Life

Unchartered Times

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The Challenger space shuttle explodes on January 28, 1986

Recently I have been thinking of the defining times of my life. The big events that mark a time and place where I remember exactly what was happening around me as the world was changing. The first big one was the Challenger explosion. I was a senior in high school in January 1986 and we were gathered around the lone television in the school library which sat on a tall media cart. By today’s standards, it was a small, boxy television and we were all trying to get a good look at the very first civilian to go into space, Chris McAuliffe, a teacher we all might aim to be someday. And then it exploded and someone quickly went to the front of the room and the box went dark. We sat in silence, not believing what had just happened. How could it be? A moment that was much anticipated had been over in a disastrous instant.

And then of course, there was 9/11 which put that moment of national disaster into perspective as we learned more with each moment that passed, what felt like the longest day of our collective lives. I was driving into work and pulling into a parking spot just as the first plane hit. I worked in the newsroom of the local daily paper and was in the habit of listening to talk radio as many of us did back then. The host broke in to tell us about the plane but he thought it might have been an accident, a one off where the pilot made a grave error due to a medical emergency. And then we found out it wasn’t an accident. There were more planes and the death toll rose as the days passed. I managed to walk into work that morning but I don’t recall getting anything done. My boss, the Editor, rallied everyone around to take charge of our coverage of the event and I did my small part and made sure these reporters and editors who had come in that day to cover a primary election race that was not to happen, were well fed as they worked the local angles of the events unfolding. I spent the day reading wire reports and watching the news on various televisions placed throughout the vast room. And then I went home and like a zombie, feeling helpless and numb about what was happening around us, watched the non-stop coverage of the events. People jumping out of windows, flames pouring from buildings, and finally the buildings themselves crumbling to the ground.

But this is different. There was not one event we can point to and collectively mourn together. Many of us do not even know what this silent enemy is going to do by the time it is all over. How many will come to the brink of death? How many will die? How many will be forever be marked by this anxious, uncertain time for years to come? How many do not even take it seriously yet when we are several weeks into a pandemic that is spreading it’s invisible poison among us? Who has it, we silently ask ourselves as we try to carry on as if life hasn’t changed in every way around us. What is still yet to come? The only hope we have is our resilience. That we can come back from hard times as our ancestors have done throughout time. We are not being asked much. We are not being asked to go behind enemy lines. We are not being asked to board trains to an uncertain death. We are simply being asked to stay put and keep this invisible enemy from spreading. We are being asked to amuse ourselves which is no small task given that we have become used to a freedom that has been earned by the people who have gone before us. Let’s do our part now so that we can get back to life as we once knew it.

MC

Life

Dreaming of Paris

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Atop the Eiffel Tower in 2003

Last night I had a wonderful dream. My husband and I had decided to purchase an apartment in Paris so that we could spend several weeks there each year, taking in the culture, food and general ambiance of this beautiful city we spent our honeymoon in. We made a trip together scoping out properties and then I was going to return on my own to settle on one apartment we loved and get it set up. For some reason my sister and niece tagged along on this trip and we stayed in a hotel where I lost over 700 euros I had withdrawn from an ATM. But there was a general good feeling and I could almost smell the freshly baked, buttery croissants and the decadent chocolate Parisian confectioners are know for. And then I woke up. Continue reading “Dreaming of Paris”

Life

Digital Declutter

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What is your digital footprint and how do you tend to it? Are you an avid Facebook user or do you prefer Instagram? Do you try to keep up with the youngsters on Snapchat and TikTok? How about blogs you follow or YouTubers you keep up with, podcasts you listen to? Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, Nextdoor. I could go on and on and on. In fact, I Googled social networks and an article about the 65+ Social Networking Sites You Need to Know About came up and my mind almost blew a gasket. I can barely keep up with a handful let alone 65. Many I hadn’t heard of.

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Life

A vision for 2020

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Hello and Happy New Year! I have been thinking about writing every day and missing this space and I realized that with every passing day it was getting harder to return. I haven’t been writing. Again. But it’s all good. I haven’t been without routine these past few weeks but I’ve been at a loss on where to fit the writing in. You have to just get started somewhere, so here I am.

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books, Uncategorized

Top Reads of 2019

Looking back through my blog content, I didn’t spend much time talking about my 2019 reading list. I might have mentioned a book here and there but the only time I blogged about books this year was for my 2018 list which I published in late January (better late than never?!). This year I set a goal of 70 books and finished 77 as of today – this number astounds me because I used to read a couple dozen books a year. The benefits of sobriety! I’ll take you through a few of the best books in a few different genres that I enjoyed.

Best Audiobook: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik BackmanCE614EF4-2442-4A44-AA13-7479D8C58148.jpeg
There is a lot of debate on book Twitter if audiobooks even count as books read and I’m here to say they absolutely count. If you listen to a book and take in all the information from the book you have every right to count them on your “read” list. I have tried to read A Man Called Ove many, many times because everyone told me it was good, but it didn’t take until I listened to it while I sweated it out at the gym. All this time I had been pronouncing Ove wrong – this is one of the benefits of listening – hearing things pronounced correctly.

Continue reading “Top Reads of 2019”

Life, Uncategorized

A Trip to the Medium

The idea of seeing a medium has been bouncing around in the back of my mind for years. Nearly thirty three years since I lost my brother, Jeff, to suicide. There was no note. I was gutted. Why had this happened? I needed answers. John Edwards was a fairly new phenomenon back then and he had been a guest speaker at my college at the time. I don’t remember what he said that night, but I knew there could be an answer to my questions by visiting him. But I didn’t persue it.

There were a couple of local psychics in my hometown and one reached out to a family member a while after my brother died. She said my brother had visited her on the night he died and he wanted her to tell my mother he was OK. He mentioned very specific jewelry in her posession that no one else would know about. I imagine she was terrified to bring this information to my mother knowing we were a devout Catholic family who didn’t go in for other wordly nonsense.

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Life

Merry Christmas Eve!

 

 

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It will all be over in twenty four hours. The build up and planning and anticipating will be over and we can rest easy into another blessed Christmas morning. But before then, there will be lots and lots of work. A labor of love. Traditions and rituals to observe. We’ve decorated, shopped and watched all the Christmas movies. We’ve witnessed the build up of advent and the journey to Christ’s birth. It has been a particularly spiritual journey for me this year as I attended weekday mass on many occasions during the month, and isn’t that what the season is about.

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Life

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect hinges on the theory that a small change (such as a butterfly flapping it’s wings) can cause a much larger event halfway across the world (such as a tsunami). I think of this often when I’m trying to retrace how life gets off course for me in just a short amount of time. Three weeks ago, said life was humming along. I had a faithful morning routine which entailed prayer, journaling, exercise and morning pages – all before my job which starts at 9 a.m. I had weekly commitments I didn’t veer from. AA meetings, yoga practice, meditation, meal planning, laundry and cleaning routines. And then the thing happened that knocked it off kilter.

What was the one thing that caused my life to tip over as though it was teetering on the edge of a cliff? The first chink came with a funeral which caused me to miss my weekly yoga practice. The funeral wasn’t optional as it’s crucial to be there for the important people in your life during times of loss. The funeral, also, was ripe with life lessons for me and caused me to think hard about some things like bucket lists and what’s really important in life. Next came the death of our beloved Murphy and this has caused much sadness and perhaps a low grade depression. Getting out bed in the morning became difficult but Thanksgiving was coming and a trip to Florida was on it’s heels.

Continue reading “The Butterfly Effect”

Life

Pet Grief

It’s been just over a week since we had to say goodbye to our beloved golden retriever, Murphy. He’s been part of the family for 11 years (almost to the date), having arrived just a couple of weeks before my son Liam’s second birthday. An (active!) toddler, an exuberant puppy, a full time job and a busy life.

There was puppy training, potty training, play groups and doggy daycare to squeeze into an already packed life. Then there was everything I’d read about dog food and decided I better make my own which was no small task. I worried over teething and sleep schedules. Again. For isn’t a puppy so much like a baby in many ways.

But here we are, a blink of an eye and it’s eleven years later. A teenager and an elderly dog whose time has come up much too soon. How do you say goodbye to an integral part of your family? At 100 pounds and no longer mobile, I called a vet who makes house calls. It was time.

It was a peaceful and gentle process. The vet as compassionate a man as I have ever met. He has called, emailed and sent us a sympathy card, making sure that we are all doing ok. Even checking on our cat Stella who is no spring chicken herself.

But a pet death is not like any other. A close bond forms over the years with the primary family members. Murphy loved people, giving his tail an enthusiastic shake at the mere approach of anyone new, and people loved him too. No one knew him like we did though, and the grief is like a tight knot holding us together. The fact that he’s no longer holding his post by our entrance door, a constant source of pain, a phantom pain, that reminds us each time we come home of his absence.

It’s a time of grief, to be felt for as long as necessary until it dissipates little by little as time goes by. Keeping the memories close, sharing our heartache, restitching our sense of family.

MC