The Desire Map

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Let’s talk about your life.

Do you feel free? Joyful? Connected?

Most importantly, does your life feel the way you want it to feel?

When I read The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte for the first time, my life was not feeling the way I wanted it to.

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Castle Island (U.B.C. – Day 21)

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Today was a gorgeous day here in eastern Massachusetts, sunny and although the temperature reached the high 60s by late afternoon, for the start and running of most of the marathon, it was in the mid-50s to low 60s; perfect running weather for the Boston Marathon.

Because the majority of roads around us close at 8:30 am and stay that way until late afternoon, I decided to get out of dodge and scheduled a playdate with The Boy and a friend of his from nursery school whose mother just happens to be a great friend of mine, as well. We decided to go biking with the boys at Castle Island in South Boston. Read more

The Majesty of Thanks

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True Majesty: American bald eagle in flight, July 2013

As I begin the great Thanksgiving cook-fest, with the feast looming less than twenty-four hours in my future, I thought I’d wipe off my hands on the dish towel and turn from the stove for a few moments to give thanks. Read more

The Right Decisions

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“Can I invite Jill on Saturday?”

This question came from  my son in the back seat as we drove home this afternoon.  Our town is having a fair on Saturday, a festival of entertainment that celebrates our community by providing fundraising opportunities for town youth groups and non-profits, and highlights the work of our town’s service organizations.  The town center is closed to all traffic, and the streets come alive with pedestrians swarming and darting where there are normally only cars.

The fire and police stations are open to the attendees, and the kids get to climb up into a fire truck and sit in a police car, complete with the opportunity to sound the sirens.  There are bouncy houses, miniature golf, electronic race car courses, food stands, and all sorts of demonstrations and vendors.  It’s kind of like a parent approved free-for-all for the kids.  There are police everywhere, and kids don’t stray too far from their parents, as one or both hold the key to a successful day:  the money.

For the past two years, my son has invited his friend, Jack, from nursery school, whose mother became a good friend once the boys began begging us for playdates.  Although our boys attend different schools and we live about 25 miles apart, we try to get together every couple of months, more if time and scheduling permits.  Jack and his mother will come again this year, and we plan to ride our bikes down to the town center from my house.  Both boys enjoy riding, as long as the riding involves their tandem bikes.

And then today my little guy tossed out his request to invite Jill.

Jill is an eighth grader at his school and the daughter of a school administrator.  She is a lovely young woman and I enjoy watching them interact.  It is sweet that The Boy has such a great relationship with her.  He often talks to me about playing with Jill on the playground during recess, and how he really likes that she pushes him and his friends on the swings.  One day toward the end of the summer, when The Boy was getting a little nervous about going back to school in general, and in particular about starting kindergarten and having full days, I opened the mailbox and there was a letter for him.

It was from Jill.  She wrote that she missed him and was looking forward to seeing him back at school and hanging out and playing with him at recess.  My heart melted as I read the letter to my son and I saw his eyes light up.

Upon the kids’ return to school, I told Jill’s mother what a sweet gesture I thought her letter was.  Her mother relayed that Jill had asked if she could write to my son because she missed him and wanted to make sure he was having a good summer.  A few days after school began, The Boy and I arrived at drop-off at the same time as Jill and her mother.  Jill bounded out of the car and yelled a hello to my son, then scampered over to walk in with him.  He let got of my hand and took hers, then happily skipped away with her.

When Ernie and I were looking at schools for The Boy, one of the things I loved most about his now-school was that they allow children to be children and encourage the older kids to interact with the younger ones.  I wasn’t entirely sure how it would work out in practice.  Seeing his smile when I drop him off and pick him up, hearing the excitement in his voice when he tells me about something new he’s learning, and watching the relationship develop between my son and his eighth grade friend, I’m thrilled with the decision we made.

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Flashbacks

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Back when we were beautiful…

I had to go to the mall today to buy a birthday present for my friend’s daughter, who is turning 8. Walking into the mall with a five year-old boy is always an adventure, and I usually sneak all such errands under the radar while he’s at school or camp. I couldn’t do that today as I had to be a grown-up and have a mammogram during his last hours of camp, so I was stuck.

We entered through J.C. Penney as I wanted to go the store Justice for the birthday gift. I was told that the birthday girl is into fashion, so I decided clothes were my best option, and from my limited wanderings around the mall, Justice seemed like as good a place as any to get some cute little girl clothes. In we went, my stride long and determined, The Boy skipping to keep up with my pace.

Then we hit the women’s clothing section, and I saw the cute little red blazer with the rolled up sleeves and the cuffed, faded blue jeans with the rose embroidery. I stopped and touched the blazer, the soft silk of the lining showing on the outside of the sleeves where the were rolled. For a moment I was back in college, circa 1989, finishing getting dressed to head out on a Thursday night with my roommate and best friend, our hair curly and pulled up off our faces, cascading down our backs, unruly and sexy and wild.

How beautiful we were, how completely unaware of our own power and the luxury of our lives as undergraduates at a private women’s college in Boston. Our tuition was paid, and our part-time jobs provided enough pocket money to ensure we could pay the cover charge to get into any bar we wanted, where we then would drink for free all night courtesy of the handsome and buff young men who clamored around us. We never felt it, of course, but we held all the cards. We had what they wanted. All we felt, however, was the fleeting loneliness at the end of the night when we would walk away from the bar, arms wrapped around one another to keep ourselves from falling down, laughing at something one of the hapless young men had said or done. We wanted them to love us, and they did. We just never knew, and in our own way, we were as clueless as they.

I came out of my reverie to the sound of The Boy’s whining and tugging at my hand. “Let’s go, Mama! I want to go to the Lego store!”

I released my hold on the blazer and allowed myself to be pulled forward through time to the present, to the exquisiteness of my real life, by the beautiful boy who now owns my heart. As he dragged me along, I mused that fifteen years from now he will be one of the handsome and buff young men in another bar, in another town. He will wait for one of the young women in that bar, so beautiful and powerful, to notice him, never dreaming that was his mother forty-odd years before.  With much bigger hair, of course.

Make Time for Friends in June

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Girlfriends Rock

One-third of the way through the month of June and I’m finally getting around to composing my monthly happiness guide. According to my happiness muse, life in June should consist of the following items:

a) Remember birthdays.

I’m actually pretty good at this. Of course, I don’t remember everyone’s birthday, but for the inner circle people, I never forget. However, just in case, I’m creating a birthday calendar that will go up on my kitchen wall over the computer desk where I will see each day’s contents while making my morning coffee.

b) Be generous.

I don’t think there is anyone in my life who would argue that I’m not already really good at this. Too good, in fact. I would much rather do things for others, spend time helping others, or creating the perfect gift to bring a smile to someone else’s face than almost anything else on earth. My family routinely tells me I do too much, and that I spend too much time and energy doing for everyone else; I should concentrate on myself a little more. I like how I do it, though, so I don’t plan on making any change. I love making people smile, and it’s so easy to give of myself for that purpose. Making my friends and loved ones happy makes me happy.

I do realize that makes me sound like schmaltzy goody-two-shoes, but it’s the truth.

c) Show up.

See above. The person who loses out in this arena most of the time is me.

d) Don’t gossip.

I’ve gotten better with this as I’ve gotten older and have had an opportunity to see how harmful gossip can be. I’m not talking about the garden variety celebrity gossiping we all love to do about dresses and haircuts and the silly choices young starlets make, but about the stuff that is just plain mean and spiteful. The stuff that lingers and stays with anyone who has ever been so victimized. Leaving it behind will pose no hardship for me. In fact, I’m happy to have an excuse and a reason to turn that page for good.

e) Make three new friends.

This I am working on. I’m reaching out to other mothers at my son’s school, pushing myself to be more open and less guarded. I’m opening up more to women with whom I already have a passing acquaintance, and in one of those cases, I discovered a whole side of her that I never suspected. I’m smiling a lot more and saying hello more often. I have stopped thinking that women I’ve known for a long time, like those I attended high school with, wouldn’t want to be my friends now because we never were friends before. I have stopped presuming to know what people think of me and instead am giving them the opportunity to show me what they think with their behavior. I have also reached out to family members from whom I’ve long been estranged, and in each case, I’ve received notes saying, in effect, “I’m so glad to hear from you!”

I don’t know what precisely will be the outcome of my experimentation, but if I can count three more women among my contact list – even if they are not women I would go out to eat with or have to my home for an intimate tete-a-tete – then I will consider my experiment a success.