I’ve been blessed many times by the people in my life. I am blessed that I have been given so many opportunities. Many challenges have presented themselves to me which have rocked me to my core – challenging who I am, what I believe and what my purpose is in this world…in my life.

I have had low, lows and high, highs. Every trial or speed bump, every tear of joy, laughter, and kind humanity blesses me.  I have been so grateful in my life and the best part is my heart is open not hardened and dark from my struggle.   I do, have a wonderful life.  Yes, I am a work in progress and I am always learning.  I learn from “my people,” my friend’s, my family, I learn from reading, I learn from my experiences small and large.

I have this friend, who…I can’t quite explain in words how much she means to me.  How much I need her and I believe she needs me just as much. (Or at least, that’s what I would like to think.) We aren’t neighbors but if the circumstances presented themselves, I would jump on that train in a heartbeat.  I am amazed by her compassion, her loyalty, her attitude – nothing gets in her way and she is the most determined woman I know. Her laughter and kindness can and will change the world.

We have spent hours and hours talking – the light conversation and the heavy dirty shit that we bury deep inside, we sit in silence, we laugh and we laugh well – without control, we do not guard our souls, our secrets, or truths from each other.  We are exactly alike but also different. We fit together perfectly, we balance each other, when I am weak she is strong, when she is weak I am strong.  Our playfulness began years ago, now when it gets physical she somehow, can pin me to the floor and cover me in spray cheese until I beg for mercy.  Someday, I will get her back and I will be the champion.

She pushes me to charge full speed ahead toward my fears and we both find humor in things that others would not.  This is the best feeling – we just get each.  There could be a room of hundreds of people but for us, we are the only ones there.  We cry together, I feel safe with her, I lean on her – when she is in town, I fight for the seat next to her. I drive her crazy like I did when I was younger but we don’t have the line down the center of the room any more and she hasn’t tied me up in tights lately (due to me annoying her).

I love her deeply and wish I could see her every day. If you know someone like this tell them, let them know because moments pass and the opportunity can too.

She came first and I came second.

My sister, my friend.

For Cole

“Love you babe, Love you, Mom”

For Cole:

You are 13 today! The unconditional love you have for others is amazing, take that with you as you get older.  Your kindness will change everyone who comes to know you.

When I wake you each morning, I slowly creak the door open and literally you fly up from laying flat in bed with a gasp.  You are always quick to wake as if the house is on fire.  I am sorry because I have said this to you and like lighting you start flying around trying to figure out what you need to take but when you look up at me I just can’t contain my laughter. You always walk to me for a hug, I stay in the doorway just to get that hug from you. I love the way you hug and I love the way you hug everyone in the family, (really everyone) – at holidays, that is a lot of hugging.  Don’t ever stop doing that. Each any everyone you hug notices, by this you show them your heart.  You take the time for each and everyone of them, showing them they are special to you. You always vocalize your love. And it matters!

Babe, you need to start eating!  There are so many flavors…just try! As a baby you were always very picky but if I have to smell pedisure one more time in my life I will throw up.  Yes, you stopped drinking that a long time ago.  But you can’t live on carbs, pizza, grilled cheese, lasagna, nachos and or any other of the processing foods you love.  There are so many amazing foods, tastes, crazy or not, but food can give you a feeling, it can create a memory.  (Just as your pedisure did for me.) Try something I BEG you, you are hating me at every meal right now because I make you try one thing new every meal. We have figured out that canned green beans, mashed potatoes and steak make you gag.  As you grow you WILL need more food and all different kinds of food to fuel your body, to keep you growing, healthy, and active! Just give it a try!

You are 5 ft. tall, you may be the smallest in our family but son, you are mighty!  Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you can’t do anything, YOU CAN do anything you want! Never feel defeated, QUIT the self doubt: believe you are amazing!  You may learn in your own unique way, you may get the correct answer to a math problem that was not the way you were taught and you may encounter teacher’s who don’t take the time to understand the way you learn. Fight for yourself, speak up, if you need to stay after school or come to school early make that happen even if you’d rather sleep in.  It shows great character and strength.

You have had and will continue to have teachers notice you.  If you do the work, you will be noticed and teachers will notice your efforts. I believe I am a good teacher and I am confident I am, just as I am a writer. Far-away Grandpa was an exceptional teacher.  You have people all around you that can help and what is so amazing about you is that you are becoming your best advocate. I have been your advocate since your birth, I will continue to be. In the last two years, teachers continuously tell me you know how to ask the tough questions, you advocate for yourself, you are patient, and you don’t give up. I know you get frustrated, Bud. And I do too, trying to figure out how to solve two-step equations (fractions and mixed numbers) with the homework you bring home, seems impossible to me.  Then, once you work it through you are required to show your work backwards to prove it and write it out in sentences and don’t forget to write “yes” next to the problem and the “I can” statement (oh, and each answer stands for a letter which then solves a word puzzle at the bottom of the page).  Seriously honey, I’m baffled by this. I will learn to help you (although hopefully it will not take an hour like this most recent math assignment). I am in fact, learning with you and from you. I am just as excited as you are when we get to that last problem. In all honesty, I understand why teachers are teaching in this “new” way, I understand they are required by the state but there is always an acceptation to everything. If they are great teachers they will take the time to pay attention to how you learn the best and provide to you what you need to be successful and feel success even if testing says something else. There aren’t two pupils alike in a classroom.  Not everyone, can be taught inside the confines of a cookie cutter.  You have the tools to succeed in school. If you need to pave your way, you have those “dedicated” teachers around you – teach them as they teach you!

You have a wonderful sense of humor, your quick-witted, and bright.  You often say things that make us all laugh in any situation because of your wit and humor.  This is a great trait. You have already figured out how to lift the spirit of an entire room of people with your sense of humor and infectious smile and laughter.  You have great character. I am told by many people in your life that you lift their spirits everyday. I don’t think you even know it but this will take you far in life. You are grateful, happy, you draw other people to you, you do not judge, you love deeply and are empathetic.

Your empathy is something beautiful and you share it.  You would give away your lunch (which you have done), you take snacks/lunch for kids you tell me that aren’t eating), the clothes on your back, you make me tea when I am sick, you cover up your brother when he is sleeping, when I have a rough day you always surprise me with something that makes me gasp inside. If I take shower and have been sick you often take the time to lay out an entire “comfy” pile of clothes along with soft socks, a pillow, blanket and ice water. You sit with me when I am sick which is something I will never forget. I have never told you but I hate to be alone when I am sick. These things you do make me speechless.

There is ONLY one unique you and you need to open up at bit more and because you have so many life skills that other kids your age are completely unaware of.  Show this off! Be confident!

Cole, I know when you are down, you come to me and sometimes in tears, you like hugs and you fight through those tears and you have so much to say.  I wish I could take away your fears, your self doubt but when you are down and you don’t know why, please come to me and keep talking don’t hide how you feel with me. You are brilliant and at times in your life you will struggle and pushing on may feel like the hardest thing in your life at that time but you can and will survive and what will be on the other side will be beautiful moments and experiences. The world is a never ending place of beauty, explore it!

BE BRAVE!! Stop worrying about the numbers and letters you see on your report cards not a single thing on those papers show people anything about you…you will see them more as you get older because unfortunately, they are a part of going to school but let them go, do the best you can for those letters and numbers DO NOT define you.

Challenge yourself!  You do not need to live within the confines of your immediate surroundings. You have great ambition and you are passionate. I love that you don’t take things to seriously however, as you grow; there is a time and place to step it up! Don’t question yourself in these moments, get up, say what you need to, stay standing even if you feel alone (you will never be alone). Be Bold!  Be Inspired and inspire others. Keep surprising people!

Always love your family and continue to show it, I don’t know why I even write these words because at 13- you already do this!! This quality in you is priceless! Your brother has your back but the day will come when he will need you no matter what it requires of you…just be there! He may be five inches taller but don’t cave every time he comes at you with words or in play, it is in your nature to do this but when you do stand up to him (believe me, it will happen) be strong, out wit him, show him he can’t always win. This will empower you, life requires you to kick it’s butt sometimes even if it’s your little brother’s, still love him no matter what you go through together. I know you can do any you want in this huge world. Never get complacent and show people how you view the world and always lead with your heart.

Happy 13th birthday, my love!

“Love you babe, Love you, Mom”

Looking for a Laugh…

After some time away for the holidays and now back home again, I felt like I had my feet under me enough that I could tackle the returns and my long list of errands. Today I made it my personal mission to get all the errands done in one day.  I often power through as much as I can when it comes to errands, instead of a slow dilly-dally day checking things off my list whenever. I typically take on the attitude, “let’s get this shit done as fast as possible,” I want to race to get all the monotony out of the way to hopefully, end the day with a sense of accomplishment and a calmness that will carry me into a relaxing evening. All of it has to get done and well, I am the only one who is going to do it. So, I packed the car and took off on this 17-degree day.

I value my time, how I want to spend it, and with whom I want to spend it with and no matter how hard I try there isn’t enough time in a day to get everything done. People might think because I don’t have a typical office job that I don’t work and have all the free time in the world but the fact of the matter is, I am busier than I ever was when I had an office job.  I have a schedule and I book up my days and move things around to fit people and tasks into my days.  The idea that I sit around eating bon-bons, taking naps, braiding my hair, waiting to hear from you/anyone or anything’s beck and call…is just bullshit! It sounds unreal but for me it is very true! (A tiny rant, oops!)

As I closed in on my second to last errand on the list, I took a deep breath. I walked into the brightly lit, shiny black floor with pink hues all over store.  It was packed literally, shoulder to shoulder of mostly women and very few men, fighting to get to the underwear and bra bins as if it was Black Friday.  I had only walked a few feet into Victoria’s Secret (VS) and I giggled out loud. I knew my smile brightened, I felt sincere joy and a little crazy for a few moments.  I was elated when observing the craziness of people swarming for underwear and bras, arms full, and the bras and underwear were all over the floors and hanging out of the bins.  I have never seen anything like It.

A  frenzy like Black Friday – which I have avoided for years because (in my opinion) it is completely insane and I have no idea why anyone would stand in line for hours at 4am to get a free snow globe the size of a small child’s fist, while being shoved from behind and knocked down to the ground to get a cheap token for arriving so early (lucky you)…..the cussing, violence, and crazies who come out in drones even before Friday starts; midnight the night before….furthermore, in five more years will people be standing in line the Wednesday before….and get this….stores don’t even give out the free snow globes anymore. (But hey, to each their own and I am not passing judgment on anyone.)  So, in my mind whether or not it’s tradition why in the hell, would anyone want to be a part of something like this.  It seems to me that it would be similar to the airport on Christmas eve.  (Please take no offense to my personal opinions about Pre-Black Friday sales, actual Black Friday sales, and Cyber Monday, I think there may have been something about Tuesday this year but regardless, you get what I am saying).

I am standing there giggling trying to decide if I am going to enter in the crazy zone, while a woman walks by and welcomes me with the words, “hey, kitty cat” and asks if I know my bra size.  I shook my head up and down signally yes and biting my tongue because of what she just called me; I knew that if I opened my mouth “WTF” would blurt out without a doubt!

I narrowed my sight and said to myself, “let’s get this shit down”.  I entered and decided just get what you need and get out, I was looking for a specific bra.  Anyway, as I continued through the labyrinth of hot pink bins, the lines to the register were the same as Black Friday lines.  I thought to myself, “WTF again”, and was in sheer shock at the amount of people waiting to pay. Did everyone in the store run out of bras, underwear, and all things VS on the same day??

(FYI – VS was having a “semi-annual sale”, this place has been added to my list of places to NEVER go during certain times of the year. Imagine:  Black Friday sales but in a multi-perfumed shoebox size store that only carries what you wear under your clothes or honestly, gets ripped off your body in a matter of minutes! I have never experienced this type of shopper except on the original Black Friday.)

There were three lines and all must have been running by new employees because I stood there for nearly twenty-five minutes to buy two bras. The woman in front of me and another next to me were both fidgeting, looking at the ground and scanning the store, both already had bags in their hands and seemed as if they may rob the place.  In my head, I assumed they were making returns and I didn’t really want to think about the idea that these items could have been used. Both of their behaviors were so strange, I couldn’t figure out why they looked so uncomfortable…but the tags were no longer attached to the return items. (Hey, I have worked in retail a lot and someone once tried to return shoes to me because their dog peed in them. True story!) (Rant, sorry).

Both women got to the counter at the same time and handed their bags to the employees to empty the garments and both women patted them down on the counter as if it was a secret or they were trying to returning edible underwear, it was something that made me laugh to myself because if you enter this store it is very specific to what you will be buying. We all know what we were doing in there…except I personally skipped over the underwear bins.

I happily went to the counter, spoke to the employee, she shared with me what her favorite bra was, and I know I had a smile and probably seemed a bit crazy because I think I actually giggled out loud…again.  Simply, I was humored and in ahhh! The maybe 40 minutes I was in the store; it was one humorous scenario after another.  I paid, said goodbye to the “kitty-cat” woman and headed to the car. I was wholeheartedly smiling joyously and giggling.

In the car and on my way to the bank …I was finally free to laugh out loud and uncontrollably.

So, if any of you are feeling tired, down, weary, or sad head on over to your local VS and people watch for a bit! Guaranteed to make you smile.

Bottling Wine & Victoria’s Secret

Cake By The Ocean By DNCE

I woke from a terrible nights sleep with plans to hang with a friend for the day.  It was the only thing that got me going this morning.  Some days it’s just the coffee, other days it’s a text, and some day’s life surprises you. It’s those days that I want every day. The ones that knock you back on your heels and something spontaneous catches you off guard. I want more of those days!

As for today, plans change as they do and my plans got cancelled so I spent an hour writing, randomly cleaning, and generally, feeling pathetic. I put that on myself, I choose to behave like a toddler. Instead of wallowing in my messy hair, pjs, and old teal slippers, I called my sister who told me to put my big girl panties on and go do something. So, I made a new plan to have a me day!

Then I got another text and plans changed again. So, rather than trying to dwell on why, when, what the hell? Should I go with my new plan or the original one? I switched gears and was in the car.

I went with it! Isn’t that what life should really be about? Just going for it. Or the cliché’ “just do it”.  With in an hour, I was throwing my head back in laughter and I realized I was in the beginning of one of those days that would knock me back on me heels.  There is something to be said for a day of solitude and quiet contentment but sometimes you just need another person.  And yesterday I spent the day with a dear friend.

I was with one of my tribe yesterday. She gets me and laughs as much as I do and has a slightly inappropriate sense of humor and nothing is off limits. Our slightly edgy attitude I am sure makes people notice us but I think it is just because we are sincerely laughing the entire time we are together. And damn, laughter is the best medicine. (I can think of one other thing better but I will keep this PG-13.)

Funny how fast your mood can change? You can feel one way and it changes in the blink of an eye by the people you surround yourself with.  Life is too short for feeling miserable in the few moments we may or may not have left in our lives on this earth.  Don’t hold back, try everything, and don’t let someone else’s shit drag you down. And lately, I am trying to teach myself to stop thinking so much and stop asking why, who, what, where, and when.  (Insert: I have always been an over-thinker and recently, I have been encouraged to get out of my own head!! This is powerful once you start but I have fallen off the wagon a few times.)

We started our day with an impromptu photo-shoot for me at a vineyard and I drug my friend along.  Followed by some wine bottling, yes, I said wine bottling. (A first for both of us.) My wrists are killing me but I am willingly going back tomorrow for more.  We bottle and capped a few hundred bottles and I was spurted about five times in the face with wine, I did have white on early today but quickly changed.  Damn, was I lucky. So, I didn’t actually get to taste the wine but did as it ran down my face to my lips as I sprayed myself.  (Insert: very inappropriate thought.) After a quick taste of the aged dessert wine we were off to return a few bras, get school supplies, see a movie…and in no particular order.

We talked over each other, listened to music so loud we were slightly yelling at each other, trying to figure out what to do next, and started about seven different conversations.

As we landed ourselves in Victoria’s Secret it was a great laugh to watch all the men/boys walking around a few steps behind each of their ladies…embarrassed as if they didn’t want to show that they really wanted their ladies to buy the inappropriate lacey undergarments while their ladies were only picking up the granny panties.  It was awesome, we were there for an hour and I did not see a single man/boy touch a single pair of panties. (Insert: these guys are going to tear the lingerie off their woman’s body later, so why not touch it now? Baffling!)  I was interested in looking at bras, panties, and sexy silk and lace things which were in one corner of the store.

Giggling to myself as I got a thong stuck on a few hangers which I could not figure out how I did and my awful attempt to untangle them with one hand, coffee and purse in my other, I shoved the shitty mess back in the rack and escaped from a lady coming toward me in her black outfit and pink measuring tape over her shoulder.  (What is it about the sales women wanting to confirm your bra size? If you know what size shirt, jeans, and shoes you wear…no one ever asks you to confirm that shit…if I am shopping for a bra and panties, I don’t need that confirmed either…. especially by a woman who continuously calls everyone in the dressing room “kitten” …. yes, “kitten”!  WTF! Someone needs to teach her a new word! (Side note: I have hated the word “panties” my entire life and am so proud that I now have typed it repeatedly but it will never fall from these lips! Small victories, right!) After the kitten lady gave us a loud talk about women’s bodies being soft and men loving it, after all we gave them babies…I was sincerely puzzled by her anorexia skinny body and her passion behind what she was trying to convince us of and that my friend kept trying to quiet me from laughing after the kitten lady could not figure out our issues with side boob.

Needless to say, I knocked some planners, yes, school planners from the store into the trash can and curiously tried to picture the mother who would buy a lingerie brand planner for their young daughter?? With the swipe of my credit card from the grouchiest sales girl in the store, I wanted to go get “kitten” lady to give some of her spice to “Heather”.  She reeked of bad attitude and should not be allowed at any check-out counter dealing with people.

Next stop, theatre.  We bought tickets to see Bad Moms which some may think, how cliché’. But all moms should watch this movie!  We always go to the same theatre where you can eat, drink, and watch all in one place…that is NOT our own home!! We got there early and laughter proceeded as always and she was trying to shut me up as she laughed just as loud. The theatre was not empty and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  So, our laughter broke the silence up a bit.  We ordered our cocktails and food and the lights dimmed.  It was in that moment my kids decided to start calling me and texting me.  (I promised I would always answer.)  It is strange to me that they always want me when I am gone when they could walk 100 yards to the shop and ask their dad.  I wasn’t going to start being a “bad mom” in that moment so I answered the phone and my one son had made an entire plan about having dinner with grandma and spending the night…and the only thing I could do where I was as the movie had started was say, “call your dad!”

The movie was perfect, I have felt all the things as a mom that were portrayed in that movie and if all of you moms out there can’t admit to feeling to at least one of those things, I just don’t believe you! It must have been senior day…because the people in the theater were either so old they don’t remember what it was like to have kids, never had kids, were on a date, or too young to simple understand the concept of being a parent! However, we were our own pair of mom’s laughing through the entire movie because it was all relative and things that we have felt and totally exaggerated!! Again, more laughter for the day!!

I came home to an empty house filled with solitude after my two drinks…something kicked in…the writer in me.  I had half away made it down the hall turned the shower on half undressed and well, put my clothes back on and turned the water off.  In that moment, in the quiet…I grabbed my computer and I couldn’t stop writing.

Sitting alone in my house, I wrote and laughed, wrote and laughed. Yes, out loud. So, although my day didn’t go the way I planned it would, I did figure out how to just be in the moment the entire day (I did something new bottled wine), relished in the sound of laughter, and rounded off the day doing what I am most passionate about – writing.

Now, isn’t that a perfect day?!