Monthly Archives: January 2014

A life lived “her” way

crossToday I learned that Aunt Mary passed away.  In actuality she is my father’s aunt but in Italian-American families the ties run deep and your aunts, great aunts and first, second and third cousins are simply all part of the clan.

My grandmother’s half-sister,  Mary, was the oldest child and lost her father at a very young age,  never having the privilege of knowing him.   In Italian tradition, the best man is sent to marry the widow.  This man became my grandmother’s father and raised Mary as his own.

My grandmother and her siblings are some of the last of a colorful and strong generation of Italian Americans who built their way up in life, survived WWII, the Great Depression and experienced living in New York when the bakery was owned by your neighbor and the neighborhoods were organized by country of origin.   Mary worked with her mother in a cake factory, a path not often traveled by women during those years and she used the money she earned to live the way she wanted, rarely playing by anyone else’s rules but her own.   In fact, in those days this was considered scandalous, a fiery red-head who smoked, drank and danced and didn’t have children.  Mary used her money to help her mother with expenses and bought the nicest clothes she could.  My grandmother told me that her sister had so many clothes that when Mary was out of the house she would secretly try them on.

For as long as I remember Aunt Mary wore her hair up and kept it a fiery shade of red.  Red hair, red lipstick and not one strand of hair out of place, this is how I will always remember her.   She and Uncle Harold were married for over forty years and made sure that every penny they had was spent.  For many of us in the family this was scandalous in itself since most of us squirrel away our savings so that when we are old and gray we can enjoy our lives.  Not so for Aunt Mary and Uncle Harold, they enjoyed their money in their youth.    In her 90’s she made lots of friends at her assisted living home.  Aunt Mary lived the way she wanted, up to her very last day.

There will be no grandiose funeral for Aunt Mary, she leaves no children behind and her husband Harold recently passed away last year.   This made me sad but Aunt Mary would have scoffed at that.  As James Dean said:  “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”

I have fond memories of Aunt Mary and wanted to honor her memory in a way that would make her smile.  Goodbye Aunt Mary, say hello to those we’ve lost, say hello to your father, and save some red hair dye for me!

An Unlikely Friendship

IMG_7518I was eight months pregnant with my third child when I received a call from a friend telling me that her marriage was over.  There aren’t many words that can describe the heart wrenching, identity-shaking despair that takes up residence in your heart when you go through a divorce.  Having been through a divorce myself, the decision to drop everything to run to her side was an easy one.    I put my very pregnant body into the car and drove to her house over 40 minutes away.  It was clear when I arrived that the pain and fear she felt was intense.  A young mother of two boys, a stay-at-home mom who put her career on hold to help build her husband’s business and raise her young sons, was now faced with an unknown future.   I held my dear friend and we cried together.

This is a story many women can tell with perhaps one exception:  Meet my best friend.   Meet my ex-husband’s second wife. Continue reading

Sometimes I Dream

monarch-18355_640Midlife is a time of reflection, and that reflection sometimes guides or influences us.  It guides us to make changes, to lose weight, to gain weight, to start a new career, to buy a new car, to have an affair, to save a marriage, to get a divorce, to be better during the second half of our lives with a definition of better that only we can define.

Sometimes I dream.  I dream that I am a world-famous surgeon or pediatrician.  I dream that I majored in psychology and help person after person sort out their complicated and human emotions.  I dream that I am a police officer or a detective and put away the bad guys.  I dream that I did not make some of the mistakes I have made and will make in the future.  All of these dreams have one theme, the deep desire to make a difference in the lives around me and to touch those outside of my immediate and simple life. Continue reading

Tale of two stores

Tuesday I spent way too much time on the phone, on Facebook, and on the internet in general.  You know that saying “sometimes you just have to hit rock bottom before making a change?”  I hit rock bottom alright, hit the bottom of the stairs because instead of watching myself as I walked down, someone was checking emails and fell down instead.   I’m not hurt so go ahead and giggle!  This is where I interject how much I love my husband.  He is so very patient and knows me so well.  He bought me an Otterbox cover for my phone because I have a history of dropping items that shatter easily (like my previous two phones).  The fall jarred me quite a bit and the iPhone sailed six feet in the air and crashed on the wood floor, landing without a scratch.    Thank you husband and thank you Otterbox!  My embarrassment at the fact that I’ve become one of those “idiots on their phones,” led to a decision to unplug and stay off social media and phone for the day.

shopping

I needed to get some errands done so I decided to go the mall!  That exclamation point there is for you.  I despise shopping but have been putting off Christmas present returns for quite some time.   Hating shopping is a terrible affliction because it means that you may spend your days in sweatpants and a pajama top that you think passes as a t-shirt and your hatred for shopping leads you with nothing to wear.  This interchangeable pajama t-shirt works until one day in a sunny classroom at your son’s Christmas party, one of the dads keeps staring at your shirt.  You keep looking down to see if you have frosting on you from the gingerbread house craft.  It’s only upon returning home that you realize that your pajama t-shirt is basically see through and you were wearing a black bra that didn’t quite fit right…..but I digress.

Continue reading

I SEE YOU…..a lesson from Avatar

James Cameron Avatar

James Cameron Avatar

I SEE YOU

Three simple words that can have two different meanings.  I can physically see you or I can see you spiritually.

This phrase was used in one of my favorite movies, James Cameron’s Avatar.  In this movie the phrase “I SEE YOU” was used as a greeting on Pandora.  There are many fan sites and discussions around the meaning within this movie, but to me the phrase was simple, it was to truly see into someone’s true essence, the goodness inside of their soul and to understand how connected we are.

As stated on the Avatar wiki site:

I See you is a greeting. In the Na’vi language, it is expressed Oel ngati kame for a neutral greeting or Oel ngati kameie to express a positive feeling about meeting someone. Furthermore, the Na’vi have two versions of the verbsee:

  • tse’a, which pertains to physical vision.
  • kame, which means to see in a spiritual sense. It is more closely a synonym of “understand” or “comprehend.”

http://james-camerons-avatar.wikia.com/wiki/I_See_You

Many essays, blogs, articles and scientific studies have been written and analyzed on the subject of love and friendship, but to me, the ability to see someone spiritually is an important component of any positive relationship.  I SEE YOU.

When we are younger our eyes and our hearts are functioning fairly well.  Childhood is a time when making a friend is as simple as “do you want to play with me?”  Childhood is a time when your heart is open and you put your fear of rejection aside and say “I SEE YOU, do you see me?” More often than not the answer was yes.

A couple of years ago at the ripe old age of forty something I said this to a new potential friend; “I know this sounds really corny and sounds as if I am five years old but do you want to be friends with me?”  I am happy to say that a couple of years later and we have become close friends, able to share our insecurities, laugh at our quirkiness and constantly strive try to “see” each other.  She is a woman I love and respect.   As recently as today she has helped me navigate a difficult situation.   I SEE YOU.

This is easier said than done.

I would say that the friendships I developed up until after I graduated  college were childhood friends, the kind of friends that you could pick up from where you left off after years of not talking, the kind of friends that say “I miss you” after not seeing you for twenty years.  I’m convinced that these friendships are so special to many of us because they were developed when our vision was clear and our hearts were open.  I SEE YOU.

Then we become adults or at least try to.  We continue to make friends but our vision becomes blurry.  We become a bit jaded, and as the years pass we learn that even though goodness can be found in the most remote of places, that sometimes other people’s vision gets so bad they become blind, unable to see how their actions affect others, unable to find empathy, too busy to bother with love and friendship.  Sometimes that blindness can affect us in negative ways.

And we start to lose our ability to see.   I SEE YOU.

This does not have to be a permanent condition.  Think about the people in your life.   Take a deep breathe.  SEE them.  We all have our own struggles, our own insecurities, our own imperfections.   I SEE YOU….I SEE ME THROUGH YOUR EYES.

After all, what is life really about than to love, to share our joy and to see how we are all connected.  This gift of sight however is a two way street, both people must be willing to turn the light on inside of their hearts and “see,” and the gift of love and friendship is well worth it.

I will leave you with this;  while reading about the movie Avatar and reflecting on this “greeting” and the meaning behind it, I also came upon references to other cultures that use similar greetings.  One tribe of people greet each other by stopping, looking into each other’s eyes and holding that gaze for twenty seconds, no words are spoken.

We are all connected.

I SEE YOU.

 

The Immortal Life

Today I read an article stating that researchers at Harvard University have made a scientific breakthrough on reversing the aging process.  Apparently the reason why we “age” is because just like marriages and friendships when communication breaks down so do our cells.  The communication skills of our cells break down!  “Hey you over there!  Yeah you, the one that puts color in this woman’s hair, get back to work!”   The article went on to say that through their research on mice they have managed to reverse certain aging processees.  Hopefully an immortal mouse doesn’t make a break for it!

OK so that’s my simplified version of the article.  To read the entire article check out this link in a browser:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/20/anti-ageing-human-trials

The article brings up a very important ethical dilemma.  Should we reverse the aging process to the point where, save an unexpected accident or fatal disease, we could significantly extend our lives?  It’s clear we would have even more of a resource issue on Mother Earth.  Then, of course, there’s the boredom factor, can we amuse ourselves for a longer period of time or perhaps because our life span would be “different,” would we create new phases of our lives?  Would you go back to school and become a doctor?  Learn how to play the piano?  Read more books?  Have more children? What would you do?  Would the world governments allow procreation?  What if procreation was then outlawed or restricted, would that mean that the evolution and progression of humans would grind to a halt?  

Today scientists believe that at best it would extend our lives, allowing people to live to a healthier “old age” and extend life to an average of 150 years.  This would mean that I am no longer in the phase of mid life!  Yay me!   The real solid use for this study (again I am simplifying) is that it could be used to reverse age related disease especially those diseases that strike children such as Progeria.  Now that would be something.

My advice?  Go back to school, learn how to play the piano, enjoy the children you have or the family you have around you.  Enjoy every minute of life today because regardless of how science progresses, nothing is forever.  Sooner or later the jig is up!

Away we go!

IMG_7927My mind is constantly going, sometimes in directions that make me question my own sanity. This may explain why I absolutely loved the show Ally McBeal. Do you remember that show? If you do, please que Barry White and get your waddles out! If you have no clue what I am referring to please search youtube right now! My life is full of Ally McBeal moments and I secretly believe that your life is too. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Take my newest quest for fitness, my new Fitbit Force tracker aka the fancy pedometer! Last night I put that darn thing on my wrist and went to sleep. Upon awakening I pressed the button and voila, I had 385 steps! No….it’s not like when you watch your dog sleep and he twitches and runs in his dreams, the steps were gained in a much more interesting mid life ish that’s not a word but who cares kind of way. The steps came from stumbling several times to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night (que unisex bathroom from Ally McBeal and start dancing). Up and down, up and down, back and forth those squats brought me to 385 steps. I was well on my way to fitness! Take that midlife spread!

So my new Fitbit Tracker was given to me by my husband for Christmas.  He’s a gadget freak and more on him later.  This is my new fancy pedometer designed to tell me I’m not moving enough and that perhaps a trip to the gym is in order.  I’m thinking about telling my calorie counter app that I’m actually swimming for hours and since my tracker is not waterproof it’s not recording the calories and hence I can eat that chocolate truffle.  I’m not sure that is how it’s supposed to work though.

Someone please tell me when it’s time to put on purple pants and a big wide hat and stop caring.