Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hidden Treasure

My husband decided today to clean out his home office. And not surprisingly, it is taking hours.

In his digging through decades of debris, he came across a document that he and I wrote on our honeymoon (November 1995). It was a contract of sorts, an early bucket list, a list of all the things we each wanted to accomplish in our life with the support of the other.

What is so fascinating about it, is that it resembles nearly completely, my recent bucket list. Which either suggests, I haven't accomplished anything in 18 years OR, more importantly, I know who I am, and apparently, have for some time.

I'm a bit surprised by this realization. It's one thing to know who you are at middle age, it's another to know in your 20s. But I didn't know it then.

Here is my list at age 28. Feel free to compare it to my recent bucket list. You might be surprised with the findings too.
  • be with you and love you forever (forgive the sappiness; it was our honeymoon after all)
  • raise children who are intelligent, open-minded, and compassionate (I think I may just have)
  • raise children who are never deprived of anything but know the value of money (check)
  • raise children with a strong sense of family as well as individuality (check)
  • become a master chef (well, there's still time)
  • rediscover my talent for the piano (eh, this one may have passed for me)
  • cultivate my talent for musical theatre (still to come)
  • cultivate my new found talents for party planning (I do throw a mean kids birthday party)
  • own a house on Nantucket (if I ever win the lottery, it is #1)
  • travel to the pyramids of Egypt (still on the list)
  • take a tour of European castles; sleep in the ones that are haunted (still on the list)
  • travel to the Philippines to learn more about my background (still on the list)
  • learn to sew (still on the list; this is getting scary)
  • learn to refinish antique furniture (maybe)
  • learn how to appraise fine antique furniture, silver, and china (eh, not that important)
  • maintain strong and long-lasting relationships with the friends I have now (for the most part, a definite yes, plus I have been lucky enough to find new friends along the way)
  • live simply, yet elegantly (everyday)
  • entertain often (as often as the calendar and my energy level will allow)
  • do charity work (check)
  • give generously to charity (as much as I can)
  • teach my children to do the same (check)
  • join a women's garden club (that one was very 'just married, junior league' of me; I don't need that one anymore)
  • tell you everyday that you are loved (aww)
  • make you feel everyday that you are loved (aww again)
  • grow old with you (well, we are certainly on our way ;-) )
It still strikes me as a bit odd that so many of the things on my list are the same. Yes, one could certainly read into it that I've had nearly two decades to take some of the things off the list, but I was working on the ones that already have checks.

Feeling good about this. It makes me feel that my recent list is completely attainable.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Update To The Rant

I owe you an apology.

I burst onto this blog before taking even a moment to try to compose myself. I rambled and ranted and lost my breath and raised my blood pressure in the process.

I'm new at this whole NB (New Bonnie) thing. She doesn't lose her cool. She takes control.

And that's just what I did... afterwards.

  • Now, my house is in order. It is also 'mini' decorated for Easter which means just a select few key items accessorize the house.
  • The bills are scheduled for payment, as are ecards with notes explaining that gifts will be forthcoming from our vacation spot.
  • Taxes have been filed (I hated owing money right before a trip, but what can you do).
  • And I have put off until tomorrow, the task of collecting all necessary items to pack, though I did set aside the Easter decorations and baskets and plastic eggs for the hunt.
  • The schedule has been reorganized to include working out everyday, in addition to all my daughter's after school activities as well as in school events. True I won't be able to get to the gym past Tuesday, but I WILL work out at home. I even managed to find time to schedule an oil change for the car we are taking. Sadly, I had to cancel three coffee dates with friends (that I really could have benefitted from) but I will make it up to them when we get back.
So see, in the end, I didn't really need to fly off the handle.

No, I did. I had to in order to get clear. Probably not the best approach, but sometimes in a pinch, you have to go with what works in the moment.

Thanks for listening.

Time For A Side Rant

I wrote this morning about a new path and a time for change. But here is the reality of the situation... I can't do it all.

Let the words linger... I can't do it all.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I was not taking care of me because I knew that something else would have to be dropped because I was already working at maximum capacity.

But I don't want to give up anything else. I don't WANT to!! Short of sleeping less or working faster, I don't think I can accomplish this goal or any other without losing something... like my mind.

And because I'm not programmed to do anything less than my personal best, well, now I see why Martha Stewart sleeps four hours a night. And she has a staff of thousands!!

How in God's name and I going to pull this off?

I still haven't decorated for Easter. We leave for Spring Break in five days and I haven't packed. And while on vacation, I am expected to have that house decorated for the holiday too, and plan an egg hunt for the cousins, and Easter baskets. And what about the Easter bunny at home. He has to leave something for my daughter. I refuse to cop out and tell her the truth about his existence just to have one less thing on my to-do list. And what about the bills and the birthdays and the taxes and the appointments that have to be paid and celebrated and filed and rescheduled all to accommodate us being away. I haven't done any of that. And the dishes and the laundry never stop piling up. How is that possible with a family of three? And there is still the full schedule of afterschool activities not to mention school assignments and throw in a few parent participation events in the mix this week too. And I still have to work my two part-time jobs AND take care of me.... how? HOW?!

I'm in a full on panic. I don't think I even breathed during that last paragraph. This is not good for my blood pressure.

OK. 5:10pm. First things, first. I'm going to get the house in order. I can't think straight with beds unmade and dishes on the table. Next, I'm going to sit down with my agenda for this week and 'cut out the fat', then look ahead to what I can possibly do from vacation when I have more time. Lastly, I'm going to start making lists of what we will need to pack, collect those items, put them in the spare room... and close the door until tomorrow.

Heart still racing, but head clearing.
I need some fresh air.
Thank you for listening to my little rant.

Inspiration Comes In Many Forms

Nearly two years ago, I sat at this computer bemoaning my fate. I had just been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, I had armed myself with information on how to turn the tide, and I was on my way.

But as has been the case so many times over the years, my personal health has always been my biggest obstacle. The need is there, the want is there, but the drive is easily focused on some other task. Something that helps others instead of myself.

When my daughter was younger and in preschool, the opportunity for some 'me' time/exercise was available. But somehow, I had convinced myself that any time spent on me, was time spent NOT being a mother, and I couldn't risk taking my eyes off that ball for a second. [I have come to learn from other chubby mummies, this is a common misconception.] But had I taken the time to take care of me too, I would have been in a better position now.

That diagnosis two years ago went quickly unnoticed and just this week, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. I am no longer in the 'pre' anything stage. I've gone from the yellow to the red zone. And it scared me to my core.

I spent the rest of the day having a pity party for myself. How did I allow this to happen? I am not the kind of person who let's things fall through the cracks. I'm all about the details and the finished product. Where did I go wrong?

At several important times in my life, the fates have conspired to align the stars in my favor. I do not take these cosmic signs lightly. In fact, as I fight for the control in almost all aspects on my life, in these rare cases, I gladly let them lead.

A week ago to the day that I received my diagnosis, I had made an appointment to audit a kickboxing class at my daughter's karate school. At the time, it wasn't to fight for my life, it wasn't even for the exercise, it was because I liked the music they played during class. Who knew that it would be my salvation.

Yes, salvation!

Here is the course of events:
  • Monday morning I got the life changing news.
  • Monday evening I was taking my first kickboxing class.
  • After which, I signed up.
  • And I have been there everyday. EVERY DAY!
Going on the old adage that it takes 3 weeks to build a habit, my goal is to not miss a single day of working out. I have rearranged my schedule to accommodate me for the first time. In fact, I am writing you now at 6:30am on a Saturday because I have an 8am class.

In addition to this new lifestyle change (and believe me, this is a huge change), I have stopped my Pepsi addiction cold turkey, I have allowed myself a half cup of coffee a day instead of multiples, in an attempt to rid myself of caffeine, I threw everything out of the house that might tempt me leaving only healthy choices at my disposal. So far, so good.

Six straight days of nothing but focusing on me and getting 'me' back. And I'm doing without losing sight of motherhood (though the dishes and laundry do seem to have taken a back seat - haha). If I realized I could do both, I could have allowed myself this change years ago. But regrets at this point are, well, pointless. I am only looking forward.

And the tight muscled skinny girl inside me, who I am feeling for the first time in decades, is cheering me on.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

One Step Forward & Two Steps Back

You know how the saying goes... One step forward and two steps back. It's about not only not getting ahead, but getting farther behind.

This little two step has brought me so far away from my final destination that I've almost forgotten where I was going.

Ah yes, I remember now. I was going to that place where I am comfortable with who I am, inside and out. That place where no judgement or ridicule, or even the assumption of judgement or ridicule, will make me feel insecure. That place where I am confident and self possessed and ....

... well, it doesn't matter anyway because I've lost sight of it.

Am I really that fragile? Am I really that weak? A too tight pair of pants and a bad hair day and I'm climbing back in the bed with the covers over my head. Is that what I've become? Is that the example I'm setting for my daughter?

But it is more than that. I'm not all vanity and appearance driven - a good amount, but not all. At 45, there are certain things I had once thought I would have accomplished by now. Things I have barely started let alone finished. So many people around me have chased down and captured their dreams and while I am truly proud and happy for them, I can't help but feel that their successes cast a bit of a spotlight on my shortcomings.

And at this point in my life, am I allowed to chase after dreams? Dreams that may not come true? In directions that may take me away from my family responsibilities? Isn't it my daughter's time now? Shouldn't I be helping her make her dreams come true?

So is this even worth pondering?

That little two step I mentioned earlier... the first step is for not ultimately getting where I was going and the second is for feeling so pathetic about it. It's making a mistake AND not learning from it. And with each little dance it gets harder to muster the strength to tell myself "it's fine; where you are is fine". And it is fine, fantastic in fact, but truthfully, not always fulfilling.

And there it is.
I want more and I don't think I'm going to get it and that makes me feel disappointed.
I want more but I don't think it's fair, when I have so much, to be unsatisfied and that makes me feel ungrateful.
I want more but if I get it, will it be enough, and is it really what I need.
What I think I need right now, is some sleep because even I don't know where this is going anymore. Suffice to say, I have some thinking to do. I'll keep you posted.
Goodnight, All.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Where Did A Decade Go?

Today my baby turns 10. 10! Double Digits! A Decade Old! How did that happen?

I just brought you home from the hospital in your little yellow (we didn't know if you were a girl or a boy) onesie with the puppies on it. I sat in the back seat, holding on to your car seat as if the seatbelts weren't doing enough. Daddy drove home the whole way with the hazard lights on, in the slow lane, going just below the speed limit.

I just read book after book after book on sleep issues because you are great at falling asleep but then you wake up an hour later screaming. I would learn that you have sleep terrors which is associated with sleep walking/talking - you can blame your father for this one - and we will rearrange all our schedules to one that works best for you, including becoming a family bed.

I just signed us up for Mommy & Me ballet classes and Gymboree and Music Together and Swim Babies where our days are filled with activities to grow your mind and body.

I just took you to the doctor again for yet another ear infection, where he referred me to a respected ENT, who would walk us through the process of your first surgery (2 years later) which will hopefully prevent you from ever having another ear infection as long as you live.

I just spent another, of hundreds of nights, rocking you to sleep, while I cried on both of us, praying desperately that I would be a good mother and that I wouldn't screw us both up in the process.

How was that all 10 years ago? It's so vivid in my mind that I feel I could walk into your room this morning and find you playing in your crib, find your closet filled with little clothes, see the picture books and board books stacked on the floor.

But today, you are ten. 10! You have grown into a caring, generous, creative, intelligent, kind-hearted, beautiful young lady. And with the lump that is in my throat as I write this, I could not be more proud of you. Because for all that I did to get you started, you did the rest. It's all you, sweetie.

Happy Birthday, My Little Girl! I love you more than words can express. xo

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bucket List

Today is my 45th birthday. No, please, no fanfare. I just want to quietly mark this day with peace and gratitude and move on to the second half of my life.

"Second half of my life." It was not my intention to make that sound so morbid. But it is true, so let's just face facts, shall we.

As promised, I have comprised my bucket list. It is my hope that if I start now, I'll have plenty of time to reminisce about all that I did after I've done it... and bore people to tears recounting the tale.

In no particular order but this is the way it came to mind:
  • write a book
  • be successful enough to write a second
  • take an extended UK castle tour; if they're haunted all the better
  • travel to the pyramids of Egypt; make a discovery
  • travel to Iceland; soak in a geothermal pool
  • live on Nantucket for at least a month; write my memoirs
  • own a vacation home near water; read
  • learn to sew; design and make my own clothes
  • learn to ski; ski in Switzerland
  • relearn how to play mah jongg; play with my aunts in the Philippines
  • own a small retail business; be closed Tuesdays
  • make considerable donations to charities and causes I feel strongly about; have the family name on at least one brass plaque in one professional arts center
  • do more than my part to clean the ocean; never stop
  • retire to a doorman building in a major city; if the doorman's name is Johnnie all the better; he should call me Mrs. T
  • make sure my husband keeps his dream of owning a sailboat and sailing all of the Atlantic
  • make sure my daughter has every possible tool for her success in all aspects of her life
  • love my life with no regrets
There you have it. My bucket list (alterations as needed). I'm happy with it. And it's something I can start doing right now. From now on, just call me Mrs. T. Just kidding ;-)

Happy Birthday To Me!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Memory Burn

Today a painful moment from my childhood came flooding back to me.

Perhaps it was because of the stressful day I had. Perhaps it was because I will be 45 tomorrow. Perhaps it was because I saw the same scenario playing out before my eyes.

I was seven. I was in ballet class. I was always a disciplined student when it came to ballet. Neat and tidy appearance, perfect posture, and the utmost respect for Mrs. P.

It was nearing the end of class and she had us do a simple balancing exercise. We were to stand on one leg like a crane, arms in first position, and hold it for a full minute. I stood tall and proceeded as instructed, not wavering, chin high. I remember feeling very proud of myself.

The girl next to me was the class clown. Always a tear in her tights and her hair tangled and matted. She was flailing her arms all around, pretending to fall but catching herself, accented by a loud "Whoa!" each time. She was a distraction and I often wondered why Mrs. P didn't correct her. Or at least compliment everyone else who was doing as they were told.

At the end of the minute, Mrs. P rewarded each of us with a chocolate chip cookie from a tin she kept by the record player. She gave this child two. Her reasoning was that she had done the most to not fall over.

I wanted so badly to scream, "No! Foul! She did it on purpose! I did it right! I did it the way you asked! It's not fair!" Of course, I said nothing.

When my mother picked me up, it was clear from my expression that something was wrong but she is a woman prone to apathy and so even though I told her what happened, she didn't pursue it. Perhaps my mother's lack of interest is the reason I am such an involved (to a fault at times) mother myself.

Now, nearly 40 years later, I'm sitting on the sidelines of my daughter's newest addition to the after school schedule, karate. She is just as rule oriented and disciplined as I was. Maybe more so. I thought karate would be a perfect fit. And it is, except for one thing... the class clowns.

She took her place in line with one of three instructors. The exercise was to lean and kick in the air with the opposite leg as many times as you could without stopping. Apparently though, hopping is allowed. The boy first in line began to kick and hop and kick and hop and hop and... he was doing more hopping than kicking but the instructor did nothing to move the process onto the next child. When he finally faltered he had "kicked" 79 times. Next boy, same thing with the kicking and hopping. 49 times.

Then it was my daughter's turn. She did not want to hop since she knows that while it is acceptable it isn't the way you are supposed to do it. She stepped up, leaned and began to kick. But the instructor had become bored of the exercise by this point and unknowingly moved the target which made my daughter lose her concentration and she faltered... after only 5 kicks. She asked to go again but was told no and sent to the end of the line, her eyes turning red and watery.

She never got a second chance. The first kid did.

In an instant I was feeling exactly what she was feeling. Trapped in the "right thing". But I'm not a child anymore. I can stand up for me, I can stand up for both of us. And that's what I did.

At the end of class, Master M came over to shake my hand and bow, as I have come to learn is tradition. I asked to speak with him and I relayed what had happened and what I know of my daughter's process and how she is no doubt feeling. His reply was somewhat unsatisfying in that he said, the hopping is acceptable. But he did say something directly to my daughter which helped her mood, and in turn my own. He told her that 5 kicks done correctly is better than 50 done wrong. That eventually, the hopping will have to stop for them to proceed to the next level and that she will be ahead of the game for having done it right all along. And that he has noticed how much focus she puts into doing each movement right.

It was what she needed to hear. And I was glad.

Next class, I have suggested she stay in Master M's line instead.
The clarity with which that one memory came back to me was frightening. But at the same time, telling. I suppose I have always had this intrinsic need for "the right thing", for justice, truth, fairness, and the inability to accept falsehood or deception. It's hard to believe it took four decades to figure that out about myself but apparently it's a part of my very DNA.

And frankly, I wouldn't want it any other way ;-)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Time Alone

I was just away for the weekend. It was my annual Sister Spa and Shopping Weekend. A chance for myself and my four sisters, who all lead very different lives in different places, to get together and spend some quality time.

As important as our time together, is, for me, our time apart. That is to say, the drive by myself - between two to four hours depending on the destination we choose. This year's trip took me four hours north to our parents lake house in PA. Eight (more with traffic) total hours alone to sing at the top of lungs with the radio, organize the week ahead, and, for better or worse, think.

And oh, how the mind does wander.

One thing that kept replaying itself, like Adele on every local channel up the east coast, was the fact that this week I'm going to be 45. Forty five! Why does it sound so much older than I actually feel? Am I truly middle aged? What does that even mean?

It literally means that half my life is over. Well, I did quite a bit in the first half. I don't think I really missed out on much. And Hell, if I only accomplish half of what I did in the first half, in the second half, that wouldn't be half bad. [Long road trips with no Pepsi leave me talking like Dr. Seuss apparently.]

But I think what it "means" is it's time to pull out the bucket list. You know that list of things to do before you die. Pleasant, isn't it. But like a good organizer should, if I plan accordingly and ahead of schedule, I have an excellent chance of completing the list and still being around to talk about it ad nauseam to my great grand kids.

So, my birthday gift from me to me this year, is to actually write my bucket list. I know, I thought I would have had one by now too. I guess I didn't have my bucket list on my to-do list.

Check back in the next week for, what I hope will be, the complete list. I can guarantee you won't see anything about climbing a mountain or running with a charging horned animal. But that's all I've got so far.