Fifty Shades of Gray

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Today I am FIFTY. How did this happen? I still don’t feel like I’ve got a handle on this thing called life. I get it wrong more often than I get it right, and there’s so much I still need to see & do. I’m most likely more than halfway through my lifespan — what a humbling thought.

At this point, I figure I can do one of two things: either accept that I’m old and use it as an excuse for not trying harder/doing more/taking risks/being bold. OR, I can see it as a challenge and push to be the youngest, freest, happiest version of myself that I can possibly be.

In retrospect, my forties were about lessons learned. They showed me time and again the fleeting nature of contentment and security. I rang in the decade just as Jim’s employer declared bankruptcy – stranding us in a foreign country during a huge economic downturn, with no choice but to drain our savings and start over again. I should have taken it as an omen. In my mid-forties, Ryan died. After that, I hid from the world… a feral creature given to eating & sleeping too much and shunning the world at large.

There were still plenty of moments of happiness, but it always felt elusive and transient.

Well, fuck that.

No. More.

If my forties were about harsh truths and letting go, then let my fifties be about self-discovery and embracing life. I’ll do what I can to make this happen. Life, of course, will throw curveballs; that’s what it does. I can’t begin to imagine the crazy shit that will happen, but I can preemptively work on managing my response to it.

Starting today.

So, happy birthday to me!  I will no longer take for granted a single second. I will be happier, healthier, and more appreciative of the things that matter most.

 

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This One Hurts

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom… is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

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you made it farther than most of us…. rest easy, Tony

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Three Years Gone

When great trees fall in forests,
Small things recoil into silence;
Their senses eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
The air around us becomes light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly, see with a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines.
Gnaws on kind words unsaid; promised walks never taken.

Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us.
Our souls, dependent upon their nurture, now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away.
We are not so much maddened as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
Of dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die,
After a period, peace again blooms.
Slowly and always irregularly.

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Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us:
They existed.
They existed.
We can be.
Be, and be better.
For they existed.

~ Maya Angelou

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Just…. no

I unfollowed three people today for posting the following:

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Also, for what it’s worth, if you were one of the folks going around yesterday saying/tweeting/posting/texting “May the 4th be with you!” —  I pretty much wanted to punch you in the throat.

Namaste,
B.

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I have a life, and it only goes in one direction. Forward. ~ Don Draper

Life has been busy busy busy lately. Not so much (though, of course, occasionally) in a stressful way – more so productive.

I’ve been working hard, sleeping well, eating healthier, exercising regularly, tackling long overdue projects (hello, home improvement to-do list as long as my arm!), and spending time, when I have time to spend, with people who really matter.

To accomplish this, I’ve had to cut way back on distractions. TV/Netflix/Hulu took a big hit, as did most forms of social media (except Twitter, because what am I—an animal??)

It was hard at first. I think we’re all pre-conditioned to stay plugged into the collective. Feeling a little down, frustrated, accomplished or excited – just post about it and wait for the euphoric rush that comes from someone validating your life choices with the click of a ‘like’ button! But after a while,  it ends up being a time sink and an unhealthy game of one-upmanship. (ain’t nobody got time for that)

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So it’s been good to step back and gain some perspective (and get a ton done in the process). I’ve also been surprised by who has taken time to touch base and who hasn’t. I wasn’t really expecting anyone to take my pulse, so to speak, but it’s always nice to know your voice is missed. And the people who’ve cared enough to reach out are not the ones I would have thought. So that’s given me a lot to consider/reevaluate.

The one thing that never changed: my core group of special people – my tribe – my beautiful girls & extraordinary husband & the world’s sweetest chihuahua/corgi mix. In both words and actions, they have proven time and again that they’re all I’ll ever need, and far more than I probably deserve. I only hope they feel that same love radiated right back at them.

I am a lucky woman. 💗

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Springtide

Happy first full day of spring — in all its vernal glory:

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Twenty-Eight

Dear Ryan,

Tomorrow would have been your 28th birthday. I still can’t believe you’re gone. Lost before I had the chance to say all the things I wanted to say… to apologize properly for the ways I’ve let you down. Gone, I fear, before you fully understood there was never anything you had to hide or be ashamed of. And gone before you could experience the heart-wrenching joy/panic/elation/worry/pride that comes from having children of your own.

Drugs are such a scourge; they’ve robbed us of the very best. They’ve taken so much in the way of art and music and comedy and genius – they’ve taken you from me. And yet, in some fucked up way I can’t quite explain, I can’t be mad at the situation because it feels like being mad at you, and that’s something I could never do.

I just wish… I don’t know what I wish. That I had a time machine? That I believed in God, eternal life or heavenly reward? That we all had a chance to go back and be the best possible version of ourselves? That I could trade places with you?

I would in a heartbeat.

Your sister is now the same age as you were when you died. Remember the last time we spoke on the phone? It was about five day before we got word that you were gone. You mentioned in the conversation that you’d always wanted to see Machu Picchu. Well, guess where she’s going this year? Sydney plans to make the same trek one day, as do I. And it’s all to honor you. Because in some small, insignificant (but never to us) way, we believe that seeing this is not just for us, but for you as well.

The first place I visited – many, many months after your death – was Iceland. It was November and already bitterly cold. We drove out to a black sand beach that was basically abandoned, because who in their right mind wanted to stand next to the ocean in sub-zero temperatures? But stand I did.

I thought about you a lot that day (and every day before and since). I thought about how much you’d have loved it there. I thought about all the things you’d never get a chance to see or do. About how unfair life could be, and how all the bullshit we worry about ultimately amounts to nothing. Meanwhile, the things we should be worried about never seem to make the cut until it’s too late. Then I found a piece of driftwood and carved your name into the sand.

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It was all I could do.

High tide rolled in later that day and erased it I’m sure, but you *were* there. I’ve done the same in all my travels since. In Egypt, I traced your name into the dust of a railing on the second floor of the antiquities museum. In Jamaica, I dropped a folded sheet of paper containing your initials into a cluster of trees as I walked by. In Costa Rica, I tossed a coin (printed the year you were born) into the lake at the base of a mighty volcano, and in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, I lit the biggest candle I could find in honor of your life. (and that’s just to name a few)

It’s my way of saying to the world: “Ryan was here. He mattered.”

We will never get over your loss or make peace with why you had to go, but we WILL honor you in ways both big and small. So happy birthday, sweet boy. Know that you are never far from my thoughts and always deep in my heart…

You were here.
You are gone.
You live on.

Love Forever,
Mom

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International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day, I celebrate my two talented and incredible daughters. May you know your power, your place in the world, and your place in my heart.

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Now go defy the patriarchy by living a meaningful life on YOUR terms: no explanation or equivocation. (and make this planet better & brighter by doing so)

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The Tao of Will

Dear Blog,

Hello, my friend, I haven’t completely forgotten about you! Like roses and bears and wood frogs (oh, my!), I’ve been hibernating this winter.  I’ve holed up in the safety & comfort of my den, snuggling my pup, communing with family, and watching a shit-ton (<- actual unit of measurement) of Netflix between long winter’s naps.

It’s. Been. Nice.

But as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Or maybe something about ‘too much of a good thing.’… or only putting off until tomorrow what you’re willing to die having left undone. (okay. that last one sounds a little harsh)

Anyway, a week from today the clocks spring forward, and so shall I. But these past few months haven’t *just* been a happy haze of breakfast in bed and binge-watching The Great British Baking Show (although that HAS been a big part of it). I’ve also been thinking about the path ahead: the things I want to carry with me and the stuff, both literal and figurative, I need to jettison in order to move forward.

This means dusting off the treadmill, reintroducing disciple into my life (boo!), making decisions without dawdling, and working toward a happier, healthier future. Basically — adulting. Yuck.

I hate to say I’m taking life advice from Will Smith’s Instafeed (I totally am) but he’s been talking a lot lately about self-disciple & self-love leading to self-success (or something along those lines), and it sounds about right. I need to get on this shit asap so I can make the Fresh Prince proud.

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Which has me wondering — is The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air available on Netflix? #brb

Yours Always,
B.

 

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Reflection

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“Things that keep me up at night for $1000, Alex.”

I was born in a small town in Texas in 1968. JFK was already gone, Camelot dismantled, and Richard Millhouse Nixon was on the fast track to becoming the 37th president of the United States of America. Martin Luther King Jr and Bobby Kennedy were months away from assassination, and millions of Americans were taking to the streets chanting “Hey, Hey, LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?”

Timothy Leary called for us all to turn on, tune in, and drop out. Draft cards & bras were burned, and black athletes (fists raised) staged a demonstration at the Summer Olympics declaring “We’re black and we’re proud!” as spectators booed.

The Tet Offensive happened. The D.C. riots happened. Violent clashes between war protestors and the police not only happened but were commonplace. George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, blocked black students from entering its University with a warcry of “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!”

This was my legacy; my birthright — shameful though it may be.

So, here we sit fifty years later. Have we really learned anything? Will 2018 see the same rioting, warmongering, racist-spewing ignorance, and political corruption as its predecessor? My money is on yes. And if so, will well-intentioned citizens once again rise up? Who are our heroes… where is our moral compass?

Lmargo

Buckle up, kiddies.

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Quarter Century

Dear Robyn,

On this day twenty-five years ago you pushed your way into the world and captured my heart. In typical fashion, you were in a hurry. So much so that we almost didn’t make it to the hospital in time. Out the window went my birth plan – no epidural; no mixtape of favored songs to soothe us as we labored; no gentle transition for you from in-utero to neonate.

As I was doing my best not to push until the doctor arrived, you took matters into your own hands and made your grand entrance, complete with umbilical cord wrapped around your neck (already accessorizing). Blue, and without even the weakest cry to signify things were okay, I caught a glimpse of your tiny hand as they whisked you to the ICU.  Your initial Apgar score was an alarmingly low 3.

But as always, you rallied. Within hours you were in my arms — pink and squalling, and I thanked every God I could think of for keeping you safe from harm.

This became our pattern. You, fearless and flying at the speed of light. Me, your steadfast contrail – following in your wake and worrying that whatever you were doing was too much, too soon.

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Together, we made it work.

Which brings us to today – I am in awe of the woman you’ve become. You are a fearless, take-no-prisoners force to be reckoned with, and that is such a good thing. Your beauty and poise are equal to your intelligence and compassion – you, my sweet, are the complete package.

Someday you’ll find a love worthy of yours, and together the two of you will conquer the world, of this I have no doubt. In the meantime, enjoy life. Slow down every once in awhile… relax if you can. Travel. Meet new and interesting people and try out differing viewpoints; let your worldview evolve.

And as your mother (with a front row seat to your evolution) know that I’m always here, unshakable and proud, and filled with more love than you could ever imagine.

Love Forever,
Mom

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Random Thought of the Day #4

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

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It may just be hunger talking… but I’m pretty sure all this can be accomplished with a really great breakfast taco.

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Better Late Than Never

Happy-New-Year-Wishes

Hello, 2018!

Let’s be friends. I haven’t always gotten along with your predecessors, but I’ve got a good feeling about me and you. That said, here’s what I’ve learned about friendship through the years: the key to satisfaction is lowered expectations. So lets not set our sights too high and say we’ll overthrow an oppressive regime (#nevertrump) or find a cure for cancer– or even convince everyone that Adele/Marvel Movies/Disneyland/Big Bang Theory suck (which, by the way, they totally do).

Instead, maybe we shoot for some medium-good stuff?  Let’s say I’ll resolve to get more sleep, stop being such a pushover, and remind myself to give a shit about the environment every once in a while. You, in turn, could (and I’m just spitballing here) rid the world of ‘like’ buttons across all social media platforms, cut WAY back on your spricket production, and stop letting farmers grow those nasty ass grapes that taste like cotton candy.

Deal? Deal.

 

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Dark Side of the Moon

Everything I see in the media lately is terrible or sad. Or both. Police shooting citizens for no real reason, kids bullied, California burning, women harassed, molesters vying for Senate, explosions/murders/pain/loss/suffering. And oh yeah – the president.

It’s depressing to the point of being overwhelming.

The world operates on a pendulum swing, I know this. For years we were on the upswing… experiencing the simple harmonic motion of order and hope. Of course, nothing was or is ever perfect, but it was no doubt better. Now, things are — dark

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I’ve always been more optimist than pessimist. Then my son overdosed and the world went crazy. It’s like one day I woke to a supernova of shit, and it – Just. Keeps. Piling. On. And maybe I only see what I want to see? I’m fully aware of the possibility that somewhere along the line I stopped trying to find the positive in any given situation.

So how do I fix it? I want to be happy again. I want to laugh more than I cry and to see the good once more in people and situations. I’d love to personally witness a random act of kindness or some other evidence that we’re not all mindless, self-serving pricks consumed by jealousy and greed. Because I don’t think I have it in me any longer to be the change I want to see in the world. Someone else needs to take up the mantle of optimist, because I’m tired and it all feels like too much work.

…and that perhaps is the saddest thing of all.

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Queen’s Gambit

I wrote about this elsewhere, but it bears repeating:

I have been a fan of Al Franken since the dawn of time. From his SNL days to Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, to his Air America talk radio gig — to all points in-between. I have loved him, I have trusted him, and I have rooted for him.

This one broke my heart. Nothing against the women who came out against him, but if you’d asked me a couple of months ago to name the ONE guy in Congress I most believed was there for the right reasons, I’d have said, Al. But he became a distraction. Worse – he got in the way of Dems having a clear shot at pedophile Roy Moore and pussy-grabber-in-chief Trump. The argument was becoming “but Franken” each time a member of Congress spoke to the press (or when Kelly Ann and her ilk stepped in front of a camera)

I think that plus Kirsten Gillibrand unbridled lust to run for president is what did him in, and I get it (even if I don’t entirely agree). But in the parlance of chess: if we’re sacrificing a queen in what we hope will be a game-winning move, it damn well better be worth it.

Schumer and Pelosi et al. need to rally the troops and come out swinging (and swinging hard) otherwise we (the Dems) are just the skinny kid on the beach getting sand repeatedly kicked in our face by bullies.

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Tis the Season

You know what’s near the top of the list of things that suck when your child is dead and there’s not a god damn thing you can do about it?

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Paris is Always a Good Idea

Dear Paris,

Thank you for hosting us the week of Thanksgiving. Your city is as beautiful as its history is storied. Your pastries are flaky and your Foie gras is creamy, and everything is served with an attention to detail that is bar-none. Your architecture and culture are incredible… and you know it. 😉 If Europe is the cultural capital of the world, Paris is undoubtedly its crown jewel.

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(photo cred goes to one miss Sydney Z)

That said, why are your people so rude? What’s with the constant blatant staring – did I have spinach in my teeth or were you just gawking at the plus-sized American tourists with the audacity to spill into the seat next to her on the metro? Speaking of the metro, why does it smell so strongly of piss? Do Parisians regard sub ground dwellings as open-air urinals? (if so, why?)

And now to rip off the band-aid – I’m just going to say it: the Louvre is overrated. It’s definitely not my all-time favorite museum (hell, it’s not even my favorite museum IN Paris*). And the Georges Pompidou Centre is incredibly pretentious for having so little – even the Picassos can’t save this travesty of a modern art museum.

There. Done. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Overall it was a fantastic experience. Not much has changed in the twelve years since we’ve last visited, but really, who’d want it to? I relish the sense of continuity and the feeling that your lovely city is suspended in time. I hope one day we’ll meet again… perhaps when I weigh a little less and you’ve managed to address your metro-related incontinence issues. #win/win

Yours Always,
B.

*Musee d’Orsay for the win!
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À Coeur Vaillant Rien D’Impossible

Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.

I will love without fear and trust without hesitation. I will laugh more than I cry. I’ll count my blessings frequently and tally my losses far less often. I’ll either lose weight or find a way to forgive myself for this continued failure. I’ll smile at babies and offer help to strangers and do my best to overlook the shortcomings I see in others because, hey, I’m far from perfect myself.

I’ll give someone a second chance. Hell, I’ll even offer a few people third and fourth chances. Because somewhere along the line I know someone gave me at least that many (or more). I’ll strive to be the hero my dogs think I am, the nurturing & together mother my daughters deserve, and the loving and supportive partner my husband married all those years ago. And I’ll do it all without compromise or complaint (okay, maybe I’ll complain a little…)

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I’ll miss my son every day but approach with a grateful heart the fact that I was part of his journey (and he part of mine). I’ll take valuable lessons from his death — such as the fact that you can never love someone too much or tell them too often. I’ll make sure my daughters know that there’s no secret too big to keep or hole dug so deep that escape should seem impossible. I’ll let them know I’ll be there to save them again and again and again… and again.

Some days I’ll be tired and cranky and want to stay in bed all day ignoring the world and nursing old wounds. On those days I’ll fail more than I succeed, and that’s okay. Because the next morning I’ll get up, dust myself off, and try again…. because nothing is impossible to a willing heart.

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Fortune Favors the Bold

Why are fortune cookies so boring? If you’re giving me a stale cookie in a noisy cellophane wrapper, at least make it entertaining, snarky, or both.

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Ideas:

  • This cookie looks a like a mini vagina — bon appétit!
  • You have a great face… for make-up
  • Eat sensibly, exercise regularly, die anyway
  • They say opposites attract – may you meet someone alluring, smart & funny
  • Pro tip: chopsticks make for great DIY abortions (because who has knitting needles these days?)
  • Be it length, girth or bank account: size matters
  • If only the good die young, you’ll live forever
  • The road to happiness is paved with lowered expectations
  • All good things come to those born filthy rich
  • A friend is just an enemy you haven’t fully pissed off yet
  • In a pinch, stale leftover eggrolls make great dildos #foodporn
  • Cookies make you fat
  • All your hard work will most likely amount to nothing
  • You’ll be hungry again in an hour
  • Settling now saves time down the road
  • Whenever you feel stupid just remember – you probably are
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