Tag Archives: Family

Failure; The Warrior’s Prelude to Success

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Show me a person who thinks that failure isn’t an option and I’ll show you a person who never grows. We are are so terrified of failing and rejection as a society, conditioned to strive for perfection. Yet if we stay within our comfort zone, stick to what we know we won’t fail at, countless opportunities are lost. Opportunities for growth, for new friendships to develop, for romantic relationships to begin. Fear of failure can cause us to miss out on an extraordinary life.

The failures I’ve experienced; heartache, rejection, emotional, physical and financial struggle – they’ve all conditioned me to work harder on myself, to FIGHT for my dreams to become a reality. Failure has forced me to be my own hero, to stand up and take MASSIVE action toward living a life of deep soul fulfillment.

In 2010, as I studied Veterinary Medicine to become a Veterinary Technician, I knew it was what my family wanted. I loved working as a Veterinary Assistant and thought the next logical step was to become a technician. Nearing the end of the program, however, I felt a great discomfort in my heart.

It wasn’t what I wanted.

My soul longed to study writing, to somehow earn a degree in the field that allowed me to use my gifts, to further cultivate an art that had been an early childhood passion of mine. In the meantime, I was having difficulty passing one of my veterinary courses. When I went to speak with an advisor, serendipitously laying there on the office table was a handout about the college’s Creative Writing degree program.

The same day, I brought the handout home and shared the pull I felt to change my major with my mom. Our conversation left me disheartened. “You’ve worked so hard for your degree already honey. I’d hate to see you have to start all over again, you’re almost done,” she told me.  She meant well, as most mothers do, but my heart was heavy with disappointment.

At the same time, I was in the early stages of pregnancy with my daughter. The smell of chemicals in the anatomy lab, not to mention morning sickness and fatigue, caused me to fall behind in the veterinary course I was already having trouble with. It was my second time attempting to pass. If my heart hadn’t been so dead set on becoming a writer, maybe I would have tried harder. I did end up passing the class with a C- but because the program required passing with a C or better, I was forced to leave the program.

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The following semester I changed my major to Creative Writing. It led me to taking an introduction to journalism class on campus. With a “little” encouragement from a wonderfully stubborn teacher, Professor Cooksey, I became Features Editor of the campus paper.

After graduating with a 4.0, I transferred in the Fall to a four-year Journalism program at the local University. The Travel Writing course I took, as part of the program,  allowed me to travel to Sicily for ten days with a dynamic group of classmates – who I’m proud to say I’m still friends with four years later. Studying Journalism helped me obtain a paid internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as a conservation writer, for 14 months.

For one of my journalism classes I had to write a story about sick-time-leave in the workplace. I interviewed my mom’s boss for the story, who told me about a local bar that offered live music. A few months later, I interviewed the bar’s owner to write a feature story for the same journalism class. Because of that interview, I ended up receiving a call from the owner six months later about an available bartending position. I’ve worked there, part-time, for two and half years now.  The stories of incredible souls I’ve met through that job alone would take SEVERAL more blog posts.

Through working at the bar, I discovered “Unbuttoned, An Evening of Spoken Word.” An open mic night hosted at the bar, the first Tuesday of every month, just for writers. This event brought me to speaking with a woman, the first night I performed, who invited me to join a small group of other women writers who meet once a month as well. Remarkably, we’ve been taking spin class together for months and had no idea that either one of us were writers! Because of joining this group, I’ll be performing poetry in April at an annual fundraising event ran by the woman who hosts our women writers group.

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When we surrender to our purpose, miracles happen. Growing up I always heard, “You’ll never make a living as a writer.” Even my professors cautioned, “Until you write what your editor wants you to write, and write it well, you won’t be able to write the stories you really want to and get paid for them.”

We have to expect more from ourselves than anyone else could possibly expect. I’m a single mom of two, working two part-time jobs to support my babes, soon to be three…part-time jobs, not babes.  The gym is my second home, I’m there six days a week. Every day I schedule in time for priming, gratitude meditation, journaling and podcasts or reading. Some days I don’t get to do all of them, but most days I do. If someone like me with a super busy schedule can make time to feed my passion, there should be no doubt in your mind that you can too.

“I don’t have time,” “They say I can’t,” “I don’t have the money,” “I’ve had a hard life.”

Guess what? We ALL have a story.

Every…

single…

one…

of…

us.

Don’t let your story become the excuse that makes you miss out on an extraordinary life. Stop telling yourself you can’t. Stop letting your fear of failure hold you back.

Take back control of your life, take massive action and make shit happen. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s taken years of work behind the scenes to get to where I’m going. Even once I get there, there’s going to be new mountains to climb. New goals to conquer, to create. But I’m not giving up, I’m not backing down. I’m taking what’s mine, and I want you to know YOU CAN TOO. I believe in YOU. Believe in the dream you have for yourself, immerse yourself in whatever knowledge you need to make it happen and then take the initiative to get shit done. YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!

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Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

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(above: My daughter and I after building our first snowman of the season!)

By now, I think most New englanders would agree…whoever pissed off Queen Elsa needs to go and apologize so we can get out this prolonged state of frozen Arendelle. It’s been snow, snow and more snow for four straight weeks in my neck of the woods. But before I got sick of the cold, there was this beautiful afternoon I shared with my daughter.

 The type of chemotherapy treatment I went through was 5-FU with Leucovorin and Oxaliplatin. Now every cancer type has a different type of treatment and each stage of cancer can also have treatment variations as well. Some people need chemotherapy and radiation, others need just one or the other. Some are extremely fortunate and only need major surgery to remove the tumors/affected cells.

My cancer treatment regime consisted of major colon resection surgery, followed by 12 rounds of chemotherapy. One chemo session every two weeks. Because of low blood cell counts (such as platelets and white cells) my treatment stretched out over nine months instead of six.

There are also different reactions to different types of chemo. Some people get hot flashes, experience pain with extreme heat or when eating/drinking anything hot. My reaction was sensitivity to cold.

Beginning chemo in early February, in New England, definitely wasn’t something I had prepared myself for. The residual effects of chemo left my body defenseless against the harsh, bitter weather. I couldn’t play in the snow with my kids. I couldn’t eat or drink anything cold unless I want to feel like I was swallowing broken glass. Anytime I went outside into the freezing air, I had to bundle up (picture Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”). Scarves, a hat, gloves, sometimes two layers of jackets and two pairs of sweatpants was my uniform of choice from February to May last year.

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You can imagine the elation I felt in January when we had our first heavy snow fall of 2015! I couldn’t wait to get outside. My daughter and I threw on our snow gear and headed out onto the back deck as the snow continued falling. It was the perfect texture for snowman building, fluffy and easy to pack. Not too fluffy where it won’t stick together but not full of too much moisture either. We had a blast playing in the snow together.

To be out in the cold without experiencing pins and needles in my face, feet and hands was amazing! The tingling sensation I had associated with cold weather was gone. I kept waiting for the pain to set in, but it never did. Time passed quickly as we built our own personal version of Olaf. By the time my daughter and I went inside, my son had finished watching a movie he started with my mom before us girls had gone outside. That means I had been out in the snow for nearly two hours without the slightest bit of discomfort!

The further out my survivorship goes, complacency becomes easier to settle into. It’s only been five months since my last chemo treatment. Already it feels like this bizarre, waking dream that’s since passed. Surreal. Until something gently reminds me.

Each time I go back to the Infusion Suite, sit in that big blue chair and get my port flushed or have blood work drawn, I’m reminded. All of 2014 was spent, literally, fighting for my life. I love harder, laugh louder, dance crazier and live my life moment to  moment because of what cancer taught me.

I’m still sick of the snow at this point. Fortunately for me though, this winter, it’s because of an entirely different reason 🙂

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Pay It Forward :)

My children and I were getting a little stir crazy last week. We have a pretty busy schedule but the routine of it all gets a bit overwhelming sometimes. I’m the kind of person who needs adventure, variety, to not be doing the same thing each day. Since my son has something going on every day after school Monday through Friday…every…single…week…it gets to be monotonous.

I was looking forward to coming home and throwing on my jammies after my son’s appointment that day. A few days earlier, the Patriots won their game against the Ravens. Which meant that one of my son’s fave local restaurants was serving up the kids menu for free all day! No, it’s not organic but I figure once in a great while won’t hurt anything. My son was oober excited so I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d rather come home than go out to eat that night.

We left my son’s appointment later that night, heading to the restaurant. Dom (my son) and Izzy (my daughter) were so well behaved I thought I must have walked right into the Twilight Zone for sure! I mean one behaving okay, but both of them? Wow. Not only were they behaving but they were entertaining each-other and the surrounding tables with their comical theatrics.

(SIDE NOTE: Izzy is obsessed with Disney’s Frozen right now. Absolutely obsessed in every sense of the word. To the point where normal everyday conversations become lines from Frozen. Last night when I told her it was bedtime, she went to run away from me and said “Mommy, you have to tell me ‘Elsa stop!’ okay?” Then tonight she went to kiss me. Lovingly, she placed a hand on each of my cheeks. Looking into my eyes with a kissey face on her lips, she said “Oh Ana, if only someone out there loved you.” [this is what Hans says to Ana in the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it] This was followed by excessive giggling and “Oh Mommy! I’m such a little stinker huh?!?” Like I said, obsessed!)

Anyhow, she was belting out “Let It Go” in her loudest Disney princess voice as we waited for our food. I leaned in close to her and let her know she needed to use her quiet, inside voice to sing. This little goofball looked me square in the face, laughed out loud and then (in a very not so quiet, outside voice) said “Mommy! I farted! Oh what’s that smell?!?! Who did that?!?”

On their way out, a couple I’ve known well over 15 years stopped by our booth to say hello. They had been sitting in the back of the restaurant (unbeknownst to me since my back was facing them). I hadn’t seen them in years. It was great reconnecting with them over pictures of their grandchildren, joking about the times we had when I used to work for them. They each got a huge hug from me before going on their way.

Me and the kids went back to our meal. I kept thinking how I was going to leave a pretty sweet tip for our server. He brewed a fresh pot of coffee for me, brought my soup out as soon as it was done (still piping hot) and kept our “to go” order of ice cream in the freezer so we could pick it up on the way out. All without me asking. It was such a great night. The energy was light, care free.

When it came time for the check, our server told me that the couple I had been speaking with earlier picked up our tab. Even gratuity had been covered. I was speechless.

So this is my message to you. As we all start off 2015, let’s start it off right. PAY IT FORWARD! A simple act of random kindness doesn’t have to be done for someone you know. That’s the joy in it. You don’t have to be dough loaded to make a difference. Sending a personalized “thank you” or “thinking of you” note/card can be all it takes.

Whatever you put out into the Universe comes back to you, I truly believe that! It may not be today or even next week (well…for some people it might) but at some point there’s a boomerang effect. When someone does something special for you, keep that good deed moving forward. Do something selfless for another. You’d be surprised how much a simple act of kindness can change someone’s day for the better 🙂

Reflecting One Year Later, Part 1, Surgery

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(above image: My son visiting me in the hospital, two days post-op)

One year ago today, I spent New Year’s Eve recovering from major colon resection surgery in the hospital. It was less than two weeks after being diagnosed with Stage III Colon Cancer.

Going in that morning, I was terrified.  Both of my parents had accompanied me. I had spent the hours prior to surgery sending Reiki to every single person who would be part of my surgery; surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, hospital staff, myself, my parents and most of my family. I prayed. I called upon others to pray for me.

Thinking back upon it now, tears well up in my eyes. “If you had waited another six months, it would have been too late.” I will never forget those words coming out of my surgeon’s mouth, just five days before Christmas. Twenty-nine-years-old, diagnosed with cancer. Stage five is the highest level my type of cancer goes and I was stage three. A single mother with two reasons to fight, get stronger and kick this cancer’s ass (all puns intended). My son Dominic and my daughter Izabella didn’t just pull me through, they saved my life. In more ways than they will ever know.

Whatever powers that be were looking out for me during this journey and have been my entire life. I know this for many reasons. But relevant to cancer, because I had always wanted two biological children; a son and a daughter. At the age of twenty-nine I began chemotherapy as part of my cancer treatment regimen. Chemotherapy which may have left my reproductive organs unable to bare any further offspring. Although my cycles are still occurring, much to the surprise of my medical team, who knows if I still have the ability to conceive?

Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I was blessed with the gift of motherhood. Even on the worst of days, my babes far surpass any ideal I could have held in my heart. My reasons for living, for becoming the best human being I know how to be; if I can be half the woman they see me as then I know I’m doing something right.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m just like any other mother. Some days I yell, I scream, I say things I don’t mean. My son has left me speechless at times with his melodramatic response to something as simple as bedtime. My daughter has left me wondering how I manage to get through her temper tantrums simply by breathing deeply or walking away to cool down.

Some days I honest to God don’t know how I get through it. But I do and it’s in those moments that I find solace. Their smiles, hugs, love and laughter. No one on this earth is capable of loving me the way my children do and no one will ever be capable of loving them to the extent that I love them. It’s the kind of love that goes without saying. Truly described only by the deeply held emotions found within one’s heart. Boundless and beautiful.

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This New Year’s Eve, I will be celebrating with one of my closest and dearest friends. I won’t just be celebrating a New Year of possibilities and adventure. I’ll be celebrating another year of life, of love. Another year of being surrounded by family and the most loyal, loving and selfless people I know.

Not only did I come out of 2014 as a stronger human being, I’m ringing in this new year as a survivor. My cancer is gone, I’ve adopted new lifestyle habits such as working out and meditating more. There’s always room for improvement but I am so much closer now to being the unstoppable, (as a dear friend would say) Epic, Sexy Soul that I know I am meant to be. Cancer catapulted me into 2014 with such a fierceness for life that I didn’t want to miss a single moment. I did as much as I possibly could for myself, traveling and checking things off my “Living Life to the Fullest List” (the idea of a bucket list seemed kind of morbid once I was diagnosed with cancer).

So bring it on 2015! I can hardly wait to see what you have in store for me. Whatever it is, I know it will be beautiful and magnificent!

Wishing you all a safe New Year’s Eve and a prosperous, joy-filled, ass-kicking new year in 2015! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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(above image: One year later after diagnosis and treatment)

‘Tis the season…for a healthy colon…Part 2

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As my mother drove us home, I answered a call from one of my older brothers. “Hey Wonder Woman!” It had become his new nickname for me since I began going through cancer care. “Hulkster!” Yeah, that’s right, Wonder Woman and the Hulk. Cheesy as it sounds, that’s how we roll!

My brother is a man of few words. But I know him well enough to know just how elated he was by the news. Over the last year, I could hear the concern in his voice more than once when we spoke about my treatment or diagnosis. As hard as it was for me to go through, I think it may have been even harder for friends and family to witness. Sitting by the sidelines, watching someone you love battle a potentially life-threatening disease, unable to do more than offer your emotional support…it’s heart-wrenching.

The holidays will be so different for my family and I this year. I was diagnosed five days before Christmas last year and went in for surgery on New Year’s Eve. I only shared the news with my siblings, parents and a few other friends and relatives until after the holidays. I had battled the decision to tell everyone via Facebook but didn’t know if I was ready to.

The day after my colon-resection surgery, New Year’s Day, I decided to share my diagnosis with everyone else via social media. The responses ranged from sadness to encouragement. A few people even thought my account had been hacked.

The holidays were a difficult time for us, not knowing what to expect or what the new year would bring. While everyone else was opening gifts and celebrating–my family was sharing tears, facing fear of the unknown. We faced it together as an unbreakable unit but it didn’t make it any less concerning.

This year, I’ll be spending the holidays without fear of the future. I am so eager to see what the new chapters of my life will bring. I’ve already been graced with meeting so many like-minded individuals. Like-minded, in the sense that we share passion for living extraordinary lives. I’m not content to live a life by the nine to five standard  that society says I should. Cancer has catapulted me full force into tapping into the energy of creativity, of visualizing a beautiful life of my own doing. I can hardly wait to see what 2015 brings. I look forward not with anxiety, fear or worry but with clarity, eagerness and anticipation. Bring it on Universe! I am so ready 🙂

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Present Day; Post Chemo Moving Forward

Where have the last two weeks gone? A book signing event, an Abraham-Hicks workshop, a children’s birthday party, Canadian Thanksgiving celebration, day-trip to Salem, Mass., classes, homework, housework, third-grade basketball signups; pre-workout, reps, set, repeat, protein shakes, homework, doctor’s appointments, housework, massage therapy, Reiki, doing laundry that multiplies quicker than jack-rabbits, group meetings for class assignments, redecorating, parent/teacher conference, catching up on “The Vampire Diaries”… (breathe!)

Life is always an adventure when you’re a single mom. Especially when you have two, high-energy, extremely bright children.

My life is almost back to normal; my body feels stronger than it has since my cancer journey began. I’ve gained nearly 15 pounds since I was first diagnosed, since surgery, since chemotherapy treatments started. I am so thankful for the weight gain (as the song says, “I love my butt and I won’t shut-up!”). Thankful for chemo being over, thankful for my son…who just sat down at the table with me, and his laptop (my old computer) and said “Oh look at me! I’m all type-typey, nerdy-nerdy like my mom!” Then he began to button mash the keyboard, like a mad man playing the organ,  causing a fit of hysterical laughter. Love that kiddo of mine.

In the months to come, I have several follow-up appointments; oncology, surgical, nurse-practitioner of oncology, GI specialist, an ultrasound, a colonoscopy and lab work.

(Side rant: to those of you who keep putting it off…get it done! It has the potential to save your life, it saved mine. You don’t feel a thing. If you’re scheduled to have one or your doctor is recommending you do so, get ‘er done!)

To be sitting here with my son, watching my daughter play; it’s the greatest gift I could ever hope for. Cancer has taught me to prioritize, live fearlessly, love with my whole heart and make each day count.

Cancer was a much-needed catalyst for me.  I never would have pushed myself so hard to do so much. It’s unfortunate that it took getting diagnosed with cancer for me to change my life so drastically. But I am (and will always be) grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to do so. I’m one of the fortunate ones.

I never once questioned “Why is this happening to me?” But I do question so much else about it. When I see other cancer patients suffering, losing hair, losing hope; it breaks my heart. Especially pediatric cancer, it’s unbearable. When I look back at this year, it’s easy to admit just how difficult it was. Yet the energy has changed so much since the beginning of the year. There’s so much more than a road to perfect health before me.

Recently, I attended a book signing for “Buried Beneath the Words” author, Betel Arnold. We connected instantly. There were so many parallels in our lives. She saw herself in me; a young woman with hope and dreams bigger than the sky. She made direct eye contact and without blinking said, “You are destined for great things. I can see it all over you! I’m so happy for you and the path you’re on. You’re going to accomplish so much and I would really like to be part of it.” Her words moved a mountain within my spirit.

For the most part, I think my life is in pretty good order. It’s taken some time to find myself. Everyday is a learning process but living with gratitude has become a way of life, a state of being. I’m no super hero. Yes I have battled cancer, gone through chemo and am raising two children on my own while obtaining my bachelor’s degree. But I have my days just like anyone else. Having tough days is important for contrast. It gives me greater appreciation for the moments of joy; for the days when everything just seems to flow.

After going through chemotherapy for nearly eight months, even the bad days are a blessing. For every toddler temper tantrum and eight-year-old melt down, for every sink full of dishes and pile upon pile of never-ending laundry needing to be done; I’m truly thankful. These are days that I still get to be here for, experiencing the gift of life. The good and the not so good. Even when my children make me want to pull my hair out, I have to be thankful there’s still hair on this head to pull. It’s all about perspective.

Gratitude, Day 26: The “Bat-Mobile”

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DAY 26:

Friday/October 3:

This was a long-awaited, much-deserved day. For the first time in nine years, I have a vehicle of my own again!

Earlier this year I began a fundraiser on GoFundMe.com (awesome website if you need to raise money for any type of reason or cause). The intention was to raise enough money to get my children and I into a brand new vehicle, a safe means of transportation for the three of us…four if you count the dog.

Up until October 3, I relied heavily on those around me for transportation. I had been using my father’s vehicle the first year I moved back home. Then my mother’s for the next two and finally a very dear friend’s mini-van for the last three or four months.

I felt frustrated being so dependent upon those around me. Once chemotherapy treatments began, it made sharing a vehicle far more difficult. I began chemo in February. If you’re not familiar with New England weather in February, let’s just say it “wicked” cold…wicked freaking cold.

One of the side effects I experienced from chemo was extreme sensitivity to cold. To the point where touching anything frozen or below room temperature felt like pins and needles pulsating through my fingers.

Because I shared a vehicle with my mom, at that time, I would have to go out at 11:30 p.m. or later to pick her up from work. Going out in freezing temperatures, plus getting my sleeping children into/out of the vehicle, was trying. I would have start it up, ten to fifteen minutes beforehand, just to warm it up.

It wasn’t until October that enough money was raised. I had been negotiating a deal all September with one dealership, when a better deal came along. It took a few days to get the paperwork in order and have the vehicle registered. But when all was said and done, it was the best feeling in the world to drive home in what my son has named “The Bat-Mobile.” A vehicle of my own choosing that gave me back my independence.

Each time I drive that SUV, I’m reminded of the power I have to beautifully manifest anything I truly desire. But more so, it’s a reminder of the love that surrounds my children and I. The Universe is constantly taking care of us, nurturing us and supporting the further advancement of our lives toward bigger and better things.

It wouldn’t have been possible (at least not for another year or two) to have this vehicle; not without the unyielding support of those around me both physically and emotionally.

Cancer didn’t just change my life. It catapulted me toward living the life of my dreams.

Motherhood

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It’s nearly 2 a.m. and here I am blogging from the cargo space of my SUV. No really, I am.

I had this donation fund started on GoFundMe (awesome website for fundraising) to raise money to purchase a new vehicle. Something to call my own; I haven’t been in my own vehicle since 2005. Going through nearly nine months of cancer treatment made sharing a vehicle exhausting. Depending upon other people for transport became a frustration more then anything.

It’s taken over a month to get paperwork, registration and everything else in order. But this past Friday, mama’s new four-wheeled baby came home!

My son fell in love with our vehicle. So much so, that he convinced me we should camp out in the back of the SUV and watch a movie on my Mac. So now it’s nearly 2 a.m. and here I am blogging from the back of my vehicle.

Once you take out the car seat and stroller, move the privacy screen, move the seats down, open the moon roof and throw about four blankets down; it’s pretty darn comfy. Plus two, three, four…possibly five pillows and you’ve got yourself two snoring children and a rather comfy “Mommy blogger.”

Just finished watching “Mom’s Night Out” for the second time. First time all the way through, though, without having to tend to laundry or dishes or being distracted by the “Mom isn’t giving me full attention so I better do something to get it back” behavior of my children.

Motherhood is this crazy whirlwind of beautiful heartwarming moments, chaos, frustration, joy, bliss, happiness, did I mention chaos?  But those moments when you end up Hulking it out from your toddler’s temper tantrum or your eight-year-old’s incessant desire to negotiate everything from bedtime to what your daily activities will be…it’s all so worth it.

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There’s one particular scene from “Mom’s Night Out” (don’t worry, no spoiler alert needed here) where the main character (Alyson) is at a bowling alley with her husband and children. Aly’s daughter places her hands on her face, looks her in the eyes and says something to the effect of “I love you most of all.”

Being the over-emotional basket case I am when it comes to my kids (total helicopter parent, I’ve gotten somewhat better but let’s just say that I’m all about the “attachment method” of parenting…before I ever knew what that meant) I teared up at the scene.

My daughter does that all that time when she speaks to me. Every single time she places those little hands on my face and tells me how much she loves me–joy fills my spirit, my heart melts and I remember just how trivial those moments of insanity are compared to the moments of rapture.

Motherhood is not all rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. Sorry, but any woman who tells you that motherhood isn’t the least bit stressful, that her life is blissfully perfect and her child/children never push her buttons–either has a nanny or is a damn good liar. Sorry to call bullshit on that one but it’s the truth.

Being a parent is ten ties more amazing than it is difficult. It’s a learning experience for both parent and child. My son has told me (numerous times) how mean I am for making him play outside instead of letting him play video games all day. He’s also written me random notes; “You’re the best mom in the Universe” or “You totally rock!” He’s given me hugs out of the blue and come up to me to smother me in kisses. You learn early that it’s a constant balanjng act.

We (mothers) are all doing the best we can with what we’re given. Single moms, housewives, stay-at-home moms, moms of multiples and moms with an only child, adoptive moms, inseminated moms. We are all mothers one way or another, handed different circumstances in life. Parenting as best we can. United by the common bond of motherhood. United by all of the crazy disasters and loving moments filling our daily lives.

The point is not to beat yourself up when you screw up. Because guess what? We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. Like it or not, you will screw up at some point or another. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to Miss Susie Homemaker who looks like she’s got her shit together; kids are always behaved, clothes perfectly pressed, that mom who bakes designer cupcakes for PTO functions.

I’m sure as soon as she gets home the kids are running around like miniature marathon athletes. Picassos are painted on living room walls, furniture becomes a jungle gym, the house is filled with boisterous noise-makers–all wanting to get their way.

The conclusion? The only person you should be trying to better than is the person you were yesterday. That’s all that matters in the grand scheme of things.

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My kids are 8 and 3 and they both still sleep in my bed. Sometimes my son stretches the five-second-rule to ten seconds, my daughter isn’t fully potty trained at 3 (even though my son was at 2), they go to bed late some nights and take joy in destroying the wallpaper in my mother’s kitchen.  I embarrass my son with intentional, ridiculously awkward dancing in front of his friends.

But you know what? They always have healthy food to eat, a roof over their head, warm beds to sleep in (usually mine) and are fully aware of the unconditional love I have for them both. Both are physically thriving and intellectually advanced for their ages.

My kids drive me nuts sometimes. But I am grateful for every moment. For every tantrum, every melt-down, every “You’re the bestest Mommy ever!” and “I’m going to keep you forever” they tell me. I’m grateful for Crayola masterpieces drawn on living room walls, tea parties, messy bedrooms and a sink full of dishes.

These babes of mine are the spice and variety of my life. Every day is a new adventure (sometimes exhausting) but always always interesting. They’ve taught me to be young at heart, how important it is to be able to laugh at myself. Oh and to know the location of every bathroom at every store or restaurant we frequent.

My life is chaotic and constantly in a state of movement. But it’s a beautiful kind of chaos, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Gratitude, Day 21: The Big E

BigEGeneric-ABA2014(photo credit:http://www.thebige.com/fair/)

Day 21:

Sunday/September 28:

Last week was a busy week, nothing new in this household! After realizing that my gratitude posts are getting harder to keep track of (what gratitude day am I on for what calendar day again?) I finally jotted down the dates so they coincide. Hopefully it’ll make the posts easier to follow! (and write)

Once a year, every year, there’s a massive attraction that comes to the Western Mass. town of West Springfield. It’s called “The Big E” or Eastern States Exposition. It only runs for three weeks in the fall, usually the last three weeks of September.

According to their website–there were 1,498,605 people in attendance this year! They come from all over New England and the neighboring states to attend; New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire. Pretty much everywhere.

It’s a big deal for local New Englanders. There’s something for every one; concerts, carnival games/rides, different varieties of deep-fried food, vendors, horse shows, a daily Mardi Gras parade (eh hem, G-Rated folks), wine and cheese competitions, wine tasting.  There’s that and so much more.

The kids and I have been going every year since moving back to New England. I’d say since 2010. Last year, my son talked my mom into going on one of the water rides. You sit in a giant, wooden-log-style, contraption and go around a mini-roller-coaster track. As the track begins to raise up, passengers hear “click, click, click, click” while the car climbs the rails. Anticipation builds as the car reaches the point of the drop, where passengers face a watery fall that raises you clear out of your seat (luckily the safety bar keeps you snug). My mom and my son both ended up soaked after the ride, but we went mid-day so by the time we got to the face-painting station they were both dry.

My son has never been the type to enjoy going on any kind of ride that goes up too high, moves too fast or has any movement similar to whiplash. The year before, though, my boyfriend at the time assured my son he’d be fine if they went on it together. My son wasn’t in the least bit apprehensive once he realized that a 6’2”,  nearly 200-pound man would be keeping him safe on the ride.  They ended up going on it twice and my son has loved the ride ever since.

2013-09-14 13.43.57 - Version 2(above: the infamous water ride that my son can’t get enough of)

This year, we went with my dad. I wasn’t sure how my daughter would behave but it turned out to be a great night. We went later in the day, since late September in New England feels more like July this year (it was eighty degree weather until nearly 6 p.m.)

We avoided traffic (most people were leaving by this time, not going in), found cheap parking near the gate entrance, avoided the crowds (again, most people were leaving by then), didn’t have any lines to wait in for rides (or food), the kids had a blast and were as well behaved as a three-year-old and an eight-year-old could be. Plus, we got to spend some quality time with my dad.

It was more or less a gratitude experience, rather than a passing moment. Oh and I got to enjoy the one thing I look forward to every year…fried dough! (yes I know it’s not organic, but even Super Woman has her kryptonite!)

1239877_10151929628718523_47014314_n(photo credit: http://esethebige.blogspot.com/p/the-big-e.html)