Musings

Yummy Mummy!

Did you ever tumble headlong into a world you had no idea existed? I was looking for something to pass the time last week and after visiting a few YouTube pages and finding little to entertain, I opened up the Netflix app on my phone and clicked on a title called Yummy Mummies. I thought back to the period just after I had my son and I would watch TLC (The Learning Channel) for hours on end. I particularly loved shows about pregnancy and babies and thought about this nostalgicly as I settled in to watch a show about some pregnant moms-to-be from down under. This was a rabbit hole I didn’t climb out of for many hours: it was ridiculously addicting.

It was also unlike any other reality tv show I have ever watched and I have a couple of seasons of RHOBH under my belt. These ladies (particularly Maria from Adelaide) take diva to a level that makes me fairly uncomfortable as they nest by accumulating designer baby gear (Dior bottles, Versace receiving blankets, matching baby and mum Burberry pajamas), peruse for “push” gifts (diamonds, Rolexes and Range Rovers) and plan babymoons on the Gold Coast. I live in a completely different world where Michael Kors and Coach are the highest of my designer aspirations and where my kid grew up in clothes from Target and occasionally Macy’s.

I admit I was completely taken in by these characters and couldn’t stop watching (my favorite was Rachel). There was a bit of a feud/competition between the Melbourne moms (Lorinska, Jane and Rachel) and Maria (mostly on Maria’s part) about who would have the better baby shower, etc. They would constantly make fun of each other and I guess the entertainment value was to find out who would do what next. Maria’s mom (mum) was, just, WOW! I can’t even find the word for it. She certainly had a hand in raising her daughter to be the narcissistic diva she is today.

The other ladies were fairly tame and reminded me of the characters from Sex and the City if they had kept going and all had babies. They dressed to the nines as they shopped for their push presents and induldged in lunches, pampering and more as they got ready for motherhood. I’m not saying this has been the best way to pass the time, but it sure was an eye opener about how the other half lives. I was never happier to settle into bed in my Target pajamas at the end of the day.

Do you have any guilty pleasures reality tv?

MC

Advertisements
Life

Ballroom dancing… for kids

As my son entered fifth grade, we received a mailing about dance and etiquette lessons being offered for local schools. A group of women initiated this program over twenty five years ago where they teach kids in fifth and sixth grades the ins and outs of etiquette along with some traditional dance moves. Dancing with girls! The boys were not a bit interested but the moms banded together and coaxed (bribed) our sons by offering them a fun night out (bugers & ice cream) after the hourlong monthly lessons.

Year one was interesting. It went over well (with only a few groans on the evening of lessons) and if there wasn’t complete joy in the process, there was the camaraderie of the boys getting together monthly. I didn’t know exactly what went on behind those closed doors but at the end of the hour, the kids (probably 50-60 of them) came bursting from the gym in a stampede of energy.

Near the end of the school year, a dinner dance at a local country club was arranged for both the kids and parents to attend. They were deftly handled by the instructors into groups by grade and demonstrated the dances they had worked on through the year – the foxtrot, tango and waltz. It is as cute as you could imagine. The boys dressed in jacket and tie, the girls in fancy dress, hair and makeup as if they were on the way to their first prom.

However, this was as serious of an affair as ever and it looked excruciating for some of the kids as the parents looked on filming every second of it. The night appeared way more enjoyable for the parents who spent the early part of the evening sipping their beverages of choice as they caught up on school gossip. After the kids dutifully performed their dances with each other, we got to dance with them in mother/son and father/daughter variations. I savored it because I was quite sure he’d never agree to doing it in sixth grade.

Fast forward to the beginning of the school year and once again we received the mailing. To my surprise he wanted to do it this year even though most of the boys in his class dropped out. Last week I had the privilege of acting as a chaperone and got a glimpse of the process first hand and I was more impressed than ever.

The first part of the evening was all about etiquette and how to introduce yourself to grown ups. I stood in place as a line of 25 boys of all sizes shook my hand and looked me in the eye as they announced their name and their pleasure to make my acquaintance. I wanted to hug every last one of them.

Then the lesson began. The steps were practiced, the boys and girls in a line opposite each other and the they were paired up to practice for a bit until the music came on. It was easy to tell who didn’t want to be there. It was fun watching the interactions and I have to say there wasn’t a lot of chaperoning involed. We were the only ones from our school at the event because of ski club (my son’s broken wrist kept us off the slopes). We’re about halfway through the lessons but I can already see how they have improved. These are wonderful life lessons for these middle grade kids.

MC

Life

Career change

 

a89deac053396e24d6cf47cd0576ab59_XL.jpg

On January 7th I was thrust into a period of change. I was stunned and sad. Relieved and unsure. I was no longer employed and it wasn’t on my terms and I wasn’t going to like it. How am I to be identified if not by who I am aside from as a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend? I have been in the workforce since I was 14 years old and it has mostly been an amazing ride. My first uniform was a long red skirt, black bodysuit, fishnet stocking and 2-inch heels, dancing for visitors at an old west theme park. I always tell people it was the best job I ever had.

The next summer I donned the red and white of a candy striper, unwittingly drafted into this by my mother whose vision for me was to be a nurse. Making beds (hospital corners!), filling water pitchers, running errands for nurses, each day inhaling the antiseptic scent of the aged and infirm. I was as miserable as could be. Our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Winterbottom was a long-term resident and I was afraid of her wispy white hair, crooked hands, and the general sickness of her. I was not going to be a nurse.

Continue reading “Career change”

Writing

What do you love?

writing

Lately, I have been doing some fun writing exercises (exercise and fun in the same sentence!). One was to choose several books and copy the first lines. As I was looking around my house for various books to pull first lines from, I ended up in our loft which houses all the papers and stuff that has no particular home. I found some long lost (and beloved) books and after copying a few first sentences, I began to write about a particular memory of reading a book I hadn’t seen in many years. It was pretty cool.

Another exercise challenged me to come up with a list of 100 things I love and I almost skipped it. Do I love 100 things? It turns out I do and once I started, I couldn’t stop and I’m adding to it every day. It is somewhat akin to a gratitude list. Here it is: Continue reading “What do you love?”

Life

Condolences

with-deepest-sympathy-card_1024x1024

If you knew that my first experience with a close loved one’s death was a traumatic experience in that I was one of the people to find my brother after his suicide (when I was nineteen), it may not surprise you that I haven’t always dealt with the loss of other people’s loved ones in the best of manners. Quite honestly, I would do anything to avoid a funeral home and a casket (open or closed) for many, many years. In fact, it was (and sometimes still is) hard to talk to others about their loss but I have always thought the best route was to send a condolence card. And now Facebook seems to be the place others go to express their thoughts and prayers.

Continue reading “Condolences”

Life

A Yellow Notepad

This morning as I was doing my own kind of meditation where I lie in bed and send prayers and good thoughts for the day, I asked God to help me see what I should be in the world. On Sunday night we went to mass at a local Catholic college and it was amazing. For me, amazing doesn’t happen at mass all the time, but that night I felt so in tune with what the priest was enthusiastically asserting in his homily and it was all about being who and what we are supposed to be.

It didn’t come to me in a thunderbolt as I mulled this over in bed today but my thoughts drifted to a letter I need to write to a family member to set my side of the relationship right. It’s something I let go too long but it’s never too late, right? The letter needs to be hand written, something I haven’t done in many, many years.

Into my mind popped a vision of a yellow notepad, a notepad I used abundantly during the summer of 1988 to write letters to my brother, Jeff, who had taken his life 17 months prior. I was in the anger stage of my grieving process. It was the summer after my sophomore year of college and I was unable to find employment where my parents lived and so my uncle generously found me a well paying flag person job and I went to live with him, my aunt and young cousins 100 miles from home.

Standing in a u-turn on a major highway, alone for 12 hours a day gives a person quite a bit of time to think. I did a lot of that, headphones in my ears as I listened to the soundtrack of that summer: Walking in Memphis, Simply Irresistible, Hands to Heaven and everything by Phil Collins. When I hear these songs I can be transported back to that summer like it was last week.

Back to the yellow notepad. I would be exhausted at the end of the day and even though I had a boyfriend living nearby, I mostly spent the evenings in my room, scrawling out these lengthy messages to my dead brother. I was trying to come to grips with the why, a nearly fruitless endeavor for suicide survivors. This was long before I heard of the concept of a suicide survivors group. I also eschewed therapy, preferring to go it alone (a common theme in my life).

I wrote on those notepad pages until my hand hurt and then would carefully pull the pages from the pad, fold it in thirds as though I were about to tuck it into a number 10 envelope and then deposit it in the top drawer of the dresser. By the end of the summer the drawer was full but I was no closer to the answers I sought. If I packed them up as I left for my dorm that fall, I don’t remember.

Writing on that yellow pad was an integral part of my very long recovery process. Like the songs of the summer of 1988, I can’t see a yellow pad without remembering the angst of my nocturnal writing during those summer months. If I could write a letter to my 20 year old self, I’d tell her it was going to get better. Time heals all wounds is a trope no grieving person ever wants to hear even if it is true.

Somehow, over time (lots and lots of time), my heart patched over and I was able to work through my grieving process. I was able to go on and work with other survivors, listen on a hotline as people called in with the things that weighed heavily on their mind. Is remembering the notepad part of God’s mission for me? I think it is, at least for today because it was the first image I saw when I looked at Twitter this morning. I will keep seeking the clues He sends me.

MC

books

Favorite Books of 2018

Before we get too far into 2019, I thought I’d take a look back at the books I most enjoyed in 2018 and would highly recommend to others. My tastes veer toward mystery, suspense, psychological thrillers, and current fiction as well as British fiction (I have a love affair with London and England that began in the summer of 1981 when Lady Diana married Prince Charles for all the world to see). British mysteries are a favorite!

I have to say it was a wonderful reading year for me. I am a pretty tough critic and usually I don’t hand out to 5 (out of 5) stars very often – though I would lean a bit toward four and a half for many if that was allowable on Goodreads.  In 2018 out of the 83 books I read, a stellar 19 were 5-star reads (22%) versus 2017 where only 11% were. Let’s get to it. They are in no particular order and I’m not going to list them all here because we’d be here all week. Continue reading “Favorite Books of 2018”

Writing

A New Routine

writing

Today is day one of my new, unemployed life. What came before, these last two weeks was just the trial run. A period similar (but certainly not as devastating) to the events experienced after the death of a loved one. The period that is suspended in time where your tribe gathers around. Makes daily inquiries as to your well being. There is much to do in those first few days. Organize and prepare for what lies ahead. A pre-planned getaway to Florida followed my first week away from the job and there was a flurry of activity awaiting me there. But now I am home and everyone is back to work and school and I’m here to let the dust settle around me and find a new routine.

This is exactly what I have wanted for months on end. Time to write. Time to see if I have what it takes to birth a book. I’m hopeful because it is early days and I see nothing but time stretching ahead of me. I have a bit of money saved and with unemployment kicking in soon, I’ll have enough to get me through the next few months. I know how lucky I am. If I can’t make it work now, I don’t see how it’s going to happen for me. I know I have to sit my butt in front of my computer and let the words out, even if they are gibberish and nonsensical.

Continue reading “A New Routine”

Musings

Bingeing

Over the past couple of years I’ve gotten away from watching television. There seemed to be no time to keep up with all the shows people were talking about: Game of Thrones, This is Us, Big Little Lies. And Grey’s Anatomy is still on! The last shows I properly binged on were Downton Abbey and Breaking Bad, two shows so good but as different as could be.

Instead I was reading every chance I had and you can see the numbers of books read climb as my TV watching diminished right up to last year where I managed 83 book. Now I have all the time in the world and I’m finding it hard to focus on one book for very long. I had always loved movies so I started going again and have seen The Favourite (astonishing) and On the Basis of Sex (this calls into question what am I actually doing with my life) in the past week. And since I’m solo here in Florida, I turned on Amazon Prime and was delighted to see Lady Bird on there, a movie I had hoped to see in the theater. It is exactly the kind of quirky movie I love. The next night I watched Beautiful Boy, a heartbreaking movie about a drug addicted son that I wrote about here.

This brought me to yesterday. I am trying to go between the books The Alice Network and The Gifts of Imperfection but cannot stay focused. Instead I perused a few YouTube channels I follow but still nothing held my interest. I cleaned around the house and by 6:00 I found myself collapsed in my chair and started looking for something on Netflix. After the requisite 30 minutes of scrolling I settled on You.

I am now properly hooked after binge watching the first four episodes. I don’t know whether it is good fortune or bad but there are only 10 episodes right now so it won’t be a situation where I’m bingeing for days in a row. While You is no Breaking Bad, it is definitely keeping me entertained and surprised.

What are you watching?

MC

Life

Beautiful boy

I watched the above titled movie yesterday and I have a feeling it will stay with me for quite some time. It deals with the extremely difficult topic of drug addiction and the relationship between a father (helpless parent) and son (addict). It really blew me away in it’s unflinching portrayal of the damage drugs and alcohol can play in the life of a family.

It hit a little too close to home, though, as we lost a nephew to drugs just two and a half years ago. I met my sister-in-law more than 20 years before when I started volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline. She was the director of the center and I felt an immediate connection with her as we bonded over losing our brothers to suicide several years prior. Suicide prevention, dealing with the aftermath and support to survivors is God’s work. She is amazing at it and just recently retired from doing it full time for many years. It is work that takes it’s toll and I found I could only do it for a few years before it started contributing negatively to my own mental health. It was through this relationship that I met my husband – she is married to his brother – and I got to see their three kids grow through the years.

Unfortunately drugs became part of one of their twin boys life and after a long struggle, they got the phone call no parent ever wants to hear. I’m sorry but your son died of an overdose. I know they did everything to prevent getting that call but addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet portrayed the father and son but I couldn’t help slot my family members into their parts. To say life isn’t fair seems like a hollow admonition. A beautiful boy was lost and his family is forever altered.

MC