I wore a ten-year old top to a fundraiser last weekend.  This shirt, with geometric black and white strips, belled sleeves and a cowl neckline I wore to a roommate’s wedding ten years ago.  I bought it new and spent too much money because I wanted to be the hip mom.    Now, it’s come back in style.  Does that make me retro?  Or trendy?  Vintage?

I had custom orthotics made for my shoes.  I spend all day in clunky tennis shoes eyeing orthopedic footwear at the mall.  I can’t run. I walk a slow pace these days.  My body creaks.  I sleep in an immobilizing boot.  Let’s call it body awareness or perhaps, an overuse injury.

I like my coffee hot.  Scalding.  The way my GiGi used to drink it.  I attributed her idiosyncrasy to age.  My reason is valid: skim milk espresso drinks don’t hold the heat like two percent, whole or soy.  Isn’t this true?

I left for a business trip Monday and needed a backpack.  I borrowed my daughter’s.  Two things to note are that I: 1) have a child old enough to have a backpack sized for me and that 2) I didn’t care that I was caring a bright, polka-dotted bag across the country.  So what?

But this morning…

I woke early to catch a flight home from the east coast.  I pulled on a brand new , never been worn before purple shirt, eight-year-old jeans, my clunky walking shoes with custom orthotic inserts and slung my ten-year-old’s polka dotted backpack over my shoulders.

It was 4:30 a.m.

I was a vision.

I drooled through the first flight and flung myself at the first Starbucks counter I could find while awaiting my connecting flight.  I ordered my latte extra hot.

Because I had time to kill I decided to walk, slowly.  The  concourse was bustling; we were a sea of sleepy travelers and coffee cups.  I set off boldly: purple shirt, polka-dotted book bag, orthopedic shoes, scorched coffee.  And, by now, a crazed head of frizzy, uncontrollable hair.

A vision I assure you.

I strolled for nearly 30 minutes through the Atlanta airport.  I arrived at the gate and finished my now lukewarm coffee in the middle of the concourse.  There was a hesitant tap on my shoulder.

“Excuse me, ma’am?” a soft-spoken woman interrupted.

I looked at her with quizzical eyes and the best morning smile I could muster…

“You have toilet paper hanging down the back of you,” she said gently and apologetically.

And so I did.

Trailing around behind me like a bride’s veil.  Bright white, fully intact, offering fantastic contrast to the purple shirt and polka dots.

Didn’t I say vision?

I’m sure NO one else had noticed…

I laughed out loud, blushed and looked at my watch.

35 minutes.

That’s how long it had been since I’d used the restroom.  And that’s how long my fellow travelers at the Atlanta airport had been staring at my crazy, toilet-papered self.

The younger me would have noticed the risk immediately; I would have checked the mirror ensuring that I was all pulled together before walking out into a sea of strangers.

But, I’m (gulp) aging (did I say it?) and I don’t give a shit.  This morning, I didn’t want the fluorescent lighting to lure me into counting the gray hairs on my head before my first cup of coffee.

The woman rushed to find the words to fill the awkward space that existed now while I was grabbing at my ass and balancing my coffee.  I turned around, thanked her profusely and noticed her eyes drift to my purple shirt.

Extraordinary.

That’s what it says.

I’d been parading around the airport with toilet paper hanging off my ass in a purple shirt with the word EXTRAORDINARY emblazoned across my chest.

(Cue the laughter…)

Most of the time we consider ourselves extra ordinary. Which is why parading around an airport with toilet paper adorning your body could probably happen to any of us.

However, really, we are all extraordinary.

Everyday. In a million different ways.

So – to the brave, kind stranger who risked telling me the truth – thank you.  I’ll pay it forward in extraordinary fashion.

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Confession: I am a sun girl.  I can’t get enough of it.

Confession: I went to tanning beds in college.  In the winter I’d make my appointments early in the morning and drive my roommate’s car so I wouldn’t have to trudge through the dark (5:00 a.m.) and snow (Oxford, OH).  I craved the heat, the light and the mood that it induced in me (a yet to be diagnosed case of Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Confession: I think I look better with a tan.

Confession: I went to the dermatologist for the first time at age 35.  My friend’s were being diagnosed with melanoma.  I decided it was time to make sure my sun-loving self hadn’t damaged my skin.

Confession:  I found a mole on my 10-year-old two months ago. The mole was on her clavicle.  It appeared to be two different colors. I panicked.  I was scared.  Moles? Changing shapes? Different colors? Her summer was defined by rash guards and sun block while we waited to get into the pediatric dermatologist.

Confession: She has had one sunburn because I forgot to reapply.

Last week she had the mole burned off.  She was given a set of instructions for monitoring her skin and a follow-up appointment for six months.

Relief washed over me in that I hadn’t waited too long.  Fear now lingers because her skin is vulnerable.

Tonight I stumbled upon this awesome video (thanks Brene Brown).

Please watch.  Share.  For my daughter and for yours.


Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~ Mary Oliver

In honor of the day, the people, the decade – let’s all ask this question of ourselves. Those who sacrificed their lives, their health, their families did so that the rest of us could live fully, exuberantly, and graciously.

I’ve wondered, what will I do?  What should I do?  Am I doing it right?  I’ve spent many moments altering my answer.  I seem to have a hard time sticking to a singular plan.

But perhaps that is actually the perfect response.

To honor those we lost we must live fully.  The question of how to do this seems so easy yet it is nearly impossible to put into play.  How do we live fully?  How do we know if we are living the life we were meant to?

I’d suggest that:

  • we should live a life that is an evolving canvas of decisions and choices.  Our world should be full of change.
  • we should be doing the right thing, which means always doing things differently and sometimes doing things wrong.
  • we should be helping others, publicly or privately.
  • we should stop and talk to strangers, listen so that we can see, extend a hand so that we can pick them up.
  • we should smile unabashedly.
  • we should be teaching our children to ask questions which means we never stop asking them ourselves.   What does hope look like?  How does courage feel?  When is change really changing something?
  • we should be mentoring, supporting, encouraging others which means accepting our imperfect selves.
  • we forgive.

Today, the brave acts of so many should remind us of the simplicity and brevity of our lives.  It is a small deed, gesture or simple word that can change the life of someone else – someone who may always remember that you were the person who gave them exactly what they needed at the precise moment that they needed it.

I am inspired by those who lost and yet continue to live.   I am renewed by those who grieve and yet are able to give.  I am overwhelmed when recalling the fear that was etched on the faces of the brave.  Every act a contradiction, and yet, now an ongoing conviction of all that we were, all that we are and all that we will continue to be.

I hope to look back a decade from now and see that my family, my community, my country and the world were filled with people brave enough to take a stand and impart change.  Our impact may be public or private.  It may be something we do on behalf of many or just one.  It may be something we do for ourselves.

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?


Four years ago we installed the first lock on the closet door.  It was a small hook and eye, placed about four feet off the ground.  It wasn’t meant to “lock” them out completely, we just wanted to make it harder for them to get inside.

You see – the “costume” (read: clothing) changes were exhausting.  I couldn’t count the number of outfits and the volume of clothes that my youngest two daughters went through in a day.  I was lost in a flurry of cotton within minutes of sending them in to get dressed.  Yes, I know.  It’s all my fault.  I trusted the three-year old to get her baby sister dressed. But folks, she wanted to do it.  She loved it. And, honestly,  I was tired and busy doing something for them so independent dressing sounded like a great idea.  

However, the quick minded three and half-year old and her eighteen-month-old side kick were smarter than me.  They easily reached the lock (it’s called a stool mom – uh, duh…).

Bullshit.

I was determined to win.

We bought a thicker hook and eye lock.  We drilled a hole about five and a half feet off the ground into the closet door.  We stood back and high-fived.  For a moment, I saw peace and sensibility.  My home was on the verge of tranquility.  There would be no more clothing strewn about.  No more drama over t-shirts and colors.  No more tears shed over clothes (from them or me).  It was done.  Easy.

I won.

For about three months I was triumphant until they busted the lock and our house was once again showered in pink and purple and blue and green.  Dirty.  Clean. Underwear, socks, leotards, t-shirts, pajamas, shoes covered every room. It was overwhelming.  It was consuming.

It was bullshit.

The little princesses were not going to win.

I ripped off the broken lock and installed a sliding monster of security.  A huge lock (think deadbolt) that had to be moved in and out of place.  We put it at the top, maybe six feet of the ground.  My friends thought I was crazy  (how many people lock their kids out of the bedroom closet?).  They questioned my reasoning, no doubt thinking I was a case of neat freak gone nuts.  I can only imagine what the cul-de-sac conversations sounded like when my kids mentioned the new lock.

I didn’t care.  I couldn’t handle it.  I couldn’t handle them.  There were no other answers.

The clothes were locked in.

We opened the closet in the morning and selected an outfit.  We shut the door and locked it.  Chaos stayed behind the locked door.  It was so easy.  I could control what happened.

I loved all seven days of it.  Then, they broke it and I gave up.  Gave in.   I am not sure what the proper preposition is to end the ordeal, but, in short, I lost.

Total bullshit.

I had to figure out how to make peace with the clothing drama.  The color drama. The “I have NOTHING good to wear” drama.

I still haven’t figured it out (but I’d love some suggestions).

Now, two years later, I have a five and a seven-year old that are still sharing a room and, for the first time, getting up tomorrow morning to go to school.  Together.

In hindsight, the closet lock was unnecessary.  However, tomorrow would be an ideal time for an effective sliding lock. A deadbolt for my heart.

I’d like the kind of lock that I could fasten into place and know that my baby would be safe from the growing pains that are just around the corner.  I would slide the lock into place and protect her from the heartache of making friends and losing friends. I’d keep out the insecurity that accompanies learning and failing.  I’d not let the fear of falling and finding her footing and her way in this world impede or shadow her happiness.

The ideal sliding lock would be tethered around my older daughters who, until now, I deemed safe because we had a youngest, an innocent, still at home.  I’d lock them in and keep them vulnerable and innocent – which is easy to be when there is a baby in the house.  I’d lock the cruelty out.  I’d lock the fear and doubt and teenage angst out.  I’d keep the wide eyes and ridiculous questions.  Hell, I’d even keep the bullshit costume changes if it meant I could lock them all in a hysterical stupor of giggles.

If the damn lock had worked, I’d be using it on myself.   I’d be locking out the rapid heartbeat that took over when I kissed the girls goodnight.  I’d lock out the frantic thoughts of my own aging that is juxtaposed against theirs.  I’d lock out the fear that tomorrow, they are all one step closer to not needing me.  I’ve been hiding behind the warm, fuzzy statement that, “my youngest is still in preschool.”

She isn’t anymore.

And, there is no way to lock them in and keep them safe.

I suppose the mature and rational thing to do is to walk them all in to the same school, at the same time, kiss them goodbye and walk away.  I’m going to do that.  If you see me tomorrow I’ll be all brave and happy and I’ll be mumbling something about how I am SO ready for this…

Bullshit.

When I come home there will be at least 10 outfits strewn about from the morning mayhem of getting dressing and I will stare at the closet that doesn’t lock and hold my coffee and listen to nothing.

Silence.

Locking them out of their closet failed.

Thinking I could lock them in time failed.

But locking them into my heart, imprinting their innocence and their vulnerable existence on my soul…

I’m pretty sure that lock is foolproof.



I am leaving in five minutes for BlogHer ’11. I will be among 3000 women (and a few men from what I gather) for the next two days immersed in social media, blogging, social media, networking, social media and world peace.

I cannot wait to go, to learn, to share. And, let’s be honest, I am really excited to drink coffee alone in the car and not hear my children’s voices fighting, crying and whining. (Does that make me awful?)

I’ll be tweeting for the next two days – follow me.

I imagine I’ll be back from my extended summer writing break soon thereafter.

My personal assistant just returned with a full tank of gas for the drive.

I’m off.


I am attending my first “blogging” conference in less than two weeks and can promise you that I have a great deal planned in the upcoming months (new revelations, interviews, inspiration and new design – hint, hint).

However, Monday was the first day of summer in our house and I’ve been forced into a writing siesta.  I am going to try to enjoy the break and our adventure.

It started with me and my three in California.

It ends with me, my three and two more (of the ten and under crowd) in California.

Imagine the scenario…

In the meantime, will the East coast please chill the vodka?

Stay tuned.

vodka

Today was the day before the last day.  Tomorrow is the end of the school year. Tomorrow afternoon I will have three kids in elementary school.

Three.

Eight weeks from now I’ll be gearing up for the beginning of the new school year. Fifth grade?  Second grade? Kindergarten?  Bring it.  I love beginnings.

Preschool ending?  Forever?  I’m not so good with it.  Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic. Perhaps it is guilt because I’ve wished so many of these hours and days to go by faster.  I can’t put my finger on it but I know that I’m not OK.

Recently, #3’s taken to reminding me of all the things that I forget.  I forget lunches, I forget to change the laundry, I forget my purse.  I overheard her explaining to her girlfriend that I’m a “forgetty” mom.  She may be right – I do spend a lot of time backtracking and re-doing things.  For the better part of five years I’ve been waiting for #3 to stop hanging on me, to go to school without crying, to be out of the house for seven hours a day. When she starts school, I won’t have anyone around to judge my forgetfulness.  I won’t have to explain myself.  That’s good, right? Continue reading ‘their last day. my last one.’


the footlocker

09Jun11

A year ago I was living in North Carolina, waiting for my husband to come home from a deployment and planning a cross-country move.  He’s home.  We’ve moved.  We’re planning our summer and projecting into our future.  Yet, over the past year, so many of our friends’ relationships have ended.  I find myself stuck between feeling guilty about and feeling gratitude for the marriage that I have, the friend that I cherish, the man that I love.  Tonight I am relaxing with some blueberry cobbler while Trevor’s playing the guitar.  It’s momentarily idyllic and I was reminded of a post from last June that I thought I’d share again.  I’ll be back with some new posts soon.  In the meantime, I’m wishing this for you tonight… Continue reading ‘the footlocker’


wannabes

02Jun11

I believe in role models.  As the oldest of four girls, the notion of role-modeling has been emblazoned on me since I was, well – since forever.  I’ve tried to live up to the expectations that were put out there and, along the way, I cultivated expectations of my own.  I am certain my sisters would tell you that I was bossy, demanding and unreasonable – at times, I’m sure I was.  But I also know that I made certain choices because I had six eyes watching me, and from time to time, I tried to do the “right” thing by them.

I followed the rules (most of the time).

I tried to live honestly and to express gratitude (I still do).

I made the best decisions I could and always put forth my best effort (which didn’t always make me popular or get me far but it felt good).

Now, I am not only one of the sisters, I am raising sisters.  Hence, I am working on how to effectively teach, model and create ways to impress upon my girls how to treat one another, their friends, and themselves.  It can be a bit daunting in this fast-paced age of gadgetry and instantaneous gratification.

Enter: Girls on the Run, a three-month program that uses running and phenomenal curriculum to impart life lessons on girls between the 3rd and 5th grades. Continue reading ‘wannabes’


I’m going to go ahead and say it because there is no sense in dragging this out…

How about a little respect dude?

I spent the morning chaperoning a group of lively first graders.  Fun, right? (Umm, sometimes.) My daughter was delighted and I was, well, a bit taken aback.  The field trip itself was fine and I once again vowed my awe and admiration for elementary school teachers (how do they do it?).

But, I was bothered by the attitude. It troubled me.  No  – that’s a lie.

It pissed me off.

Call me old-fashioned.  Call me a prude.  Call me whatever you want but I’m going to be bold here and make a huge generalization – our kids don’t respect us because we aren’t doing a good job teaching them about respect.  

There.  I said it.

There is no reason that a seven-year-old should be questioning or mocking or arguing with the request of the adult that is in charge.  Period.

My kids are absolutely forbidden from speaking to adults that way, meaning, you say yes ma’am with a smile.   But . . . they back talk me.  Let me get that out there so that you don’t  think that I am lecturing to you about how to teach respect; I don’t know.  I’m their mother which gives them carte blanche to express their dismay and to challenge me.  I don’t agree with it; I scream about it, “How dare you speak to me that way?”  In the moment, it feels good but it’s never effective. I confess: I did the same.  So did you.  That’s what kids do – they push their parents to the brink with their smartass mouths and rolling eyes.  OK.  Fine.

But with teachers?  Coaches?  Chaperones?  Other parents?  Umm, no. Not cool.

Here’s what I propose:

1) Insist on respect.  I’m talking about the good old-fashioned kind.  When people speak, you listen.  Stop talking.   Make eye contact.  Shake hands.  Say thank you.  What’s happened to this?  Youngsters and tweens must learn that you have to show respect to earn respect.  Make them.  Have them practice with you.  Send them back to say thank you.  It’s not enough to ask them if they did and take their word for it.  Be there, however inconvenient it may be for you, to make sure that your kid is following through on the expectations that you’ve set for them.

2) Be appalled.  Our job is to follow through with proper repercussions when our kids behave inappropriately.  We have to hold them accountable which means we must also hold ourselves accountable (gasp!).  When your kid spits on another adult at a playdate (true story folks) you better respond accordingly.  It’s not all right and, by the way, they did mean it so react dammit.  And, for the record, react immediately.  Some conversations can wait until you get home and some cannot. Disrespect to others is an immediate show stopper: you stop, they stop, everything stops so that you can impress upon your children appropriate, acceptable, respectful behavior.  I’m not saying you have to spend thirty minutes in this suspended world but taking thirty seconds to reprimand, correct and model – that’s hardly a dent in anyone’s timetable.

3) Lead by example.  They are watching us all the time so if you are wondering why your kids don’t look at you when you’re talking or why they never answer when you call them or why they interrupt their friends thoughts all the time – self reflect. When your kids talk to you, do you put your phone down and stop texting long enough to listen?  When they call your name, do you answer right away?  How do you talk to your friends?  Your partner?  This is what is being modeled so be aware. And, so long as you know you are being watched,  please do not let others kids be disrespectful to you.  What?  Huh? When we back away from uncomfortable situations, we are being complacent.  If my kid disrespects you – call them on it.  If your’s disrespects me, trust me, I’ll do the same.  This isn’t about using a village; this is about decency and moral standards and saving our society from slipping away into an abyss of coded, unspoken language that exists only on mobile devices.

4) Follow through.  You can’t pledge to do this for a week – this must be at the core of your parenting.  Respecting others is what propels us forward; it keeps us out of trouble, it fosters friendships, it breeds confidence and self-assurance.  If you want the world to respect your children for who they are and to not impose social expectations on them, don’t keep their gender a secret, raise them to respect themselves, to respect you and to respect others.

Today was rough.

But, it ended up rather hopeful: a brave parent set an example of patience, an amazing teacher upheld her expectations and a forward-thinking parent followed-up.

Amen.