gratitude-a-thon day 2075: pupdate

A little update on the new girl in town. We picked her up at the airport two weeks ago tomorrow and she walked into our lives like she picked US from a breeder, instead of the other way around.

There was no awkwardness or “where’s my mom and siblings” whining. She immediately burrowed into each of us. She is as playful and rowdy as a pack of two year old’s pre-nap. Her energy is like fireworks on the Fourth. Her infectious and dazzling personality is an addiction–you don’t want to be away from it for too long.

I didn’t know if I could do this–get another dog after I lost Riley. I wasn’t sure I could fully love another animal to the depths I loved him. I wasn’t sure there might not be guilt. I wasn’t sure I had the unlimited energy one needs to raise a tiny puppy. I was only sure of one thing–I really missed having a dog.

I needn’t have worried about any of it. Daisy is a little gift I somehow became the recipient of. Who knows how the stars lined up, how the God’s committee meeting went, how the luck of the draw zeroed in on me. But I got another dog and in 13 days time, I am overwhelmingly in love.

In the last two weeks there have been several times where I have felt so much rightness, so much, and i kind of hate this word, because it just sounds like the Hallmark channel ” joy.” I thought I might break out into song. Maybe I was a canine in another life. I don’t know, but I guess I feel the best when there is a dog I can love in my everyday world.

So, that’s my new dog story. Little Daisy is doing just great and as for me, I am on gratitude overload.

gratitude-a-thon day 2074: dog days of summer

The dog days of summer are coming early around here. In fact, they begin Monday, even though it’s not August yet. Drum roll, please. We’re getting a puppy!

She’s pretty cute, isn’t she? And um, don’t worry, she won’t be wearing a bow!

We said goodbye to our 14 year old Cavachon, best friend, constant companion, and jokester Riley a few months ago, ok to be exact, on April 8. At about 12. While he was on my lap. With tenderloin in his mouth. The trauma of watching him deteriorate from severe dementia, arthritis, and a heart problem was as deeply painful as having Trump in office.

The last six months of his life were like watching water drain from the tub. My husband and I were at odds about how and when his life should end. Which just made everything worse. I cried a lot. And I couldn’t imagine what life would be without this dog. But I did know i loved him so much, I had to let him go, because he was suffering and that felt wholly unacceptable.

The aftermath was grief I can only compare to when my mom died. I was engulfed in a sadness so deep, I could barely climb out of it. I felt entirely broken.

While Riley was getting less and less present, I decided I would never want to go through the pain of losing another dog and was at the end of my fur-ball-loving life. The long goodbye was brutal. The constant worry and heavy sadness I carried around with me like a stack of luggage–the deep anger I felt toward whoever made the decision a dog’s life should end well before their owners, wore me out.

But with the world’s problems mounting up like a Jenga game, I had to reconsider. With the combination of our seriously insane political system, a country divided, climate change upon us, Russia, once again a threat, the horrors of the war in Ukraine, the constant Covid craziness, gun violence, and then the final blow of a terrifying Supreme Court overturning abortion, I knew that I needed to find unadulterated joy wherever I could.

A dog?

Yup. I began slowly poking around to find one. Stopping people on the street to ask about theirs. I still cried at the mention or thought of Riley, but knowing that I could feel the intensity of happy from having that boy as my family and bestie made me realize that I was going to embrace the goodness of another dog, the bond, the tenderness, the all out love.

A note here, yes, I did consider a rescue. And I know many rescue dogs that are amazing, but I had a close personal experience with a very good friend that was horrible and lasted for a considerable amount of time, ending in her having to ultimately give this dog away, because of his aggression, and that made me just too scared to take this route. So, go ahead and judge me as you will……it wasn’t the right thing for me at this moment.

And so, a Cavapoo girl will be joining our fam on Monday. Her current name is Ally, which just so happens to be the name of my daughter! We thought it might be a sign. Of course, we’ll change it. And that debate is on right now!

I’m sure I will cry when we get her and thoughts of Riley will go through me. But I hope he would want me to pass on the love I had for him to another dog. I hope he is running in fields of steak. I hope that he knew how much he was loved, how he changed me for the better and how I will never forget even one day of him. This dog will not be a replacement. She will just be a continuation. Gratitude, big, big gratitude for dogs. To me, they are quite simply one of life’s most perfect parts.

Fuck You Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Coney Barrett

We knew it was going to happen. And yet, my heart did a River Dance beat when I heard it on the car radio. An anger started to form in the center of my chest. Within seconds it felt like hot lava. The MSNBC voice continued, in shock. A fleet of The Handmaid’s Tale women appeared in my brain, walking in nice uniform lines. I would look terrible in one of those hats, surely someone can design something more attractive for this real life 2022 version of that prescient story.

Runway ’23?

Once again, being a woman is unimportant. So unimportant that a whole bunch of men are making decisions about our bodies. Our. Bodies. The ones we live in. They’ve taken away a 50 year Constitutional right. Alito called Roe vs. Wade “egregiously wrong.”

I listen to the news all day. I connect with friends. I scan social media, The New York Times, The Boston Globe. One of my old college besties calls me screaming. She is livid. We are both yelling into the phone about the decision. She speaks of two miscarriages she had and the D&Cs she had to have afterward and that now that D&C would be considered an abortion. I hadn’t known those were unlawful. I had the same thing and it was so sad because I’d lost my pregnancy. The news made me even angrier. The lava was beginning to stain the rug.

My sentiments exactly.

And the worst part is the women this will impact the most are women with no money, no resources, nowhere to go, nobody to help. Hey Clarence, who will pay for these unwanted babies? Who will raise them? Amy, uterus to uterus, tell me, are you feeling good about yourself?

I had friends over last night to celebrate one of them’s birthday, as well as her being granted her PhD. Of course we toasted her, but all of our rage was on display. All of us have daughters. We discussed the gross fact that gay marriage is likely next on the chopping block. Two of the women are a married couple. The vodka & lemonade helped, but the lava was flowing.

There has been much said and there will be much more said by people more educated and erudite than I am. But as a woman, I can say this, don’t fuck with women. We will outsmart you, fight with every hormone we have in the streets to defend our own bodies and one another’s, figure out ways to help women who need abortions get them safely. What did that ridiculous Helen Reddy song say–“I am woman, hear me roar?” We will not take this. We will not let a Supreme Court that’s anything but supreme lead us backwards. We will escort each other through this terrifying time. AND WE WILL VOTE TO MAKE CHANGE.

And there you go. Gun owners have more rights than all you people with a uterus.

A few resources: Mad About Roe, Here’s How to Help Women.Now. article in NYT. Give to Glennon Dayle’s Together Rising. And of course, Planned Parenthood.

Oh, RBG, if you weren’t already gone, this would kill you.

gratitude-a-thon day 2073: living in a state of hope

A friend told me today that her brother, an old high school friend, who’d had a bone marrow transplant months ago in Boston and was recovering here, was finally going back home to Maine (to a big, fat neighborhood celebration, mind you)! She said he was excited and doing well, but of course, one always worries.

When cancer comes to visit, it’s usually pulling a sky high luggage cart of worry. Will the other shoe drop? I responded from my gut. The gut that lived the shoe dropping life when my mom had cancer. We lived from scan to scan. Just in my mid-20’s with all my big life in front of me, I worried incessantly about the battle my mom was waging for hers.

But as I told my friend, I watched my mom do an amazing thing at the time. She learned to live in a state of hope. She kicked carefree and shallow concerns out of bed. Those disappeared in about a half a minute’s time. But what she came to have was actually better. Because when you live in a state of hope, the days are more colorful, the people around you are more important, the food you eat tastes bigger and brighter, the laughs you laugh are longer and deeper and goddamn life affirming. The truth is, it’s where we should all be living, but generally we’re too busy, too spoiled and take too much for granted to remember to pitch our tent there.

I had a good think about this today. I am quite sure that living in a state of “i have to,” or I want that,” or “this sucks,” or “why, why, why” (wah, wah, wah) is never a very worthwhile neighborhood. But living in a state of hope means living for what can be, all the sparkling possibility, residing smack in the moment we are given, while knowing that life can jump any curb it wants to at any time it wants to, but still believing. Isn’t it funny, as in bizarre, ridiculous and stupid that visiting the edge of life can often put you at the center of it? Just another reminder to live where it matters, to stand in the day, to be grateful for all you think can be.

dad-tude-a-thon: day 2072: the father i never had

I had a dad who was complicated. On the one hand, he was quirky, funny, extremely smart, always with his nose (his very big nose) in the Times or New Yorker or a good book. He loved classical music, theater, cooking and antiques. On the other hand, he had a vile temper and he loved to drink more than he loved to be honest about the fact that he loved to drink. This was his downfall as a dad and as a person. And it left many deep wounds in its wake.

Peter’s Dad is to the left, I’m hugging my dad, and Peter is about to hug his mom. Yup, our wedding, almost 35 years ago. I didn’t have any idea how Peter would be as a dad, but I knew he was a deeply loving guy and that seemed like good dad stuff to me.

So, when my husband and I decided to have kids, which took three years because of my infertility (but that’s another story), I knew only that he seemed like he would not be a father like the one I’d had.

From the minute our son Jake was born, Peter was obsessed, delighted and enamored. He didn’t mind waking up in the middle of the night to feed our crying baby. And unlike me, he could easily roll with the exhaustion that came with a tiny infant’s schedule. He was infinitely patient as Jake grew. A trait that had eluded, and still eludes me. Peter was a perfect match for Jake’s extremely active body and mind. I think he had him throwing a ball as soon as he could hold anything. When Ally was born three years later, with a personality that was a little more challenging, Peter instinctively knew just how to handle her. Again, his patience and my lack thereof, made him daddy of the year. While I was more of the disciplinarian, Peter was the endlessly patient parent who could stand by during tantrums and sibling rivalry. HIs work on Alzheimer’s disease, which was very important to him, was still important, but he made time with his kids a priority. He would work until 2:00 AM to spend the daylight hours with them.

Of course with every plus comes some minuses, and in this case, Peter really did hate to, and still hates to discipline the kids. That was a challenge for me, but his other daddy traits were so stellar that while it irked me to no end, I had to ultimately accept the good with the bad. Because guess what, that’s what you have to do in a marriage–compromise.

Because our kids have been so lucky to have a dad who went to not just every game, but every practice, who showed up at each school event, whether it was a class breakfast, play, game, or conference. He coached baseball and basketball, he was the designated driver for Ally’s 1,870,833 years of soccer, a fan at Jake’s baseball, basketball and lacrosse games. And of course he was the consulate cheerleader for all the difficult and hard orthopedic sports injuries our kids endured. He was the homework guy, the obscure answer guy and the ultra positive you-can-do-it guy.

If you don’t have a dad who gives you what you need, you always wonder what that might be like. Well, I was able to find out all that I’d actually missed. Over the last 27 years, it’s been clear that Peter was the father I never had.

Gratitude for the time, effort and love and the always being there-ness that my kids got in the father department. And happy Father’s Day to one of the greats. We all love you, Peter.

gratitude-a-thon day 2071: vaccinated boosted, and oh shit

After being unusually careful for the past two years, shunning fun, ignoring the lure of indoor restaurants with fancy cocktails and delectable menus, cancelling travel to anywhere but Whole Foods, seeing only a few friends, getting vaccinated and boosted, and thinking my mouth was a mask, Covid finally came to call.

Over the Covid years, I was exposed multiple times that I was aware of and I’m sure many more I didn’t even know about, and even though my whole family got it, I never did. It became sort of a joke that I must have had it and didn’t know it along the way. Or I had it in a past life that gave me immunity! But the devil finally showed up and man, he was as harsh and ugly as I’d always worried he might be.

Anyway, I’m here just to say that you should still be wearing your obnoxiusly annoying, face altering, hard-to-breathe-in mask, because even though Omicron is not the bully on the playground that Delta was, it got me good. And let me preface that I have always had sort of a weakish immune system since a few childhood illnesses that required me to eat a big bunch of antibiotics, so I have had my share of flus and viruses that totally put me under, but this thing, this thing January sixthed me from head to toe. It ravaged me, with full-on body aches, low-grade fever, chills, extremely painful sores on my tongue, a dog bark cough, a sore throat, stomach cramps and diarrhea. And the exhaustion factor was as deep as the middle of the ocean. For the first three days, I could just about stay up for 30 minutes without drifting into a coma-like sleep. I could barely make it to the bathroom. I HAD NO APPETITE. Now, let me just say here that I have an appetite no matter what. If the world were nuked and we were trying to figure out how to go on, I’d be hungry. There have been very few times that I’ve lost my appetite, and in fact it’s a joke in my family starting with my mother, who, whenever she was sick (including when she had lung cancer) would eat her way through it. When we’d question her, she’d say, “You’ve got to keep your stomach open.” I couldn’t. She’d have been disappointed in me.

I was very lucky to have a doctor who knows that I get sicker than most people when I get sick and was able to send me for a Monoclonal antibody infusion at Beth Israel. It was easy, except for the getting out of my bed and getting dressed part. Plus you got to lay down and sleep afterward while they watched you to make sure you didn’t have some weirdo reaction. WIthin about 29 hours the heavy symptoms began to fade. The exhaustion and cough did not. I was basically in bed until a few days ago when I climbed out, slapped some makeup on and attended my daughter’s college graduation, which was two years post when it should have been for the exact reason that I was struggling to go–Covid. Pulled out of school hastily, denied the senior week antics every student dreams of and having to deal with the disappointment of a cancelled grand and big deal graduation with family flying in ready to celebrate, my daughter and the rest of the class of 2020 were cheated. The big graduation Heist. But that’s just another of the selfish characteristics this virus has boasted over these two years.

Not the graduation we’d imagined, but a fantastic day for the Trinity College class of 2020. We’re so proud of this girl, who spent her Covid years in law school.

I am on the mend. But I’m still really tired and still have a cough, but a chest x-ray revealed my lungs are clear so that’s a big positive. I just need to take it slow and get a little better everyday. But as far as being careful out there, just telling you that while some people experience Omicron as a slight incovenience, a minor cold, or no symptoms at all, I did not. It was actually the sickest I’ve ever been. IN MY WHOLE LIFE. So, get boosted and wear your mask, despite having the fatigue of living a stunted life, it’s better than the fatigue you get with the virus. Gratitude goes to the magic of medicine. Oh yeah, and my amazing daughter, the official graduate.

gratitude-a-thon day 2070: the choice is yours

Everyday we choose. What’ll it be today?

It’s forgetting that it’s always a choice that can trip us up.

Yes, some days are inherently booked with better things than others. Some days have all the makings of the seven rings of hell, filled with plans that flip on the anxiety alarm, set off a fire of fear, prompt one to not just get back under the covers, but under the bed.

But when we remember that there’s a choice we have in how we process, things that can feel bleak can take on an air of okay-ness. I’m not saying it’s time to schedule a parade when you have a scary medical thing, or you lose someone close, or you are worried about the state of the world (I’d be worried about you if you weren’t), I’m just saying to take a look at how you choose to experience a situation. Often when you can look at things with an eye toward hope, a dose of gratitude and a feeling of possibility, those things can feel better than expected.

Today I choose. Everyday I choose. This is the win. Buckets of gratitude for that.

mother-a-tude-a-thon: they’re everywhere

My mother’s been gone for a very long time. Since before I had kids, or was even a real grown up. She was, as Christina said to Mere long ago on old school Grey’s Anatomy, my person. Death doesn’t change that. She’s still a North Star for me, guiding me when I’m hopelessly lost. “Be positive,” she’d say. “Put two feet in one shoe and march,” she’d say. “Talk to everybody (she was as good as a NYT reporter in getting the deepest secrets from anybody), use garlic, eat good food, you can do anything it is you want to do, you’ll figure it out, go shopping, watch a movie, wear nail polish, go to the beach, LAUGH AS MUCH AS YOU FUCKING CAN,”

My garlic-loving, hilarious, and adorable mom. (Yeah, she smoked. A victim of the times. And it’s what ended her life at a healthy 73, too.)

I have never stopped needing her and she has never stopped being there for me. Because mothering is a slew of things, but one of them is being right there to emotionally connect in that moment when someone is in need of some major care.

So many people have taken over for my mom, over the years. And that’s really how it is, there are like, a million mamas out there who show up for you when you need some major mothering. Relatives, friends, teachers, neighbors. A few weeks ago it was the great guy in the meat department at Whole Foods. Sometimes it’s an understanding co-worker, or the person behind the counter at CVS. When you get right down to it, good mothering can come from anybody.

The cutie pies, Ally at 3 month, Jake at 3 years.

So, here’s to you, all of you who take the time to listen, care and help someone who needs some mom time. Here’s to the biological moms, the adoptive moms, the single moms. Your job is endless, timeless and selfless. It’s of the utmost importance in this crazy world we’re living in. You are a beacon, a model, a VIP to those who receive your momminess.

I am so damn grateful for my own mom who gave me the grit to go when I didn’t want to and the grace to laugh at the rest. I am also grateful to the women and men who have mothered me when I became motherless. You are noticed, appreciated and loved. Happy Mother’s Day to all. You know who you are. Pat yourself on the back and make something with garlic in it.

gratitude-a-thon day 2068: when you learn what you thought you already knew

I’ve been thinking about how odd it is that you can actually learn a thing over and over and over again and you think you know it, and you talk a good game about it, but then, something happens, or somebody says it with just the right lilt, or the exact wording that was meant for you, and CYMBAL CRASH, you REALLY understand it, in the middle of your heart, in the center of your soul, in the smartest recesses of your brain.

The longer you live, the more you understand the world is like one of those precious Christmas decorations, made from such equisitely delicate glass that it has to be housed in six pounds of bubble wrap to make sure it doesn’t break while waiting in the closet for its month of December freedom. And when it does make it to the tree, it’s guarded by a fleet of Queen Elizabeth’s British soldier people to ensure its safety. There are sooooooo many things that can go hideously wrong. I don’t even need to go through the ugly list, because you know. You know all the awful things that can happen in this world.

This past weekend, it hit me hard, in that way that it can, when it hits you just right, that I suddenly knew that whatever good things, or even semi-good things that happen should be celebrated with a parade. Like a full parade with not even just one, but multiple marching bands, and a lot of baton twirlers (does anybody twirl anymore, do you think?) and gaudy floats, maybe even some Budweiser horses, and of course balloons, a big bunch of balloons. It struck me between having to say goodbye to my beloved 14 year old dog who was human to us, and watching my husband test positive for Covid over the weekend, after we worked as hard as an emergency room doc. to dodge it over the past two years, that there are an unlimited amount of nightmarish things just lining up to pull us down to the ground. And so, with all those bullets flying, it really firmed up my committment to embracing the good, the okay-ish and maybe even the not so miserable.

I knew this before. I learned this long ago. A hundered times at least. But until this weekend, as I mourned my dog, and worried about my husband’s voluminous snot, I learned it for real.

And so, I’m here to say, we throw a party for everything that doesn’t suck from now on. Or, at least we focus on everything that’s good with a magnifying glass the size of the Empire State Building, doubling up on gratitude. Get out the fireworks, light some sparklers, and bang some pots. It took me this long to learn what I thought I already knew. It will probably take me a little time to implement, but just know, every one of you is invited to the party.