The Art Of Changing


Every time my two college kids come home for a visit, in this case, Thanksgiving, I forget, that it takes 48 hours for all of us to get used to each other again. I wish I could remember that beforehand because it would take the sting out of the inevitable: regression,

dirty looks, initial combative behavior and sibling rivalry. What is it about coming home that automatically brings out old behavior patterns?

I remember this happening when I visited my parents when I was in college so I am not sure you really can stop it. I think you become child-like when you go home to visit your parents and old habits die-hard. To this day, it is never a good scenario when my sister and I are alone with our mom, together. I never liked being with two other friends, it’s not a good combination for me.

But, after two days of settling in with our children it’s wonderful, just like old times. It feels like they have never left and you wonder how you can let them go, again? The house will be so quiet without them. There are four of us now drinking coffee in the morning or snacking together at night, sitting on the bed together chatting and laughing, interrupting each other and rehashing the mini-dramas of Thanksgiving.

I know it won’t be like this forever, they will get married or move away or we will move so I cherish every second. I’m putting these memories in a special place in my heart, tucked away, like the memories of their childhood. The difference is that I have photographs of when they were young and sweet and innocent. I have a mountain of photographs of each stage of their lives.

But this, this one memory, lasted ten minutes, it is like a snapshot in my mind and I try desperately to hold on to to it, in my heart, hoping it will last a very long time.

The four of us all sitting together laughing and reminiscing, back and forth, happy, conversing, joking with no hint of displeasure or dismay. All of us being in tune with each other, bantering, back and forth, replaying the day, interrupting each other and finishing each others sentences.
The thought of them leaving in a couple of days just seems incredible, and lonely and sad. And yes, it will take another 48 hours for their laughter to die down, for my husband and I to get used to the solitude and the quietness and enjoy each other and the peace, all over again.
Change is inevitable, get used to it, it never goes away.
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I Sing, I Dance, I Laugh

 IMG_0011

Happily tired, accomplished, cooking meals for others, gathering things for my children. My dog, Lexi, darts in-between my legs, she tries to fight with me as I dance, alone, to the music that is playing from my computer. After watching me dance, she gives up and looks at me quizzically, she doesn’t want to be involved in THIS game, her bone is definitely more interesting. If dancing is considered exercise then I am in pretty good shape. To me, music, my music, stuck in the 70’s and 80’s makes everything feel better.

I laugh aloud, if people would see me they would question my sanity but I really don’t care, I sing horribly, but at top volume, to any song that I know. This is the joy and wisdom of being over fifty.

Granted, if my children were home they would not find this amusing at all, so I would just shut my door and continue to dance, but I know I would not feel the same way. I would feel too constricted, like a bird with a wounded wing. I can ignore judgment from other people but from my children it is definitely harder.

Being healthy and happy is all that matters, taking life one step at a time. Once in a while I get ahead of myself, and I pay the price. Today, I am enjoying, my dog, the quiet of the empty streets, the smell of vanilla lingering in my kitchen and the sound of my laughter as I continue to dance around the fake Spanish tiles in my kitchen floor. The music is loud, everything is balanced; I appreciate what I have this moment.

“i’d rather teach one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”

e.e. cummings

I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.

e. e. cummings

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/eecummin176712.html#AVsOVhZKeqGSPbss.99

I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.

e. e. cummings

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/eecummin176712.html#AVsOVhZKeqGSPbss.99

I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.

e. e. cummings

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/eecummin176712.html#AVsOVhZKeqGSPbss.99

I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.

e. e. cummings

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/eecummin176712.html#AVsOVhZKeqGSPbss.99

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Plinky Prompt: You Get Fantastic News, What’s The First Thing You Do?

English: Two women text messaging on their cel...

English: Two women text messaging on their cell phones in a coffee shop on the campus of California State University, Fullerton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • You get some incredibly, amazingly, wonderfully fantastic news. What’s the first thing you do? See all answers
  • Hello Mom? Hubby?
  • I race to the phone and call my husband and my mother. It is absolute instinct to call my mom first, I think, my fingers are flying over the telephone buttons in my excitement. How many more years will she be in my life? I want to cherish every second. If I’m happy, she’s happy, that’s how she operates. Me being happy would make HER happy. It’s a gift for both of us. I have two adult children, I totally understand.

    At the same time, on another line, I call my husband who is my best friend and life-long partner. He is the person who knows me best and loves me the most and puts up with my crap. He sticks with me, we go through everything together. We have two adult children and a dog. We think alike when it comes to big issues, family first. We’ve been doing that for over 25 years of marriage, I adore him and we still have a lot of fun. He ties for first place, he would genuinely be happy for me, for us.

    There is no joy in having amazingly good, fantastic news if you can’t share it with the ones you love.

Diagnosis: Anxiety

Anxiety Always

Anxiety Always (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know that feeling in your stomach that makes your muscles clench but you don’t have a real stomach ache from eating too much and you don’t have a virus? That’s where anxiety starts for me. I’m literally writing this blog while having an anxiety attack and honestly, it’s not that easy to remain focused. Part of me thinks about throwing up but I’m trying to be calm, trying to breathe until I can’t do this any longer. I know you guys understand. That’s why I love blogging, for the people who read my blog. If you can’t relate to anxiety, I’m sure you can relate to other things I write about, humor, Pop Cop, my love of Food, Chocolate, Pizza (fine, with jam but only if the pizza is too dry) some of the ailments: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and having the energy of a dying tick. Actually, an ailing tick may have more energy than I do. I forgot a few other ailments like Imbalalnce and such but it’s pathetic enough as it is, I won’t bore you with more details. I bore myself as it is.

My husband and I are (and I hate these words) “empty nesters.” We’re also in the “sandwich generation” another over popular phrase that is used ad nauseum. Basically we are a married couple, we just celebrated twenty-five years of marriage and both our adult children are in college. I have my mom who is still alive and my husband has both parents alive and they still play tennis. Amazing.

Like many people my husband just got laid off from his job a few days ago. That’s stress provoking, people. He works doing computer stuff which is what I basically call it but it’s something like Software Product Development Management. I know nothing about it but if you do or know someone who might be able to help can you please have them get in touch with me?  I’ll send it to him and it would really be an act of incredible kindness, no matter where you live. In any case, I can’t change things, I try not to worry about them and in the end, things will turn out the way they are supposed to turn out.

About a week ago I had the mother of all anxiety attacks when my son turned 21, my husband lost his job and my mother, who was a little sad because all her friends were moving, decided that maybe she should consider moving too. It was a long day and a tough weekend.  We all know I’m not very good at change especially three changes in one day but after 24 hours I was much better. Breathe in, breathe out. Maybe that meditation class was worth the money after all.

I’m trying to do the best that I can, even writing this all down has helped me become last anxious. Having my dog Lexi, literally lying on my legs so I can’t move, her face close to me, makes me happy. From a crazy, wild puppy she has become an affectionate, loving girl dog. She knows that I need to lie down a lot and when I am home, she jumps up on the bed and cuddles with me.

The anxiety has lessened. I know there will be moments of panic but from now on, we have to take it step by step. I give thanks for what we still have. I will try to keep reminding myself of that, whatever happens will happen. Worrying about it won’t do me or anyone else any good. There’s a reason for everything and now we wait.

Plinky Prompt: What Bores You?

  • Yawn!
  • I live a boring life, but I say that in a GOOD WAY, not bad. I can’t complain much but I do wish it was more exciting and I had more things to do. My little chickies are out of their nest, we are what you would call “empty nesters.” We are in the in-between place, kids in college, come home for holidays but they don’t need us anymore, really. Sad, but true. You HAVE to come to terms with this or you will have a very sad life. I’ve decided to take a couple of classes locally to have SOMETHING to do. My vow of cooking gourmet food last year was a bust but we did find some good restaurants!! Do what you can, try to explore something new. Take an art class, or a writing class or learn to meditate or exercise, take photographs….the list endless. Sometimes, boring is really, really NICE. Settle into your favorite, comfortable chair with a perfectly adjusted pillow, lie back, close your eyes, Just think of the peace and quiet, the chirping of the birds, listening to the cicadas sing and keeping track of your own breath. Enjoy it, no need to fight it. This is your life too. It may be different than what you had before but it can be just as lovely.

  • meditation

    meditation (Photo credit: HaPe_Gera)

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little bird

English: Green Violet-ear -- Finca Lerida, Boq...

English: Green Violet-ear — Finca Lerida, Boquete, Panama. Français : Un Colibri thalassinus, Finca Lerida, District de Boquete, Panama. 日本語: ミドリハチドリ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

little bird, you don’t have to apologize for having a new home, i understand completely. I said the same things to my parents when I was your age. I remember thinking that college WAS my home and of course it is. you come back for some vacations, you have moved on and will continue to move on and out. Don’t you think I know that, of course I do. I understand and I support it and I am proud of both you and your sister’s independence, the grown ups you have become. If I shed a tear or two at times, it’s okay, I’m not good at transitions, I never have been, starting from when I was a little girl. Don’t take it too seriously, please. You know I have always been the most sensitive person in the planet and always will be, at times it is both a curse and a blessing. believe me, I have tried to change myself for years but as you know, it really hasn’t worked.

i’ve told you before that I just need a little time to get used to things, even on vacation. when dad and I were dating long distance, he knew i needed 24 hours to get used to him again, some people are like that, its not better or worse, it’s a personality trait. not everyone is as incredibly adaptable as you and your sister,where you both got that trait from we have no idea (okay, maybe my mom) but dad and i are thrilled you both have it.

I was fine saying goodbye to you today until i heard your sweet voice asking “you’re not even going to hug me?” do you think i didn’t want to? could i say no to you? I ‘m laughing at the thought of me not wanting to hug you, of course i did, just didn’t want the flood gates to open up, kind of like now. waiting for that darn transition to kick in (it hasn’t been 24 hours yet) I am writing this for me and for you, and you know how i get when i feel like i’m writing something mushy…not a sight to be seen. you’ve seen it many times before, but now i’m also laughing at myself too which is a very good sign.  I know that you are happy and independent and i am so proud of the person you are. my goal in raising a son, was to bring up a good man, truly. when i found out we were having a boy, i was honored, blessed that i could try to make a difference to help shape a boy to become a wonderful young man.

you have become all that and more. you know i feel that way. sometimes we don’t even have to talk, we know what the other one is thinking with a look, or a smile or a quick nod of your head. this gift will never go away, no matter where you or i live. we are connected. forever. so have the best time of your life, and, because i’m a mother, it’s in our handbook to also add “please be safe.”

i love you.

When I'm Happiest

Oven roasted chicken

You Can Get Used To Anything

This would have been the easiest question in the world to answer if it was 3 months ago. I am not sure I have felt happy in a long time. Weather wise, I am happiest in the Spring with the kiss of summer almost upon us. The old, brown down jacket gets put away in the closet along with the gloves and the boots and I see the first purple crocus pop out from the thin layer of white snow.

I’d be happier if we were back in our home, making a simple dinner of roasted chicken, potatoes, a fresh green salad with arugula, lettuce, craisins, tomatoes, English cucumbers, broccoli and green apple, all tossed together like a three-ring circus. There would be a loaf of whole wheat French or Italian bread waiting to warm in the oven, banana bread and brownies for dessert and we would all talk about our day.

It’s going to take a long time before that happens since we are unable to live in our house; it has been so destroyed with wood rot and carpenter ants and termites that the entire house has to be rebuilt.(Oh, and of course, insurance won’t pay for a thing.)

I would have to say that I am happiest when I am in my own home, in my small, cozy nest. A home that means, family, safety, nurturing, love, books, freedom and familiarity, my favorite television shows and my dog snoozing and drooling on the bed next to me.

While we are already empty-nesters with one child, next year both kids will be in college. I wonder if the house will still feel like the same home it did before.

I have adjusted to not being home although it is not easy but I am trying now to just look forward to our new, old house with a new bathtub that has jets (hopefully) to easy my Fibromyalgia pain. Change is not something to fear anymore, you can get used to everything. It just makes you appreciate what you had when you don’t have it anymore.

Why did this have to happen? I have no idea, I’m trying to figure that out now. Maybe the lesson is that there are things in life that will always shake us up: go ride the rough waves as best you can instead of staying in the still of the shallow waters.

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Hey Ba, I Think It’s Now

a bird nest

Image via Wikipedia

I’m beginning to think that”these days may just BE the good old days” and I want to stop and appreciate them as much as I can. I want to  savor my children’s laughter, energy, and yes, even fighting. I want to enjoy family dinners served with a sauté of sarcasm and lumpy cheese sauce with laughter. I’m not saying that things are great but they are definitely good enough and  that’s just fine. My husband is still unemployed and our kids are just about to skip from home to college and I will be living in my own new reality, as an “empty-nester” which is both incredibly sad and exciting.

When I was in my early twenties, my best friend Barbara and I would alternate saying “Laur, when is it gonna get better?”or “Hey Ba, when is it going to get better?” I don’t even remember now what was so bad back then. We asked each other this as we were selecting French pastries from a small patisserie: the fruit tart or the chocolate mousse? Two Libra girls in an enchanting bakery meant only one thing: both. Now, thirty years later, back then seemed like it WAS better but it was just different. “Youth” is wasted on the young” my mother used to mutter. We laughed and knew she didn’t know what she was talking about. We have all said the exact, same thing to our children as they look back at us and roll their eyes. How can we expect them to understand what no other generation ever did before?

Rereading the book Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg is helping to keep me in the present. It’s a book about a woman dying of cancer and her loving friends. It makes you stop and think about your life. For me, these are the good old times. Are we silly enough to think that things will get easier as we get older? They don’t. I prescribe reading Ms. Berg’s book surrounded by tissues and as Oprah would say “a-ha” moments.

Now, while we still have our two children home, at least for a few more months I am relishing my time with them. I want to freeze these days like photographs on our mantel. My son, my first born, a Senior, is always running out the door, his black and orange sneakers barely trailing him. He has about four and a half months before he leaves home  for the summer to be a Counselor at the camp he attended for many years. Camp is my son’s other home; it is a magical place that helped shape him as a person. My first-born,  has the same temperament as I do; we understand each other with a casual glance. He’s waiting to hear from colleges in the near future. As much as I try to spend time in the present, I miss him already.

My daughter, a Junior in High School came home from “College Night”  and sounded like a newly opened bottle of soda; her enthusiasm and excitement was contagious.  “I want to go to college tomorrow, Mom” she chirped.  I will have a whole year with just her where she doesn’t have to share the limelight with her older brother. I am not even ready to think about what life will be like when she goes off to college. This beautiful young woman will always be my baby.

I would like the world to stand still so I can try and burn memories in my heart. My nine year old dog is sleeping at the foot of my bed. The children laugh, fight, shout and antagonize each other yet their love for each other is incredibly obvious. I know my husband will find a job eventually and I just want to hold on to this feeling of our family; for as long as I possibly can. Here is my life lesson: cherish each moment; it’s as simple as that.

Buying A Purple Shirt While Eating Jelly Beans

This is a picture i took for the Candy article.

Image via Wikipedia

This is the kind of post you want to read on a Monday afternoon when the clouds are all gray and gloomy and it is the start of a brand new week. The orange-green-red leaves on the trees are swaying and they look like they want to cry. I’m thinking about the future and living somewhere else where the sun stays out all day and you don’t have to wear a thick black jacket.  The only perk today is that our house is clean and it looks pretty. There are no cobwebs that I can see and the wood shines like a Pledge commercial. It smells lemony and the beds are made and the sheets are fresh and I am planning to take a hot bath tonight. It’s against house rules to put your dirty body into a brand new made-up bed with sheets and blankets that beckon you and smile.

It’s our friend Christina’s 16th birthday and she looked so sweet and innocent and happy like a shiny polished Macintosh apple. My son drives her to school and back every day along with his sister seated proudly in the front seat. Christina was wearing the soft beige scarf that my daughter gave her for her birthday. Her arms were packed with brownies and oatmeal cookies and chocolate cake that her school friends made for her birthday celebration. Oh to be young, filled with sweetness, innocence and incomparable joy. I see myself in young Christina, all eager and willing to please, her arms outstretched for a big, warm, hug.

I’m listening to music to quell the anxiety that has been plaguing me for the last week. It starts in the late afternoon and escalates until nighttime; my stomach clenches and my legs ache with unbearable pain. My aches and pains stem from stubborn, bossy, Fibromyalgia and sleep comes as a welcome relief.

I’ve taken down all the photographs of my children when they were very young and replaced them with an up-to-date picture of the two of them grinning, their eyes alive with mischief; my son’s arm casually draped around his sister’s shoulders. I had to beg and plead a lot for that one portrait. While I am extremely proud of my children’s independence I have had a few problems lately adjusting to it.  I can’t forget the moment last year when my son said patiently “Mom, High School is one big lie.” It is a message that has been burned into my brain and I think of it often.  I didn’t believe him then but I do now. Apparently, lies are commonplace but I need to force myself to look deeper, for honor, and not compare my past, unhappy and burdened youth to their present, over-indulged happy lives.

I am booking a massage at the local spa, a gift I received for my birthday, and I am looking forward to it. There, I will not think of the last year, tension pressed up against stress like two sweaty lovers: unemployment and illness together as one.  I will fantasize about traveling, seeing the tulips in Holland, a trip to Israel in the spring, perhaps the countryside of Spain. I will picture my loving husband’s face, his hand in mine, playing the punch buggy game in the car and competing in the “I love you more” contest. I will remember that when I asked him for a phrase, another definition for “empty nest” he threw his head back, howled loudly, with glee and in a snap of a second he shouted: “Freedom.” I love him so much in many ways but I especially love him for giving me that.

Dedicated to Danny

Parenting 101 – The Teenagers

I was watching an episode of TV with my daughter and it was about a young teen boy and his mother. The mother says to her husband: “he’s pulling away from me, we’re not close anymore.” Guess what? She’s right. My kids are 15 and 17 and you need to know that that’s what kids need to do, individuation I believe it’s called. But it still hurts like hell when it starts. I’ve heard that they come back to you but it’s not for awhile. Luckily, I’m somewhat used to the separation because our kids have been going to sleep-away camp for 7 years now. NEVER did I think that they would want to do that. Ok, never did I think my son would ever want to do that, my daughter wanted to go to sleep away camp since she was 3!!!

My son (by the way no offense to my husband, I know they are OUR children but…) is a Junior in HS. He, at some point, has to start thinking about college. As of now, he will do anything to avoid talking about it-he’s just not ready.If he could he would cover up his ears and scream “Nah Nah Nah.”  I continue to prepare myself because that separation is way more than sleep away camp and I know it. There are no visiting days every two weeks. It’s just not the same. (I have to admit I’m getting a little teary eyed right now). There’s only one school year between my son and my daughter so after he is in college for one year, she will be going away too. Empty nesters? How did THAT happen? Wasn’t it yesterday when I was crying every day and night because I couldn’t get pregnant?  The days slip by, even the months now..not that I mind that in the winter.  But as great as it is to parent your children and watch them grow, it’s sad too. Since the first day I was pregnant and maybe even before I remembered something from Khahil Gibran and I AM paraphrasing: Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters….they are lent to you, you do not own them.”

Parents, don’t worry. They will always love you. But, it is different. What can you do to make it easier?  One answer is:  Be prepared.  The real answer:  Nothing.