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Survive

This year has been an extremely difficult year full of pain and loss, which I had discussed in a previous post.  In these periods of difficulty, it is sometimes difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is there.  Suffering is part of the human experience.  Learning to thrive and find meaning in the suffering is to survive.   While I’ve lost a lost this year, I have also learned a lot.

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Living in S. Florida, it is easy to get caught up in material things and a hedonistic lifestyle.    In doing so, however, material goods can take the place of experiences and people.  While some people’s budget can support both, mine can’t, but that’s really not the point.  The point is that learning to appreciate experiences with the people you love will help carry you through difficult times.  The shared memories you create will never leave you and are priceless.

Life is seldom stable with changes both positive and negative coming rapid fire. In addition to coping with the suffering, you have to be adept at adapting to change.  If you cannot adapt to the changes in your life, you cannot survive and thrive.  This isn’t something that happens real time or overnight.  It can be gradual or after weeks of nothing it happens all at once.  The goal is to learn to how to roll with the punches and be nimble.   Just like Darwin’s finches, you must adapt if you are to survive.

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Surrounding yourself with people who are your champions is an absolute must. Each and every one of us needs that person that can pull us up when we’re down.  A person that can remind us how fantastically awesome we are when we’re not feeling that spectacular.   Of course, it is just as important to return the favor and be that champion for your friends and family.

Mont St. Michel

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There have been many people, places and events that have left an indelible impression on my life.  One my favorite places can be found in the Normandy region of France.  Mont St. Michel appears almost as if it is an apparition in the distance as you approach via car.  It looks as if it is a castle rising out of the Atlantic.  Undoubtedly, there is something so absolutely and hauntingly beautiful about Mont St. Michel and something exciting about exploring its narrow winding paths and stairways.   The architecture of Mont St. Michel is breathtaking in its beauty and each of its evolutions and layers.  You can see the progression of culture vis-à-vis the evolution in architecture seen in the abbey’s construction, which is absolutely fascinating.

 

While Mont St. Michel is fairly commercialized now, we did still find it possible to get lost and explore a bit.  As the tide rises and falls at Mont St. Michel, it intoxicates you.  It both rushes in and rushes out, much different from how our tides behave here in Florida.  The difference in between low and high tides at Mont St. Michel is nothing short of astounding.  In low tide, you can walk to the abbey (if you choose, but beware of quicksand.)  If you try walking to the abbey during high tide, you’ll need either water wings or to stay on the paved road that now leads to island.

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Aside from the natural and manmade beauty that bounds at Mont St. Michel, it is a feat of human ingenuity and engineering. It is amazing to me that they were able to build such an amazing structure on this island without a paved road and without modern machinery.  It almost seems impossible.  I think that the beauty in travelling is discovering places like Mont St. Michel that speak to you and leave a lasting impression on your soul.

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As our kids grow older, we’re trying to instill in them that experiences/trips are more fruitful and significantly more meaningful than material goods.  Often these experiences and trips are shared with people who have made deep and beautiful impressions on our souls.  When I’m confident that they won’t break something in the Abbey I cannot afford to replace, I will certainly bring them.  I know, I know, after last night’s blog you’re probably thinking I’ll be waiting a long time and you’re probably right.  Can you imagine figs catapulting in the bay from Mont St Michel?   With my boys in the Abbey, I certainly could.

Catapults, Toothpaste and a Bass

Life as a boy mom is not for the faint of heart.  As I looked over today’s prompt, I first thought about how Jake’s graduation was about to catapult him to the next stage of life. I then thought about all the crazy schemes, inventions and concoctions my younger boys have come up with over the years.

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Photo taken from the Mayor’s Drone

Before heading to bed several years ago, I remember walking upstairs to look in on them.  Their door was slightly ajar, but they didn’t hear me come up the stairs and I could not see into their room.  All I heard was Goalielocks says to the Mayor, “do it again, next time it will bounce higher!”  I never found out what “it” was, lord knows they wouldn’t tell me when I asked.  To this day, I have no idea what “it” was and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.

During this same general period, Goalielocks and the Mayor did their best to give us a run for their money.  Somehow, again they are miracle workers of a special breed, they managed to get enough toothpaste on each of their feet to put prints from their bathroom into their bedroom and into the hallway upstairs.  My husband was so overjoyed that we ended up with a beautiful new hole in the wall.

A more recent story of their shenanigans comes from last October during Hurricane Matthew preparations.  As the storm braced down on Florida, or so we thought, we sent Colin off to Tampa with his coach so he wouldn’t miss his hockey tournament.  Jacob and I went into the backyard to start trimming the banana trees of the dead leaves that would become airborne if Matthew’s KAT 4 winds hit Florida.  I was supervising and Jacob had the saw.  We started with the plant closest to the house, so he pulled down the banana tree and naturally a large mouth bass fell out of it.   A couple of important points here.  First, we’re not directly on a lake.  Secondly, the storm had not hit yet, so it could not have been carried and dumped into the tree by said storm.

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There were only two ways the fish could have made it into the tree:  Goalielocks or the Mayor.   I asked the Mayor first since he was at home.  His dimples sucked in as he smiled as he quickly implicated Goalielocks, however, there is no doubt in my mind he was complicit in bassgate.  I texted Goaliocks, who then promptly called.  His response was that the bass had been in our small pond (we have a very small pond in our backyard) and was unhappy so it must have jumped out of it.  Perhaps the bass was hoping the banana tree would catapult it back to the much bigger lake less than 500 feet away.  I will never know…. What I do know is that I will never be bored as a boy mom.

Everything Changes

As your whole world shifts, it is easy to get lost in the newness being both frightened and excited by the transition from childhood to adult.  While everything may be changing and you may feel slightly adrift fear not, the moorings that have always anchored you, the pillars that provided safety and guidance, will never leave you.

Regardless of your age or station, these pillars in your life will always be there to provide you strength, guidance, friendship and love.  While they will not always be with you physically, their influence will be unending.  While growth will sometimes be painful and you’ll yearn for your childhood, look forward and look upward.  Understand that with every discomfort or every failure comes an opportunity to learn, to grow and succeed.  Don’t be afraid to fail!  Be more afraid of not trying.

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Throughout your life, you’ll find yourself feeling adrift for different reasons and different transitions.  At each of these points, you will always think back on the guidance and love that was given by family and friends that became family.  In many cases, you’ll reach back out to these pillars for advice and that’s okay.

 

The Last Mooring

Tomorrow we will untether the last of your moorings as you graduates high school.   I’m still in a state of belief that this day has come, after all, it seems like just yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital.  The point was driven home tonight as I drove to the rink with his younger brothers to watch you play a beer league hockey game.  You are now everybody’s favorite player because of your youth and because you can drive dad home post-game.

The process of letting you go and become independent doesn’t start tomorrow at high school graduation; it started way before you even set foot in high school.  I remember being struck by this fact when you started preschool.  When we dropped you off for your first day, it was tempting to walk in with you and get you situated, but on your grandma’s advice we didn’t.  You walked in to class confidently and got yourself squared away.  I won’t lie, there was a little pain mixed in with the joy of seeing you gain independence.  We parents like to feel needed.  This was the first time we as parents had unmoored one of his moorings.

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With each passing year, each new stage, trust was gained and with it more independence. More moorings were released.  While graduation tomorrow represents the culmination of this journey, even though the moorings are no longer tied to our dock, we will always be here to guide, advise, listen to music with, play hockey with and love you.

Carpe Diem

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time thinking about the past and the future. For some reason, we like ruminating over what has happened and what may happen.  This presents a number of problems of course.  When you focus on your past, you really never move forward.   Regardless of what has happened in the past, its best to live and learn.   I truly wish there was an easy answer for how to do this, but there really isn’t.

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In the moments unoccupied by thoughts of our past, we worry about our future.  What will happen in your career?  How will your bills get paid? How will your kids do in school?  A myriad of questions and worries that can eat away at you if you let it.  I know I’ve certainly had many sleepless nights worrying about what may be.  Silly, I know, yet I can’t stop.

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Here’s the problem.  As we descend into the madness these preoccupations can bring, we miss out on life.  The reminder of this usually comes as a harsh sad reality via regrets after the loss of someone we love.  I recently lost a dear friend, an excruciatingly painful experience, who taught me and many others about life.  The lesson was about living a life of no regrets.  A lesson about living a life full of love, loved ones, and experiences no matter what cards you are dealt.   Life isn’t always puppies and unicorns.  Although I would love it to be that way.  Instead of descending into the madness, grab life by the horns, carpe diem and #LiveLikeDebbie.

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Laugh Out Loud Funny

So far 2017, has been a real S#$t show for me and those I love.   When I saw today’s prompt was farce, I thought a moment about writing something serious about how history repeated is a farce, but that would be a bit boring and depressing.   Tonight I chose a different, lighter path.  A path that examines the farce as a sub-genre of comedy.  What I love most about comedy is how laughter positively impacts our lives.

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When life gives us lemons, it is easy to make lemonade or even a lemon drop shot, but sometimes instead of drinking the lemonade, we need to laugh.  Laugh at ourselves, laugh at a joke, or laugh at a movie.  Which brings us to the farce.  A farce is a sub genre of comedy that aims at entertaining the audience through situations that are highly exaggerated, extravagant, and thus likely improbably.  Not surprisingly as I pursued this line of thought, Monty Python stuck in my mind.  Who does farcical comedy better than them?

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I remember the first time I ever saw Life of Brian in all of its glory.  I died laughing for days.  Who thinks of this stuff?  The movie is provocative, hilariously funny and sometimes offensive.  Interesting fact of this movie is that George Harrison created a movie production company to make Life of Brian after the original production company had pulled out.  Life of Brian was a fantastic reminder that sometimes it’s okay to not take life too seriously.

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The first time my son watched Monty Python’s Holy Grail, he fell off the couch laughing as the “horrible beast,” a rabbit, attacked a member of their party.   The comedy of Monty Python is pure genius, however, I know British comedy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  There are plenty of great American farce movies to keep you laughing for years like The Producers, National Lampoons European Vacation, and Old School.  When life gets tough, remember to always look on the bright side of life and be a little silly.  Life’s too short to always be serious!

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Daily Prompt: Farce

Sitting on the Edge of the Precipice

Every day, at every stage of our life, we have a choice. Do we settle for the status quo or worse for mediocrity? Or do we strive for greatness? Often we choose to simply exist. Day in and day out we follow the same monotonous routine as the day before. Choosing to exist in relative comfort instead of pushing ourselves to greatness.
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It is on that precipice, where most sit in relative safety for most of their lives. Instead of choosing growth and opportunity, we balk at the risk that jumping of the precipice represents. Afraid to fail, we sit and we stall. The fear of failure can be paralyzing, however, even the worst situation could end up being the opportunity of a lifetime. We have to accept that failure is necessary for both growth and success.
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It’s not always the fear of failure that drives us to maintain the status quo. Sometimes it is us accepting that being good is good enough, but I would submit to you, in the immortal words of Jim Collins that “good is the enemy of great.” Accepting “being good” is choosing to settle for what will ultimately become mediocrity. Akin to the great sports quote “hard work beats talent; when talent doesn’t work,” these words charge us to not accept good as adequate. Instead we should always strive to be better. We should strive to be great. In order to be great, we need to say goodbye to what is comfortable and jump off the precipice and fly.

quote-it-s-only-on-the-brink-that-people-find-the-will-to-change-only-at-the-precipice-do-john-cleese-62-19-09Daily prompt: Precipice

Mother’s Day Part Deux

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Hockey moms enjoy a somewhat sensationalized reputation as being some of the craziest moms in sports and that’s not too far from the truth.  In my humble opinion, we’re a good kind of crazy.  Who else but a hockey parent would get up at 4:20 am to drive from Clearwater to Ellenton for a tournament game?

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The level of dedication it takes to have a kid in travel hockey, is unbelievable.  During the boys’ hockey season, hockey is all we know and all we do.  Devoted to their family and to the sport, hockey moms can log hundreds of miles (at least in Florida) driving from rink to rink in a single day.   One weekend a couple of years ago, I logged 700 miles of driving for hockey.   To see my boys play the game they love with their friends never gets old.  Mastercard’s tagline sums it up perfectly: it’s priceless.

To be clear, we hockey moms know how to have a good time.  In addition to knowing the proximity of Dunkin/Starbucks to every rink, we also know where to find the closest Total Wine.  We love watching our kids play and seeing them develop over the years, but we really enjoy the good times we share with our fellow hockey moms and hockey dads.  Over the years, the fellow hockey moms and dads, who started off as our friends have become a part of our family.

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I am blessed to be surrounded by an amazing group of moms at the rink. These women are incredible.  They balance life, work, family and hockey and do it with grace, intelligence and beauty.  Hockey moms are a tight sorority of sisterhood that is closer knit than any outsider could possible imagine.  As crazy as we are, the rivalry ends when the teams leave the ice and there is a hockey mom or family in need.  Regardless of what team or organization our kids play for, when there is a hockey mom or family in need, the hockey family will take care of them.  Hockey moms don’t let another hockey mom walk a difficult road alone. We are at each other’s side to the very end.

I posted an article on my Facebook page the other day about the benefits of travel sports of kids.   The article is absolutely on point, but it didn’t even address the ancillary benefit of travel sports and that is the relationships the parents build.  I never imagined when my kids started playing hockey, how much I would benefit from the travel hockey experience.  When Luke’s mom got sick or when Luke had a run in with the SUV, our hockey family had our back.  The hockey community is incredibly close knit and I could not be prouder to be a hockey mom or more grateful for all of the incredible women hockey has brought into my life.

Mother’s Day part 1

Writer’s block hit me as I tried to write this post.  How does one adequately express the significance and difficulty of this Mother’s Day in the context of Jacob’s forthcoming graduation and the many losses that have occurred over the past several months?  I’m not sure it is possible, but I’ll try.

Motherhood is at once both a supreme gift and a supreme burden.  Before you jump all over me for the word burden, let me explain.  As my mom so wisely warned me when I was pregnant with Jake, there is no bigger emotional investment than   having a child.   Yep, she was right about that and pretty much everything else.  Every up and down our children experience is felt deeply in our heart and soul.  The highs are magnificent, but the lows are devastating.   Even worse as our children experience the lows, sometimes we have to step back, guide them and allow them to figure it out.  It is excruciatingly painful but if we always save them from themselves, they’ll have difficulty as an adult working through problems.

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I would love to say that I’m always super fantastic at this, but I’m not.  I’m still working on it.  Motherhood is really all about OJT (on the job training) as we would say at work.  Yeah, there are books like What to Expect When You’re Expecting or Raising Boys.  However, these guidebooks left a lot of information out.  They didn’t warn me that my youngest would pull his pet beetle out of his pocket during the intermission of Jacob’s choir concert or that they may try to make a lizard habitat out of the buffet table’s drawer.  Yeah, the books left out a lot.  I am fortunate to have an amazing mother, who I think did a great job raising me and my brothers.  She’s always available if I need her advice or just to talk. My grandmothers and great grandmothers were also served as strong examples for me as well.

I understand fully that to be able to call my mom on mother’s day is a luxury.  Mother’s Day for many is reminder of a painful loss and for some it is the exclamation point to their recent loss.  For us it is a reminder of the loss of my mother-in-law Sandy (pictured below with the Mayor.)  Six years later, we miss her immensely.  Today pray for those that have lost their mother, particularly those whose loss is recent, and for those mothers that have experienced the loss of their child.   This Mother’s Day celebrate your mother, spend time with her, appreciate her and spoil her as it is a gift to be able to share this day with her.

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