gratitude-a-thon day 304: the resolutions

images-1The thing is, we all know that making New Year’s resolutions is sort of a joke. We know that by the next day around 4, we have a fat cookie, making null and void our ambition not to eat sugar. We know that by mid-week after said vow to exercise everyday, we will poop out on the couch with a re-run of Sex and the City. We know that our conviction to cook nightly, go to bed early and keep our closet clean, will all disappear faster than our first cup of morning joe. In all likelihood, no matter how we write out our list, we’re not going to stop buying so many lipsticks in order to find the perfect one that will make our thin lips look Angelina plump, or be perfectly patient with our kids on a daily basis, or always, 100% of the time use sunscreen (I do mostly, I swear).

But I still make that list every year. And here’s why. Because just by taking that piece of paper and writing down what I would like to improve, I’m opening up my brain to the possibilities. For me, this introduction is a first step to taking the desired action.

ME: Listen brain, I’d really like to exercise every day. I have been slacking off because of injury, and I want to commit again.

BRAIN: Really, well we’ve got a lotta stuff on the list up here. We’ll see what we can do. You might want to start down there by moving your fat ass off the couch once in a while, though.

ME: Really? I have to leave the couch to exercise? Damn…..

When I’m very clear about what it is that I would like to be working on, I’m more apt to be able to work on it. Often, I’m wishy washy about something, thinking “yeah, I’d like to do that, sort of, kind of, it would be good, I guess.” But that kind of ambivalence is a deal breaker. If I’m not 100% on board, you can forget it. So, I only put resolutions on my list that I’m serious about. And I don’t make a list that’s 200 miles long either, because that’s just a waste of time I could be using to work on last year’s resolutions. See, I may not be able to exercise everyday, but I will at least be mindful that I’m attempting to make that a priority and eventually, I might get there. It’s sort of like my “to do” lists. I never get to all the stuff on it in one day, but within some time period, I kill that bad boy.

So, as you create your New Year’s resolutions, try and be honest about what you really want. Keep them short and specific. Let them marinate in your brain and see if you don’t get somewhere with this approach. I think it’s the way to fly. Happy 2014. May gratitude lead your way.

gratitude-a-thon day 303: happy birthday, karen!

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Dear Karen,

Welcome to your fifties, babe! We’ve been waiting for you. In fact, we’ve had enough time waiting for you to make some guidelines  that might help escort you into your fifith decade.

1. Continue to be yourself. Fuck the number, it’s just that. Don’t cut your hair into one of those Pat-on-Saturday Night-Live-Nancy-Reagan middle aged nightmares. Forget the sensible shoes. Go for the big earrings. You can still rock any clothing item you think looks good. Key here is whether you feel comfortable. I’ve found that I know when I shouldn’t (although I’m sure not everyone out there would agree).

2. Make like Nike and just do it. It’s time. Your 50’s gives you license to do what you want with a little bit more swagger. I don’t mean you need to be all John Wayne about it, but if you want to do something, I think the fifth decade gives you more confidence to go and kill that thing. So, go, do, be. Don’t wait. The time is now.

3. By the time you hit the middle of the five oh’s, you’re nest will almost be empty. So, hug those kids, and be in it with them. Don’t miss the moments. The journey is an interesting one. Don’t be afraid of it, you’ll know what to do when the time comes. It’s actually not the end, it’s just the start of a whole new something, something.

4. Make your friendships a priority. We here in the fifties know that as we get older, it’s our peeps that will sustain us. So, get together with the girls. A lot.

5. LAUGH. This is good advice at any age, but as the physical symptoms of menopause strike, and you are wiping sweat off your upper lip in a meeting, or experiencing a pimple the size of dessert plate on your chin, you will need your funny bone. Believe me.

6. Be active. Having just lost a bunch of weight, and being more fit than most anyone I know, I’m preaching to the choir here, but still, worth noting.

7. Be curious. I have found I want to know more stuff in my fifties. I often have a foggy brain, but I also have a laser focus for new things.

8. Challenge yourself. Thinking that being 50 makes it impossible to do that thing (whatever that thing is) is just plain shit. I mean, no you probably won’t be a ballerina or a Victoria Secret runway model (although I think you could be), but aside from that, you got the world on a string, man. No limits.

9. Namaste. Get quiet however that comes for you (I try and meditate, but I find walking works better for my restless self). There are challenges to getting older, but if you allow yourself to burrow down into your soul, you can overcome, accept and celebrate where you are.

10. Be grateful. Oh, we here at the gratitude-a-thon (meaning ME here at the gratitude-a-thon) think this is the key to a happier everything. So, remember all that you have, and say buh-bye to the nagging thoughts of all that you don’t have.

Have a happy birthday, old, I mean young friend. Thanks for always championing my causes, being so positive and super fun and often making me need Depends Undergarments. Thanks for all those years of your fabulously inspiring blog. Thanks for being there for my kid. And thanks for just being your sunny self so much of the time. I hope I see more of you (I already see less of you) this year and all the years to come. You’re on my top ten list of great. xoxooxoxoxoxoxo

gratitude-a-thon day 301: ABBONDANZA,the most perfect pasta EVER

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Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah, hallelujah, HALLELUJAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!

Last night we all went to Limoncello (http://www.ristorantelimoncello.com/menu.html) in the North End. My brother in law, a former sports writer at the Globe and now a writer/producer at BeIn Sports in Miami, used to be a fixture in the North End and knows everybody. They welcomed him like a son, home from vacation! I had never been to this restaurant, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I had a pasta dish.  Which turned out to be the pasta de resistance. No, really. This was maybe the best pasta I have ever eaten (and eaten, and eaten). It was handmade fusilli with a ragu of lamb, veal and red peppers. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and every bite delivered a satisfying mouthful of perfect. I literally ate every single one of those curly little morsels of amazingness. And the sauce had a hit of spice, with meat that was fall off the bone, melt-in-you-mouth. I  am telling you, it’s been a long time since I have had a pasta dish like that, if I ever have. I didn’t expect it, but there it was, and there it will be on the scale. But guess what, I don’t care. At all, in fact. That meal had the makings of a celestial happening. It was like angels singing in my mouth. I mean, I was a little bit in love with that plate of pasta. I could and would eat it again today and every day for the rest of my life. Seriously. I know you think I’m kidding. But I am so not. Culinary gratitude. Mmmmm.

gratitude-a-thon day 300: small bites friday

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Christian Bale in American Hustle.

Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle.

Amy Adams in American Hustle.

David freaking O’Russell.

Enough with American Hustle. But this is the one to beat. It’s a truly exceptional movie.

Grateful? I fell on black ice last night (after guess what movie?) and did not break anything. Phew!

Why? Because it’s hysterical.http://www.boredpanda.com/famous-movie-scenes-baby-photography-cardboardboxoffice/

Apparently it’s in the genes. See LeBron’s kids dunk. Maybe my kids will wrap a nice gift?

“Get off the computer.” But mom, I’m just honing my motor skills.

As if Florida doesn’t have it going on with the weather, the cops are nice (sometimes) too.

Hey, I LOVE OPRAH’S “WHERE ARE THEY NOW” SHOW. I am a sucker for a set up like this. Anyway, check out this great follow up on Khadijah Williams, who was homeless and went to Harvard.

Ok, I have my wrapping theme for next Christmas. http://www.viralnova.com/hard-to-open-gifts/

Good teenage daughter advice (and who couldn’t use some of that).

Seriously, AS IF GEORGE ISN’T PERFECT ENOUGH, here you go.

What a great commercial.

gratitude-a-thon day 299: holiday happy

I have now been trying to make this post all photos, FOR 30 MINUTES. The weirdest stuff keeps happening. The photos keep erasing themselves, and shifting captions. It’s like picture poltergeist. Oy vey. I really need some WordPress help. Who knows a WordPress tutor? I’m all yours.

Anyway, we here at the gratitude-a-thon (meaning ME here at the gratitude-a-thon), have been busy holidaying it up and not blogging. But that does not mean I have not been feeling the love. I have had so many moments of pure gratefulness that there isn’t even enough room on this planet. I have had to rent out space on Saturn.

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Rolling up the rug and dancing it up with Luciana at the Ober party. Still sweating.

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Still dancing

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And still dancing.

I have had such a good time having my son home, spending time with my sister and brother-in-law, and my good friends. I am grateful for the strong drinks and Shepard’s Pie at Kevin & Bridget’s (HI, SHELITA!), Christmas carols with Deb & Charlie (not really) and a lovely visit from Adam and Lily, and the macaroni and cheese on Pajama Christmas Eve with Toni & Dan, and of course, our Christmas day, with a Stein stop by featuring Ally’s innaugural lasagna, and our family, stuffing ourselves silly and gorging on gifts. Speaking of, I got so many amazing gifts, I can’t even speak. I am spoiled and appreciative. And gosh, I love all the cards I received. Mine are still not out, but they’re coming! Muchos gracias to all my friends and family for making Christmas 2014 a holiday to be grateful for. I think of all the people that are struggling and I hold on tighter to all that I have in the form of relationships and love, (and of course nifty gifts). Lucky. Lucky me.

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There was some serious caroling going on here.

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And it’s Pajama Christmas Eve at the Oberholzer’s.

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The girls on PJCE!

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The fam.

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Me and the boy.

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Oh Christmas tree.

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Ally totally cracking up at the color of Peter’s Patagonia choice.  What was HE THINKING?

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Christmas dinner.

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Just desserts.

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Sue Sue and Ally cuddle on the couch after dinner.

gratitude-a-thon day 297: the international arrivals gate

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Peter and Ally waiting.

Jake’s flight was delayed by 90 minutes yesterday due to the kind of fog that got Rudolph that awesome job with Mr. Claus.  Then, for some reason, his bags were like the very last ones off the plane, so we were well into four hours at the airport before we saw our guy. And I have to say, I felt a little bit like I was in the beginning of the movie, Love Actually.

The international arrivals area has a  a metal gate separating the picker-uppers from the two doors and small floor area from which the weary travelers exit. It’s kind of like a theater experience. When we first got there, there was a whole family dressed with Santa hats on and a maybe 17 year old boy dressed as a wrapped gift, literally in a box with knee sox and work boots on. They had a big banner to welcome back Abbie. They left without any commotion, and before we saw if the present dude was her brother or her boyfriend, which was a big debate between Ally and I (I thought it was her boyfriend–what brother would be goofy enough to do that for a sister, was my reasoning).

Even though I was anxious to see Jake’s face, it was really great fun to wait for him. There was a couple that clearly had been apart for a very long time and by the quality and intense PDA of the situation, we were pretty sure that the guy had been in Iraq or something. These two hugged for a solid ten solid minutes. A girl about 16 ran up to her sister maybe 18 or 19 and grabbed her with her face toward me, which seemed to say how much pain she’d felt from her absence and how much relief she felt from her arrival.  An older gray haired women spotted the elderly gentleman next to me and they embraced quietly, in a very dignified way (British, I thought). A huge extended family waited for a young woman, and the teenaged girl, who ran to her first, got stuck with the big suitcase, grudgingly, but happily tugging it to the door for her sister. A little boy ran to his dad, with his mom in the background saying, “I told you daddy was coming.” The dad tossed the boy in the air effortlessly and the smile on the little boy’s face was like a little dollop of perfect mashed potatoes. A daughter embraced her mother. And I said to Ally and Peter, “I wish my mom would walk out of those doors.” Now, that would be an arrival!

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Waiting.

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Sitting on the bars, still waiting.

Every few minutes there was another reunion in varying degrees of emotion. But they all had one thing in common–that whoever was deplaning had been away, and the person awaiting their arrival had not been right without them. There was so much love in that terminal, I was punch drunk, and my mouth hurt from smiling. It was something pretty special to be in the middle of. It seems the perfect antidote to cynicism or a bout of doubt about whether love exists. It does. In many forms and degrees. Just go to the International Arrivals Terminal, and you’ll see it actually dominates.

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A “welcome home Jake” banner at our house. There is no picture of Jake because I am having technical difficulties, and can’t get the one pic I snapped off my phone. Some people should not be allowed to use computers.

gratitude-a-thon day 296: saying goodbye

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Just shy of 23 years ago, it was almost Christmas and my mom was lying in a hospital bed with cancer in the lining of her brain. I was 32, and a month earlier, I’d been given a lethal blow and told that I had stage IV endometriosis and would never have a baby, unless there was some sort of immaculate conception. The thought of losing my mother had plagued me since I was young, since she gave birth to me at 41 and was so much older than all the other mom’s I knew. In Brookline, where I live, it’s rather common to give birth at 41, or 45. I even had a neighbor, who, a few years ago gave birth to twin boys at 48. But in Bethel in 1959, it was unusual and renegade, and honestly, it wasn’t actually planned. Anyway, I grew up worrying that she’d die before I was cooked, and it always scared me. I didn’t understand then that I would never be ready for her to leave me, not if she lived until I was 94 (and made it into the Guiness Book of World Records).

I remember that Christmas with unspeakable pain and 1,000 pounds of sadness and difficult decisions and vanilla soy milk, which was the only thing I could get past my lips (when I’m truly in despair, air is hard to swallow, let alone food). My sister Joni and I struggled through that holiday, and New Year’s too, on the edge of becoming motherless, with one goal in mind, one gift to give–to help my mom get to the other side as painlessly and beautifully as we could.

She stopped breathing, my mom, in the most lovely hospice, near the ocean, at 3 in the morning, as we raced from the only house I’d ever lived in, to try and be with her as she transitioned to the next place. We hit a deer on the way, and I do believe that’s when she left her cancer behind and moved on.

A few days ago, my sister’s sweet dog had to be put down. She had a myriad of health problems parading through her little self one after another. It was time. But it carries that same sort of holiday despair I remember from more than two decades ago. The wrenching pain of not wanting to say goodbye, but knowing in your gut, it’s the best thing for the person you love (yes, I just referred to the dog as a person. Have you learned nothing about me from reading this blog?) And so you help them, when the writing’s on the wall. And you cry about how painful life can be.

I woke up this morning thinking about the idea that my mom and Romey were together today. That my mom might be making a sauce, like the one I made yesterday for Jake’s first dinner home after his semester in Barcelona. I considered that my mom and Romey would have a good cuddle and she would give her a bone from the sauce. I thought about all the people I’ve lost and that maybe they would all play with Romey.

That was helpful to imagine. Grief, never quite disappears, always ready to rear its head when a reminder wafts through your life, like a sweet breeze on a hot August (or December?) night.

Today my boy arrives home and tomorrow my sister and brother-in-law arrive. This will cause happy to permeate my house, but it won’t obliterate the losses. Those stay with you, helping to remind you, in the unlikely words of Dr. Seuss, not to cry because it’s over, but to smile because it happened.

gratitude-a-thon day 295: small bites saturday!

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I forgot that yesterday was Small Bites Friday, so guess what, I’m making it Small Bites Saturday!

MY GUY IS COMING HOME TOMORROW. NEED I SAY MORE?

A Federal judge struck down Utah’s same sex-sex marriage ban on Friday. Fingers crossed!

Colleen made it to California! She is now living the dream!

The really cute baby and dog (Theo and Beau) got a book deal!

One of my favorite dogs in the world went to doggy heaven yesterday. I am sad, but so grateful to know the sweet woof of her.

Turkey. Coming soon. CANNOT WAIT.

Who doesn’t need to do some boundary setting?

I have a new client and he not only does good work himself, he knows good work! Thanks, Brian!

A happier holiday? Ok.

gratitude-a-thon day 294: the people under the tree

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Sometimes I get a little present happy this time of year, imagining what might be under the tree for me (my husband is a pretty good gift giver). But this year, I’m so not thinking about presents, I’m just thinking about people. I am unimaginably happy to have Jake come home from Barcelona to mess up his room and expect me to wait on him. I am over the gosh darn moon that my sister and brother-in-law are leaving the warmth of Miami for the warmth of my couch. And on Christmas, my other sister will come and try to get us listen to “Tuck Everlasting” until we fall asleep on her. And our good friends will come and spend the day. This year, it’s people that feel like the biggest, sparkliest gift I’ve ever received.