Lost Love

It’s time.

You’ve been here long enough. Cut the chains and wipe off the ashes. You have to do this on your own. Take a good look around. Do you see anyone else who can take on this task? No. You’ve tried that before and when they failed, your prison walls came closer and closer. You’re lucky the claustrophobia didn’t kill you. You were so sure that it would.

Take a good look in the mirror. Notice the wrinkles that you once used lotions and potions to prevent. Notice the chicken pox scar on your forehead that a few bad bang haircuts couldn’t conceal. Notice the freckles that once gave you enough faith to let the light in, if only for a brief moment. Notice the frizz and grey hairs popping up on your head that you desperately tried to hide with conditioner and hair dye. Glance down at your arms and the extra skin that sways back and forth when you wave your kids goodbye on the bus in the morning.

This next part will be hard, but you are worth it.

Pull your shirt up and look down at that space on your body that you have wanted to cut off since you were a kid. Try to remember a time when it was smaller. Try to remember a time when it was bigger. Try to remember a time when you didn’t hate it. Think about all of the diets, cleanses, disorders, cuts, Spanx, abuse, and tummy control leggings that suffocated you. Pain is beauty, isn’t it?

Keep going.

Now, focus on your legs that couldn’t sit still. Remember how they couldn’t run fast enough to set you free. Then remember how they ran a little too fast from moments that could have lasted if only you could have stayed in the present. Look at that extra skin that looks like cottage cheese and recall all of the gels, squats and self tanner you tried to use to make the fat disappear.

Lift your head up and look straight ahead. Make eye contact with person staring back at you. Think about all the times you couldn’t face her. Your eyes were always too blurry or too tired to focus. Remember how you wore the shame, disappointment, guilt, hurt, and anger like it was a new shade of foundation from Maybelline. Maybe you were born with it. Think about how you learned to hate that face and what’s behind it Think about all the plans you had, the places you would see, the life you thought you needed. Remember how you told yourself over and over that happiness was a big house, a two car garage and unlimited funds on a credit card. Then, remember how those things brought you desperation, not happiness.

Close your eyes. Fold your shaky hands and breathe.

Take a moment.

Take another moment.

Now, open your eyes. Those wrinkles on your face are souvenirs from happiness. You laughed too loud, now you have smile lines. You looked up to the sun and crinkled your forehead to take it all in. The chicken pox scar that made you feel different from the other kids isn’t visible at all anymore, it’s just part of your face. The freckles are reminders of camping by the ocean, walking the dog, bbqs with family, sitting on the swing with your legs pumping you up to the sky. That grey hair is there for a reason, you’re growing. No one becomes a self-sufficient adult without a few grey hairs. Those flappy arms have grown strong with each child you have carried through the sunshine and the dark. Those arms are home to the ones you love with each and every bear hug.

smile lines

It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok to feel fear. Just ride it through so you can feel something better. I promise, you will.

That stomach that you wanted to carve out of your body is the most miraculous part of anatomy. That space is where you get nourished to live each day. That space has been abused for so long, it’s time to have gratitude for it. Your belly holds the memories of each delicious family meal and homemade desserts. It’s an excellent communicator of your daily needs, even when you forget. It may have been the space where you grew a life inside of you. It may have grown or shrunk over the years, but it’s sacred. It is your temple. It sustains your life and holds the parts of you that create the magic and wonder of life. It’s been beaten and bruised over and over again, but it’s still there. Part of you. Big, small, full, empty, covered in stretch marks, covered in scars. You can suck it in or push it out. It doesn’t matter.

Still a part of you.

Your legs are powerful. They have carried you this far, show some respect. Have gratitude for the limbs that have kept you standing on your own two feet. They haven’t given up on you, they just keep moving you right along.

Look back at your reflection again. That is the face of resilience. You are the image of strength, intelligence, perseverance and determination. The parts of you that are on the inside are the most important of all. You’ve let the voices of others create your internal dialogue. I’m here to tell you that you are the only voice you need to hear. You can gain knowledge and inspiration from others, but your thoughts are yours alone. They aren’t your enemy anymore, they are your gift. Your worth and presence in this world isn’t defined by your fears. It’s defined by your ability to go through them and survive.

You are a survivor.

It’s time to love yourself again. Take away your filters and appreciate the person you used to be, the person you are, and the person you are becoming. You may not know when or how you lost it, but you have just created the map to lead you right back to it. It’s always been there.

Love yourself.

happier than ever

Today, tomorrow and the day after that…

It’s been a hell of a year. The twelve month rollercoaster that none of us wanted a ride on is reaching its final loop de loop. We’re all sitting in our seats, pulling the safety bar close to our torsos, bracing ourselves for the last upside down, hands in the air, twisty, terrifying moments.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve yelled up to God saying, “CAN WE STOP NOW? I THINK WE’VE HAD QUITE ENOUGH.” I can’t think of a single person in my life who hasn’t had their world rocked by this past year. There has been loss of loved ones, loss of income, loss of health, and loss of normalcy. Empty classrooms and empty booths at your favorite pizza joint. Abandoned playgrounds and libraries closed until further notice. Nursing homes and hospital floors with big warning signs- no visitors allowed. Grocery stores and targets running out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Mothers with empty arms that once held their precious loved ones, now carry their grief instead of their children. Weddings and graduations postponed until further notice. We wear masks on our faces to stay safe, while others have taken this turbulent time to remove their masks and show us who they really are with violence and hate.

We’ve taken things for granted that would never have crossed our minds before- like breathing. Filling our lungs with the oxygen that’s required to keep us alive. People have suffocated right in front of us.

Breathing. So simple. But- when the breathing stops, so does the living.

I’ve been spending a few much needed days home with my amazing, loving and extremely patient parents, as well as my amazing, loving and extremely patient little sisters and brother.  After months and months of FaceTime and many tears, I’ve finally been able to hug my grandmother and visit my Gramps final resting place. There’s some kind of magic in the New England air that fills up my heart and heals the parts I thought were broken. 

Earlier today, I was sitting at my Aunts house today admiring the warm, familiar space where she and my uncle live. The walls are covered with memories of an ever growing and changing family, the Christmas tree still lit up and pretty.I felt at ease as we sipped on tea and reflected on the past few months.

Yup.

Shit got real this year. Shit got ugly. Shit got desperate and dangerous. Shit was never ending. Shit was big and bad. Shit got messy and we lost our way.

And then we came together.

Eventually.

Slowly.

But- surely we realized that the human spirit is not so easily crushed.

Families came together and made sure that their neighbors didn’t go hungry. Teachers gave their students their all, while taking care of their own families in the classroom or remotely. Parents working from home balanced conference calls and middle school algebra. Bus drivers deliver free food and graded homework to all the kids on their routes. We’ve supported each other in peaceful protest, louder than the contagious hate others have shouted on Twitter and sidewalks all over.

The opportunity to help or hurt others didn’t start in 2020 and it won’t end in 2021. There’s always something happening, somewhere in the world. It’s a little unexpected when it ends up on your doorstep and blows up like a glitter bomb, covering everything and everyone. You can try to vacuum it up, or you can surrender and realize you can sparkle. Even just a bit.

New Year resolutions can be a starting point or a crutch. Loosing ten pounds, quitting smoking, training for a marathon, reducing screen time, finally finishing reading that book you started three years ago- all of that stuff is good.

Instead, wouldn’t it be great if we could all sit back, take a deep breath and search within ourselves to pull out that euphoric feeling we get when we do the right thing? Helping our neighbors. Going that extra mile. Recognizing gratitude. Standing beside those who are hurting.

The date really doesn’t mean much. There’s no real difference from December 31st to January 1st. A resolution doesn’t have to be made. Your expectations don’t need to be all that high. If you fail, it doesn’t have to be the end. You don’t have to wait another full 365 days to make a change in your life or others.

You can do it right now. You can do it tomorrow. Do it whenever you want. When we wake up tomorrow it’s still going to be Friday. The calendar date is irrelevant. Make it simple- just for today. One day at a time. Do your best. And if you can’t? There’s another day coming. I can promise you that.

Happy 2021, happy new day.

(…and don’t be afraid to steal a smooch from someone you like to get smoochie with at midnight. You have to live a little!)


A Womans Worth: A Letter to my Mama

Dear Mom,

I have been sitting on this topic for a few weeks. What worth do we as women have in this world? Do we acknowledge our worth, or do we let others diminish it?  Do we stay silent to hide our strength, because our strength is intimidating to others? A woman can’t be worthy in this world if she’s too much.

Too much or not enough.

Don’t appear too confident, too smart, too brave, too beautiful, too independent, or too successful if you really want to succeed in life and have a great husband.

0-2*Get it girl*

My dear Mama: you have raised me well. Some of the lessons I have learned from you have sat dormant in my mind for quite a while. I ran in the other direction. I made choices that kept me small. I firmly believed that a white picket fence would make me happy. It didn’t. I firmly believed that the only thing I could offer was giving birth to babies and emptying the dishwasher.

Don’t get me wrong- being a mom is the greatest honor I have ever experienced. I have the pleasure of watching these three wild, silly, strong-willed girls grow day by day and I get to be part of that. It’s amazing.

But is that the only thing I can be?

What about my dreams, my passions, my goals? It never occurred to me that I could do those things and still be the badass mom that I am today.

I let men silence me. I let society silence me. I let alcohol silence me. I let myself silence me. 

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When I think about your life Mom, I hear symphonies instead of silence. You have spent your entire life pushing yourself to be better, wiser and stronger. You worked hard for your education, your job, and your home with a grateful heart.

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I know that as you are reading this, you are going to be flooded with emotions. I mean, if we’re being honest here, you kind of always have floods of emotion! That’s good. Gotta let it out.

I know that you have spent hours replaying different memories from my life where you wish you could have done things differently or wish you had been at one thing or another. You tell me over and over how sorry you are for missing stuff. I know that your heart broke when I went into labor and you weren’t there. I know that you still carry that guilt.

Let me tell you something. If you had been around, you would have been ushered out into the waiting room as I entered the OR for that damn emergency c-section. You wouldn’t have been allowed in. You dropped a heck of a lot of money to turn around and get on the next flight back to me. Everything was such a rush. The first baby. Total beautiful chaos.

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I remember almost nothing about my c-section.

Do you know what I do remember? I remember you basically sprinting into the room several hours later. You dropped everything and made it back in record time. Maybe you don’t remember this, but by the time you arrived I was tired. More than tired. Emotionally drained and emotionally full.

 

What I’m trying to say here is that I needed a nap. I straight up just needed to sleep for a minute. You have no idea how deep the exhaustion is after birth until you’ve actually experienced it. You came in and walked right up to us. You picked up Fiona and held her to your heart. You sat down in the rocking chair and introduced yourself to her. I said something about being tired, and you told me to take a nap.

Nap.

Nap?

Moms are allowed to nap? I heard that was a myth.

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You rocked that little smooshy face for almost two hours while I zoned in and out of an unusual sleep. You never sleep the same after a human being exits you. You have to be on call 24/7. I remember the wave of calm that came over me when you walked in there and I closed my eyes. I had spent the past several hours absolutely terrified when my *natural* birth plan didn’t work out. I felt guilt, as if my body had failed her. I don’t know how, but your presence helped calm those emotions.

You’re my mom. You knew I needed to sleep. Moms know everything.

Let me repeat that: Moms know everything.

You would have missed her birth if you had been one mile away or across the country. You would have had to sit and wait outside for who knows how long. I was ok. I did it. I had a baby. I needed you, but not right there at that moment. I needed you to come in like Wonder Woman, sweeping the sleeping baby out of my arms and into yours. I felt my shoulders relax. I felt my eyes getting heavy.

You were there when I needed you. I didn’t need you in the OR, I needed you right then and there in my hospital room. That’s what I remember. Not that you left, but that you came in at just the right time. 

We joke around a lot calling you a *workaholic*. You work. You work really hard. It’s easy for me to sit here on this couch and say you do too much. But I wouldn’t have the damn couch if you hadn’t worked so hard to make sure that we all have always had everything we’ve needed.  You work your ass off even when it seems impossible.

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Being a mom is much like walking on a tightrope. It’s hard and almost impossible. People constantly ask, “How do you do it?” And the answer is simple: the love that we have for our children gives us no other choice. If we have to move a mountain, we will move a mountain. Moms are incredible.

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The past year I have heard you say a lot of things about divorce. Your own and mine. At times you seem to believe that if you raised me differently, that perhaps my marriage wouldn’t have ended. You also seem to believe that you have some kind of control over this situation.

Let me tell you right now-You, your life, your family, your everything…not one single part of your past makes you responsible for what I’m going through, or what my kids are going through.

This isn’t your fault. 

You have brought me back from the ledge of the bridge too many times this past year. You have picked up every phone call. You’ve read every text. You’ve let me go on and on about superficial things while you are mourning the loss of your father. You put me first.

A few months back my marriage ended. I didn’t know what to do, who to turn to, how to make it through one more hour of the misery I was consumed with. A few days later you flew out. Dropped everything, got on a plane, and came out to give me a break. My house was flooded with sewage water. It smelled like a porta potty. You took care of everything. EVERYTHING. You changed your flight home, because you knew I needed more time with you.

You put your own exhaustion aside and sat by me when I needed you the most.

We lost Grampie. You lost your Dad. You had to be the one to call me that morning. Your voice didn’t even tremble. You knew you had to be strong for me in that moment.

I hope I can be strong for you too someday. 

Even when circumstances have been less than ideal, you still do what you need to do for us. You don’t give up. You push. You push into the right direction as much as you can.

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I have spent my entire life watching you soar. You aren’t just a mom. You aren’t just a successful business woman. You aren’t just a loving and kind Grammie. You aren’t just the shoulder your daughters cry on. You aren’t just the mom who has pulled her daughter out of financial and emotional ruin. You aren’t just a devoted daughter. You aren’t just a beloved sibling, leader of the pack. You aren’t just a woman who has a deep love of twizzlers and diet pepsi. You aren’t just the mom who has sacrificed sanity to drive across the country with my three screaming kids in the back. You aren’t just the big promotion. You aren’t just the woman who has helped your daughter stay sober. You aren’t just the woman with a new car or a new house. You aren’t just a hallmark movie watching junkie.

You are Susan. 

You don’t have to be anyone or anything else, just being who you are makes your worth in this world and in my heart immeasurable.

You are enough. You are worthy. You are loved.

 

Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

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