Monday, May 31, 2010

It's been ages since I put up a new post, and I've really missed writing about my daily life experiences. Something happened recently that I knew I couldn't wait to share....

A few nights ago the family, minus Griffin, gathered for dinner at my mother-in-law's loft for dinner. Any time spent with Karen (M-I-L) is sure to be a great time filled with multiple bottles of wine, great conversation, and loads of stories. There isn't anywhere or anything this woman hasn't been or done. She's definitely experienced it all! During our conversation, the kids started talking about fun things they've done, and the older teenagers began reminiscing about cartoons or video games that reminded them of being 10, when their lives seemed less on the brink of college. As with anytime the conversation turns to someone reminiscing about good childhood memories, I realized for the thousandth time, that I have no idea what the joy of cartoons and video games at the age of 10 would be like. Normally I would sit there and nod my head and laugh, all the while thinking to myself "I have no idea what you're talking about", but this particular evening, something just made me say it out loud. Now, this was not some startling revelation. No one stopped mid sentence as if I had just blurted out some deep dark family secret, but there was definitely a moment when a temporary hush fell over the table. Karen, in all her wordly expereince, decides what I need to do is to recapture my childhood! "It's not too late!", she declares.

So began the moment that childhood became a reality for me! Michael decided that instead of a Bucket List - an itemized version of everything you want to do before you kick the bucket, he would call it The Fuck It List - and itemized list of everything that stands for childhood (translation: happiness & freedom), everything I should do instead of cleaning the house, laundry, and all those other "responsible mom" chores. My stepson Mateo was the first to start my list off: I have to go to a carnival. After that, everyone had something to share to help create my Fuck It List. While I was listening to everyone come up with their ideas, the tears were welling up in my eyes. Eventually I couldn't disguise my crying and I left to go the bathroom.

My tears were not sadness for the lost childhood, or from feeling like I missed out on something. They were tears of humility, gratitude and love for this family so willing to show me their love and tenderness through the experience of the joy and happiness that childhood can be. As I sat there on the toilet trying so hard not to muss my mascara, I couldn't help but offer up thanks to the Universe for this family. It was the first time I realized that I needed them as much as they needed me, and I'm so fortunate that they're mine, regardless of how they came to be mine. I noticed for a while that when they are happy, I'm happy, and when they're sad, so am I. Now, I can see they actually care that I'm happy too.

Disclaimer: The naming of The Fuck It List was done in code out of respect for our younger ears at the dinner table.....just in case you were wondering!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I am remembering my sweet Griffin yesterday, following me through the grocery while I picked up the last remnants that would be dinner. This child has inherited his mother's love of books and reading, so while I'm strolling through the store, he's tagging along (albeit very close to me) with his nose in a book. I say "very close to me", because I just realized his methods for walking and reading at the same time: (this is Griffin) "If I stand close enough to mom, then I can sense when it's time to walk and time to stop, but I won't miss anything on the page"! I'm sure we made quite a sight at the store.

I love it that he's addicted to reading. As soon as he picks up a book, he peels it open in the middle and puts it right up to his nose to breathe deep. If we're staying overnight somewhere, his first question is if there's a bookstore nearby (I've actually booked hotels by checking to see the locations of Barnes & Noble first).

One day after school last week, Griffin decided to take a spin on his scooter outside, however he walks out the door with TWO books in hand. A while later I looked out the window to check on him and noticed his favorite North Face jacket that he was wearing, along with the two books, was laying on the trunk of my car. I made a mental note to take the jacket and books off the car before I left to take Devon to play rehearsal. Well, hours later (as now it's pitch black outside), Griffin is getting ready for bed and looking for his books. He says, "So I'm assuming you took my jacket and books off your car?" heart sank. I looked at him and all I could say was, "Are you kidding me?" Off we fly out the door to find the jacket and books that clearly flew off my car. Of course I'm thinking about the jacket, and all Griffin can think about are his beloved books.

As we rounded the corner from our home, there lay the North Face on the side of the road. No books. My sweet boy, who always sees the best in every situation says: "Well, maybe someone else loves reading as much as I do", and seemed to be just fine with bestowing this "gift" to the Universe. Needless to say, I promised him a trip to the bookstore really soon!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happiness is being spontaneous! My two girls made spur-of-the-moment decisions today to doing something they wouldn't normally do - and with joyous results!

As Michael and I were busy working away in our office earlier, Bella caming walking through the door! Imagine our surprise! Michael and I turned to each other in tandem with a how-did-she-get-here look. Come to find out, she wanted to surprise us so she walked to the office from our home, which is close, only a couple of miles. Now, even though the snow is melting, this isn't my idea of fun, as I dreadfully dislike the cold. She was digging around in her bag, mumbling "I brought you something", and out comes a warmed up bagel wrapped in a paper towel. She thought we might want a snack, she says! The thoughtfulness of her gesture, combined with walking in the cold to bring it to us, put the biggest smile on my face.

Tonight after dinner, Devon and Luke (her boyfriend), decided they were going to go to the last basketball game at their high school to celebrate with friends....wearing TOGAS!!! I thought this was hilarious, and couldn't believe they'd do that in this weather (again the cold)!! Pretty soon, the front door opens and one by one, friends and more Carlson cousin's pour in so they can all get togafied together. Someone came to retrieve my laptop to watch what I was told was a very helpful video on YouTube on how to make a toga (keep that in mind if you're ever needing a toga). Squeals of laughter came roaring from downstairs, but they were having so much fun, I saw no need to tell them to quiet down. Devon came upstairs to quietly tell me she wasn't sure if she wanted to go because it was at 7:30. When I asked her why she said, "Mom that's my bedtime - you know how I am"! I told her she could come home from school tomorrow and go right to bed if she needed to but that this was clearly way too much fun to pass up. She relented and I know she's having a blast. Thank goodness we don't always talk ourselves out of the fun in life!

More fun to come: only 31 more days until Memphis!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

As I was coming into the kitchen this morning to make myself a steaming cup of love, I could still smell the scent of garlic from last night's dinner. It wasn't offensive, and probably made more aromatic by the memory that it wasn't I who made dinner, but my lovely Devon who labored to bring us a wonderful meal.

Devon is Miss Independance to the thousandth degree, so I know better than to offer help when she feels she's "in charge". That's o.k. I've learned, after many attempts of trying to show her how to doing something "right" and having them end with her angry with me, that there are many paths to "right", and I have to let her take her path. And besides, if I'm in the kitchen hovering, it completely cancels out the elation of having someone else do this for me!

So I took this opportunity to sit with my book and peek over the top of it, and on occasion, watch her from afar as she whipped up her magic. Straining, because she was blessed with the "short gene" from both her grandmothers, to reach the food processor from the high cabinet. Making her own pesto, slicing her bread, and I'm sure her secret joy at everyone filtering upstairs because "it smells really good up here". I'm grateful that Devon likes to make dinner, she loves experimenting with food, and always mentions, in a not-so-subtle way that, "we need to open a restaurant mom, SERIOUSLY". Food stuff aside, I'm just grateful for Devon. SERIOUSLY.

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's been a long day. I got lots of work done. It's about a sip of the grape, I ask myself?
This week has been so wonderful with lots of time spent with family and friends. I spent some one-on-one time with Bella, who is so much fun to hang around with! At ten years old, she's wise beyond her years, loves conversation, and has a wicked sense of humor! We started off our day at our favorite place to eat, Panini Panini, where I delighted in a delicious wedge of lemon tart (just thinking about it makes my mouth water). Bella and I plotted our shopping route. Two stops for me: first J Crew, then my favorite bookstore, and two for her: Hollister and Aeropostale. There is always a lot of hugging involved since Bella is very eager to immediately share her gratitude for having received new treasures!

My niece Lauren is here visiting from Connecticut this week and, as always, it's such a JOY to have her around, and also a reminder of what we've been missing all these years with her living so far away. I'm taking Lauren and Devon to the train station this morning so they can embark on their adventure in Chicago for the day! Sitting here thinking about these two lovely girls, I'm imaging all their stamps in their passports: Norway, Mexico, Japan, France, and Portugal! I may actually have missed one or two! I admire that, at their young ages, they've never been fearful of exploring. They want to see the world, experience the world, learn the languages of the world, taste the foods of the world and, most importantly, meet the people of the world!! Happiness is traveling and making memories!

I was also able to get together with my sister-in-law Arden this week, when we all gathered at her home for dinner with Kathleen, the Assistant Director of Camp Kohahna. Camp Kohahna is the girls camp near Glen Arbor, Michigan, where Devon & her cousins, spend their summers. As we were all piled around the fireplace talking, I looked around at these beautiful faces: Arden, Lena, Devon, Lauren, and Kathleen, and realized how grateful I was to be in the company of these pretty terrific women. Listening to them talk, I'm so proud of them and how they seek Divine guidance for even the smallest things.

My friend Sandy, has been on my mind so much this week. Although I think about her a million times a day, sometimes you feel a person more often than at other times. I'm visiting her in 42 days, but it won't come soon enough for me! I miss her so much and have a feeling I'm not going to get ANY sleep while I'm there, since we will probably be up all night every night being JOYFUL together! I share a connection with her that I haven't found with anyone's like finding the other half of yourself, only you didn't know You were missing until you found You!

And finally, My mother. Who always seem to show up when you need her, can whip up a special dress for a dance, pick up the child that needs a ride, and rescue me when dinner is not quite finished and I'm running late for my Tuesday night yoga class, take the picture for my new real estate listing, and go buy the cat food that I forgot earlier - sometimes all in the same day! It's been a "week of women" for me, and so much fun to sit back and see how different everyone is and to celebrate those differences.

While I love all the women in my life tremendously, I am besotted with the one that came from me. Her love for me never fails to amaze me. She's wise, intelligent, funny, talented....and a good driver. I love you so much Devon. Thanks for choosing me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I received the most loving and thoughtful gift, from my loving and thoughtful husband, on Valentine's Day. Not only was it imaginative, I could tell it took time to plan it, execute it, and then wait with anticipation while I brought the whole thing to conclusion.

This sweet man, my Michael,who knows me inside and out, and thatI like solving a good mystery, sent me on a "treasure hunt", so to speak. I was told to go to my office and instructions would be awaiting me on my desk. When I arrived, a red heart shaped box was sitting there. I opened it to find some chocolate and a piece of paper folded up. The paper revealed a riddle, made up of clues from our life over the years, that would lead me to my next destination where I would find another treasure. In order to know where to go next, I only had to decipher to the riddle. The riddles themselves were the "treasure".

The first riddle included a key piece of information: a line about walking in one day and seeing me trim flowers for my grandmother, which apparently sent his heart reeling, and was his first clue that he was kinda-sort of liking me. With this in mind, I knew exactly where to go. There, tucked in the snow, was another red heart shaped box, more chocolate, and another riddle.

My second destination was also easy to figure out, after reading the riddle of course. This spot we consider sacred, an intersection where my husband, who at the time was just the man I was falling in love with, planted the sweetest kiss on my temple. I had invited him to dinner with friends, not as a date, but just as something to do to lift his spirits, since they were pretty low at that time. He was driving behind me, and when I pulled up to a stop sign at said intersection, I felt the urge to run back to his car just to thank him for coming. Then came The Kiss. In the riddle he mentioned pausing here each time he drives past it to give a hallelujah shout out for the change in his life that took place there. Ok, hugely sweet! Let's just say the rest is history!

Last, but not least, riddle number three took me to the place we first made our home together. Another red box resting in the snow, another riddle, and more chocolate. Standing there by the mailbox with the numbers 2012 on it, memories of being cozied up in front of the fireplace together came flooding back. Lots of late night talks, movies, and remembering the time I came home to find he left me little love notes written on the smallest post-it's I had ever seen, stuck all over the walls in a trail of where he knew I would walk when I got there. As I paused outside that home that someone else now owns, I missed it, yet felt strangely disconnected at the same time. We've moved on.

We've made so many more memories together since then. We've moved to other homes, started our business, traveled to fabulous places, and are watching our children grow up, on the cusp of leaving our nest. I look around at my life, and everything and everyone in it, and I realize I wouldn't want to do this with anyone but Michael. I feel so blessed and honored to be here with him.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I've been so busy the last few days. Tonight I was determined to make it to my Tuesday night yoga class with Lauralee. What a joy to walk through that door! I quickly unfurled my mat, eagerly folded myself into lotus position, and melted into my mat as I bent forward and let me torso lay across my feet. It felt so good I could have stayed there all night. "I love myself. I love that my body loves me back and enjoys sitting in this position. I love the way it smells in here. I love the soothing music that is playing. I'm grateful I came here tonight even though there's a snow storm raging outside." These were the thoughts that came to me while I relaxed there. As we warmed up and got started in our flow, I felt tingly with joy over how much I love doing yoga. I planted my left foot sturdy to prepare for tree pose, and as my hands rose in namaste, up through my center toward the sky, I focused on Ganesha. "I have everything I want, and want everything I have", is what my heart said to me when images of my children and husband flashed before my eyes. I was missing my daughter Devon. She was going to join me tonight, but remembered at the last minute something else she needed to take care of instead. I decided to just send her all my love from where I was to where she was, and I trusted the Universe would deliver it for me.

I am so grateful for my family, my friends, my work, new opportunities that are presenting themselves, and, of course, for my yoga. I have everything I want, and want everything I have.

Friday, February 5, 2010

When I was a kid, I would dream about the man I would marry. He would wear suits and wonderful shirts that would have to be pressed, and I would pick up said suits and shirts from the cleaners on my way to work (which, of course, was going to be a really fabulous creative job thingy). We would have two equally fabulous kids, and all things being equal, they would be a girl and a boy. We would live in some great unspecified city, and there may have even been a white picket fence involved (although I'm not sure that jives with the city part of my dream). My husband would be a wonderful man.

Flash forward 30 years: I actually do pick up my husband's suits and shirts from the cleaners, and as it turns out, he's a pretty wonderful man. What makes him so wonderful isn't how great he looks in his perfectly pressed shirts, but that he accepts me just as I am. His deep affection for me, his endless desire for my happiness, and thinking I'm beautiful when I feel the least beautiful. What makes him so wonderful is that he influences my own thoughts about myself in a more positive direction. He always says, "You're the best". After you've heard that a few times (well, for me it was a few million times), you find agree. Now, whenever he says that, in my heart I answer, "Thank you....I think I am too."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

As I sit here in bed going over all of today's events, thoughts of my son, Griffin, keep coming to me. Everyone who knows him, or just meets him for the first time, are so taken with him. He is consistently the most happy, helpful & thoughtful person I know. Every morning he greets me with the most delightful "hi Mom", and is always willing to give me one of his famous smoochies, even when I haven't brushed my teeth yet! We have such wonderful routines that we do together, and my favorite has to be that he holds my hand as I drive him to school each morning. Then, when we finally arrive at school, it takes him a solid five minutes to start walking to his building, because of the numerous things he does and says before he feels it's ok to go: "Ok, Mom, well, I love you so so much"...."remember, 3:10 on the dot, in fact, be here early".....a few of those smoochies...."ok, well, have a wonderful, spectacular (always in that order) day!" Then on his way to class, he always turns around a few times to wave goodbye. One day I was unable to take him to school, and he was pretty upset. His stepdad drove him that morning, and boy did I ever hear about that when I picked him up from school that day. According to Griffin: "I don't think Mikey can drive me to school anymore because he just pulls up, drops me off and drives away, he doesn't even watch me walk to class".'s so nice to be wanted!

Spending even a few minutes thinking about Griffin, can put me in the most fantastic mood. A smile creeps upon my face, and instantly my spirits are lifted. The wonderful feeling makes me start thinking of other things and people to be grateful for, and before you know it, Griffin's presence is everywhere.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Conversation with my stepdaugher, Isabella, tonight while making dinner (parmesan pork loin, roasted potatoes, bread).

Bella: "You know, you don't have to make a fancy dinner every night for us. Normal families have macaroni and cheese."

Me: "There isn't anything normal about our family."

Bella: "You're right, we're better than normal."

Thank you, Bella for always seeing the good in everyone and every situation. Thank you for always have a kind word to say, and for being so helpful! Mostly, thank you for understanding that it's best to just be who & what you are, which is almost always better than normal.....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I know I'm not the only mom who adores every single thing about her kids, even those, at times, treacherous teen years. Tonight I had such a revelation, as my daughter Devon was eagerly telling me that she is this close getting a job at her favorite health food store. I love that she is so in touch with what resonates within her, that she sought out getting a job at the store she declares she could live in forever, rather than getting a job at any place that would hire her. I love that, out of the box, she's going for what she wants. Now....back to those teen years. Don't get me wrong, she has her moments, but I admire her when she sends me a note saying she's glad we have the capacity to work things out. I love that she wants to talk to me about things and doesn't cringe that I want to be a part of her life. Did I mention that she's 15?

Moment of awareness for today: it's really ok to not feel like you have to hold your kids' hands through every single one of life's big or little experiences, or to interfere with "Mom will make everything work out for you". If we as parents learn to trust them to listen to their own voices more often, we'll see they really can figure it out.