Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmatic and Run

My two boys have never lived in a world where there was no such thing as a mass shooting, a school shooting, 9/11 or an ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

That breaks my heart to write.   So I counter it in my head that they have also always lived in a world where you can be connected to one another all the time, across continents at any time.  They have always lived in a world where the impossible is just a matter of months or years away from becoming possible. 

We send our kids to school and hope that they do not get kidnapped, like in Nigeria.  Parents around the world send their kids to school to educate themselves, with hopes that they never have to learn about violence and war from more than books, but that is not to be worldwide.

We pack them off with a hug and wish that they do not have to ever do more than a drill against intruders, that they will not be shot.  We tell them to be kind and hope that we offer them a safe home to come to where they will get the protection we can advocate for when others may not be kind to them. 

I get so annoyed when I hear people making fun of millenials - they are entitled, they expect, they want, they dare to question the status quo, they want to be rewarded - among them are people who do not want to contribute in any way to their own success in those areas but the vast majority of the millenials I meet are evolving everything we touch because they feel they are entitled to try, they expect to succeed, they want to do more, they question the things they see as not equal and they want to be rewarded with the promise of opportunity. 

Our kids should all be like that too.  The same way you expect to own a gun you should expect that our children deserve the peace of mind that they will not be killed by it, in school, in an accidental shooting.   You should ask for background checks, for a waiting period, for a federal law to protect not only those of us and our children but you too.  You should be the ones at the forefront asking that you not be associated with gun violence but with gun owners who understood the need to end the rhetoric for the manufacturers who deal in weapons and change it to members who understand the responsibility.

I want to arm teachers with the tools they need to teach kids to be ready for the future.  We need mental health to be a priority along with healthcare because we all deserve to have help.   Our schools need to be top notch not top armed. 

None of this will stop everything, none of it will.  If it stops one shooting then that's worth it to me, if it takes you a month to get a gun but it adds many months to a student than that is a good trade. 

One of the things I try and teach my kids is that most things are not like pie, one slice doesn't mean there is one less for others.  That is true for equal rights, for empowerment, for opportunity and for disagreements on policy. 

I do not want to have to explain to my kids how we did not act -- I want to send my kids off to school and annoy them about homework, about dealing with the drama that will seem silly to them as adults but that consumes them as kids and most of all I want to tell them that kindness wins. 

Isn't it time we stop yelling and start using one voice to demand that our children have the future we think they are entitled to - all of them ?? Isn't that something most of us learned in school, in history. 

So send your kids off to school, tell them you love them and be those things in life that you want them to grow up to be  - most of all kind.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Time is on my side

Related image Time - no matter who we are, where we are, it is one of the biggest forces in our lives.  What we make it of it and what it makes of us cannot be denied.

Time's meaning has always changed for me.   As a child and teen, much like every child and teen, I felt time was sooo slllloww.   I mean the school year felt like it was at least 30 months long in a day.  Summers, off from said school, seemed to be endless until about the week before school would start again and then it felt like the summer flew by.

In my twenties time became a little closer to real time, I wanted to be in the moment, to pack the days and even more so the nights with adventures, new people, new experiences, travel and of course I had the energy to do so.

The thirties time suddenly became prominent, was I going to be a mother, not going to be a mother, get married, stay single, live with someone.  I made a career change, I decided I wanted to start painting and I did.  I had enough money to do things on my own, not enough to be living a life of leisure and still had the energy to be those things.  Time was ticking, loudly.

My forties were full of speed and full of speed bumps.  I had my children and some days and nights felt so slow because I was so consumed with them, by choice and loved it.  Other times I blinked and the months were now in the past. 

Then it all changed again - I was about 2 years away from 50 when this shift happened for me.  It is still spot on the my time with my children is going so fast but I am loving who they are becoming.  Time suddenly took on a new meaning again for me.  Fifty is a big number - people have full on crises around this number.   Had I "wasted"time? I do not like this approach, no regrets, just lessons learned.

I have never been one to obsess over age and how time pushes it on us, I only lied about my age to say I was older and get into clubs, or even tell people I was younger.  I mean what's the point?  It's your age not who you are.

However, I was going to be 50, and who was I suddenly was important to me in a way that it had not been?  Who did I want to be for me?  I was no longer the young daughter living for her parents' definition or fighting it, I wasn't the independent young woman looking for acceptance as she started her life, I was past the 30 year old defined by her biology and her ambition, no longer the 40 year old women defined as mother only. 

Now time has become something of a fluid thing for me - no longer quite in the rush to get there first but enjoying the journey.

I also have started this year with a clearer vision for myself - I do not have time any more for people who do not have time for me.    I have been often told that I am "so good" at keeping in touch.  I counted myself lucky to have met wonderful people, but I also realize that saying is a double edged sword.  Keeping in touch is a two way deal and if someone doesn't reciprocate then I wish them well and I will see you when I see you.   I am dedicating that kind of "so good" to those who want to be part of my life and frankly to me.

So yeah .. time is on my side (Mick is a living example of this song he sings so well) ... and I am going to have the time of my life...I do not want to race against time but rather to use the time I have.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Just Say No Talk

Image result for talking to kids about uncomfortable thingsMost of us grew up, if we are 40 or older, in eras where basically the guidance our parents gave us for anything that was illicit was NO.  No explanations needed.  Or maybe it was just not spoken about.

Things like sex, drugs, smoking, drinking.  We did not have discussions,  at best we were given warnings.  They went something like this "I'll kill you if ever.." or "You better not let me find out you ever tried ...".   There was always the goody, which by the way is quite effective even now, "I will be so disappointed if you ever..".   If you had immigrant parents there was a good chance the "I didn't come to America so you can become (insert negative thing here).." thrown in at some point.

Did it work?  Well to some degree for many of us we learned the rubber band rule.  You can try and do some parts but you knew there was a point where you would not snap back.

I remember us laughing too at our parents at their over the top warnings about things.   My father once shared with me that he would know if I ever smoked marijuana, never called pot, say that with a thick Eastern European accent and disapproval for best effect.  He said he would know because he tried it once and he almost climbed the walls, that he went, crazy.  I remember thinking "damn that must be some good shit" because had not been my experience.

So now I have kids and of course I have to figure out how to talk to them about these things.  These things that we had some access to but that they have internet videos to see.   I am not sure I am doing it right, I know it scares me.

Sex - I have boys, I need to teach them consent, just like if I had girls.  I have to teach them respect for their bodies, just like if I had girls.  I talk to them about how to always ask for consent, that diseases will kill them or stay with them for life.  That pregnancy can happen.  I talk to them about abuse. I talk to them differently because they are different ages.   My older son turned beet red when I brought up porn.  I told him that it is not realistic and I do not want him to think it is.  I don't want them to have hang ups.  My younger son is still less aware, he is 11 it is as it should be.  I worry about them, I try to have an open approach for them.  They can ask questions.  The older one sometimes does, other times shakes his head at me.  Did I mention this scares me?  I want them to make good choices.

Drugs - Heroin was not something that even crossed my mind when I was a teen, yet here we are, full blown epidemic.  I talk to them about drugs.  My teen wants to know if I ever tried pot.  I was honest.  I did, was not a fan, but many are.  I told him not to be lulled into thinking he could try other things with the same lack of consequences as pot might be, I reminded him it is illegal in NY.   I spoke with him about opiods, heroin, crack.  I tried to be honest, addiction is scary enough, it doesn't need fake drama.  I talk to him a lot about it, my younger guy is more into video games, we talk about that potential for addiction.

Alcohol - now I grew up in a house where if you wanted to try the wine, the whiskey you got a little.  It was gross usually.  I have had my share of bad memories, blurry memories of drinking.   I gave up the over the top drinking a bazillion years ago.  I talk to my son about how you make bad decisions, how you are slower, how like anything else it can get out of hand.  I have always let them try wine if they want, and beer, so far I get "uggh this stuff is gross".

Smoking and Vaping - smoking has well been taught to them for it's dangers and has the "no way" reaction.  Vaping we talk a lot more about.  It's hard, many are doing it, more socially open and acceptable.  I told them I get it they may be tempted but then was honest about the crap that can be in it, the damage it can do, the fact that Philip Morris is moving to all ecigs and that must mean they think a $$$ from their lack of information.  They get it, still more leery on my end on this one.

I do not know if I have any right techniques.  I want them to know what there is no "try" with and what to do if they are in a bad choice, they make a bad decision, they screw up - they can call me.  I may be mad but I will help.  If they hear little else I think they hear that.

The just say no thing - we made fun of it and while it would be great if it worked it seems more of a way out for adults to get out of talking about the uncomfortable.

This parenting thing -- it's not for the faint of heart I tell you.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Image result for 2018 beach Most people seem to be all about the resolutions around this time of year, if you need visual just pop your head into a gym.  You don't have to even go or belong to that gym.   Two things will happen- 1) you will be amazed at the swarm of people in there and think "oh my I might be the only person who is not at this gym"  and 2) some perky athletic fashion wearing fit person will approach with the "something, something Special January join" pitch. 

I have nothing against taking stock about a year, setting aspirations for the upcoming one but resolutions have "re" in front which usually is used with words that are "re"petitive actions.  So basically you may have same resolutions next year, and the year after.. you get it.  Not judging - maybe at some point you will get to them or maybe you won't care anymore.

I just have some trouble with the whole, must be the Puritan deprivation underlying vibe no matter what actual nationality you are, that strikes the US.  My friends in Europe don't seem to talk about these resolutions, maybe they make them, keep them silent or maybe they just don't see a need for this kind of self-restrictive force.

Most resolutions are about giving up - giving up whole food groups (depends on the year sugar is evil, fat is evil, the combo is basically Rosemary's baby eating a gluten full snack), giving up hours of your life to the gym, giving up alcohol entirely.  I gave up just writing this.

Some resolutions are about new experiences but they tend to fall behind the giving up items.

Why ??  Why not start the new year with pluses??

I for one do not need one more deadline to drive me crazy - I have the kids' sports schedules, their school reminders, my work goals all based on something that end with the word FAIL if I do not complete them.  Now they are not monumental fails but nonetheless - FAILS.

If you want to go to the gym more approach it with realism - do you want to tone, to shape, to resettle those pounds into more muscle?  So put on your list - TIME FOR ME at the gym. Go to the gym means nothing - you need to know what you want out of it and how you can incorporate into whatever lifestyle you CHOOSE to be leading.

If you want to - or if a doctor has advised - to fit into a smaller size (not become a smaller sized person ) or just fit better into the clothes  you have - whole food groups are not the enemy.  At some point the food group most likely will be back in your life, and oh the guilt.  We do not need more guilt.  You can eat that thing you want to cut out (banning actual allergies), just think about how much of it you want to eat - still want the pint of Hagen Dazs? - maybe think about how often you will work toward that pint because if the answer is every night then yes you need to reconsider.   Put on your list - TIME FOR ME to enjoy the flavors of my food, to savor being able to sit down and eat, to enjoy it. 

Other resolutions usually involve financial spending, life is not only about what you need but also what you want.   What you want is what makes it more than life it makes it living so spend but if it is beyond your means or it is going to compromise your ability to take care of future needs then how much do you want it ? Will that worry be worth it?  Put on your list - TIME FOR ME to buy things that give me joy but will not rob me of my future happiness.

If you still prefer the resolution method then go for it - on your list should always be TIME FOR ME.

We should all aim for the best we can be for ourselves and surround ourselves with those that support us in this endeavor.

HAPPY NEW YEAR - oh and of course one resolution I would like to see on everyone's list is TIME FOR ME to read BlondebyChoice.

Friday, December 22, 2017

It’s Christmas there’s going to a list

If you celebrate Christmas you always have a list, no matter what age you are.   Even if you are one of those people who will just buy most of it yourself, you still have a list.

When my children were younger we asked them for a list and they always pleasantly surprised us with the shortness of them.  Now it is funny when kids write those super long ones because if you look at them it is actually a lot of funny stuff.  Kids have no idea that Santa doesn’t subsidize the gift giving, they think he makes these things, nor do they really grasp cost.

As my kids are now past the age of Santa, they get the spirit of it but understand there is no actual place that makes it, the list is still short but it is a good time to talk about the finances of these things without making it a painful talk for both of you.

My older son this year asked for a sweatshirt, a sweatshirt that on sale was $204.  Yes you read that right.  It was originally $400.   Now I do remember my own teen begging for a pair of Jordache jeans that were $80 in the 1980s, so probably about $200 in today’s times.  I begged, I pleaded, everyone had them, my parents didn’t understand the horror of not having them.... on and on.  I believe I got a pair when I got a job at 15 at the deli on the corner of my block.   It took a while.   I was frustrated then it was a good lesson.

So when I told my son that is a crazy amount for a sweatshirt he responded with “it’s reasonable for xx brand” (nope not advertising for them).   It’s not reasonable - not for a 13 year old and not even for 15 year old.  I took a deep breath and told him about my jeans and then asked him if he thought that spending all the money he is given as gifts on this would be something he would do.  He said it was.  Then went and thought about it.  Came back with “probably not but I still like it”.

It is a balance during the holidays, we want to give our children everything.  We want to see those crazy, excited moments when they open a gift and ta dah, there it is.  We work hard and we love our kids.  There is nothing wrong with any of this.  What we also have to remember that everything we do for them goes beyond the moment, they will remember the gift maybe, they will remember that they got everything they wrote down without thinking about what that means.

Like everything else the list is a balance.  A balance between the pleasure you give and the lesson that it is wrapped in.   My kids will get some things on their list, those they do not they will have to learn to save for.   There is a thrill in being able to get yourself something, to work for it too.   It will help them decide what’s worth spending that money they take a while to save, it’s always funny how much more reluctant they are to part with their dollars.

Christmas isn’t just about the gifts but it is about the gifts too.   I love finding the right things for people who are dear to me.  I love giving gifts and let’s be honest when I get something that obviously has been bought for me with thought to who I am and what I love, it feels great.

Christmas and the holidays are also about enjoying the pretty decorations, traditions that your family has and time with people that you wish to be with.  It is many things and the gifts are just one part of it.

This blog is my gift to me, the time I take to write it is precious, the fact that is read makes me feel like I unwrap something everytime I see someone has.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy whatever other holiday you may celebrate.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Please step outside

Image result for waiting roomYou know the day is coming, you prep for it and then when it does there is a small, gut punch reaction that you cover with a smile.  You nod and agree as if you too were on board with the decision. 

I am talking about the first time your child becomes a teenager and they get the option to have you leave the room when having their annual physical. 

I get it, I have boys, he wants "privacy" but this is important stuff, what if the doctor asks a question I need to know the answer to?  What if he tells the doctor something he has not shared with me?  What if, what if, what if???? "Please step outside"...hell them's fighting words where I grew up, ok minus the please, but you get the idea.

Of course I smiled and said "sure makes sense" and sat outside and hugged his not yet teenage brother who I had been in the room with, who had no objections to me being there.  The waiting room !!! What was I waiting for him to come out a kid again, the one that dealt with shots because I taught him that a pinch was bad but getting the disease was worse.   Oh the waiting was going to kill me.

I consider that I have great relationships with my sons.  They tell me things, we discuss, I advise, I understand that I do not know it all.  Yet here was proof, he was growing up, growing apart, getting rights.

It is the right thing to do, to allow teenagers time with their doctors.  To give them a place to speak of things that they may not be able to in some cases with some parents, to give them a platform for kids whose parents may not want to talk about.  If there was a real issue, you bet I researched, yes they would have told me.  Unless you are the issue but that's a whole different story.

What's hard about that is that it opens up all those things you fear for your kids.  Things that they will be exposed to, have to make decisions about, be pressured on.

There will be drugs, they are cheap and deadlier than ever, now in their growing social sphere.  You may read that and think not in mine but there was an epidemic of crack when I was growing up, then it was meth, now it's opioids.   It is always out there and the only thing the "war" on drugs did was to make it difficult for police to be police and instead now they are in a "war zone". 

There will be smoking or vaping and these are both awful for their health with long term implications.

There will be drinking and potential for addiction and poor decisions from it.

There is consent about sex, there are STDs and there is the world at large which is scary.

We may be uncomfortable but we need to have these talks with kids in ways that they hear us, in their language without fanciful stories because the reality is frightening enough.   We need to give them tools to walk away when we all know that at these ages it is so important to "fit in" for them.

So how am I supoosed to "please step outside" when my baby ... oh wait he is not my "baby" even though that he will always be.  He is my teenager who I have loved and tried to instill self worth in.  The boy on his way to becoming a man who I have talked about all of these things with and who talks to me about them.  He has his secrets, he stumbles but he still talks to me and I am never "outside" for him because I have learned when to lean in and when to let him pull me in.  Even when that is uncomfortable for me.  I will stomp in if necessary.

I stepped outside and reluctantly acknowledged that he is growing up, that he is gaining independence and that he needs this space. 

He came out and told me all about it, we had a chuckle over some of the language used and he thought it was a miss that the doctor didn't ask him about vaping, which he doesn't do but knows many who do.

Please step outside ... and this big, scary world is yours to conquer and make better, it is full of dangers and even more full of potential  - that is what I hope my sons learn from that saying.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I got nothing to grateful for

There - easy.  Nothing to be grateful for.   Not one little thing.  Nothing.   Life is unfair.  It seems that the vile are ruling the world and that hateful behavior is the norm.  The whole holiday is a sham.  No one even likes turkey.   Nothing to be giving any thanks for.  “It stinks to be me” is the universal sentiment.  The planet is going to pot and you either care or think well it’s sucks anyway so the science is not relevant.

That is what it feels like.  This is my favorite holiday.   Yet more than ever somehow it feels like the above.   If we let it.

I have so much to be grateful for.  My blog, which is read across the world.  It reminds me how good technology can be, it can connect us.  We do not always agree but at least when you are reading something you are paying attention to what the other has to say.  Besides you formed an opinion reading that first paragraph but if you got to here you know that reading just a snippet tells you nothing about the entire discussion.

I am grateful for friends the females who this year are all distracted by the outpouring of what each and everyone of them has experienced in some form at least once, most a lot more than that, in various degrees.  They stand tall, they make others laugh, they are not victims they are survivors and while this is like a tsunami boy are they the Damn it’s Got to Stop brigade if I ever saw one.    They make me stronger, they make me laugh, they hand me wine and tissues when I cry (or food or just an ear).  They have opinions, they vote, they contribute to life.  Thankful to know them, to hear about them, to be a female.

I am grateful for men friends because the ones I know well are not in that pool of sewage that seems to have at some point washed over too many of their gender.  Because they are raising children who are better than the ones in the past.   I love the way you guys think, it is so much more straightforward, good balance to the tangle of yarn most of us women use.  I am grateful for the differences between us and for the laughter, flirting (that you know how to flirt and can differentiate between it and harassment seamlessly) and the feel of you.  You are awesome, you are not the ones in the media, you are the men we hope our children turn out to be, or marry, or date.

I am thankful for family because the boys have taught me to strive to be a better version of myself and to love infinitely.   I am thankful for my mom who has always been strong and that wind beneath my wings like the song says.  My cousin who always had and has a smile for me since I was small and thought she and her sister were the coolest girls ever, I was right.   My husband who works to be a better father than the one he lost at a young age to our sons.

As for the holiday it was a moment in time for groups of people who would later hurt each other, one more so than the other, had a feast.  There is nothing better in the world than people sharing a meal.  The turkey is not most people's favorites yet it appears at both native born and immigrant tables.  Often surrounded not by the traditional things we see in pictures for those who adopt this land as a home but by their own flavors and smells.  A good metaphor on a table of old customs, new customs and a moment not to think of wrongs but to argue as family and close friends can with passion but not hatred.

I can go on and on, I am glad to always have a beach to go to, to paint, to write, to love, to be loved, sex, books, art, travel, New York City there is so much this would not be a blog but a novella.  There is much that can be made better, made more equitable in the world but if we do not remember to be grateful what's the point of making anything better. 

So go forth, eat more than you should, give a thanks for whatever it is that you find good and most of all remember it is as easy to notice the negative as it is to be thankful for what you can do that's positive.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING - let them thanks begin