Tuesday, January 9, 2018

ResNolutions

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

Saturday, November 18, 2017

From only child to chosen sibling - guest blog


My best friend, chosen sister, wrote the below one day and sent it to me.  I can relate to so much of this - I would not change being an only child because I have the good fortune to have met people who are my chosen family and she is my sister-other half-bestie.  She knows when to tell me I am better than I am currently feeling I am and when to tell me to cut the crap and get over my own issues.   She is having her recurring 29th birthday soon and I love her dearly for everything she is.  


This morning on the Today Show there was a piece on Sisterhood and the special bond between sisters. They had Hoda Kotb and Savannah Gunthrie and their sisters talking about their special bond and showed images of them playing when they were young. Being an only child and having only one child, I sat there wondering if I missed something not ever having the experience of having a sister or a brother. Is my child missing something never being able to experience that bond? As I sat there looking at the old photographs that they were showing on the TV of the siblings playing with one another at the beach or at a playground,  I think back to my old pictures of just me.
People think of only children as “spoiled”, never learning how to share, getting what they want and maybe even thinking that they are entitled, “it’s all about us”.  So I sat there reflecting on my life a bit. Was I spoiled? Was it all about me? As I thought about my life as a child, I saw a child that was always looking to be accepted. I would give away my toys, books, anything really just to have friends. I was always trying to be with the popular kids and when I made friends, they were the most important people in my world.  I did not fit these ideas of an only child because I was always sharing, giving, loaning my stuff out so that I can be accepted. I now see that sometimes in my child. 
It was hard growing up as an only child because although I made some really good friends along the way, in the end, they always went home to their siblings and I always went home alone. Even in high school where I had many friends and was always invited to different parties and gatherings, in the end, I went home alone. It wasn’t until after college, when I started to realize that it was ok to go home alone. That not everyone is going to like you and that is fine, as long as you are honest with yourself and everyone around you. You need to be who you are and have your own opinions. I think sharing experiences with a special friend made me come to this realization.
When I went to Hunter College, I didn’t realize at the time, but I would come in contact with a person who has grown with me and has guided me to become the woman that I am today.  I took a History of Art class. It was my first semester and I didn’t know many people. I would hang out in the back of the cafeteria, which is where most of the Greek and Eastern European students would hang.  Trying to be accepted again, not knowing my way around school yet, not sure of myself in any way. The class was a lecture class and then we were split into small groups. As I entered the small group, I saw a girl who I knew from HS. We had never spoken in HS, she was friends with some people that I was acquainted with but we never were in the same group. I would always see her in the smoking yard, smoking a cigarette sitting on an old tree stump. She smiled at me, I smiled as her and the lesson in Art history continued. During our break, I found her in the bathroom smoking a cigarette. She looked at me and said “St. John’s Prep, right?”. I said “yeah, smoking yard?” She said yes. Then we walked back to the cafeteria together. She was hanging out with the Greeks in the back also. We started talking and we became friends, not best friends, but friends. We started going to the same college parties, we started going to the same clubs, playing cards together in the cafeteria, studying cafeteriology
One year, I think it was my 22nd birthday, I decided to have a party at my parent’s house in the Hamptons. It was a cute little house that my dad had bought with his friends with the thought of later selling it. It was a kooky house with wallpaper on everything. It was November and cold outside. We had a few friends over and we just hung out drinking beer, having fun, and playing cards. As the night wore on, we had one too many beers, smoked way too many cigarettes and my friend from Art class and I got into a game of backgammon. I am not sure who won that game, or if we ever even finished it. All I remember is that we laughed all night long, reminisced about the neighborhood we grew up in, realized that we were both only children and that around the same time in our life we inadvertently stabbed ourselves with a lead pencil, therefore creating a blue lead spot in the same exact point, on the same hand. From that night forward, we became the Blue Spots. I didn’t know it then, but I had just found my sibling. 
This woman has been with me through thick and thin and I have been there for her also. She sometimes tries to hide when she needs help or support, but I pick up on the clues and show up anyway. We have driven cross country together, been on the boat ride from hell together, drank “a little bit” of retsina together, went to a gay bar in New Orleans together, went swimming at night in the Aegean together, peed in the Nevada sand dunes together, ran out of gas in Red Rock WY together, held each others hair back when we were hugging a toilet, held each others hand in support of one another and still laugh together when we hear the name Flouskakos. All of these experiences have given me the strength to overcome obstacles and have given me the self confidence to be myself and to like who I am. There is no question in my mind that no matter where I am in the world, or no matter where she is, if either one of us needs the other, we will be there for each other. I was there for her when her father died and she flew half way across the world to be with me when my mother died. 
We support one another, we listen to one another, we give advice to one another, but most importantly we do not judge one another.  I know that I can tell her anything and she will be my rock. She knows that she can tell me anything I will be hers. She gives advice to me when I need it, and is there to listen to me even if she doesn’t agree with the mistake that she feels I may be making. We both know that if I make that mistake, we will be together to pick up the pieces and move forward. We don’t get mad at one another because our relationship is one of understanding. Her mother said it best when she said “ I made one, and then two years later another woman made one”. This is what it is like having a sibling of choice.
Although I may never know what it is like to have a natural, by birth sibling, I do know that my sibling of choice has helped me become the woman that I am today. We have had a lot of fun and exciting experiences in many different areas of the world. We have had a lot of difficult times, trying times, and challenging times but we take the challenges and make them into opportunities. 
For many years, I was asking, even begging my parents for a sibling, jealous of all the kids who had brothers and sisters to play with. Looking back, I am happy that I found another only child to create my own sibling bond with, realizing how lucky I was to have a choice. Siblings do not have the opportunity to chose who they have as a sibling. They may create a bond or they may not. Being an only child, I have had the opportunity to find my sibling and create a lasting Blue Spot bond. We may not have old pictures of us together playing in a park or at the beach, but we have a lot of experiences that we have shared and a lifetime of memories that have made us who we are today.

I am hoping that my son will be as lucky as I was and find another only child to create a never ending bond withto have his own life shaping experiences with.

I love you Blue Spot.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Stranger Things

I needed to take a break from writing the blog.  Like many I am emotionally and mentally drained by the state of the country, the world and the lack of discussion that seems to have infected our lives.   There are no conversations, we are all guilty of this, there is only your side and my side.   For many facts no longer matter, for those for who they do shouting them does not make them easier to hear on the other side.   We cannot go on like that, I cannot go on like that.  I am not that person - I am a facts person, I am a debate person, I grit my teeth and support your right to an opinion, not when it differs with mine but because it may differ from mine.   So I needed some soul searching, recharging time.  This blog was never meant to be my political platform only, yes it is sometimes but it is not it’s main purpose.   So here I am back, on a day where I can take my frustration and actually do something.  It is voting day - a most precious of rights that I never miss because I know what it is like to not have them.

On that note when I was thinking of blogs and having my current events swirl it felt a bit like I was in the Upside Down.  Now if you are a fan of the show “Stranger Things” then you know what that is, if you haven’t seen this Netflix original it is the place in the show that is our world, but dark, infected with shadows and monsters, where nothing thrives.   

My boys and I started watching the show last year, season 1 debut.   It is not for those who scare easily but my boys got my scary movie/show addiction.  I love them, my father and I watched them when I was a kid.  I refuse to watch torture films, they are just disturbing.  I still cannot hear “Jeepers Creepers” without remembering one of the more horrifying movies I saw of that name.  Yet a good jump scare and this girl gets a thrill. 

Why do we love “Stranger Things”?   We waited for it an stalked it on line until we saw the second season, doing our best not to binge watch and to prolong the experience.  We found ways to sneak it into our days to finish the second season and then complain like we did after the first that there were no more episodes.   

It is a clever show, the main characters are kids who are put in the position to use their wits to defeat something that many adults don’t even realize is present and dangerous.   It gives my boys and I the opportunity to talk about what “we” would do.  I love the 1984 setting, yes I am reliving some of my youth.   The music is spot on, the trends exactly as I remember them.   The angst of that age not that different than some of the angst kids today experience.   I watch with fascination how easily people turned into "old people" who complain that kids are loud, that they are not as polite, that they don't listen, that they do things like drink and misbehave.  I have a hard time not reminding them that most of us did those same things, some less and some more, but we laughed at the people who made those same arguments.  

Watching the show gives the boys and I a chance to talk about me at that age, at their ages.   It gives us family time.   We have to sit close, there are scary scenes, it makes us angry that there is a conspiracy behind this.   It shows the characters dealing not only with the netherworld monsters but those that kids face day to day, bullying, falling in love, unrequited love, uncomfortable situations, not being heard because they are kids.   

Spending time with kids while they still want to should never be turned down because around teenage years most want time with friends, I did too, and that is what will happen.   They will come back around as adults for the most part.  I treasure the time I have with my boys, we share info, we laugh, we build trust.   

So find your “Stranger Things” if you can and enjoy the parenting moments you get where there is no  discussion on homework, activities, you saying no, them rolling their eyes.   Enjoy the togetherness and build your memories together.   Otherwise the overwhelming crap in the world will take more of your time than it deserves.     Oh and if you were wondering - we look nothing like this picture, my family growing up never did either because one of the first rules of my parental home was change from your outside clothes.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

When disaster strikes ..this who I see as Americans

In the recent news from around the world there reads an underlying "I knew it"  tone.   The despots and dictators seem to like the whole nationalist undertone they are seeing, they should they use it in their own justifications.   The rest of the world though has always had a bit of a chip on it's shoulder about the U.S.   Now they say it - see I told you so -- they are arrogant, only care about themselves, are bullies. Yet I wander much like we assume things by seeing them on tv can we all do what Depeche Mode says and "let me see you make decisions without your televisions?"

Some of it is warranted.  In many ways the US is this giant baby that looks over the world.  The curiosity, the sense of possibility, the occasional drool, the odd naiveté that always thinks it can do something even when chances point to no.  It is omnipresent even in countries that denounce it, it after all is part of that conversation just as much.   It is also temperamental, needs a lot of attention and somehow has a lot of adult powers that took others whole centuries to get to and then cede.

There is also a small wrinkle of the nose at a place made up of people who left the countries that wrinkle said nose because these were not the upper echelons, so how could be bigger, faster, wealthier now ?  These were the poor, the down trodden, the ones from countries that told them not to dream big, not to think they can get out and they did.  They not only did but then they were the ones that have had to help these worlds that they left behind.

I am an American by choice but it has been hard for me lately.  I know that many are struggling. I am angry to know there are people in this nation who go to bed without food, children who cannot get an education, people who cannot get medical treatments because they cannot afford them.  There are people who want a job but jobs were taken by technology.   These are scared and angry people but they seem to be scared and angry in a misdirected way.  They forget their ancestors were treated as bad or worse then they want to treat people today.  Your anger should be at those that hold the power to offer opportunities not the ones that want them the same way you do.

This is America and these past few weeks we have seen devastation from fires and hurricanes.  I do not see people there who are anything but Americans in need.  I see others helping one another and sending relief aid and money where they can.  I see people mobilize and ask the famous JFK question not what can this country do for them but what can they do for this country.  For their fellow Americans who when the waters and fires came were not spared or engulfed because of who they love, the color of their skin, the god they prayed to or didn't.  They were Americans, ordinary people who just want what pretty much people around the world do.  To take care of their families, to have opportunities, to be treated with dignity and respect.  Most of us see those who help but there are a few folks who seem to only focus on those who loot.  The looters are the small minority and should be punished, the helpers are the majority of us.   When you focus only on the negative it says everything about you and your smallness.  It is easier - but we do not do easy in the US. We are known for doing what is in our wandering spirit - we do what we are told we cannot.

It was the anniversary of 9/11 this week.  I am always reminded of the quiet way this vast city I live in was full of grey people, made so by ash, where we asked each other what can I do to help.  I am reminded of the quiet way people from across the nation and around the globe offered comfort and help.  I am reminded of the way we as a country are known for our generosity across the globe when disasters strike anywhere.

I love American optimism, it is easy to make fun of it, but without it there is no hope, no making the impossible possible.  Those who want to deny us optimism want to have us live in the dark while they guard the light switch.

People - treating each other as people - helping others when they need it.  That is the American people that I cherish, those are the people who are patriots.   Be the Americans that the rest of the world is annoyed by, the baby with a lot of toys but who shares some and who is full of that infectious giggle and curiosity. They may be annoyed by the baby but let's face it they will tolerate it and know they need it, we do not want to be the sullen teenager.  We are better than that, flawed, with a nasty past, but with a connection in this land someone chose to come to or someone chose to stay in.

We are the best when disaster strikes so maybe we can continue to the best when the fires and the waters recede.  I am an American by choice because I believe that we can do better and because I think we are pretty great already in so many ways.  We can be the greatness we desire or we can be the disaster -- I chose to believe that what we see in times of trouble is the greatness that we can sustain.  I chose optimism not nationalism.  I chose to be patriot enough to be awed by these acts of kindness and demand more from our government to help it's people, because we are bits and pieces of the world and the world is watching.