Yesterday, I returned home from a week long family vacation at the Jersey Shore.  The weather was touch-and-go, but it was great to spend time with all of my nieces and nephews as well as my gaggle of in-laws.  As I have said before, I try not to talk too much about my family on this blog.  It feels like this is my space, not theirs, and I should respect their privacy.  But, this past week I was so moved by one of my nieces I really wanted to share it with all of you.  K, who is 4 was born with spina bifida.  Here are five things I learned from her this week.

1) The things you can accomplish when you set your mind to it are astounding.  Strangers will watch you in awe and wonder where you found your determination.

2) Failure is a stepping stone to success.  You will tread on many falls, mistakes and attempts before you reach victory.

3) There is nothing wrong with being 4 seconds slower, when you are 5 seconds smarter.

4) We are only as different as we believe ourselves to be.

5) When the perseverance becomes tiring, when the failures seem unduly greater than the successes, when you are tired of being smart and different…it is more than ok to cry and take a nap.  Things always seem better after a nap.

We are family…

April 21, 2009

When it comes to family, how is it….

-That you can offend or hurt someone by literally doing nothing*.

-That you can be ridiculed or called overly sensitive for getting upset about an actual something.

-That when nothing good is going on with your life, they call or question constantly wanting to hear updates on things that have not changed.

-That when you do have something to share, good news or bad, no one asks and no one seems to be around to answer your calls.  

-That you are stuck with these people, regardless of choice or circumstance and you love them and they love you in spite of who you are, rather than because of it.

A wish for you

November 26, 2008

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving with:

-safe travels

-full bellies

-loving friends and family

-flowing alcohol

-and lots of laughter*

tgiv

*and if you need something to get a good laugh out of…take a look at the tissue paper turkey above.  It has just been way too long since i have seen a  good tissue paper turkey.

I Still Do

October 7, 2008

I promised….

I promised to take you to be no other than yourself…I still do.

I promised to love what I knew of you, and trust what I did not yet know… I still do.

I promised to respect you, care for you, and grow with you, though good times and hard times, as your friend companion and partner… I still do.

I promised to give the best that I could to fulfill our lives together… I still do.

I promised to take the ring you placed on my finger, to wear it as a symbol of our love and the promises we made together… I still do.

Happy Anniversary D.  Love Always, S

One of my favorite cousins moved into her freshman dorm this past weekend.  This is exciting enough on it’s own, but after a great visit (and no pressure from me) she choose to go to school where both I and my brother went to college, about 20 minutes from where I am presently living.  Here are the five things I am loving about her being so close by.

1) I get to be that person we all loved in college.  The family friend who lives nearby, who always has a full refrigerator, an empty washing machine, $20 and a bag of left-over’s to hand you on your way out the door.  I get to finally offer some Karmic payback for all the people who fed me, drove me and cared for me in my home away from home.

2) I get to offer advice so that she does not make, or at least makes less of, the same mistakes I did.  The college basics; never sign up for a class before 10 am or on a Friday afternoon, don’t leave your girlfriends at frat houses no matter how emphatically they tell you they want to stay and regardless of what they tell you is in it…never, EVER drink the punch. 

3) I get to actually make a difference in her experience.  Aside from the occasional $20 and the advice about the punch, I can be there for her if she is stuck at a bar or a house and things get out of hand.  If her car breaks down, she gets stranded in Boston or just feels a little homesick, I can help and that is an amazing feeling.

4) I get to report back to Mom and Dad.  Not the details, and nothing she ever asked me to keep in confidence, but an occasional phone call to them saying “yes she is alive, yes I think she is going to class, no she does not appear pregnant”, might mean they bug her a little less and feel reassured a little more.

5) I get to re-live my college years a bit.  It has been a while since I was a student there and even longer since I was an undergrad.  There are new dorms, new dining halls, new academic buildings and roads that never even existed.  And yet, walking across the quad, with the sun shining and old stone buildings surrounding me I still get that butterfly feeling in my stomach of being a freshman and having my whole life and a fabulous four years in front of me. 

What are your best college memories?  What advice would you give a freshman?

The other night, while sitting down to a lovely dinner at a local restaurant with D, my sister-in law, her husband and their two sons, I was confronted with a Ghost of Sara Past.  I would like to consider myself the type of person who can handle bumping into an ex with Jacqueline Kennedy like grace; calmly walking over in my perfectly pressed linen suit, smiling with my fresh looking acne free skin and reaching out my perfectly manicured hand for a polite shake of the hand to engage in appropriate conversation.  I did not do any of these things.  But, for your reading pleasure, here are the five things I did do.

1- Panic.  Immediately start to sweat.  Really, sweat.  Noticeable rings under the arm pits and river running through my bra type of sweat.

2- Turn bright red and stumble over my chair as I attempt to run interception and make contact BEFORE the haunting ghost reaches the table.

3- Make instant decision that I will NOT be introducing ghost to my lovely family for the following reasons.   3.a. – Ghosts are scary, I love my nephews and do not want them to have ‘ghost of Sara past’ type nightmares for the rest of their lives.  3.b – Do not want D’s family to think I am the type of person who associates or once associated with the big mean ghost.

4- Loose all abilities to participate in meaningful conversation and find myself asking “so, how are you?” three times while nodding my head emphatically and not listening to one of the responses.  Begin to hate ghost all over again for making me feel EXACTLY the same way I did while we dated,  a decade ago. 

5- Scurry back to table and quickly order a beer while burying my head in the menu.  Respond to D’s question of “who was that” with “someone I used to know” and silently pray he lets it go.  Spend the next few minutes calming down and thinking how lucky I am that D did in fact let it go.  Not because he did not know something was up, but because he could see how uncomfortable I was and did not want to push me.  I adore D.  I might be afraid of ghosts.

A well stocked cupboard

August 4, 2008

This weekend I had the pleasure of having D and my two nephews out to visit along with their wonderful parents.  I have come to the conclusion that your odds of two happy boys (under age 9) dramaticallyincrease with the amount of brightly colored boxes and bags you have added to your pantry.  Here are the 5 items I believe every well stocked cupboard should have when nephews (or nieces) are in town.

1- Juice boxes or bags, preferably in a flavor and color that does not exist in nature and with a name that does not even pretend to resemble food.  Sea Breeze cooler and Electric Aide seem to be favorites. 

2- Sugar cereal, ideally three or four variates with out a nutritionally redeeming quality among them.  Prizes are good, but chocolate and/or marshmallows are better.

3- Chips or ‘doodles in the shade of orange that construction workers wear to warn on coming traffic.  With lots of imitation cheese powder that gets on fingers, clothes and furniture. 

4- Cookies, not plain.  Must have some sort of nut, brownie bit or brightly colored candy.  Not too big and not too small, perfect for sticky little cheese powder covered hands.

5- Alcohol.  Lots. For mom and dad and auntie and uncle after kids have eaten themselves into a coma.

92 Years of Experience

July 21, 2008

I spent this past weekend in NY to be with my grandmother for her 92nd birthday.  In honor of 92 years of laughter, loss, love and life, here are the 5 things I learned from my grandmother.

1) How to properly boil and egg and make a pot of chicken soup. 

2) That one very nice and properly fitting black dress is worth ten ill fitting ones.  The same goes for the matching shoes and hand bag. 

3) No matter how casual the meal or comfortable the company, you never serve guests out of the pot and a well set table can make even the most basic meal elegant.

4) To be proud of your youth and unashamed of the choices you have made. To remember the hard years fondly and the easy years longingly. 

5) That there is no shame in crying for the ones you have loved and lost.  The tears that fall when you remember the way your friend wore her hair or the way your husband greeted you at the door every day for 48 years honors their life as much as it mourns their death.

I am a sucker for any movie with Hugh Grant, but one of my all time favorites is Love Actually. In addition to some pretty funny (some smart, and some not so smart) scenes, the premise of the movie is that love, is actually, all around us. Here are the five people who have reminded me that like love, kindness surrounds us every day.

1) The friends who called, text or e-mailed me this morning to let me know that they were thinking of me on my first day at a new job and were sending good vibes my way. I had forgotten how hard it is to be the new kid, and they reminded me that even though I am in a new space, I am not alone.

2) The friend who sent me flowers today to welcome to me to my new office and make me feel at home. If you have ever been called to the admin desk and arrived to see a bouquet of fresh smiling gerber daisy’s, delicate queen Anne’s lace, and sweet roses, you know the feeling can not be re-created. It literally brought tears to my eyes (and in fact, forced me to pretend to have to get something out of my car so I would not be busted crying on my first day).

3) The two men that took pity on me attempting to haul my over sized, over stuffed suitcase up and down the ferry steps on Sunday night. I am seldom impressed by the actions of strangers, but these two men were class acts. I felt compelled to hug them, but instead just thanked them profusely until they became embarrassed and ran away.

4) The friend who stayed at my house this weekend. In addition to a chilled bottle of champagne, she left a complete meal waiting in my refrigerator, so I would not have to cook after my first day at work. I don’t know if this is something she has done before, but it was by far one of the most perfect gifts she could have given me and I hope some day I am able to do it for someone else.

5) All of you. The friends, acquaintances and readers who have passed along their good wishes and their condolences through comments on my blog or via e-mail. Thank you for letting me vent over unwanted kids at a party or share my horror at the thought of my brother, as a pall bearer, carrying the weight of his friend and his own grief on his shoulders. You have helped me more than you know.

From the moment I started this blog (a whopping 19 posts ago) I have struggled with the concept of how much I wanted to share about my personal life, what I wanted to say about my friends and my family. What stories were mine to tell and what stories belonged to someone else, to be told in their own way, with their own voice. Then this evening (while still on vacation) I received three phone calls in rapid succession from my family. Yesterday, my brothers college roommate and close friend, committed suicide. The details are horrific, and are not mine to share, but, I would like to share with all of you, the five things I hope to help my brother understand as he buries his friend.

1- Grief comes in waves. There are moments when the pain encapsulates your being with such force, you wonder if you will ever be able to exhale again. Then, there are moments when the hurt seems to subside. Moments when you believe you are moving through the dark could and then the pain rushes in and washes over you again. Don’t fight the grief any more than you would fight the tide, both are futile.

2- It is ok to be angry. it is ok to be frustrated or pissed. It is ok to yell and scream and go for a run because you can’t think of any other way to expel the emotion from your body. It is also ok to laugh, to think about the funny things he said or the way he always wore his hair to the right side.

3- It is not your fault, and there is nothing you could have done. I know people will be telling you this a lot over the next few days and I hope with all of my heart that you hear them. Please do not over think every conversation you had, every word you heard, every rise and fall to the tone of his voice.

4- It is going to get worse before it gets better. The days ahead of you will be long. The hugs will be endless and the tears will flow. We have already spoken about the role you want to take in his memorial and I applaud you for your strength, but it will not be easy. Know that it will be hard and know that I believe you can do it.

5- I love you brother. I love you more today than I did yesterday and I will love you more tomorrow than I did today. I love you unconditionally in a way only siblings can. When the grief swallows you like a tsunami wave, remember how many people love you and feel our arms supporting you under the deep and painful sea.