Moments After

I came here to tell you that I'm signed up for the Hectic to Harmonious Free Holiday Challenge that starts tomorrow!  Last year, it was THE thing that made me feel calmer and more appreciative of this time of year. I had a ton of fun checking the daily instagram pics of all the other Mamas slowing down, taking time, and loving their family up in meaningful ways.


 Because as my son decided, it is all antlers all the time from now until Christmas!


But I also wanted to tell you about a very hectic way to start a holiday. And to remind myself that I am still focusing on gratitude every Monday. I started my little gratitude practice, Giving Mondays on the first Monday after daylight's savings to take a minute to appreciate and give back to something wonderful in my life. Now it's week 5 of 16 weeks of darkness (and I may have skipped a few weeks but here goes!)

Today all my giving was offered to this ridiculously raucous and sweet dog of ours.


You see, moments after this photo was taken when I had just explained to her that we would be leaving for a flight that night which would take us away for a week, she began to get sick. Very, very sick, out of both ends and it was not good. It was a bloody mess. When we rushed her to the vet, they said our pooch needed to stay the night in urgent care hooked up to I.V's. We needed to catch a flight.

So began quite a stressful departure. My husband and I made a call we hoped we would not regret. We knew we would not cancel our trip and we would not spend the fortune it would cost to do surgery if she had ingested something that needed to be removed.  We would have to say good bye in that very moment. The kids had tears streaming down their faces as my husband and I tried not to cry.  It was likely that she would be just fine, but if she wasn't, we hugged her extra tight and told her how much we loved her.

The traffic started to get so bad that every street between our house and the airport was jammed. We finally arrived and waited nervously for the results of her x-rays while going through security. 


They were clear. She was going to be fine. Our pet sitter picked her and she started to recuperate quickly.  We relished our Florida vacation and returned home to our happy, healthy, bouncing, barking doggie.
  

So today, I soaked up the sun and gave this dog so much love and gratitude for staying with us (while images of another wonderful family vacation filled my heart, especially giant sloths, a manatee refuge and cousin salons.)




Magic Offering

As I was riding home today I saw a few of the last hanger-on-ers which looked like heart-shaped ornaments. Then I thought of my artist friend Colleen Attara. 


She cuts paper hearts out of junk mail and randomly sprinkles them as she goes about her day. They fall out of her pockets, a little magic offering. Today, for Giving Monday I sent her a little package full of my remnants from art school when I used to paint with soil and draw with stitching. I know they will right at home in her studio and I love imagining them there. It's a big part of me to give away, but it's the perfect person to receive it.


The last time I saw her, I bought this card. I love how she plays with words that feed my oceanic dreams. 

It's week two of Giving Mondays and I noticed gifts for us too. We just happened to stop by a neighborhood Little Free Library and picked up a pile of books that are perfect for us right now. Thank you!

What did you give and receive to and from those that inspire you today?




Giving Mondays

I remember the bright sunny days in the beginning of October during a time they call Indian summer.


Before they turned into a soggy, mushy mess, we piled them onto his chest


and she got her wish running like a wild pony with her herd of friends in the sun.


There was one Saturday when all I wanted was to get lost in a field of corn so green and tall.


Then we finished it off with a visit from the best dressed clowny Grandma


who was willing to watch the kids while my man and I went to a concert, a real loud, dance-all-night, rock and roll show.


With all this in mind, as I was ecstatically bee-bopping through the concert venue, I couldn't be more grateful to be out at night with my husband on an actual grown-up date. I remembered this time last year, when the clouds began to rule the sky and November fell into darkness at 4:30 in the afternoon, I felt a distinct Oh Shit feeling.  My friend and I call it "falling down the roller coaster hill." In the last two years that feeling was only the beginning of a deepening depression that lasted for months.  The depression would be so self-absorbing that everyone in my life was affected.


This year, it's not happening. I don't feel it at all. I'm looking forward to more dates with my hubby, the ski season, the holidays, ice skating, and the first snow. I've also been counting. From now until the end of February when the light comes our way again, there's about 16 weeks of dark days and I want to start a practice of giving.  Today was the first of the next sixteen mondays I'm calling #givingmondays.  


It's a promise, an offer I am making to the communities that inspire me during the darker days. Especially at this time of year, my circles of friends and family sustain me and I want us all to thrive. 

Day 1 : I volunteered for an extra commitment to my writing group.

Please play along on Instagram or Facebook!

The Skin You Are In



My new article is live today called The Skin You are In. This one is staring me down with some serious vulnerability. I struggle to express exactly what I want to say about my journey with depression, but I am feeling very supported in the process by many readers and look forward to what comes of this as I keep at it.  Thank you so very much.

In a recent radio show called Mental Moms from Maternally Yours, so much bravery and honesty was shared in the voices of guests that I am still thinking about it weeks later.  Be sure to have a listen to it and enjoy these last few weeks of being able to photograph a bit more of your skin.

We Kindly Oblige

I remember bounding up the stairs past the green siding with a jug of amber sun tea always on the railing.  Each step was hotter than the last as I moved closer to my goal, the white framed screen door.  Which was the portal to Grammy and Granddad and everything that meant summer.


Two years ago, when my family beach cottage was demolished and replaced, I didn't know what to do with all the feelings I had.  There was so much loss.  Where could I put it?  Little did I know that there is a truly healing art form called an altered book taught by artist Colleen Attara.  It's the perfect place to put it all and I had the pleasure taking her course at Squam Art Workshops.  Now I know where the memories go.


Once, my grandmother pointed to a praying mantis resting on a screen, speckled with drops of dew.  Grammy called me by name, her voice sweet like the rustling breeze of salt air.  I stood beside her, and to my seven-year-old gaze, the lime-green, curving insect looked about as long as my hand. “Isn't it pretty?” she whispered.  “Can you see its hands?” I was afraid of its large head and eyes. As I looked closer, I saw elegantly folded forelimbs in prayer pose. In any other instant, I might have deemed this creature a monster or immediately forgotten about it. However, in that moment, with Grammy, I paid attention. To this day, when I see a mantis, I feel my grandmother’s fierce love for me and for the natural world.


"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can . . ."
Gram would read
It's the little blue engine that saves them.
Heroine.


My Grammy was a true matriarch.  
Her decision-making skills, strong opinions 
and mastery of the domestic arts inspire me now.


Now her favorite earrings, translucent sewing patterns 
and little birds call out from the pages.
She was called Fran.


And her beloved was called Edward.
His page shows a pocket knife, gears, and a wonderful mess 
in a work room that smelled like Granddad.


There are some pages just too adored to change.
Especially the mention of a well balanced meal including fresh spinach


It is always there in my mind
In my dreams
I am inside
Walking through the rooms
Touching the furniture and knick-knacks
So surprised it was still there the entire time
Then I start to cry
And wake up soaked in tears



There was rust on everything.
After months of being shoeless, the bottoms of our feet were like leather.
The rocks of our gravel driveway were only slight obstacles 
as herds of gritty grandchildren ran amuck


Sitting under the magical umbrella of laughter 
we told stories until the tide lapped at our feet and our chairs became sopping wet 
just like they did in front of Great-Grammy's old cottage
the summers before it was knocked down by a nor'easter.

A nor'easter (also northeaster) is a macro-scale storm
along the upper East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada;
it gets its name from the direction the wind is coming.


Then we went back
 like we do every summer.


We too looked into the sky 
for fireworks, stars, lighting,
 kites and airplanes dragging signs behind them.








her golden tan of wonder shone on her skin 
as she played in the waves of the Atlantic for her eighth summer  


I am so grateful that the new matriarch 
who calls the shots now
demands we all meet at the beach
we kindly oblige





It was extra special this year 
my little sis
was the most beautiful bride



I walked down our street this year for the first time since it's been gone
and I think of them back then
when the town was smaller
when there were only a few houses scattered here and there
when there was a bowling alley on the boardwalk
when the boys wore socks and dress shoes with their shorts
and Grammy wore skirts sewn by hand


They'd be proud of what their family has become.
I think.



when I catch a whiff of petunias and red geraniums, I know
I'll always be that little girl
who was taught by Fran and Ed
everything they knew about loving like a family