Friday, March 9, 2012

A Spring Fling

This time of year always gets me.  It happened the other day as I was darting around Target.  I went in for a solitary bottle of vitamins, and I came out with a jumbo bag of plastic Easter eggs.  And some festive Easter sprinkles for the truly scrumptious cut-out cookies that I envision myself baking.  And a bag of miniature chocolate Easter eggs.  (Ok, two bags.)

By the time March rolls around, I am beyond exhausted with Buffalo's gray uni-cloud haze and the dirty streets that have the ashen look of too many rock-salted mornings.  The grass has that depressing appearance of having been smooshed down by months of cold and snow, and there are flooded pockets and muddy patches that dot my lawn in what can best be described as "winter yard acne".  March is here, and I am ready to turn my face toward the sun and welcome the first little inklings of spring.  I've noticed the happy twittering of birds in the morning and the daylight hanging on just a little later in the evening, like a party guest who can't quite call it a night because she wants to enjoy one last cocktail while making witty conversation with the very debonair bartender.  This time of year makes me feel like I can breathe again.  

I feel renewed hope about what this year can reveal to me.  I would like to read more, write more, watch less crappy television, spend more time watching my baby discover his world.  Ah, my baby.  He is growing and learning constantly.  He is coming into his own personality, and it makes me laugh when I think about how stubborn and definitive he is.  Where did he come from?  With this spring season I am reminded of where I was last spring, when Benjamin was in my belly and I was literally blossoming with mama love and joy.  Now he is fully integrated into our family, and I am excited about watching him take his first steps on the grass that will soon be fluffed up and greened by the sun's warm love.  I'm excited to see the sunlight shine through his wispy blonde hair, and I'm excited to nuzzle up against his soft face smelling of the outdoors mixed with his sweet baby boy scent.  Spring is indeed waking up and stretching her arms up over her head, and I am oh so happy to see her once again. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Real Thanksgiving

Two years ago this week, I found out I was pregnant.  I woke up for work, like always, peed on a little stick and my life would be changed forever.   I was in shock.  I was elated.  I was nervous and overwhelmed.  I was happy and excited.  Above all else, I was thankful.  We had been trying to get pregnant for nine months and it felt like forever.  I'd started to feel like I was broken, defective.  Each month had brought hope and then, ultimately, a glum acceptance.  Each month felt like the passing of another birthday.  But on the day before Thanksgiving, 2009, I found out I was going to be a mom.  My prayers were answered.

 That baby was not meant to be.

We found out shortly before Christmas that it probably wasn't a good pregnancy, but I tried to focus all of my positive energy and all the love that was ever given to me on the tiny little being in my belly.  Dave put his hand on my stomach every night and whispered to our baby, willing it to be ok.  It wasn't.  I miscarried shortly after the new year.  I had plenty of support from family and friends, from people who had experienced it and from people who couldn't imagine it.  It helped and it didn't.   I cried until my body felt empty of liquid.  I curled into a ball and was lost.  I felt ruined and hollow.  I felt punished (though for what, I'm not sure).  I felt so many things, all of them painful.   I didn't think I would ever be able to get over it.  I had been given a glimpse of an amazing little miracle, and then it was abruptly taken away from me.  Now, two years later, I understand a little bit more that everything has its place and its purpose in the Universe.  Losing that baby was not a punishment, or even a tragedy.  I could say that it was a blessing, although truthfully that feels like a stretch.  The memory of it still stings, but I am finally able to accept it as something that was meant to be.  In an indirect way, losing that baby brought Benjamin into my life.  His big gummy smile and sparkling eyes bring so much happiness to me that my heart almost can't contain it.  He is everything I've ever dreamed of, packed neatly into a squirmy little body.

I know in my heart that if Benjamin weren't here, I would have something else to be grateful and thankful for.  That's what the Universe does.  She provides.  And I have been provided to, over and over.  I have been given a family of wonderfully crazy people who have always supported me.  I have been given hilarious and truly trustworthy friends.  I have been given a great husband who loves me to my bones, and who also has a family of wonderfully crazy people that I love like my own.  I have a house, a job, good health.  I have enough.  
I would love to think that I will always be this at peace with things.  Life is difficult sometimes, and it's often hard to find the good in the bad, the purpose in the challenging, the joy in the sorrow.  I know there are hard times in store, as there are for everyone, but it does help me to try to look at life big-picture style.  As long as I am able to open my eyes and realize that there are bouquets of blessings all around me, I will be just fine.  This Thanksgiving, sometime between stuffing and pie, I will take a moment and offer up a silent high-five to the Universe.  She's done good.  This Thanksgiving I am acutely aware of how lucky I am, to be here in this place at this time.  I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and in my whole life I have never been more thankful.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Need a Refill

My glass is empty.  You know, that glass from which all our love and energy pours into everything we do and feel?  Yes, mine is drying up.  

For a while now I have been watching it happen.  I come home from work, feeling like a shell of a woman.  My eyes are strained.  My throat is scratchy from talking all day.  My brain is tired from making decisions all day long.  (Decisions which, by the way, I care little about.)  My soul feels numb.  I come home to a husband and a baby boy and a dog, all of whom want and deserve my love and attention.  I try my best.  I go through the motions, but it often feels so hollow.  You know that feeling when you are trying to squeeze the very last bit of toothpaste from the tube?  You press and contort until just that last little bit oozes pathetically from the opening?  That's exactly how I feel.  I am the remnants of toothpaste from a beat-up old tube.


I simply must find a way to refill my glass.  I owe my family more than I am giving them.  I owe myself more than I am giving me.  It's time to make some changes because if I don't, then I will just be zombie-walking through life.  (And even though it's quite seasonally appropriate to zombie-walk, let us remember that zombies are just dead people who are mute and will-less, and who are controlled by evil forces...but I digress.)

And so I'm on a scavenger hunt for happiness and self-fulfillment.  Time to fill up the ol' glass once more, drop by drop.  I am on a mission:  Project Refill.

More to come...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

There's Something About Fall

There's something about Fall...

It makes me want to bake apple desserts and light pumpkin scented candles.  I want to watch football games on television and have crockpot dinners.  I want to shop from the L.L. Bean catalogue, put whipped cream on my coffee and take a walk around the village until my cheeks get just the right shade of rosy.  Fall makes me swoon.  Fall is Mother Nature's goodnight story to us as we prepare for the long, dreary doldrums of Winter.  She lulls us with her crisp amber leaves, her soft breezes and mellow sunshine.  She wraps her loving arms around us and rocks us gently, and I am like a greedy baby trying to take it all in.  I love how the hot summers fade effortlessly into a russet-hued landscape.  

The other day, Dave and I took Ben for a long walk through the park and then we stopped at the Mayer Brother's Cider Mill for fresh cider and homemade donuts.  Yes, it was heavenly.  We lingered at the donut counter, eyeing which ones we wanted.  I took my time scanning the soup mixes and the canned jellies and jams.  I pretended I was a stay-at-home mom who had time to bake and cook on a weekday.  I let myself fantasize that I could freeze this moment in time, where Ben would be (almost) 5 months old and it could be Fall forever.  I know Winter will be here before I know it, and I will try my hardest to find the magic in snowflakes and lake-effect storms.  But right now it's Fall, baby, and I'm loving it.

As I write this, I am looking out of my front window watching two squirrels chase each other up a tree.  Leaves are starting to dapple the grass.  The golden sun is peeking through the trees.  Little birds are hopping from branch to branch, tweeting a perfect little tune as they do.  Neighbors are coming and going.  The air is fresh and the sidewalks are practically begging to be walked on.  It's a glorious day, and I've already lost count of my blessings.  

Ahh, there's something about Fall.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Remembering Mike

Last year, a former classmate of mine was killed when he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle.  He left behind a young wife and two babies.  While I hadn't seen Mike in about 15 years, his death affected me in a way I didn't expect it to.  I cried for days.  I suddenly remembered every conversation I ever had with him.  I could hear his voice, his laugh.  I could remember where he sat in Mrs. Connelly's 7th grade classroom.  I remember waiting for the bus together at the end of our street when we were in high school.  I remember cutting the lawn and looking up to see him strolling over so he could chat with me.  I once called him over to kill a beast of a spider that was terrifying me in the kitchen, and I watched as he laughed and the spider's life was extinguished with one squish of Mike's hand.  I remember kissing him next to the washing machine in the basement on my 13th birthday.  He was just 29 years old when he died.

Mike has visited me in my dreams frequently since he died.  Sometimes he will tell me about his family.  He tells me how much he loved his wife, whom I have never met.  Sometimes he will tell me about his children.  Sometimes he doesn't say anything at all, but he's just there.  Sometimes I will dream that we are walking next to each other, and I am always sad when I wake up.  I often wonder why I dream about him.  Is he trying to tell me something or get a message across, or do we maybe just have holes in our hearts that our dreams try to patch up while we're sleeping?  It makes me happy to think that perhaps he's not really gone, but living in the air all around us.  

Death is a difficult thing, and in the last few years I have known too many lives cut short by tragic circumstances.  I try to find a purpose behind each loss, but sometimes I can't.  I don't always think we're meant to understand such things.  What I do know is that I love and appreciate every second I have on this earth with my family and friends.  We are not guaranteed a long life, and so many things are out of our control.  We search for meaning in what we do and in how we live, and I have been trying to live very deliberately this year.  I want to squeeze the juice out of life and soak up as much love as I can.  I want to play with my baby and have more dates with my husband.  I want to try new recipes and be more spontaneous.  I want to plan road trips, buy cute shoes,  take ridiculously long bubble baths.  I'd like to see the sun rise over the ocean.  I want to live purposefully.

I don't think I will ever stop thinking about Mike and I hope he continues to pop into my dreams for a visit.  It's nice to see him after so much time.  I'm so very sad that he died, and I think about his family and how they have to go on knowing that their hearts will never fully heal.  I hope they learn to feel joy again.   Death is certainly a difficult thing, but life is beautiful and amazing.  No question.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dear Body

I cannot recall a time in my life when I was happy with my body.  I remember being 6 years old and asking for "Get In Shape Girl" for Christmas.  I remember being 12 years old and staring at myself in the mirror, pinching parts of my body that I did not like.  (Admittedly, I still do this.)  I remember being 14 years old and convincing myself that the boy I liked didn't like me because I was too fat.  I used to fantasize about slicing off the "chubby" parts of my body.  I would often sit with a sweatshirt folded on my lap so I wouldn't have to look down and see the spread of my thighs.  Such shame I felt.

I have never been extremely overweight, and I have never been particularly thin, but I have always been self-conscious about my body.  Always.  It's like a bizarre form of self-torture, this unhappiness that I harbor towards myself.  I don't understand the root of it, but I know that it's a poisonous way to be.  It doesn't benefit me to chastise myself about my body, when really my body is what has carried my soul around this earth for the last 30 years.  I ought to write it a thank-you card.

So here goes.

Dear Body,
Thank you for always being there for me when I need you.  I appreciate the way you are always game for a walk or a swim.  You rarely complain when I don't grant you enough rest, and even though I sometimes drink too much caffeine or eat food that's not healthy, you always provide me with enough energy to make it through the day.  I remember back in 2001, we ran a half marathon together.  That was really difficult and challenging, but you pulled me through and did not falter.  I still count that as one of my biggest accomplishments, because I know the effort that went into preparing for it.  Body, the most amazing thing you have ever done was to give me my little boy.  You grew him from a tiny seed into the sweet baby that I know and love, and together we brought him into this world.  I know it was hard work, and it was not without a few scars.  Maybe the tummy is a little flabbier, the boobs are a little smaller, the skin is a little more stretch-marked, but just looking at Benjamin makes it all worth it.  And you did that!  Thank you for having a lap soft enough to comfort him.  Thank you for having arms strong enough to pick him up as he grows.  Thank you for having a belly that cradled that little angel before he was born.  Body, I'm sorry that I'm not always kind to you.  Sometimes I forget all the good that you do because I'm too worried what other people think.  They don't know you like I do.  I will try to remember to love you like I should, unconditionally.  The Universe saw fit to pair me with you, and I should know better than to question the Universe.  Body, you are perfectly imperfect.  I appreciate you.  I am grateful for you and for all that you have done and will continue to do.

The next time I feel the familiar dark cloud of self-loathing creep up on me, I will try to remember to smile and let it pass right by.  It isn't going to be easy, I know, but I will do my best.  Enough is enough.  It's time to be happy with myself.  Finally. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beautiful Day

Today is a beautiful day.

Ben was up early because he peed through his diaper and onto his jammies.  So when I was up with him well before I wanted to be, I watched his smile and listed to him babble and smelled his sweet baby breath, and I thought to myself, "Today is a beautiful day." 

I have a great marriage.  I know a lot of people say that they married their best friend, but in my case it's true.  We laugh...a lot.  We do silly things to try to make the other one laugh.  Dave hikes his basketball shorts up to his armpits and walks around the house that way because he knows it makes me giggle.  I bust-out in random awkward dance moves because I know he thinks it's funny.  We like spending time together.  We go to bed early so we can face each other in bed and talk about our dreams, our fears, what we hope to do in life.  I knew Dave was "the one" long before he did, and I patiently waited an entire year for him to realize what I had known from the start.  He's the jelly to my peanut butter. 

Today is a beautiful day.

I have great girlfriends.  I have girlfriends that love me no matter what kind of crazy mood I am in.  They have loved me at my best and have supported me through my worst.  They have seen me through various hairstyles (and color changes).  They have seen me through my share of bad decisions.  They have seen me through some of my life's happiest milestones.  We have taken road trips, planned adventures, reveled in girls' days.  We have enjoyed cocktails and fried food and countless e-mails back and forth, and not an hour goes by that I don't wonder why I have been so blessed to win the friend lottery day after day.  I have several friend groups and I would not pick one over the other.  They are all my BFFs, my soul-sisters.  They are the olives to my martini.

Dave slept in and Ben took a long morning nap, and I drank my coffee and listened to the sounds of summer outside my window.  Birds chirping, insects buzzing, kids playing.  Heaven.  Now the little one is up and playing with his daddy and I am looking at my two boys, one big and one little, wondering how I got this lucky.  They are the pieces of my heart that are not contained within my body, and I love them with a ferocity I didn't know existed.  

The sun is shining today and I am soaking up the yumminess of another weekend with my family.  I will not mar this precious time by finding things to complain about.  Instead, I will smile at my amazing life and be grateful for all that is good which has been given to me.  

Today is a beautiful day.