Gut punch

Gut Punch

Today was one of those days that was akin to a gut punch.  The kind of day that brings you sorrow, angst, sadness, and grief. As if we haven’t already been here enough in 2017… Ugh.  This year has been tough and the last 24 hours indicative of its toughness. Unfortunately, my SIL lost her mother last night.  This is one of those times its tough to be here because we’re not able, as a family, to be there for her, my bro and their kids.  Right now all of us wish we were there with them.

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Meanwhile, in another corner, a mother’s worst nightmare is playing out in a horrific way and we’re all powerless to help.  If anything today has reinforced, the delicate nature of life and its unpredictability.  Life, our days on this earth, are not promised. We can choose to exist, which most do, or we can choose to live.  We can choose to make a positive difference in the lives of those around us regardless of our circumstances.

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Nonetheless, today left me wanting to do nothing, but gorge on Neuhaus chocolate tonight.  I’m proud to say that instead I went to aerial yoga.  This was definitely the healthier way to work through today’s sadness and grief.  Tonight’s class was a bit difficult as I hurt my hip some how, so I had to be careful with my left side.  Incidentally, the inversions are getting much easier with each class.  Additionally, my alignment in handstand/headstand is much better in my mat classes now.  Aerial yoga is definitely improving my practice.

Tonight’s song is “How Great Thou Art” performed by The Pentatonix.

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Christmas in Florida

Christmas in Florida

This year we will celebrate our 13th Christmas in Florida after relocating to the area in 2005.  It seems like just yesterday that we moved South with Jake going into 1st grade and Goalielocks as a toe-headed toddler.  The Mayor was but a twinkle in our eye when we moved South.

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Our first couple of Christmas’ we headed back North to Minny to celebrate with the family.  This only lasted a couple of years because the holiday dinner circuit was exhausting.  It was tough only being in Minny for a couple of weeks because it never felt like we got enough time with everyone.  Inevitable, someone always ended up mad because we hadn’t spent enough time at their house or with their family.  It got old quick.

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While we were stressed, the boys loved the snow and being home with family for Christmas.  At least until Christmas of 2007.  We headed northwards for 2.5 weeks.  The weather when we landed was perfect, but that quickly changed.  In a mere 72 hours, the balmy mid-20 degree weather was gone and the temperature was well below zero. Damn Alberta clipper!  For the remainder of our time in Minny, we were homeward bound.  It was far too cold to take our boys out in the subzero weather.  Consequently, as we prepared to head back to Florida, I informed my parents that we wouldn’t be heading north for Christmas anymore.

Since 2007, we’ve spent Christmas here in Florida.  It’s significantly less stressful for us and more enjoyable.  In 2009, we started sending the boys to Minny for the summer, so they got ample time to spend with our entire family.   We miss seeing our family and the beautiful snow, but the novelty wears off far too quick now.  Plus, we’ve headed Northward for the last 5 years for out of state hockey tournaments.  We’ve had no shortage of winter weather.

Several years ago, we started a tradition of a Christmas brunch with my bro, his wife and friends.  I bake my caramel rolls, while the Hubby makes an amazing cholesterol bake.  Mimosas and presents about and everyone is happy.  In addition, we grew our tradition to include paintball.  Its amazing how much better you feel about all the caramels roll you eat after playing paintball for hours in the heat.  We conclude our Christmas with Chinese food.  Its not the most traditional Christmas, but it’s our Christmas.

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There are a couple of places I would love to celebrate Christmas..  My list of places includes: Norway, Germany (Christmas markets), France with my French family, Hawaii, Iceland and maybe even another Christmas in Minny.  If you could celebrate Christmas anywhere, where would it be?

Tonight’s song is “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlmen” as performed by The Pentatonix.

 

Time Heals

Time Heals

They say time heals all wounds, but I’m not quite sure I agree with that.  Tonight marks the 6th anniversary of losing my mother-in-law Sandy to Triple Negative Breast Cancer.  Her illness was quick, horrible, painful and for those that love her excruciatingly short.  In the turn of mere months, my mother in law went from living a normal life to hospice.

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Cancer is such an insidious, deceptive, merciless disease.  By the time, doctors discovered my mother in laws cancer, it had already metastasized to her lymph notes, arms, and spine.  In reality, her entire abdomen was riddled with cancer.  It wasn’t until she suffered from debilitating back pain that her cancer was discovered.  Unfortunately, as is the case with many people, her cancer was discovered in an advanced stage.

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Cruelly, until the onset of the back pain, there was nothing that suggest that something was severely awry.   Coincidentally, this is where I plug genetic counseling, mammograms, MRIs and pro-active preventative medicine.  Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that these tests – mammograms, colonoscopy, PSA tests, breast and testicular self-exams are essential for your health.  Do not skip them!

Late into Grandma Sandy’s illness, my hubby spent most of his time in Minny with her while I stayed back in Florida with the kids.  During that time though, the kids were in school, so going to Minny for long periods of time wasn’t in our wheelhouse.  Honestly, it was one of the few moments, since moving to Florida, that I really wanted to be back home in Minny.  Truly, it killed us not to be there with her or with my hubby.

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Since the moment I started dating my hubby, Grandma Sandy was always in my corner.  Admittedly, she spoiled me and wholeheartedly welcomed me into their family.  The feeling was mutual.   She never doubted us or our relationship even when we got pregnant with Jake.   She supported us through the hardest moments from beginning to the end.  I remember going over to my Hubby’s house and she had gone shopping.  She probably bought Jake the entire store that day.  I loved everything she bought and in fact still have a lot of it.

Grandma Sandy was fiercely proud of her family and her Finnish heritage.  Both of her parents were of Finnish descent with both sides of her family immigrating to the US in the around the turn of the 20th Century.   If you ask me, Goalielocks definitely looks like the Ketola side.  Of course, my family is mostly Norwegian.  I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that everyone in Norway and on the SAS flight thought we were Norwegian.  My Mother-in-Law had a big, loving Finnish family that was and is an incredible support to her and to us.  We’re forever grateful for the great care they took of Grandma Sandy when we couldn’t be in Minny with her.

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I can’t speak for everyone, but I miss her love of Bingo, Barbies, all things Finnish, the Twins, the Wild, the Vikings and of course Dan Marino.  I’ll never forget watching the Vikings lose to Atlanta in 1998.  As the game clock winded down, her, the hubby and I found ourselves pacing nervously in the garage.  Of course, Gary Anderson would pick the most inopportune time to miss a field goal in a perfect season, but at the time our nerves were shot and full of hope.  (As an aside, it seems the Vikes can’t escape their kicker issues.)

Even though it has been six years, in some ways it feels like yesterday.   I think she’d bit surprised that I’ve allowed a veritable zoo in my house, but she probably saw it coming.  I certainly didn’t.  Additionally, I think she’d be super nervous about Jake driving, but also so proud of him.  She’d be proud of all the boys.  Certainly as we start to hit more milestones like Jake’s graduation, her absence is punctuated.   The truth of the matter is that she’ll never truly leave us.  She’ll always be with us in spirit, in the mannerisms my hubby and kids have inherited from her and in our hearts.

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Sometimes, she even shows up in my yoga class.  One Saturday morning, my favorite sub Kaye was teaching the vinyasa class, when her iPod randomly switched to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” which was my mother-in-law’s favorite song.  My teacher couldn’t for the life of her figured out how it happened.  When we spoke after class, we figured it out.  So tonight in honor of Grandma Sandy,  hold your loved ones extra tight, forgive and forget because at the end of the day life is far too short.

Tonight’s song, in honor of Grandma Sandy, is Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.”  I love this song as it reminds me of her.

 

 

Goalielocks & Debbie

Goalielocks & Debbie

Goalielocks & Debbie actually sounds like the name of a television show, but its actually two of my favorite people for whom I’m eternally grateful.  Goalielocks always had an affinity for Debbie.  He loved her like a second mom.  Moreover, he had a profound respect for her.  He was devastated when she was diagnosed.  He actually knew before us as he had figured it out from comments TK had made at school.  However, he didn’t mention anything to us until after we had told him.   It was hard for him to wrap his head around the fact that she had done “everything right,” but was diagnosed with stage iv cancer.

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He didn’t understand how someone who didn’t smoke, drink, eat poorly and exercised regularly could get cancer.   My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Stage IV triple negative breast cancer in 2011.  At the time, Goalielocks was in fist grade. Undoubtedly, it was hard for us to tell the kids that their Grandma was so ill.  Nevertheless,  it made sense to him.  I’m sure that was weird to read that, but stick with me here.  Once we finished talking, Goalielocks said “it makes sense given she smokes, drinks, doesn’t eat right and doesn’t exercise.”  Strangely, as a six year old child, he had a pretty good handle on major diseases and their causes.   He was sad, but since the diagnosis made sense to him it wasn’t as scary.

Flash forward four years and the tough questions were coming our way.  While he could make sense of his Grandma’s diagnosis, he couldn’t wrap his head around Debbie’s.  Truth be told, I think many of us felt similarly.  It didn’t seem fair that someone who had followed all the rules ended up with this diagnosis.  Since the diagnosis didn’t makes sense based on behavioral patterns, the diagnosis was very scary.

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Cancer is a scary disease.  Debbie, however, showed Goalielocks and all of us what true strength was.  Moreover, she showed us what it means to be brave, to persevere, to love, and to live fully.  We were honored to be able to help their family while Debbie was on hospice.  Consequently, my boys spent a lot of time with her those last weeks.  In what was the most difficult season of her life, she continued to show us all what it means to love selflessly, to live fully and be brave.  I am forever grateful for the time my kids, the hubby and I were able to spend with her.  While her neither her diagnosis nor her passing make sense to us, she will forever serve as our inspiration to love selflessly, live fully and persevere.

There’s only thirteen days left to the Purple Stride Event in Broward-Palm Beach.  While we’re still $4,000 away from our goal, I am hopeful we can close the gap in the coming week.  To join our team or donate in Deb’s honor, please click here.  Currently, there’s no panacea for Pancreatic Cancer as survival rates remain around 7-8%.

Tonight’s song  “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

A Day that calls for courage

A Day That Calls For Courage

Today was a Monday for the history books, a day that calls for courage.  As we woke up in America, we woke up to the horrid news that 50 innocent souls had been slaughtered in Vegas.  Like many Americans, I struggled to make sense of the carnage.  Indeed I left my house with a sick feeling in my stomach and an ache in my heart.

Fortunately, my day was busy and my mind was occupied for a large part of it.  I did my best to avoid Facebook like the plague.  Sadly, what was once a nice escape to check in on friends, has become a bastion of hate masquerading as advocacy and opinion.  Somehow we’ve lost our perspective and our ability to respect others’ whose opinions may be different.  How is it that a VP for a major news network felt it was okay to say that she had no sympathy for the victims because country music fans are often Republicans?   How is okay that we, as a society, would even think someone’s life is less valuable because they disagree with us politically? Whiskey tango foxtrot….

The only acceptable response to any of this bullsh#t is the quote from Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen Silveria as he addressed the racist messages that had been written on the doors of African American cadets.  He said, “if you can’t treat someone from another gender, whether that’s a man or a woman, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out.  And if you can’t treat someone from another race or different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”  Importantly, it is possible to have differing opinions, but if you can’t treat everyone with dignity and respect, than I have no time for you.

Monday was bad enough and then the news updates starting popping in that Tom Petty had taken ill with a massive heart attack.  Once again, the pit returned to my stomach.  Tom Petty has been a major player in the soundtrack of my life.  I love Tom Petty and his music.

Long ago, as a child, so not really that long ago, my dad introduced me and my brother’s to Tom Petty. One of my fondest memories from childhood was when my parents had taken us to an airshow to see the Air Force’s Thunderbirds. Before the Thunderbirds took to the air, there were a number acts including the Army’s Golden Knights.  As the paratroopers took to the sky for their performance, Tom Petty’s Free Falling blared over the live speakers.  It was an amazing moment that has stuck with me for nearly 20 years.  Over the past couple of years, my boys have come to love Petty’s music as much (if not more) as me.

The news of his apparent demise and then the retraction just exacerbated the pain of the day.  Concerts are supposed to be an escape where the artist and the fan are able to interact.  They’re supposed to be a place where the music transports you and the experience leaves you feeling more connected to the musician and the music.  Unbelievably, the sicko in Vegas made the concert his opportunity to destroy many peoples’ worlds in one fell swoop.  There is no other word to describe him than evil.

Tonight we mourn the loss of innocent lives and a rock icon.  Its been a heavy day; a  that calls for courage.  These kind of days can be destructive to our mental, emotional and physical health.   Consequently, it is important to find ways to cope with the stress.  For me and my family, it was continuing our athletic pursuits.  While the bookends both had hockey tonight, I taught Zumba and ended class with a tribute to Tom Petty.  I never thought I use a Travelling Wilbury’s song in Zumba, but I used Handle With Care for a cool down and it felt incredible.   Finally, tonight I’ve peppered my blog with songs for inspiration.  Enjoy and namaste.

 

 

Celebrating 18 Years of Jake

Today my oldest turned 18!!!  As I sit here and try to figure out where time has gone, I can’t help but think of how proud I am of the man he has become.   I am also amazed that well he is now 18 years old, I don’t look a day older than the day I delivered him.  Amazing, I know!

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The fact that he’s now an adult has thrown me for quite a loop.  Although the benefits are many, I no longer have to pay the unaccompanied minor fee when the boys travel to Minnesota without us.  There’s $150 saved!  He can finally buy a lottery ticket, however, he informed me today he felt his money would be better spent on stocks.  I’ll be referring him to Garth’s new book for some great pointers as he starts his investment journey.

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This evening he brought Alexis to figure skating and she had some great gems for him including this nugget of gold.  He needs to get a better job, so he can drive her in the limo she deserves.  She definitely takes after her dad John.  She also shared her plan to go to college and then get a good job, so she can buy a limo to be driven around in.  I have to say I love her style!

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Jake and his brothers enjoyed a nice dinner Sushi Yama and some Arrested Development.  We had an awesome cake from Menchies with a hodgepodge of number candles after the Mayor failed to deliver his ear wax candle he had promised Jacob earlier.  I’m sure Jacob more than a bit relieved that the Mayor failed to deliver the candle he promised would smell both like a fart and his ear.

 

In a little over two weeks, Jacob and I will head down to Miami to see Paul McCartney.  I’m thrilled that my son’s dream gift was tickets to see one of my idols.  As a Beatles fan since childhood, this concert is a dream for both Jake and I.     Happy birthday Jake!!!!

 

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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One Month

One month ago, a moment we hoped would never come came and took our breath away.

One month ago, the immensity of the moment made time standstill.

One month ago, our world stopped spinning and the pain was overwhelming, but your pain was no more.

One month ago, we were reeling in loss, while the world kept spinning and life went on.

To my dearest friend and hockey mom,

It has been one month since you left us, but it feels like it was both yesterday and an eternity ago.  That night replays in my mind daily and not a day goes by that I don’t think of you.  Our world stopped, but life around us continued. To this day, it seems cruel that life continues on despite our enormous loss.

As I left to the coffee the next morning, a cardinal was in my front tree and flew by my car. Driving that morning, I was struck by the notion that nothing and everything had changed all at once.  The cardinal was a gift, undoubtedly from you to let us know you were okay.   You’ve left a mark forever on my soul and the souls of those that knew you.  Your strength, your tenacity, your spirit, your beauty, and your joie de vivre continue to inspire me on the daily.  You will forever be a seminal person in my life responsible for teaching me more about myself and about life through your example than you could ever possibly imagine.

I am resolute in the promises I made you that day.  Luke and I will always watch over your family and I will never give up the fight to find a cure.   United by hockey and love of our kids, I’m blessed to have called you my friend and my family.  I can never thank you enough for all you did for us.  Love you to the moon and back.

Love,

A broken hearted hockey mom.

 

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