and he deserved to go but Lord was it funny watching him trying to shake his stuff with all the make up sliding off his face in rehearsals.

Well, this week we were down to the final four....Jennifer My Neck/Back/Insert body part Hurts Grey, Kyle in the House Massey, Bristol I Got Pregnant Right Before My Mom Was Named Vice President Palin, and Brandy I Just Want Everyone to Love Me and I Have No Last Name. Jennifer breaks down every week crying "I can't do it!!" because some body part has failed her then she goes out there and dances like she is in tip top shape. I'm so sick of listening to her say "I have to remember I'm 50". Hey, you know what Jen, Mama Brady who is almost 80 danced her tail off and she never complained once about her body parts or age so shut your dance hole. Kyle is good...nuff said there. Brandy and her dance partner Max seem to hate each other and fight every week in rehearsals....often with Brandy huffing out of the room to "cool down". When the judges tell her how good she was each week she opens her eyes wide, blinks, tears up and then says "Really? Oh thank you!" like she is surprised. Cut it, Brandy. You are good, you know it, and they tell you that every week so it shouldn't be surprising anymore. Then she tells Max how much she loves him even though we just saw a little short of her telling him how mean he is to her.

Then we have Bristol. Now I have to say, she has grown on me. She seems like a nice girl who ended up getting pregnant by a tool...and unfortunately the whole world got to share in the news when her Mom was picked to run for VP. Hard enough to have to tell your parents that you are pregnant in high school but to have the whole world know? Ouch. I think she deserves a break in life and it came in the form of DWTS. Now, she is a "technically good" dancer but the girl is wound tighter than a high strung poodle and has major issues shaking her tail feather, which at times, can be uncomfortable to watch. Understandable of course, because the last time she shook her tail feather a baby fell out.

WELL...fast forward to the results show and everyone is expecting Bristol to get voted off. But out of left field, Brandy gets voted off instead. Honestly, I thought she could have won it she was that good. I think I laughed for two days straight. GO BRISTOL!! I love that the average girl next door is in the top 3...rather than those you expect to win because they have a dance background. Brandy is probably still curled up in the fetal position crying "I thought you liked me!!" It would be even more hysterical if Bristol won the whole thing and Jennifer joined Brandy on the couch crying like a wounded animal.

I like the underdogs. I just hope Bristol can loosen up and bring her bootie and her girls next week. I think you know who I am rooting for here. Even if you don't watch the show on a regular basis, tune in for a good chuckle next Monday night at 8.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Would You Like a Scarf or a Poncho?

Several years ago my sister-in-law had a psychic come to her house to do readings and I think I was first in line. As a planner and one who likes to know the answers, I couldn't wait to be told what would happen in the future. During my reading she told me I needed to get creative again...that it was really missing from my life. And it was. But honestly, who has time to be creative...unless you are in an artistic career. The most creative thing I was doing at that point was changing my eyeshadow from brown to lilac. That stuck in the back of my mind for years though, and I kept trying to find time to be more creative. Back in high school, my senior year english teacher told me I should really pursue writing but to me it seemed like something you did on the side for fun, not as a career. In college I sold a few paintings. Believe me, I am no Picasso, but painting and drawing was something I always loved to do. When I had kids, I channeled my creativity into making homemade birthday party invitations, designed "whimsical" parties, and whipped up fun snacks and treats that looked like animals and flowers. Clearly I focused my artistic energy into my number one priority, my kids...not myself.

Fast forward to my sabbatical and I suddenly had time to rediscover my artistic interests and I did so first, by grouting sea glass and shells into my tub surround. It gave me the boost I needed to get the creative juices flowing again. Then I upped the stakes and signed up for a watercolor painting class. I found myself painting for two hours one day after the kids left for school. The picture I created that day is now hanging in my living room. I didn't feel guilty for one second about "wasting" that time. That is what Stressed Out Kelly would have called it. Instead I felt accomplished, creative, happy, and peaceful. One of the first pictures I made was of the sun setting over the sea. I loved it so much I framed it and put it over my tub. Every day I look at it and smile. And not because it is some fantastic painting but it reminds me of Little Kelly and the things she used to love to do. Every day I get to see a piece of the old me and it reminds me to keep pushing myself to pull off those old layers and get back to the real me.

Last week I joined a knitting circle. Okay, I know what you are thinking....I am not turning into an old lady. Just like 40 is the new 30, knitting is the new painting. Over the summer, I had conversations with a few friends about getting together to knit. My mother in law is an incredibly accomplished and talented knitter who has tried to teach me over the years, but since I am a type A freak, my wiring says I need to have goals and be measured on my accomplishments...which weren't many when I was responsible for self motivating myself to knit. So, the idea of a group of people getting together to learn a new skill AND be artistic...with deadlines...was incredibly attractive to me. And let's be honest...I love to chat with my girlfriends so add that into the list of benefits and I could hardly contain myself.

There are 3 of us in the circle...or perhaps I should call it a triangle. Our "Ringleader" is a very experienced, accomplished knitter who is a patient, natural teacher. She also has ten bins of yarn and about 30 sets of knitting needles, all in tidy organizers. Holy Knitting. One of the things I like most is watching her relive her memories of learning from and knitting with her mom, who passed away two years ago. As a mother, I would find great pride in having Mimi or Jack talk so fondly about something we did together..and to realize what an impact it has had on them in their lives.

Our other member is a great, intermediate knitter who learned the craft from her mother in law. She came with her fantastic knitting needles and beautiful chunky yarn in the bag that her mother in law had knitted and felted for her. I arrived with my leftover halloween candy in a plastic baggie, a bottle of wine, Mimi's knitting needles, and multi color pink/purple/orange yarn. Whatever bitches.

In the first half hour I was outed as a "tense knitter". Yeah...maybe I was tense because I was working with the Martha Stewart of Knitting and her Sidekick. I was determined to be good at this and did okay for the first few rows. I got home and knit for a solid hour...like a woman possessed. Insert the sound of tires screeching. When I stopped to take a look I realized that although I had started with 30 stitches, I now had 42 stitches on my needles...and somehow I had knit two holes into my scarf. What the what?! The next day I picked it up again and ended up with Knitters Thumb...is that common?

Here are the top 5 things I have learned so far (and by so far I mean one meeting of our knitting triangle):

5. According to our Ringleader, if you can't see your mistakes from a galloping horse, they are fine. I can actually use my scarf as a headpiece, complete with two eye holes, for my galloping horse so I know this isn't a keeper.
4. You might start out making a scarf but end up making a Barbie blanket. Roll with it. Be flexible.
3. Things that are homemade are just that. They are made with love, have mistakes, and not only reflect the personality of the person they are made for, but also reflect the person who made them. In my case, if I make something for you, keep a sense of humor about it.
2. Taking time to do things that you enjoy and energize you are worth every second.
1. Sometimes you think the moment is about you but then you realize its bigger than you. Here I was thinking that we were just getting together to knit and learn a new skill, but what I realized is that each time we get together in our triangle, my friend has an opportunity to feel closer to her mother. That's priceless.

So, do you want a scarf or a poncho for Christmas?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Admittedly, it's been awhile since I last posted a new entry. I apologize. I have recovered from being curled up in the fetal position while Mimi was away. I wish I had a picture of our faces when we first saw each other when she got back from her trip. I'm not embellishing...she was really excited to see me, she hugged me so tight...and of course I dropped a few tears. Then I proceeded to drive into a rock when pulling out of the school...I was giddy that she was home and didn't see the boulder on the right side of my car....let's just say there is some damage to my car and Timmy was none to happy. But my baby was home!

I am now in an all out funk. I have been looking for a job for a few months and it isn't pretty. Most of the jobs I am interested in are in Boston...just the place I was trying to avoid. And they seem like very time consuming jobs...I am so afraid of getting myself back into the same circle of working like crazy and feeling like I have no choice to put my family on the back burner. If anyone knows of any great internal communications or event management positions in the metrowest area that affords a work life balance, please feel free to contact me! I have been lucky to have spent the time realizing what I do/don't want and I know I want to work in an industry that I am passionate about..becuase then it doesn't feel like work...it's just life. I also am passionate about working for a company that is socially responsible, meaning that it is committed to improving our world in one way or another. Obviously I want to work someplace where having a work/life balance is respected but I know that I have to draw that line and stay true to myself. I also know I am asking for a lot but at least I know what is important to me. Honestly, I couldn't have told you what was important to me in my future career plans 6 months ago...that would have taken too much time that I didn't have.

Luckily, Halloween came along to distract me. I love Halloween. When we were single, we used to have big Halloween parties with Tim's brother and his wife. One year we made a coffin about 3 hours before everyone arrived. While the boys got out their saws and nails, Lyn and I stuffed a body to put inside. His stomach ended up being a pasta dish...his leg was made out of chicken bones....it was a blast! We had the best costumes...one year I was Nancy Kerrigan and spent the entire night walking on ice skates. The next morning I had a sprained ankle but at least I didn't have a busted knee. One year, we went as the cult Heavens Gate, even building bunk beds about 2 hours before everyone arrived. We filled the beds with stuffed bodies wearing capes, wearing nikes, and having bald heads. Those were the days.

So, when my kids were born, all I wanted to do was craft homemade costumes. For about 10 years, I was jones'ing to heat up a glue gun, sew something, to bedazzle and bejewel fabric in some way. In the "early days" the kids didn't have a choice...Jack was a red M&M on his first Halloween and Mimi was a sunflower. I crafted those and we waited in our house for someone to ring the bell...and no one, not a single person, stopped by. We lived on a dark, windy road and there were no kids nearby. I have a lot of pictures though...they looked cute, believe me. Then they had a mind of their own and they wanted to buy the popular, commercial costumes. Of course I complied..I wanted them to be happy. Inside I was dying a slow craftless death.

This year I came up with a great costume for Jack...I would make him "road kill". He would wear a black sweatsuit adorned with yellow duct tape road markers...and in the middle of his stomach would be a flat squirrel with its guts and eyeballs hanging out...complete with plenty of fake blood. I was SHOCKED that this was met with complete disapproval. Apparently, when you are in middle school, this is NOT a cool costume. Huh. I just thought...boys...blood....dead rodents...clearly this will be good. Not so much. Instead he ended up being a hobo...Tim was a hobo EVERY YEAR for Halloween...his mother used to offer to buy him and his brother a bag of candy if they just skipped going out. Instead, he dressed in the same costume each year...because it was easy. I think we know where Jack's genes are coming from....

Mimi decided she would like to be a smore...since we camped so much this year, she felt this was a great idea..and I couldn't have agreed more! "We" spent two weeks on her costume....and in the end, duct tape became my friend. We used cardboard, markers, pillows cut up and taped on for fluff...even made a marshmellow hat....it gives me shivers just thinking about it. She is lucky I didn't go to each and every door with her saying "Look what I...we made!!" When we were done Mimi said "You should make Halloween costumes for a living , Mom!"....oh, if only I could...

So, let me add to my list of career aspirations...internal communications, event management, and Halloween costume maker extraordinairee....let me know if you hear of any openings in those areas...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Holy Heartache!

I feel like I am missing an appendage this week. In 6th grade, all Hopkinton Middle School students go away for a week to a camp in Connecticut. It's a great experience for the kids...they do team building exercises, science experiences, hike, do crafts, stay in cabins, and eat in a big mess hall type of atmosphere. It's one big camping trip with all your friends and no parents. Jack went last year and loved it...minus the broken wrist he suffered on the second to last day there (see my previous post on having the most accident prone child in America). It was cool though because he got to go Wendy's with the school nurse and he got attention because of his sling. Mimi comes home tomorrow and so far no calls about broken bones...so far so good. But it's been a long week....for me.

The week preceeding her departure, I think I must have told Mimi about 5 times a day how much I would miss her, followed by, "But you are going to love this!" I knew she would love it...and wouldn't miss me much. When I was working, she would basically spend the summer at the Cape with my parents, splitting her time at my sister's with her best friend and cousin Lexi. At one point she stayed there for 3 weeks straight (we had visitation on the weekends...) and she really didn't miss us. She loves to be independent and if truth be told, she is pretty much ready to move to her own apartment. So, I knew she would have no problems being away for a week. Sure, at night when she is going to bed, she will think about us and miss us but for the most part, I knew she would be fine. It was me that I knew wasn't going to be fine.

Monday came and she was so excited to go. We had the car parked and she was hugging Tim...aka, man of few emotions. She looks up at him, batting her big beautiful eyelashes and she says "Daddy, are you EVEN going to miss me?!" He didn't even bat an eyelash, "Of course I will miss you but I'm not sad you are going because I know you are going to have a great time." She hugged him really hard and then ran out of the house with tears in her eyes. She takes after Timmy...doesn't display any complex emotions in front of others.

Years ago we were on vacation and my friend was coming over to feed our cat. She called me on day 3 and said that she hadn't seen the cat at all. Because she was an indoor cat I immediately thought that somehow she must have got out and was eaten by some wild critter. I was a mess. I called our neighbors in tears and left them messages to please look for her. I'm pretty sure the messages were more like "It's Kelly....insert sobbig...Gracie...missing....please....find her....sob, sob....call me." We were out to dinner towards the end of our vacation and my friend called to say that she had found her in the basement...curled up for her final nap. I had her for 14 years and with all pets you have before your children, you treat them like a baby. This was my "first child" and she died. I was heartbroken. And the waitresses probably thought a family member had died. I went to the restroom to collect myself and when I got back to the table with my swollen eyes, Jack was curled up in the fetal position in the booth quietly crying (like I wanted to be doing) and there was Mimi next to Tim saying "Boy, these burgers are GREAT, Daddy...don't you think?!" and he was batting his lashes excessively saying "They REALLY are!" They are two peas in a pod when it comes to their feelings.

So, I was basically in the fetal position all week while Mimi was living the high life on burgers at camp. When I dropped her off at school she tried to scoot away from me but I quickly grabbed her, told her how much I loved her while squeezing her guts out. She ran away with tears in her eyes...neither of us could look at each other. I then walked back to my car...across the long parking lot, with tears streaming down my face. Later, I got a message from my friend that said "I know Mimi is okay...but how are you...are you bawling your eyes out or what?!" I couldn't respond...because I was rocking myself in the fetal position.

In all honesty, I have slept with her little guy she normally sleeps with all week...I even sniffed him because it smelled like her. Yes, I just admitted that out loud. When Jack got home on Monday I started asking him, "Do you think she misses me?" to which he responded "Ah...no, Mom...she is having fun." It was a great "opportunity" to teach him about when lying is appropriate. I explained that sometimes it is okay to tell white lies to make people feel good. He said "But you have always told me lying is bad..." so all week we have talked about good lies vs. bad lies. Tonight we had a quiz. It started with "Do you think Mimi is missing me right now?" to which he quickly responded "Oh, yes"...good, good. Then I said "Do these pants make my butt look fat?" and he hesitated and said "yes?" No, no! Any sort of questions regarding appearance require white lies...unless I would be really embarrassed in public. I said, "When I have morning hair and I drive you to the bus stop and ask 'Should I put a hat on?' what should you say?" he quickly responded "Yes, your hair is CRAZY in the morning!" Good, good. We went through several other training exercises and he passed with his final question..."Do you think Mimi is dying to see me as much as I am to see her?" Yes!

I have not had anyone to watch my "lady shows" with, as Tim calls them. On Monday nights, Mimi and I usually watch Dancing With The Stars" but this week I was watching Monday night football. OMG. Tonight Jack got to do whatever he wanted since it was his last night as an "only child". We ate steak and cheese subs while watching tv and drinking sodas. He told me, play by painful play, of every pass and catch in the flag football game in gym that made his day "awesome". I wouldn't trade that moment for anything and we all have moments with our kids that are priceless. I am grateful for the week with Jack - we have played football in the yard, had great conversations that we would only have in private, and wrestled by holding each other down and forcing the other to smell each other's dirty socks...doing things you can only do with boys. And now I am ready for my "lady friend" to come home...I can't wait to hug Mimi, see her beaming smile, sniff her, cuddle up with her, and hold hands while we sit on the couch and chat about her week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Tradionalists' Point of View

I would call myself a tradionalist, not in my viewpoints, but rather I am one who appreciates traditions. Things need to have meaning for me. The things I keep in my house, things that I display, carry memories that are important to me. In my office I have several pieces of pottery that I made in elementary school...coil pots, pinch pots, a little bunny that is lopsided because he only has one foot. I loved creating those...I can still remember the smell of the art room. I have every piece of sea glass I have ever found. I recently put them in a bottle of sand from a beach on the Cape. I love looking at that bottle every day...it reminds me of the Cape where I grew up and all the trips I have taken with my family when I found each piece. Everything in my house has a story....a story of its own and a story of how it came to be a piece of me.

Last weekend was very meaningful for me in many ways. We spent our last camping weekend of the season in Vermont. Traveling throughout the remote VT roads made me think of a trip that Tim and I took early on in our relationship. His parents had a place at Loon Mountain and we stayed there one weekend during the fall. We spent a day driving between the VT/NH border watching fields of green diving into the sparkling blue Connecticut River. We often rode in silence, while other times we talked about building a future together. We stopped at antique stores and poked around for treasures and found quaint places for lunch and dinner. I know that when the kids are grown up and have their own lives, that is what we will spend our days doing...traveling, enjoying small town America, being comfortable in our silence, while also having fun, thought provoking conversations. Last Saturday, the four of us spent the day exploring Southern Vermont, in much the same way. We went from Bennington, to Brattleboro, to Newfane, to Wilmington, and back around to Pownal, where our campground was.

It sounds idyllic, doesn't it? I guess I'm leaving out the part about the kids watching Seinfeld DVD's and being forced to look out the window from time to time...."Look at that beautiful view!" we would say. They would try and tear themselves away from George and Kramer, quickly look, and give a quick smile just to appease us. Occasionally they would ask "Are we almost done with this?" and I would throw them some candy to quiet them down. Other times, the drive was just too long for them and at one point they broke out in a full WWF smackdown because Mimi's foot touched Jack's leg. We aren't dating anymore....welcome to parenthood.

Throughout the weekend, we also spent some time with Tim's sister and her family, and his parents, who were at his sister's new place in Wardsboro, VT. The place is a kid's dream...tons of acres to run around, a pond to fish in, little critters to catch and hunt. They had a blast, and yet they spent the day without tv, video games, and ipods. Instead, they ran outside all day, they used their minds to create games, and they explored nature. Not once did they say they were bored. This is how I remember spending my days as a child...just outside, playing with friends all day. We used our creativity to make the day fun and interesting. When we got home, Jack just wanted to go outside and play. He ran down to the stream to look for salamanders, and Mimi went out to her playhouse. Every once in awhile, kids just need to be reminded to be kids.

On our way home, we stopped in Williamstown, which truly looks like a Hollywood New England Town. It was parents weekend at Williams college and we jokingly described our arrival at their parents' weekends in the future. "Imagine your friends faces when we pull up in our RV and plug into your dorm!" I think Mimi passed out. Literally. Jack yelled "Nooo!! You wouldn't really do that would you?" I pledged to them that we would stay in a hotel while Timothy promised he would make sure we didn't run into any "sewer issues" with the RV on campus. Before we know it, they will be going off to college. That's why I love this time with them. We will forever look back on these few years and all the travels we have taken, all the experiences we have had, with great fondness and laughter. Some day, in the not so distant future, we will be sitting at parents weekend, having dinner, laughing about the time we threatened to bring our RV to visit, and then the conversation will turn to that weekend and what a great time we had in VT.

I love that every Columbus Day weekend we take our last camping trip of the season. It's a tradition for us. I love that when we get up in the morning, we need hats and gloves when we go outside. I love building a big fire at the end of the day, putting on our coats, and making smores for dessert. I love that we snuggle under thick blankets and sleeping bags at the end of the day and discuss our day in the dark before drifing off to sleep. Of course that moment, right before we drift off to sleep, is usually broken by cries of "Can you tell him to move over...he is on my side of the bed!" and "She is looking at me and I'm trying to go to sleep!" Ah, tradition...what would we do without it?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dark and Stormy

When I got back from Ohio, I was laying in bed with Mimi and she asked if I had fun that weekend. I shared with her a life lesson that I didn't want her to forget. "You will always love your family and miss them when you go away but" I said, "it's so important to take time for yourself and take time with just your husband every once in awhile." I told her it didn't mean I didn't want to be with them, but those little times when you get to sneak away are key to your happiness as a person. "Mimi, you can never forget that you are an individual and you need to make sure you take time for you and what makes you happy."

I am lucky enough to have had the opportunity to have a girl's weekend two weekends ago and then time with my hubby and friends last weekend. On Friday, Tim and I jetted off to Nantucket with 4 other couples for a sailing weekend. We didn't actually jet or sail tho. Initially, some of us (note: there is no "me" in "us") were going to sail over, while the others took the ferry over, but the weather didn't look too good so we all opted to just take the fast ferry and stay at an Inn.

Group #1 departed late morning, arriving on the island to sunny skies, around noon. I should mention that, true to form, I packed 5 pair of shoes, 6 sweaters, 6 pairs of pants, multiple tops, workout gear, and enough accessories for each wardrobe change. It's important to be prepared and look cute. It's also important to pay attention when you use your cell phone's GPS...so that you don't walk the driving directions. This can be a problem when it's warm and sunny and you are pack muling 2 bags and a purse in a complete circle.

After dropping off our stuff at the Inn, we headed to Arno's at 41 Main for a delicious lunch accompanied by a few beers from the local brew house, Cisco Brewery. Then it was off to pick up our rental jeep and head to the actual brewery for some fun. On our way, the skies opened up to some crazy wind and lots of rain. Not only were the skies darkening, but our day was beginning to turn...

While at the brewery we came across Bernie from Weekend at Bernie's. We had fun taking our picture with him laying in his adirondack chair when we thought he was dead. I think that is when his wife took notice of us and said that he was a nurse that had been on call for like 24 hours. Oh...sorry. Last call at the brewery was at 5:00. What the what??!! In hindsight, that was a good thing. Bernie probably would have ended up in our jeep if we stayed much longer.

Group #2 arrived around 5:30 and we met them at the closest bar to the ferry...because surely they would be thirsty after their travels...and it was pouring so we needed someplace to go to stay dry. The most logical place is a bar, right? This is when half of the group started downing Dark & Stormy's. It is the most logical drink to have when experiencing a rain storm, right? It's unclear (maybe not to all of us) how long we were at the bar but eventually we returned to the Inn to drop off Group #2's bags and change...except I don't think anyone actually changed. I have no more comments on this part of the day....Insert beeping of emergency broadcast system here.

We had a very nice dinner at Cambridge Street and then it was off for some dancing at The Rose and Crown where we danced to some great 80s tunes. You wouldn't think you could bust a move to "Come on Eileen" but let me tell you, it can be done and done quite well. The place began to fill up but for the most part, we had a big piece of the dance floor to ourselves. Not only were we the best dancers in the house, but we all could have been international singing stars as well. We rocked the house. In hindsight, I think we had so much dance space because we were scaring everyone else away. Have you seen white men dance? Well, we had 5 of the finest with us.

At the end of the night, my toes somehow got stuck under a table and I incurred an injury, two broken toes. It didn't slow me down much tho. While I was nursing my wounds, my husband and his brother were out hunting for the rain jacket he left someplace during the night. Turns out it was in our bedroom afterall. Lucky for him, because I was up nursing my busted toes, I was able to answer his text when he asked "Where are we staying? I don't know how to find my way home." Take it from Timmy, it's important to find out the name of the place you are staying at when someone else makes the reservations.

Day 2 arrived with beautiful sun and 10 people moving much slower than the day before. We headed for the beach around 11 but somehow we didn't arrive until about 2. Even though the island isn't very big, things just took longer for some reason. We had a "girl" and "boys" jeep. During one stop, we heard that the boys were talking about different types of trees. Guys, these are the signs that you are getting older...

We finally landed at the beach and it was a gorgeous day! We set up camp in our beach chairs, got out our educational materials (People & Us magazines), and had some food and beverages. The boys swam with the seals and then wandered off to fish. We decided to get some self-timed shots of our group, and at one point a nice man who was parked next to us wandered over and offered to take our picture. He did leave his shadow in pretty much all the pictures so although it was a nice gesture, we thanked him and sent him on his way. It was at this point we decided to take a picture of ourselves in a pyramid...but we had to do it behind the jeep so the nice man wouldn't come over and offer to help again. Imagine...we were hiding from someone who was nice. In Ohio, where everyone is nice and it comes naturally, the person would have been invited to be a part of the pyramid. But we are from the Boston area....where being nice feels unnatural so we hid.

Well, let me just say, that getting 5 ladies into a pyramid, while taking a self timed photo...while hiding from someone who could easily take our photo...and trying to hurry because the boys were on their way back and we didn't want them to see us.... can really result in potential loss of bladder control. Our "parts" just aren't what they used to be.

A few posts ago I said that even long time friends learn something new about each other each time they get together. Who knew we would discover that our friend Cori likes Celine Dion?! (And yes, Cori, I am outing you right now by mentioning your name.) Now right now you are either saying "OMG, I hate Celine Dion!" or you are saying "Oh, I like her!" There is no in between, and both reactions are strong. Really?! Celine Dion?? A song of hers had come on the radio and 1 of us, who was not like the others, said "Oh, I like that song." You have never seen 4 women turn on another so quickly. She was lucky she made it out alive. Then she started with "But, she's such a nice person..." Hey, Cori, last time we hung out, I don't recall Celine being with us.....you don't know her....let it go. We met up with the boys at the Chicken Box and we just couldn't wait to share the news..."Guess what! Cori likes Celine Dion!!" One husband said he liked her and recounted the tough life she had...his wife pointed out that was actually Shania Twain to which he replied, "Oh, I like Shania...I hate Celine Dion!" My friend Sanchez called her Salon Dalon....it might have been the beer talking. Then he said "Isn't that the African American woman who can read minds?" Ah, that's Dion Warwick. "Oh, yeah, then I don't like Salon Dalon either!" Let's just say that 9 out of 10 people in the group felt strongly that Celine Dion needed to go. Cori was lucky she got to stay.

Let's just say that the night ended with more dinner and more dancing...although there was more watching going on than dancing. A bridal party showed up after a wedding at the Rose & Crown and it was a messy, enjoyable show. I left wondering how all those people would feel the next day...probably like how we all felt when we had woken up that morning.

The next day the ladies shopped while the boys took their last jeep joyride around the island. Then it was off to lunch before heading home. A group of ten in any restaurant is likely to be loud...and quite honestly, we were just hoping not to get kicked out of a restaurant...or our Inn... over the weekend. Anytime the 10 of us get together, we make fun of each other and laugh uncontrollably. This last lunch was no exception but it was a great last moment to a truly memorable weekend. As we were leaving I asked the girls, "Do you think we will always act like this when we get together or at some point will we get mature?" There was no hesitation when everyone responded "We will always be like this." I think my friend Cori Dion said it best when she said "I am responsible and adult every day at home...when I go away, I want to just have fun and not be that responsible person for awhile." Let's raise our Dark & Stormy's to that, Cori!

It's always tough when you spend a great weekend with friends because the next few days you go through withdrawal, especially when the weather is rainy for the two days following your trip. And that is the sign that you truly have some great friends. Rather than saying "God, I couldn't wait to get home... or I couldn't wait to get away from them..." you are saying "I miss them...when can we do that again?" Here's to remembering to take time with your friends, making great memories, laughing til you "squirt", and being irresponsible even when you have reached a "responsible" age!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Puff, DB, La La, and Ki Ki

When Beth and I went to Ohio, we had the pleasure of staying with her uncle, Dick Bill, and his wife Lynn. Dick is known as DB...even his kids and grandkids call him DB. It didn't take me long to start calling him by that either. Every once in awhile you come across people who make you feel incredibly comfortably right away. The Bill Family certainly has cornered this market. I immediately felt like I was visiting old friends.

Soon after we arrived DB began telling great family stories. I was immediately immersed in family folk lore and within a half hour I thought I could actually remember some of the memories. There is nothing like a great storyteller. Those with this impressive skill have the listener at the heart of their story, rather than themselves and what happened to them in the tale. DB reminded me of Tim's uncles...all are great storytellers. You find yourself leaning in to hang on every word and they lower their voices at just the right parts...and the stories all have these great morals or insightful punch lines that keep you thinking about them for days.

On the first night, Beth's cousin Laurie (La La) came over with her son Bam, who is about 7, and is a dead ringer for Harry Potter, right down to the round glasses, except he has blonde hair. He had that little munchkin voice (I'm such a sucker for little kid voices) and was thrilled to have an audience to read books with. Towards the end of the night DB pointed to Beth and asked Bam "What's her name?" He stalled a bit...not remembering her name..and to help him out, I whispered "Beth" in his ear. It was a great game of "telephone" because he yelled out "Puff! Her name is Puff!" We got quite a chuckle out of it but it didn't end there. The next day when he came over he walked in and said hello to everyone he passed. "Hi DB...Hi Nana Lynn...Hey Puff" From that moment on, Beth had a new name.

I heard a lot of great stories from Laurie of when Beth was younger and all the trouble they got into. They also had great stories of camping and riding horses, two things I absolutely love. When people treat you like an old friend, when in fact you are a stranger, it is so much easier to find the commonalities and have easy conversation. I have always stressed about going to work or personal functions where I don't know many people..."What will I talk about with these people?!" After this weekend, I realized conversation is easy when you welcome the other person into your world and instead of throwing questions at them, you just include them in your stories.

The stories continued the next night when Beth's cousin Kristi (Ki Ki) came over with her adorable little girls Frankie and Lexi. Beth was telling Kristi about my blog and we started discussing how we all are trying to take pleasure in the little moments...but first we are all trying to slow down to see the moments as they happen. When I started on this journey, I did feel like I was in the minority. That I was one of the only ones unable to see the moments when they presented themselves, that I was one of the few struggling to find simplicity in my life, and to really get back to basics and what truly mattered. What I have found out along the way is that everyone is in the same boat. We might all be at different points on the journey of figuring it out, but life is moving too fast for everyone and we are all struggling to stay true to what is important to us. I just decided not to hide my struggle anymore. And when I started talking openly about it, that's the point others felt comfortable to say "I feel the same way too."

I know I felt I was failing at my life because I couldn't do it all well. I'm a serious overachiever and don't like to fail at anything. Or I should say, I didn't like failing. I have uncovered a big piece of Little Kelly. I know I can't do it all anymore. And I'm okay with that. And I have figured out where I want to spend my time. I don't care that I haven't painted the second coat on my front door in a year or that I haven't organized my basement. But the other day, I picked the kids up from school and I handed them each a giant sprite and a full size candy bar. I told them to eat up...we were headed to a surprise. I took them mini golfing and we were the only ones there. We had such a great time. Admittedly, when the kids heard the word "surprise" they assumed I was taking them to get some teeth pulled without anesthesia. Clearly I haven't done enough of this in the past but they will remember that day for a long time...and there will be many more like it in the future.

On day three, we were invited to Kristi's house to watch the Ohio State game. Let me just tell you...out there they are SERIOUS about college football. 'Nuff said. Towards the end of the day, Kristi and I were chatting and she said "I woke up this morning with both girls snuggled in on each side of me, still sleeping. I heard the dog moving around downstairs...she needed to go out. I started to get up but then thought about our conversation and I just sat there enjoying the moment with the girls while they slept. It won't stay like this forever." Then she added quickly with a laugh "and then I got up and took the dog out." See? It's like it's viral....we are all starting to slow down and take advantage of the moments when they are presented to us. I love, love, love it!

On our final night we spent some time with DB in his office while he shared many more great stories. I learned that his father was a man of few words but was a great letter writer. DB has been going through his father's letters that he saved over the years and sending funny and inspirational quotes out to family members and friends via email each day. I loved this idea for so many reasons. It is clear that DB is a very thoughtful person and his emails show how much he cares about those he is writing to. Beyond that, it demonstrates how important his family is to him...both past and present. Above all, he is keeping the memories of those who have passed alive and well each and every day. To me, he epitomizes the person who lives in the moment, who has made family their focal point, and who truly knows what is important and where to spend his time. I bet he brightens the face of everyone he emails every day. I know he does this for his own enjoyment, but I hope he understands how much these little acts mean to people.

Who knew when I went to Ohio I would meet a La La, a Bam, a DB, and a Ki Ki...to name just a few? I just want to say thank you to the Bill Family for making me feel so welcome and for sharing their stories with me. And I was able to recognize that this trip was more than just about going to the Country Living Fair on a girlfriend trip with Puff. It was a great opportunity to see people who are living a life where those little moments are recognized and celebrated.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Old Days

First of all, my outfit is "stupit" today. Jenn wouldn't like it. It doesn't take long to slide right back into the same old, same old...

Moving on....On the last night of our trip, Beth went into our room early, got into our pj's, and attempted to read but instead started reminiscing about all the crazy times we had. By the time we were done we were giggling like school girls and I had to go tinkle. I thought I would share one of my all time favorite stories with you to cheer up your rainy day (well, it's raining here..).

We went out with two guy friends that Beth worked with. We went out pretty often with them and the best thing was we always went out just as friends. Fuzziness #1: we couldn't remember where we had been or who else was with us but we do remember that by the end of the night it was clear Beth and I couldn't go home by ourselves. We lived in opposite directions and we weren't close to either of our apartments. Dave suggested we sleep at his apartment...which he shared with a bunch of roommates. Fuzziness # 2....no idea what town his apartment was but we think it might have been Brighton. Wherever it was, we were just followed him home.

We get there and I immediately just assumed the fetal position and went night-night on the living room shag rug. In hindsight, I shudder to think what that looked like in the day light. Beth found an empty bedroom and crashed. She awoke to a very hairy man crawling into bed next to her. She wanted to get up but the room was spinning so she was forced to lay there and listen to him snore. Again, in hindsight, it's a good thing he didn't realize there was a strange girl in his bed.

Beth comes booking out of the room as the sun is coming up the next morning. "C'mon! We have to go!" Part of her urgency had to do with the fact that we had to get from a strange town back to my apartment in Wakefield to change and then all the way to downtown Boston to our jobs...and not be late. The other part is that she wanted to get out of dodge before Furry Guy saw her.

When I got up, I realized I had been sleeping on the phone cord that was strung across the floor. The cord had made a deep indent running diagonally across my face from my forehead to my chin that, in all honesty, took two days to go away. We didn't realize it until we got on the T.

We were just trying to hold our stomachs down and stop our heads from pounding as we made our way to work on planes, trains, and automobiles. We were approaching Government Center and this guy gets up...clearly wearing his suit from the night before and he heads for the door. He is pastey white, sweating, and swaying. The doors open and instead of getting off, he projectile vomited on the poor, unfortunate girl that was getting on the train, ready for work. I honestly don't know how we didn't projectile vomit ourselves. The poor girl...head to toe vomit. And Vomit Man just ran through the crowd leaving her drenched.

Fuzziness #3...we have no memories after that until about 1/2 hour into our workday. There I am...with my creased phone cord face, and Beth emails me to say that the girl sitting next to her is talking to her friend saying "Apparently, last night, Todd woke up to find some blonde girl in his bed! If I find out who that b@*$# was I am going to kick her a$$!" AAAAHHHH!!! What are the chances?! Of course nothing happened but this girl never would have believed that. I think Beth sweated that one out for about 2 months.

We barely made it to lunchtime. We needed grease and we needed it fast. We scurried along to Wendy's in Downtown Crossing...our favorite hangover spot. This particular Wendy's had tables upstairs and downstairs. Now, when you are hungover, you get the stupids and the dots take longer to connect than on an average day. This was true for us. We were in line waiting to order (me with my creased face and all...) and people are streaming up from downstairs. Instantly we thought we must have lapsed into a coma and somehow we had taken so long to walk that lunch hour was over. We looked at the clock and that wasn't the case. We shrugged and ordered our greasy burgers and salty fries and took our trays downstairs. We immediately dig into our lunch, ignoring the murmurings that are going on.....that is, until we hear some sort of whacking sound followed by a pig squeal. What the heck?! We continue to shovel the grease into our faces but we look around. There is confusion and fear on people's faces. All of a sudden, we hear "Watch out! It's coming this way!" and a Wendy's employee is chasing something with a shovel. The people at the table in front of us are screaming and we lift up our feet to see what is coming underneath us. Oh, let me tell you....it was a GIANT RAT the size of a small dog. It passed right underneath my chair. And the Wendy's employee finally cornered it and BEAT IT DEAD with a shovel right there in the dining room...while it squealed until the end.

We took our trays upstairs and I'm not going to lie to you....we did finish our meals before we left. Afterall, we were really hung over. Those were the days....

Hopefully this will make you think of a funny little story from your "old days" and make you laugh til you tinkle.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What Would Jenn Do?

I just got back from Columbus, Ohio with my friend Beth where we attended the 5th Annual Country Living Fair. It was an event filled with top of the line artisans, antique dealers, cooking demonstrations, and decorating seminars. We had bought the early bird tickets, allowing us into the event 1.5 hours prior to general admission and boy was it worth it! We never quite understood why everyone didn't come early....there are one of a kind gifts and goodies for sale that sell very quickly. At one of our favorite booths, Findings, we heard that the majority of their bracelet inventory was gone by mid morning. Between Beth and I, we bought 6 bracelets there within the first 20 minutes....they were to die for and the price was right.

Beth and I have gone to Brimfield together for the past 14 years. We know exactly where our favorite vendors are, where the great food stands can be found, and how to work around the crowds. With this fair, we had no idea what we were in for and had never met anyone that went before. We walked in dazed, confused, and woefully unprepared. Ladies were literally high tailing it down the main street, yet there was a village of booths to the left. We didn't know which way to go or what we might be missing when we made our decision. Beth stopped and said "Okay, we just need to think for a minute. Let's just look around and get our bearings." As we strolled through the first few booths, it was clear this was like nothing we had been to before. It was like Brimfield and an art show combined on steroids. Everywhere we looked there was amazing stuff created mainly by women entrepenaurs trying to make their mark on the world. We instantly went into an ADD frenzy, running from booth to booth. We heard a group of ladies say in their southern accent, "Oh my word, we only have a half hour before the doors open." My upper lip immediately grew a sweat mustache and as my daughter would say, my pits got "wet". We decided to hit the booths we knew would be swarmed when the main doors opened and we started buying like crazy. By noontime I think I had gone through almost half of the money I brought with me and if pressed, I don't think I could have named half of the items I had bought.

After refueling with lunch, we headed back out to conquer the rest of the fair. This is when I saw it. From across a courtyard, a main street, and hoards of people, I saw a pink and green booth...it was like coming home. I should mention I was rocking a super cute hot pink a-line skirt with my kelly green polo (collar up of course), my pearls (again, of course), and my Lilly Pulitzer pink and green oilcloth recyle bag. I looked just like me. I walked like a magnet to metal until I was in front of the booth. As I was taking it all in, the owner of the Tickled Pink booth came up to me and said "Oh my God, you belong here!" I know, I thought, as I got a little misty eyed. And I just have to mention that the owner was ADORABLE! She was a beautiful older lady with a twinkle in her eye...collar up, adorable outfit, and in pink and green herself. She had the same bag as me she said, we complimented each other on every bit of our outfits, and then she invited me to look around. She was an extremely creative lady, with one of a kind creations, and Beth pretty much had to pull me away.

I think it was at this point that I really began to shift my focus from the items for sale to looking around at the people at the fair. It was filled with very creative people who were bubbling with energy. There were so many cute outfits at this place! One girl had a grey silk halter top on...something you would wear with a dressy outfit...but it was paired with a white t-shirt underneath, cropped jeans with big cuffs, and adorable silver ballet flats. There was the woman with an ivory chemise on, worn over skinny jeans and a white t-shirt, topped by a cardigan with a big silk flower on it. I wished I had thought to be so creative and daring with my clothes.

Beth and I found an artist that we loved there named Jennifer Lanne www.jenniferlanne.com. Her paintings were beautiful and we made the mistake of deciding to go back later in the afternoon when we had more time to really look through her paintings. Unfortunately, when we went back, the ones we wanted had already sold. We quickly became enamored with Jenn and it took us awhile to figure out why. She was wearing an adorable summer dress over cropped jeans with a big cuff. She had paired black trouser socks with two toned high-heeled mary janes, and the trouser socks were scrunched down like bobby socks. She had an adorable yellow bow in hair and funky, big earrings. I am one who appreciates an adorable outfit, but I realized what I was feeling went beyond the outfit. Jenn felt free to be herself and show her confidence. She was clearly a risk taker and it made me want to take more risks and be more like the person I dreamed about. If I wore a dress over my jeans, I would look like I was trying too hard. And if I paired scrunched up trouser socks with high heeled shoes I would look like a crazy bag lady who only wore those two things together because it was the only pair of socks and shoes she had.

I began to wonder why some people can carry it off and others can't. First of all, and I'm being completely honest, you have to be skinny for these looks. (Note: I will soon be writing a post on how I don't want to be pudgy anymore). Beyond that though, you have to be comfortable with who you are and willing to put yourself out there. I have always been a creative person but as responsibilities grew and took up my time, I just buried my creative thoughts until I couldn't see them anymore. I was telling Beth that lately I just want to stay up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I have so many creative ideas that come to me that I want to try and fit it all in before I don't have time for it anymore. And Beth is an incredible artist, it was even her major in college. But marriage, kids, and the need to have a steady income, have prevailed over being creative and taking risks.

We decided right then that we would start being more creative again and take more risks. The confidence and outfits will surely come as a result. When decided if we found ourself wondering if a certain outfit looked good or if we should take a particular risk we would ask ourselves "What would Jenn do?" We even went back to her booth to take a picture of her outfit so we could send it to each other, when needed, and ask "What would Jenn do?" Well, I'll just be honest...taking her picture became weird. We loitered for a bit to wait for the right moment to snap a quick pic when she wasn't looking but then it felt like we were stalking her. Beth came up with the bright idea to pretend to take my picture and then snapped it just when Jenn came into view. By the way, Jennifer, if you ever read this, we really aren't creepy weirdos...although re-reading what I just wrote, is making me feel a little bit like one.

On day two, we didn't think we would have anything left to buy. We had seen it all, knew the vendors inside and out, but really went back because we wanted to attend a seminar at 11. Surprisingly, we bought more on the second day than the first! It seemed we had more time to really look in depth at the booths, and we saw so many things we hadn't seen the first day. We even ended up shipping stuff home. I came across a booth that we had passed several times on day one and didn't bother to go in. On day two, I decided to just take a closer look inside. I came across a vintage hair clip that I couldn't live without. I thought to myself, "What would Jenn do?" and I knew that it was something a creative, fun loving, confident person would wear. Sold!

As we were leaving, I stopped in to see my pink and green Tickled Pink friend. I disappointed her by wearing navy and light blue instead of pink and green....and she let me know how she felt about that. But we chatted for a good 10 minutes and Beth got a great picture of us. I'll post it once she sends along. Talk about someone exuding confidence and truly living the life she was meant to. She definitely took a risk with her creations and was so happy putting herself out there. Someday when I find the thing I was meant to do, I know what it will feel like because I saw it firsthand.

When we got back into the car, I immediately put my hair clip in and loved it. It was so unlike me....I'm not twelve so hair clips don't come easy to me...but I really liked how it made me feel. Beth would have told me if I looked like an ass but instead she told me how cute it looked, and so off we went, windows down, wind blowing in our hair, with my hair clip looking super cute.

There are so many elements of this trip that I need to comment on that it will come in several posts. But Lesson One for me is to stop being so afraid and start taking risks. They don't have to be big risks, just start small. What have you got to lose? All those women who are now doing what they had dreamed of had to start someplace, they had to take risks, and they all had failures along the way. I don't think it's the failure we fear most, but rather the fear of not knowing where to start. When you find yourself wondering if you should take a risk, whether it is with what you are wearing or even what decision you should make, just ask yourself, "What would Jenn do?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

6 Degrees of Girlfriends

I just love my girlfriends! I can honestly say that I have have the best friends anyone could ask for.

One thing that I was struggling with when I was working was having time to spend with my girlfriends. It's one of the things that unfortunately fell to the bottom of the list, because my assumption was, my girlfriends will understand that I don't have enough time. And we all do understand. But, the relationships we have with our girlfriends, are one of the most important things to keeping us happy and healthy.

One of the things on my sabbatical list was to make more of an effort to do things with my girlfriends. It's not that I didn't want to before...it's just that I would often feel guilty chosing to spend time with my friends over spending time with my kids because there just wasn't enough time to go around for everyone. When you don't have the time to spend with your friends though, you forget how great they make you feel, how you can cry at the drop of a hat just by sharing a story, or how quickly you can laugh so hard that you cry (when was the last time you did that?). You also realize it makes you a better mom, a better wife, and a better friend when you have those moments with your girlfriends.

And you have all different types of relationships with your girlfriends. There are those you talk to all the time, those you call when you really need to talk, and those you call when you just want to have a little fun. There are those you don't talk to for months or even a year, but when you do finally reconnect there aren't any hard feelings and it feels like just yesterday that you talked. And there is nothing wrong with having different relationships with your girlfriends. I recently made peace with the fact that some friends are never going to give me what I am looking for in a relationship. There are some friends I wanted more from and found myself perpetually disappointed because I didn't get what I was looking for. It hit me one day that it was okay to have a different type of relationship. That I could stop being disappointed by what I wasn't getting and just focus on what I was getting out of that friendship. Maybe I am the last one to realize this, but for me this was a big revelation.

In the last few months I have had a great time with my girlfriends. We have walked (and with some I have walked a marathon!), we have shopped, we have had coffee, breakfast, lunch, and dinner...and drinks (but not with breakfast...yet). We have talked about Dancing with the Stars and the Hoff, current events (and came to the conclusion that people are crazy), hollywood gossip, and local gossip. We have shared what is going on with our jobs, our families, and our plans for the future. We have cried over losses, supported each other through crisis', and checked in on each other when we have been sick or just feeling down. You have been a great sounding board for my thoughts on my future career plans and we've talked about our hopes to simplify our lives and find more meaning in what we do and the choices we make. We have emailed, texted, called, and caught up in person. We have gone to Boston, we've gone camping, we've danced, we've gone to the beach (and we have danced at the beach). We went to the Cape, Nantucket, and just stayed at home. We've planned trips, gone out to dinner in an impromptu moment, and even shown up one another's house unannounced with a bottle of wine. No matter what we talk about, whether our moment is planned or unplanned, no matter what we are wearing or what we look like, I have enjoyed every single second with each of you.

I recently got together with my friend Lynne who was visiting from North Carolina. I am always impressed with her trips "home". She truly makes every trip about seeing her friends and family. She was busy morning, noon, and night reconnecting with all her friends. I think because she is separated geographically and really misses her personal connections, she makes such an effort to see everyone. I can't imagine it is a relaxing trip for her because she is constantly on the go, but I know that she leaves here extremely happy. She has gained the understanding that girlfriends are what keep her going, and that these personal connections are key to being happy.

Tomorrow I am heading out on a girl's weekend with my great friend Beth. She is the one who introduced Timothy and I and for that I will be eternally grateful. We have known each other since college (she has known Tim since they were about 5!), have been in each other's weddings, and boy, do we have all kinds of stories!! We have similar interests and don't even need to talk...sometimes one of us will just look at the other and we immediately know what the other is thinking. Yet we have never gone on a girl's weekend together...just the two of us! We are headed to the Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio...and it just so happens that the town is celebrating Octoberfest. Steins o' beer, sauercraut balls and schnitzel, oh my! I know we will laugh a ton, share all kinds of stories, and yes, even learn something new about each other...we always do.

When I get back to "my real life" (which is rapidly approaching), I know I need to continue to make my friends a priority and find the time, even if it is just for a few minutes. I hope this post makes you think of the friends you want to reconnect with, inspires you to reach out and make plans or just drop by or call, and reminds you to take a few minutes to spend time with your girlfriends who make you so happy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Sitcom: Cubes

A night with my girlfriend Margaret inevitably ends up with her reminding me about the crazy people we worked with. We always wanted to write a pilot for a sitcom called "Cubes" and the crazy true life characters we encountered would be on the show. Our office was filled with row after row of office filled with nutty little characters. Quite frankly, most people can't believe these people existed but I am here to tell you, there are crazy people everywhere...but especially in the workplace.

Take Jim. Otherwise known as "Snaggle Tooth". He had one of those vampire teeth that grew above the other teeth. I know...unfortunate...but at some point you could have had some dental work to remove that puppy. But instead, he would attempt to hide it. The only time it would really make an appearance was when he laughed. He usually laughed with a "I have a stick up my butt and I'm very repressed" kind of chuckle. But occasionally he would let out a good belly laugh and instinctively he would use his index finger to hold down his lip so it wouldn't expose the vampire tooth. As though that wasn't calling attention to the tooth?! Snaggle's tooth wasn't his only issue. At one point, this guy was riding high. He managed a very large group, was a favorite of management, and strutted around in his Mr. Rodgers like outfits waving to everyone that walked by. But, just as he thought he was King of the Hill, in walked new management and they weren't a fan of Mr. Rodgers and his snaggle tooth. Jim was obviously nervous and quite frankly, did nothing to help himself. It seemed that he was screwing up at every turn. One day in our weekly 1-1 meeting, he decided to confide in me. Let me just remind you that I worked for him. He was slumped in his chair and said "Kelly, I'm not sure what is wrong but I can't seem to please anyone." He then proceeded to get weepy on me...and I mean, tears in the eyes, had to stop talking for a minute because he was choked up kind of weepy....and asked my advice on what he should do. Personally, I couldn't wait for Snaggle to move on so I just told him to keep doing what he was doing...in time they would see how hard he was trying. He was gone about 2 weeks later.

The person that took him down was George...otherwise known as Daddy Long Legs. This man was so tall....like 6'3 or so. Mind you, I am 5'2 so he could have been 5'7 and he would have seemed like Wilt Chamberlain to me. But I'm pretty sure he was really tall. He also weighed about 100 pounds. From the door to our office area to his personal office, it would take me at least 25 little leg strides to get to my desk, which was right outside his office. I watched Daddy Long Legs scale the hallway in 5 paces one day. He did this while eating an apple...which he literally ate in 4 complete bites. It was like watching a genetic freak on the Discovery Channel every day.

I also worked with a woman who was a swinger. A real life swinger. We had no name for her...I think because we still couldn't believe it was true. Now, let me just set this up. She thought she was super hot and although she was tall and thin, she had one of those leather faces and a voice like Marge Simpson's sister, from smoking too much. She also had an unfortunate dental situation happening....an overbite....which again, unfortunate but could have been fixed at some point. Anyways, she would come in on Monday mornings and be full of stories for everyone that wanted to ask and learn more about her escapades. Apparently there are swinger clubs that you pay a fee to get into. There is a "scoping out period" where you do some talking and "whatever else" at a bar and then if you decide you want to "move on" you can go to the group room...or your own room. What cracked me up was one of the rules if you were in the group room...everyone had to keep one foot on the floor. Imagine a big naked Twister game going on with a bunch of legs hanging off the bed. Not sure what that rule was doing, but I'm guessing having both feet on the bed was the least of the issues they would encounter with 10 people going at it. I can't even tell you the stories I have heard...they would make your ears bleed. I can only tell you that every time I heard her retelling one of her escapades, I had to remind myself that I wasn't watching tv...I was actually listening to this in person.

I started thinking about these characters as I started to gear up my job search. I can only wonder who I will encounter at my next job. Instead, I really should just write that sitcom pilot...I have enough stories to last a few seasons! Share with us the craziest person you ever worked with.

Note: "Crazy people you work with" are very different than crazy people in your family. We will save that for another day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh My Aching Muscles!!

Yesterday I completed the Jimmy Fund 26.2 mile walk from Hopkinton to Boston to raise money to cure cancer and it was quite a challenge..but well worth it.

When I received donations many were made in memory of loved ones that had been lost to cancer. I started out my morning by writing the names of those loved ones on my t-shirt. Roberta Nealon, Tim's aunt, was above my heart. I knew I would need her encouragement to make it through the day. My grandparents, Emma and Charles O'Brien were just to the left of that. On my sleeves and the back of my shirt were Roseanne Messina, Anne Ranney, Charles Powers, and Evelyn Donovan. I felt it was important to honor them as I walked.

Team Weston Nurseries started off at 6:40 am from Center School in Hopkinton. We were all eager, bright-eyed, and had a spring in our step. Two members of the team had walked before and two of us hadn't so it was a good mix. I didn't realize it at the time but it was also a good mix of height...two tall people with natural long strides and two shorties with little legs. It was great to have a shortie pal throughout the walk because there were times we just couldn't keep up with the pace our daddy long legs pals were setting. We did stay together, at least in pairs, throughout the walk.

The night before, Tim asked me if I had assembled a list of things to talk about in case the conversation dried up...after all, it was going to be a long day. As you know, I am an avid list maker, but this had never even crossed my mind. I knew conversation would never be an issue nor would it feel awkward if there was silence.

And boy did we talk! We talked about my sabbatical and the lessons I have learned so far, our jobs, our kids and the challenges we were facing with them these days, friends and family, trips we would like to take, and home improvements we would like to make. We talked about the houses we walked past, how long both Natick and Wellesley were, how our feet and muscles felt, what kind of snack we would like to eat at the next station, and how often we were taking potty breaks. We caught up on our hollywood gossip and somehow Tanya Harding came up. It was at this point that a man behind us joined in the conversation. We learned that he was walking with a group of 120 people and they have been walking for years for a friend that has lukemia...and he was with them yesterday. He said his wife started the walk early, beginning at 9 pm the night before from Sutton to Hopkinton. She and a friend arrived at 5:30 am, took an hour break, and then started out again at 6:30. And she was ahead of us on the walk. She walked 52 miles to raise money for cancer. He seemed to enter our conversation just when our muscles were starting to ache and his wife's story was a great inspiration at that moment.

We kept the mood light by asking each other "Hey, when was the last time you walked to Framingham?" or "Hey, when was the last time you walked to a game at Fenway?" Also helping with the mood were the incredible volunteers that are stationed at each mile. When Karen told me you could actually gain weight on the walk I couldn't imagine how (and I really was hoping to look like a super model by the time I was done). There is so much food and at each station and they are staffed by people thanking you for walking and telling you what a great job you are doing. Around 11 am we hit Wellesley, had lunch, checked for blisters (none, thankfully!), and lubed our feet up again for the second leg. As we were waiting in line for the bathroom my friend Denise spotted a man wearing a t-shirt with the name and picture of Tim's aunt, Roberta Nealon, who passed away exactly a year ago yesterday. I didn't recognize him and went over to introduce myself. Turns out he worked from Tim's cousin and has been walking for Roberta for the past few years. It was as if Roberta was there with us..connecting us. It was a great moment.

It all sounds so wonderful and magical, doesn't it? Well, here comes the truth. There was some magical mixed in with a whole lot of pain. Around mile 7 it felt like someone was drilling a hole through my left hip bone with a dull drill. I walked it out around mile 10. Phew! Then, around mile 15 my muscles from my waist to my ankles began to rebel and became very tight. It was hard to walk. Every step hurt. I kept thinking I could just walk it out like the earlier hip pain but that didn't happen. I stopped at each mile station and tried to stretch out. It would feel good for a minute and then my muscles would say "Ah..you're kidding right? We aren't going any further...and we mean it." At one point I attempted to lie on a grassy patch to stretch and I was ONE MILLIMETER away from laying in dog poo. Honestly, that would have been a deal breaker for me. No way I would have walked with poo on my person. No. Way.

I started to hear murmurings of Heart Break Hill and immediately got sweaty like an italian sub. The girls looked me in the eye and said "Don't look up...just look at all the pretty houses. Got it?" In all honesty, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be although I think if you are running the marathon, it is 1,000 times worse than walking it. I was walking with Peter at the time and I told him that I didn't want to hold him back. He is so tall that one step for him equals two for me. I knew it must be tough for him to go so slow and I didn't want to impact his ability to scale the hill. But he said "I won't leave you, don't worry." Once we made it up, it did feel like a great accomplishment.

With 5 miles to go, I thought I would not be able to make it. I had to stop mid walk and stretch it out. We stopped in front of a stationary store and there were some beautiful calendars in the window. Denise said "Look at the pretty calendars...focus on them...pretty...pretty..." It was like something you would say to a 5-year old having a meltdown...and somehow it worked. At this point, my body began to shut down. "Low Battery: Glutous Maximus"...."Warning: Musclus behindus knee capus shutting down"....and "Powering Off: Ability to Lift Legs". I felt like I was lugging around two tree trunks. I had no ability to even lift them up on the curb. Do you know how many curbs there are in Boston??! You would think they would lower them for the day but no...I think they made them higher. With every step up I would grunt. I didn't mean to...it just came out.

It was at this point we decided to list Things That Would Be Worse Than This right Now. We came up with things like "Getting in a car accident and having my arm ripped off..." Yes, that would be worse. Or "having intestinal distress and not being able to get to a porta potty in time"..Again, yes, that would be worse. We did have a tie...we couldn't decide if it would be better to gnaw our own legs off or continue for the next 5 miles...that was a tough one to call. Then we see this little girl, about 5 or 6, obviously going through cancer treatment...and she is walking. Her Dad asked her if she was tired and she said "No, I'm going to keep walking." Clearly, fighting for your life and watching your child fight for their life was so much more worse than what we were going through. We were humbled by that and fell silent.

At mile 3 we decided to play the question game. "What was your favorite Christmas present ever?"..."What food could you not live without"..."What is your dream job?" That really helped pass the time and then before we knew it we were about a mile away. We could smell the finish line it was so close. It was at this point that we got giddy. There we were...walking stiffly, limping, dragging our limbs, and laughing like crazy loons. I imagine this is what happens to people when they get stuck in the dessert and think they see a mirage. We started talking about what we would do when we got there..."Have a soda!"..."Get some clam chowder!"..."Take our Tylenol!" It felt like we had been away from civilization for years.

We crossed the line at 3:00....8 1/2 hours after our start. We received our medals through a line of volunteers saying thank you and telling us what a great job we did. I, for one, could barely walk. We shuffled over to get a snack and then thankfully Denise's husband offered to drive all of us back to Hopkinton. While he went to get the car, because quite frankly, we couldn't walk another step, we waited on the curb. Peter dropped his backpack and the whole world stopped. Who was going to be able to pick that up? Luckily Karen had sat down so she wouldn't fall down so Peter kicked it to her and she was able to grab it. The bad news was Karen couldn't get back up but luckily Peter had it in him to pull her up. We got in the car and were basically silent except for an occassional groan when one of us moved. We got back to the school and Karen, Peter, and I had to get out of Denise's car to get into their car.

Peter attempted to roll out but landed on the ground. We couldn't help him. Partly because we were laughing so hard but mainly because none of us could move. It felt like it took us 10 minutes to shuffle to the car. Shuffle, shuffle, ouch, groan, shuffle, shuffle. They pulled up to my front walkway and Tim and the kids were waiting for me. Peter, Karen, and I were laughing so hard at my attempt to walk. I could barely move. Tim and the kids were both congratulatory and horrified at the same time. I know the kids were thinking "What happened to my mother...and will she stay like this forever?!" I half cried and half laughed my way to the front door.

And this is where you realize how great your family is. I shuffled to the kitchen and Tim pulled a chair out for me. The kids bent down and took my shoes off carefully. I wasn't sure what to expect...well, quite frankly, although my feet felt fine, I was afraid I would find bloody stumps. But they looked great...blister free! Jack carefully put slippers on my feet and then they gave me the signs they had made me. "Congradulations Mom! We are so proud of you!" and "Now you get a relaxing rest of the day with me waiting on you because you deserve it!" They went up and ran a nice hot bath for me, Tim got me a glass of wine and my book, and they left me alone. This is where some trouble started. I couldn't figure out how to get in the tub. It would require me to somehow lift my legs over the side. It took me a good 10 minutes to get my clothes off and then another 5 to get myself in the tub. But once there, it was wonderful! I felt pain free and wanted to stay there forever. I knew if I stayed too long though I was going to drown. Between the hot water, the few sips of wine I was able to take, and sheer exhaustion, I was about 5 minutes away from lapsing into a coma. It took me another 5 minutes to get out of the tub and I had to give up on drying off...I just couldn't even move my limbs. Getting pj's on was a miracle. I attempted to sit but couldn't bend my legs so they I tried laying down but couldn't figure out how to make that work either. I was out of breath by the time dinner was ready. Mmm...take out pizza.

I attempted to walk unassisted but it wasn't happening. I had Mimi walk in front of me like a train and pull me along. I shuffled like Ozzy Osbourne to the kitchen table. I ate some pizza and then said "I have to go to bed!" I thought I was going to fall asleep head first on the table. Mimi fired up the Ozzy train and off we went to my bedroom. I thought it would feel great to get in bed but my skin actually hurt when I laid on it. It was so uncomfortable. As I tried to get comfortable and turn I would just groan in pain. Finally, I just passed out.

Karen had told me all along that the day after the walk I just had to get up and move. I got up around 8:30 and attempted to get out of bed. Holy Tightness. Whatever muscle or ligament that is behind my kneecap felt like it was just going to snap like a bungee cord. I managed to roll onto the ground and do some stretching and then I crawled to my closet and put some clothes on to go for a walk. I decided to stay local and just walk my 'hood in case I had to crawl back. I didn't want to have to be crawling on the main road...too many people could see me. I walked with the speed of a one-hundred year old arthritic woman. And I'm not kidding. I did manage three laps and felt more like a 90-year old when I finally went home. I sat and had some cereal. BIG mistake. It became apparent that I should not sit for the remainder of the day otherwise my muscles became so stiff I was unable to move. I spent the day shuffling and puttering around and it worked. I feel pretty good now and am determined to get back to my usual 3 mile walk around town tomorrow.

As painful as this was in the end, I am amazed at this accomplishment. Besides labor, it was the most physically challenging thing I have ever been through. And I'll do it again, despite it all. I will do it because if I can help in any way to find a way to cure cancer, I will do it. I don't want to have to write any other names on my shirt next year and I don't want to have to see more children fighting for their lives walking next year. Thank you to everyone who sponsored me on the walk and who sent kind words of encouragement. I am lucky to have such great friends!