Friday, April 17, 2015

Rockin' the Prom in 5th Grade Style

I went to the prom...with my 11 year old.  Technically - it was the 5th grade "senior" prom - aka "senior citizen" which means you are supposed to bring Grandma - but since all our family lives in NY I was the only choice.  To be honest - I wasn't sure what to expect.  5th grade is a hazy blur in my mind - but I vaguely remember boys and girls pretty much avoiding each other and spending time with your parents - in public - to be one of life's great humiliations.  I was curious, cautious and hopefully optimistic that things had changed in 30 years. :-)

In preparation we bought Hayden a snazzy new outfit (and - if I do say so myself - he looked incredibly handsome) and I tried to figure out my own clothes. Honestly - what does a 40 year old woman wear to a elementary school dance?  With the help of Facebook (and some wonderful friends) I decided on a simple tunic top and leggings - though the suggestion of sparkly yoga pants and my wedding dress (from Harlyn) were also top contenders.   The day of the dance arrived along with a hefty dose of late April snow and some serious doubts on my behalf.  Nevertheless, I was determined to have a great time on a rare "Mom & Son" date night.  We headed out to dinner before hand (Panda Express - Hayden's choice) and then home to primp and press before driving over.

Such a good lookin' boy!
Incredibly - it was fun. Amazing, wonderful, memory making fun.  The kids blew me away.  The boys were so handsome - some dressed in full on prom wear (one little guy had a tuxedo with a hot pink cummerbund!) and other more "Colorado casual" like my Hayden in his button down shirt, shorts and boat shoes.  The girls were all dolled up - fancy dresses and hair, "high heel" shoes - and I could just see the future teenagers emerging in these still little kids.  Seeing them done up, looking so mature yet acting so young, just tugged at my heart.

We had pictures taken, I got to wear a princess crown (what could be better?) and we danced and jived our way through the YMCA, the Electric Slide and even the Macarena.  Hayden's friends all said I was an amazing dancer (these kids know talent when they see it) and of course I agreed. When a slow song came on, Hayden walked over and said, "Let's dance!" and my heart melted.

We danced, and twirled, and I got dizzy but it was glorious.  In this  moment - there was nothing better.  I saw him as a small baby, a sweet toddler and a little boy all wrapped in one.  I also saw the teenager he was on the verge of becoming and the man I knew he would someday be.  At the end of the song, he gave me a hug and said "I love you Mom, this was the best night ever."

Oh my - it sure was buddy.  It sure was.

Smiling big with my best guy - one lucky Mom!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Breakin' Up is Hard to Do...

So, this week I had to say a tough goodbye.  We'd been together for almost 20 years, and while it was a great time, I knew our relationship was going downhill.  For the past year or so I convinced myself we could still be together, that a change wasn't necessary, but finally, on Monday, I knew it was time to say goodbye.

Diet Coke, I'm sorry.  It's not you - it's me.

Well - actually - it's a lot about you.  Ya see, I had my first sip of your so sweet yet calorie free self just about 20 years ago. I was a high school senior convinced I needed you to keep the weight off and my eyes open.  I'll be honest - it wasn't love at first sight - you tasted pretty TERRIBLE. :-) But then you kinda grew on me and I couldn't stay away.

And for years - you served your purpose well.  Not a day went by that I didn't turn to you - late night study sessions, early morning classes, mid day pick ups - you were always there for me.  Cold, refreshing, bubbly.  Your little silver can brought me endless joy and quenched many a tough thirst.

Yet, in the past few years, I began to doubt our relationship.  I wondered if you were really good for me.  I made a new friend - and she whispered all sorts of unsavory truths about you.  Toxic chemicals. Cancer causing caramel flavoring, Zero nutritional value.  She was talking some serious smack - but I held strong, Diet Coke.  You made me feel too good to be bad.  So I kicked that friend to the curb - I didn't need that negativity in my life and our relationship.


I had started a family - and I didn't want them to eat or drink things that weren't good for them.  I began to study labels - avoiding anything that had artificial color, BHT, or big words that I couldn't pronounce and didn't understand.  Yet while I made better choices for my family, I continued to hang out with you, Diet Coke.  As I fed my kiddos natural cereal, I drank a Diet Coke.  I smiled when my daughter told my Mom over lunch that "she wasn't allowed to eat anything with artificial flavor" and then asked the waiter to refill my (diet) drink for the 3rd time.  I knew we would be together forever.

Then, I kinda started to feel a bit yucky.  Nothing serious - I just didn't feel right.  I exercise regularly, eat okay (good not great) but still just felt a bit off. I started thinking more and more about you,  Diet Coke.  I did some research on Aspartame and Caramel coloring.  Remember that friend?  The one I kicked to the curb for you?  Yeah - she was right.  Our relationship was toxic and I knew we had to break up.

So, I stopped.  Cold turkey.  I thought I'd miss you a lot.  In some ways, I did.  When we went out for dinner I had no idea what to do.  You'd been my default date for two decades and suddenly - I had to THINK.  I hemmed, and hawed, and finally settled on a non diet beverage. It felt weird and the experience just wasn't the same.  'Cause you were warm and familiar and delicious in an extremely bad kind of way.


This marks one week without you.  I have moments where I miss you terribly - others where I barely notice you are gone.  I don't think it's going to be easy to stay away - cause even though you are bad you feel so very good - but I'm going to try.

I deserve better.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Fifty Shades of Great? Why I Actually Kinda Liked the Movie...

So, I went to see the new Fifty Shades movie.

I'd read all the books during the great soft porn hype of 2013.  They were okay - I'd definitely read better...the author really wasn't a very good writer...but I enjoyed the story line.  I mean - come on - what girl doesn't secretly dream of a super rich, good looking guy swooping in to take her away from her life of drudgery?  So I read, I enjoyed, I discussed, and then I kinda forgot.  I probably read another 50 books between the time I finished the FSG trilogy and the movie premiere last night.

I think that helped.  A lot.

'Cause even though the books weren't well written I definitely had an idea in my head about Ana and Christian.  And I think the movie producers did an awesome job casting Ana.  The actress (I don't know her name but she IS the offspring of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) did a great job being Ana.  And her clothes?  Score!  I loved EVERY OUTFIT she wore.  Honestly, I spent the better part of the movie trying to figure out if I could pull off any of those seriously fab dresses.

Christian?  Well,  I was a bit disappointed.  My Christian was definitely taller and better looking with more poise and control.  This actor (also do not know his name OR his parents) did an alright job. He had a weird lip thing that made him look boyish when he smiled and for some reason that just did not jive with me.  MY Christian was anything but boyish.  Just sayin'.

Now - to the good stuff - the sexy scenes.  They were okay.  I'd definitely seen worse/more graphic on True Blood or Game of Thrones - lol - but they did the job.  I did find the final "punishment" scene a bit disturbing but mostly because that whole "hurts so good" thing is just a bit outside my wheelhouse - ya know what I mean?

It's funny really.  For a movie that got so much attention and hype - the theater was pretty darn empty.  Earlier in the day one of my favorite bloggers (Momastery) was asked about Fifty Shades - her opinion, whether she would go or not, and her response was "she didn't have time" for such things in her marriage and life.  This caused quite an active discussion.  Some people disagreed and thought it was a mindless distraction (myself included) while others actively agreed and felt it was disrespectful to women, to marriage, to life on earth.

However, my favorite comment of all was "Would you take Jesus with you to this movie and share popcorn and giggle about sex with him?"

Well,  I'm sure Jesus is way too busy to take time to see this silly little movie but if he was there I would FOR SURE share my popcorn with him.   We'd talk and chat about life, books, movie adaptations and question the lack of wisdom that keeps alcoholic beverages (particularly wine) out of movie theaters.  'Cause even though we snuck in some buddies (shhh...don't tell) this movie would have been 100 times better with a big glass of wine and a side room to giggle incessantly with my girls.

Overall, I would give the movie a 7.  I thought it was definitely 30 minutes too long (by the end I was checking my phone quite frequently) and there were some weird inconsistencies.  At one point Christian and Ana are texting and he mentions going out to dinner with a friend.  Ana immediately replies "Mrs. Robinson?" and then proceeds to cry for the next 10 minutes.  I knew what she was talking about - but if you hadn't read the book the reference really made no sense in the movie context.

So, yeah - not the best movie of all time.  But...we had a great time.  There was laughing, chatting, silly giggles and lots of girlfriend time which - in itself - is SO worth the $8.50 I spent on a ticket.

We'll definitely be back for Fifty Shades 2...with extra buddies in tow. :-)

Monday, January 12, 2015

New York, New York

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people.  A nation does not need to be cruel in order to be tough.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Hello from the Big Apple!

So, I’m actually writing this from the train – I feel so very urban!  As you may or may not know – I work from home in the beautiful state of Colorado.  My employer is located in Manhattan and I was lucky enough to fly out and spend a few days meeting everyone and seeing the sights.  Right before I left, I was telling  my boss I was a bit nervous about getting from Newark all the way to Times Square – and he laughed a bit and said “Just ask anyone on the street for help – New Yorkers LOVE that.  Ya know – being so nice and all.”


Now I don’t necessarily believe the hype that New Yorkers are mean.  I mostly believe they are busy people that don’t have the time for lost Coloradans wandering their streets asking for random directions.  None the less, I figured I’d been building up my kindness karma for well on 6 months now and should be good.  Even though, I made sure to start my trip on the right note.  On the plane ride out, I willingly switched seats so the very adorable little girl in the middle seat could sit next to her Mom – even though it meant I had to give up my aisle seat.  Well worth the sacrifice for a little extra good will, right?

So, I landed and began the journey from Newark to Times Square.  I was determined to make it there without incident AND without looking like a complete tourist tool.  I walked quickly, kept my head down and generally avoided eye contact.  I pulled my suitcase behind me with authority and whipped through the crowds at lightening speeds.  I was killing this whole NYC thing. :-)

Then – I couldn’t find my hotel.  I wandered a bit – not wanting to be THAT person who holds a map and stares dumbfounded around the big city – but still no success.

It was my moment of truth.  I needed help – it was freezing – I forgot my gloves and I just wanted to get inside and crash.  I looked around for a kind face – but everyone was rushing by at warp speed and judiciously avoiding eye contact.

Despite the lack of opportunity  I was GOING to ask for help!  I walked up to a nearby gentleman, smiled big and asked if he could help me find my hotel.  And guess what?  He didn’t ignore me, flip me off or call me a colorful name.  He simply smiled back and told me where I needed to go.

Simple.  No big deal.

I came, I saw, I conquered with kindness.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Giving, Goodness & Grace - Farewell 2014

“Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.” 
― Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace

Goodbye 2014 – Hello 2015.

I wanted to write a really eloquent post about 2014 and how doing the Kind Year changed me.  I was ready to wax poetic about how great it’s been, the joy I found in helping others and how the past 6 months have brought so much good to my life.

But the words didn’t come.  I don’t think I can end the year (or start a new one) talking about the good without discussing the bad.

Yes – being part of this experience has been amazing.  It truly has.  It’s made me think outside the box, put others first, and try to BE the change I’d like to see in the world.

It’s also been hard, challenging and somewhat depressing.  What I do is never enough.  The changes I make feel small and ineffective.  When I look back at the past six months (I started the Kind Year in July 2014) I do not see a string of success but instead a series of actions that may or may not have made a difference.

Even my signature project – the Adopt a Family – felt insufficient after all was said and done.  Initially – I was so proud of the efforts and all that was accomplished with the support of friends, family and strangers.  Strangers!!! That was the coolest part for me – people who were not tied to me in any tangible way cared enough to be part of it  - and put in time and money to help.

I collected the money, very very carefully chose the kiddo gifts, struggled to do right by this small family and on delivery day felt like I’d really done something worthwhile.

Then – a day or two later – there was a post on one of my FB groups from another woman seeking to help a family. A call – if you will – for support from everyone in the group.  Suddenly – people came out of the woodwork.  Money was donated, gifts sent, help given – and in the end – this person raised over $1000 for the family she adopted.

I felt like crap.

Yes – I know I shouldn’t compare my experience to that of others.

Yes – what I did was good – but somehow this other woman – without even trying – made my efforts look weak and ineffective.  What’s is $200 worth of stuff to a family of 4 when this lady raised $1000 plus food and items?
I hate this.  The self doubt.  Suddenly, my “special” feels cheap. What I did probably wasn’t enough.  I wondered if my “adopted” family sat around on Christmas morning wishing they had more and feeling disappointed that I really didn’t come through for them.

What am I doing?

Beating myself up.  Comparing myself to others. Assuming that people are disappointed, saddened and bereft because of me.

I don’t deserve this.  None of us do.

We (the collective us of Moms, Daughters, Wives) do the best we can.  Every. Single. Day.  We give and give and give until there is nothing left – and then dig down deep to our final reserves because someone we love needs us – for that last little give.

This is why I want to dedicate the month of January – the start of the New Year – to us.  The givers.  Those who try and try to do our best – but sometimes fail (for real or in our heads) and fall into a place of negativity and sadness as a result.

I’m here to tell you (and remind myself) that giving something – doing anything – is better than holding status quo.

On the cusp on this New Year – full of promise – I’m committing to kindness to all – including myself.
As we move into this year full of potential and promise – take a moment to look back at 2014.  Tell yourself you did good.  Give yourself the support you consistently give others.

You are worth it.  I am worth it.  We are worth it.

We just need a little grace.

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Just LOVE Playing Santa...Ho Ho Ho!

My job as Santa to my adopt-a-family is almost over.  The gifts are wrapped and set to be delivered today. Can I tell you that this has been – by far – one of the most amazing experiences of my life? To start an experiment in kindness as a lark and see it become a full fledged reality blows my mind. One person CAN make a difference!  And while my Kind Year is only half way through – I already know that kindness and caring really can bring people together.

Continue to give of yourself and be the magic of Christmas. 



Monday, December 15, 2014

The Greatest Gift of All....Time...

“The influence of a mother upon the lives of her children cannot be measured. They know and absorb her example and attitudes when it comes to questions of honesty, temperance, kindness, and industry.”
- Billy Graham

It’s the season!  The season of  over indulgence.  Excessive food, excessive drink, excessive fun.  I am guilty.  I partied like a rock star this weekend and I am feeling the effects.  I’m tired, and cranky, a just a bit toxic.  Ugh  - there is truth in the old saying about too much of a good thing. :-)

I also believe the concept applies to Christmas and gifts.  I am personally focused on doing  a “less is more” holiday this year. Since I’m a year round shopper I have a gift closet where I stash my “goodies”.  I took everything out last night and tallied it up.  I thought there would be a lot – but surprisingly, there really wasn’t.  While I love a “steal” and can’t resist a bargain, I actually cannot stand a lot of “stuff.”  It makes me crazy. One – because it’s just straight up waste – does my daughter really need 8 different types of Barbie dolls and 12 accessories for each?  I think not.   Two – because it’s distracting – she has so many choices that she actually plays with none of it – it just becomes overwhelming clutter.

So, my gift tally for baby girl came to 8 items – 3 of them American Girl doll outfits – which I decided was excessive.  I’m going to get rid of two sets and only give her one – that brings it down to 6 gifts.  New sneakers, a fleece top, new pjs, a board game, a Dollie and Me ballerina outfit, an American girl outfit (which I’m coupling with the ballet outfit) and a watch (which she requested).  My little guy has 5 items – a new warm up suit for swim team, a gold panning kit (don’t ask – the kid is obsessed with gold mining.  He built his own sluice in the backyard) a fun Smithsonian kit where he can break rocks and find crystals, new sneaks and a flight lesson.  Yes – my son  who has been obsessed with planes since he was a toddler  will get a chance to fly.  I am beyond the moon excited to give him this opportunity – I know it’s an experience that he’ll remember and treasure for the rest of his life.

We are also doing a family gift and taking a trip to the mountains.  We’ll spend 3 days at the YMCA camp in Estes Park  to celebrate the season. I’m super excited to have this time with my family and be able to get away from it all for a few days.  I’m hoping this starts a new tradition for us – one focused less on material things and more on experiences where we can spend active time together as a family.  This camp is SO COOL too – they have all sorts of fun stuff including a roller rink, an indoor swimming pool, archery, craft room and an endless stream of games and activities.  Our long weekend is already filling up with family fun and I’m so ready!!!

Overall, my goal is to put forward an experience that brings my family together.  I want them to associate holidays not with materialism – but with giving of oneself.  An opportunity to unplug, step away and be together – simply and quietly.  This has been the greatest side effect of my Kind Year journey.  Continually seeking kindness has enabled me to slow down and really appreciate the good in life.  In turn, I can then share those feelings and experiences with my family and bring them together in kindness and love.  They have watched, and participated, in many of the things I’ve done in the name of kindness.  And they amaze me with their ability to spread love, care and generosity to those they meet.  In a season focused on what you need and want, I’m so thankful to be able to say I already have it all.