Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When Did We Stop Getting Riled?

When I was sixteen years old, our school board decided to fire our principal, Mr. Fedor. As students, we didn’t know the details of the firing, but we knew two things:

Mr. Fedor was one of the coolest dudes around. He knew everyone’s names and actually took interest in the students’ lives (not in a creepy way, but in a dad-like way).

Mr. Fedor did not want to leave our school. He was being forced out by a politically motivated school board.

So, the students took action. We organized a campaign to save his job. We made signs and called local newspapers to cover the story. Lastly, we wrote speeches to deliver at the school board meeting that would determine his fate. There were so many of us in attendance at that board meeting that the overflow of students had to sit in the cafeteria, unable to fit into the meeting venue.

Looking back at this now, knowing life as an adult and vaguely remembering myself as a teenager, this seems like a very small moment in the history of my life. But back then, this protest was everything. We were all so passionate about our efforts.  It wasn’t just about winning. It was about our desire to be heard. It was a hope that the adults wouldn’t just think we were “dumb teens” who didn’t know what was best for them.

We lost.

Passion was really all we had to support our case, and it wasn’t enough that time. But the outpouring of love and support and community that we created by uniting was a palpable gift that we were able to take away with us that night. Parents, teachers, and even some board members who voted with us, all marveled at our maturity. Who would have thought that a bunch of high school students, ranging from fourteen to eighteen years old, could actually have something valid and important to contribute?

And now here I am, an adult with children and responsibilities. That fire that I had in high school is long gone, and to be honest, I’ve met very few adults who have been able to hang on to it. Don’t get me wrong, we still may be passionate about our children or a football team or a new movie that looks pretty good. But that teenage passion-the kind of passion you have when your view of the world is not all that complicated, when it’s easier to see what’s right and wrong because you don’t have to weigh the complexities of politics to find your moral compass, the kind of passion that gives you butterflies in your stomach and gets you so excited that you can’t sit down and process your thoughts because they are coming at you too fast-that is the passion that no longer visits us as adults.

Adults nowadays post memes about how tired they are or about how much wine they need to get through the day. Adults post these long diatribes on social media about how they feel about current events, all the while not having enough energy or passion to actually do anything that matters to fix what they are complaining about. Adults have become too busy with their lives to be passionate about truly making the changes they want to see.

While there will always be the teens who enjoy eating tide pods for fun, what I am witnessing at home with my very vocal, animal rights protesting, thirteen year old daughter, as well as what I am witnessing on my local Florida news channel these days, is that our teens have found the passion that we abandoned years ago. And as we are rapidly seeing, their passion is all that is needed to make a difference. Their passion is taking the world by storm. I hope you all have an umbrella.

*This piece was published on BLUNTmoms on March 7, 2018.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Maybe It Really Is Just a House

With Hurricane Irma recently devastating a large portion of the Caribbean and parts of Florida, it’s easy to view the catastrophic pictures safely from your unaffected area and empathize with those who lost everything. It’s also easy to say things like, “Your house is just a house” or “Lives are more important than things”.

So, when Governor Rick Scott made similar statements a few days before the hurricane hit our state, I wanted to shove cake into his mouth, Tina Fey style. My thoughts went something like this:

“Easy for him to say.  He probably has multiple homes. And if any of those homes are wrecked in this storm, they will probably be the first to be fixed. Someone should shove a piece of cake in his mouth just to shut him up.”

Then the next day came. With reports predicting a Category 3 or 4 for our area, I was faced with the decision of hunkering down or evacuating. I thought hard about the pros and cons of each, and eventually decided to leave. But here’s the confusing part. After making that decision, I realized that I never once worried about or felt sad about the possibility of potentially losing my house or the stuff in it. I called my dad and asked him if he thought it was weird that I wasn’t too concerned about the house (he said no). And that’s when I considered that maybe I was too quick to judge our Governor’s statement. Maybe a house really is just a house.

Although, it might be easier to say this now because I didn’t lose anything. But as I packed for our spontaneous road trip, I had to make quick decisions on what was important and what wasn’t. I didn’t stop to ponder about the good ol’ days in our home. I packed…quickly. And all I wound up bringing with me were my kids, my husband, our dog, some inappropriate clothes for weather that I did not anticipate while packing, and my work laptop (because, ya know, I’m dedicated). All of the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years meant nothing to me when choosing what went into the suitcase. And the walls that have sheltered us for nine years, where my children have spent most of their lives, where I’ve entertained friends and family, didn’t even cross my mind as we drove onto I-95 Northbound.

You see, I made peace with the potential of losing everything. And to my surprise, it was much easier than I expected. After truly thinking about my life in this house, I recognized that I’ve been able to make memories here and in many other places without getting emotionally attached to the structure I was in at the time. For instance, my oldest daughter was born in a house in New Jersey.  My youngest daughter was born in a house in Texas. On vacations, we’ve stayed in houses and hotels and bed and breakfasts, creating memories as we went along. And here’s the thing-throughout all of these life experiences, we never took the structures with us.

I’m not saying there isn’t sentimental value in a home.  Sure, there is. But if you are about to encounter a devastating situation like a hurricane, remind yourself to dig deep to come up with the answer to why these walls mean so much to you. I promise you that, like me, you will also come to the conclusion that it’s not the walls that are making you sad.  It’s the moments that you had inside of them with the people you love most. And lucky for us, those moments are still alive inside of us.

It turns out that a home doesn’t house all of your memories.  Your heart does.

*This piece was published on BLUNTmoms on September 27, 2017.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Anger Has Us All By the Balls

Is it just me, or is everyone angry about something? I’m not talking about being slightly offended by everything. I’m talking about full-blown, almost manic, anger. Obviously, United States politics is the most common source of this universal fury, but it also exists on less serious platforms.

Take blogging, for instance. Recently, I’ve read numerous opinion pieces on dress codes and the costs of back to school supply lists. Some of these posts generated some doozies in the comments sections. And in turn, those comments elicited snarky comebacks by those in support of the author, branding the “trolls” for having a difference in opinion. The comments sections of these blogs have almost become a fun sort of entertainment for onlookers…except…it’s not.

As I sit here angrily writing a blog post about anger, I have to grudgingly admit that anger seems to have us all by the balls. As a society, we are using it as a platform for hate, rather than a platform for action. There have been plenty of protests, yet little to no progress. So I have to ask-is anger enough?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I completely understand where you all are coming from when you boldly shout (in all caps), “IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE THESE CONVERSATIONS” or “WE NEED TO SHOW OUR CHILDREN THAT THEY CAN CHALLENGE WHAT THEY DON’T AGREE WITH” or “WE SHOULD ALL BE ANGRY AT THE STATE OF THE WORLD”!

YES! We all should be angry at the state of the world! YES! We do need to show our children that they can challenge what they don’t agree with! YES! We should be having tough conversations! But unfortunately, we’re not. As a blogger, I know that writing a blog or an opinion piece is usually just a form of preaching to the choir, as many of my readers feel the same way as I do. And, as previously explained, those who feel “attacked” by a blog go into “troll” mode. And these online “conversations” are really just one side arguing with the other about why their idea of what is right needs to be heard louder (and also, why the other person with the differing opinion is a dickhead). But even if the well-intended post, comments included, gets shared a thousand times, by next week, it will be forgotten. And guess what? Nothing changes.

The same thing goes for writing your opinion as your Facebook status and hoping others will “like” it, or changing your profile picture to support a various hot topic, or sharing a news article about our government, or signing an online petition. It’s important to acknowledge that social media does allow people to stay informed, but it also invites laziness into our lives by allowing us to read, feel something, comment, and then quickly move on to something else, like that hysterical meme that needs to be shared.

I’m not trying to pretend that I am not guilty of this and that I have the answers. I don’t. But I think the instant gratification movement is limiting our potential to act, at least in a civil manner. We are letting anger strangle us. And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of it. I am tired of being a mom raising two young girls who will eventually feel all of the negativity that social media or media in general is seducing us with. I’m tired of this anger being catapulted into our news stories and fueled further by our government, causing a further divide among the people of this country. I am tired of seeing comments on social media that begin with, “you’re an asshole if you believe xyz”. I’m tired of the lack of these “conversations” that we all seem to agree that we should be having. I am tired of seeing comfortable resolutions like protests and online petitions, on repeat. These things aren’t working. And like all of you, I don’t see a clear way forward through this haze.

But I’m willing to try.

I’m willing to throw out everything I know and start fresh. I’m willing to start communicating on new platforms so that I can start actually progressing, instead of just having a “conversation” about progressing. I am willing to stop relying on old methods for new results. I’m willing to put anger into my vice grip and squeeze back. Not to produce more anger, but to deflate it.
Now the only question left is-who’s with me?

*This piece was published on BLUNTmoms on August 26, 2017.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Family Road Trip: New Jersey * New York City * Philadelphia

Another year, another road trip.  This year, we once again visited with family in New Jersey, which included days in New York City and Philadelphia. Anyone who knows me knows that I love planning the details of every vacation. But this time, I decided to go with the flow and just see where each day takes us. But before I get into the highlights of the trip, I’d like to talk about something.

My phone.
Smartphones are great, aren’t they? They keep you connected to the people you love, like, and only just tolerate for social media’s sake. They let you take pictures of yourself having a blast on vacation, and then, in an instant, you can share them with everyone you know!

For this year’s vacation, I opted out of all of that. I stayed away from social media, and most days, I did not even bring my phone with me (insert gasp here). I didn’t return texts or calls. I took a vacation, not just from my life in Florida, but also from my life with my phone.

It was freeing.

So much so that when I got back from vacay, I deleted my Instagram account. I know…I’m a blogger. I should be on every social media platform there is, whoring myself out to the masses. But this vacation made me realize that even though I love Twitter way too much to break up with it right now, maybe it’s time to cut back on other social media platforms. Just a little.

But I digress.

So, you ask, “Michele…if you didn’t use your phone on your vacation, how did you take pictures?”
Old school, baby. I used a regular camera. Yup. That’s right. I had its wrist strap dangling from my arm wherever I went, like back in the day when we all showed off our pink LeClic cameras, as if they were  accessories to our outfits.

While using the camera, I noticed an immediate difference in my pictures (and the quantity of them). Without the ability to instantly upload pictures to social media, I only took photos of what I wanted to keep as a memory…for me.  I took pictures that will be printed and then glued into a scrapbook. And if you want to see that scrapbook, you have to be physically present in my home. Even though last year’s Ireland pictures were amazing, I feel like this year’s pictures somehow meant more. While there were a lot less of them, the photos were more personal because I knew they weren’t going to be shared with the world.

Will I do this for every vacation? Probably not. But I honestly recommend it for all of you…at least once in your lifetime. Take a break from your phone while on vacation. Take pictures on a camera that you cannot instantly share with 500 of your closest friends on social media. Be in the moment and enjoy it…for you.

Now…here are the highlights of our trip.

Just to note, we wound up spending a lot of time with family, so I don’t have as much to share as I usually do. If you are looking for a New Jersey/New York City itinerary, check out the blog of my last road trip to the same place, where we visited every possible touristy place that could be crammed into 2 weeks of vacation.

New York
  1. Wicked – The last time we were in New York, my girls were younger, and in my opinion, not ready for Broadway. But at nine and twelve years old, this year, we took the plunge. Were tickets expensive? You bet! But it was worth every penny. Not only do you leave the theatre singing the amazing score, but Wicked sends its audience away with powerful messages on topics like friendship, loyalty, and the strength and courage of women. In my lifetime, I’ve seen more Broadway shows than I can count, but you always remember your first one. And I’m glad Wicked will be the show my girls remember.
        For more information on Wicked, click here.

View from our seats in Row Q (Seats 7-15)
  1. Central Park (Upper West Side) - I love the Upper West Side of New York City! It’s New York, without being too New York. We spent a leisurely morning climbing Central Park rocks and playing at the Tarr Family Playground on West 100th Street & Central Park West. This modern playground offers unique climbing structures, slides, swings and even a water feature.
        For more information on the Tarr Family Playground, click here.

Climbing rocks in Central Park

Tarr Family Playground
  1. American Museum of Natural History (or as my kids like to call it, “The Night at the Museum” museum) - I’m not sure I can add unique words of adoration to this already popular museum. My girls loved it, so much so that they wanted to return the following day, as there simply wasn’t enough time to digest every exhibit. Our favorites were The Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites, The Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, and the upstairs area in the Discovery Room.
For more museum information, click here.
W79th & Central Park West
open daily 10am-5:45pm
Admission: Adults-$22, Children (2-12)-$12.50


  1. Blondies-One word – wings. I absolutely love Blondies wings (which are served with a metal bucket to discard the bones) and the crispy waffle style French fries! Yes, it’s a sports bar. Yes, I took my children here, but the food was totally worth the judgmental stares.

For more information on Blondies, click here.
212 W79th Street
open daily 11:30am to at least 12am (sometimes later)

  1. Insomnia Cookies - I’m not usually one who enjoys spending an obscene amount of money on something I already do well all by myself. But after walking 20 city blocks with children in tow, we were in the mood for a snack. We came across a don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it establishment called Insomnia Cookies on 405 Amsterdam Ave (at W79th). Upon entering, the aroma of freshly baked cookies hit us hard. The store is tightly spaced, with only 4 stools and an area for purchasing. But the smell…oh, the smell! We wanted to try everything! So we ordered a dozen chocolate chip and M&M cookies for later, and then some specialty cookies for immediate consumption. We opted for the Triple Chocolate Chunk, the S’mores, and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup deluxe cookies, and my youngest sampled the brownie. Let’s just say that no one was disappointed. Oh…they also serve every cookie warm from the oven! We loved this shop so much that we went back the day before our vacation ended just to have some for the road trip back to Florida!
For more information on Insomnia Cookies, click here.
405 Amsterdam Avenue (multiple locations across the US)
open M-F 9am-3am; Sat & Sun 11am-3am

New Jersey
  1. Saddle Brook County Park- Being a Jersey girl, this is a park I’ve visited frequently throughout my life. It’s just as serene as the pictures below portray. The trails are great, and it offers a nice sized children’s playground. We spent two of our vacation days with family at this park, just letting the kids play with their cousins, and taking walks around the pond.
For more information on Saddle Brook County Park, click here.

  1. Monster Mini Golf-This fun, indoor, glow-in-the-dark mini golf and arcade was perfect for a family day with the kids and their cousins. We all had a great time playing the afternoon away!
For more information on Monster Mini Golf, click here.
49 E Midland Ave, Paramus
open daily 12pm-8pm (sometimes later)

  1. Glaze Donuts-A friend of mine is obsessed with donuts, and recently shared a picture of Glaze’s Italian rainbow donut. Other than chocolate chip, Italian rainbow cookies are my favorite! But morphing my favorite cookie into a donut? Yes, please! Glaze donuts also has an array of specialty donuts, including maple bacon, cannoli and peanut butter and jelly, but the ultimate donut experience was tasting that Italian rainbow cookie donut. Words cannot describe how delicious it was, so take a look at the pictures below.
For more information on Glaze donuts, click here.
358 River Road, New Milford (multiple locations)
open M, Tues, Thurs, Fri-7am-9pm; Sat -8am-9pm,  Sun-8am-7pm

  1. Benny’s Luncheonette- This was our first stop when we arrived in New Jersey. We were tired and didn’t feel like fighting over what type of food to get, so naturally, we were in need of a diner. Benny’s offers typical Jersey diner food (which was really tasty). And if you bring a huge appetite with you, don’t forget to order one of their “crazy shakes” for dessert. The shakes were bigger than my kids’ heads (not exaggerating), piled with cake, cookies, ice cream and other goodies. I felt like we deserved a congratulatory t-shirt for finishing one, but to be fair, my husband and I split ours, and my girls couldn’t finish theirs, but had fun trying!
For more information on Benny’s, click here.
11-04 Saddle River Road, Fair Lawn
Open Mon-Wed-5:30am-3pm, Thurs- Sat-5:30am-9pm, Sun-8am-2pm

Bigger than my daughter's face

Philadelphia, PA
  1. Liberty Bell- Sometimes, kids get completely obsessed with random things. For my daughter, it was the Liberty Bell. I don’t think anyone else in our party shared her enthusiasm about this particular monument. But I love when you walk into a place expecting boredom, only to be surprised with educational tidbits that not only hold your interest, but feed your curiosity. The theories on how the bell really cracked or whether or not it ever rang were posted along different sections of the building, which was really intriguing. I’m glad my daughter was so committed to the bell, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone visiting Philadelphia.
For more information on the Liberty Bell, click here.
N6th St & Market St
open daily 9am-7pm
Free Admission

  1. Benjamin Franklin Museum- This museum displayed interactive exhibits featuring Benjamin Franklin’s famous and not so famous contributions to our country. Like the Liberty Bell, it was surprisingly nice to take a peek into the life of one of our Founding Fathers.
For more museum information, click here.
317 Chestnut Street
open daily 9am-5pm
Admission-$5-adults; $2-children 2-16

  1. Penn’s Landing- Sometimes, it’s nice to just stop and appreciate a spectacular view. The waterfront view along the Delaware River was a refreshing part of our day.
For more information on Penn’s Landing, click here.

  1. Philadelphia Museum of Art (and the Rocky Statue)-We had a long day in the heart of Philly, but with only two hours before closing, we made it to this museum! And lucky for us, it was the first Sunday of the month, so we got to name our own price of admission! Due to our late arrival and limited timeframe, we carefully chose the Contemporary wing, the Impressionist wing, and a temporary exhibit called Wild, which displayed the amazing photography between human and animal captured by Michael Nichols. The Wild exhibit was our favorite, and if you are currently in the Philly area, I would rush over to see it before it’s gone (September 17, 2017).

*Of course, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is also home to the famous Rocky steps and sculpture. And although I really wanted to run those steps, my cute sandal shoe choice deterred me. Maybe next time!  

For more museum information, click here.
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm
Admission- $20 adults, 12 & under – free; (1st Sunday of each month=pay what you wish)
  1. Sonny’s Famous Steaks-You can’t visit Philly without eating a cheesesteak, right? ‘Nuff said.

For more information on Sonny’s, click here.
228 Market Street
open daily 11am-10pm (sometimes later)

Well…that’s a wrap, folks. I don’t know where our next vacation will lead us, but thanks for reading this year’s vacation highlights!  Enjoy your summer!

Friday, July 21, 2017

To the Fans of Music

Have you ever met anyone who hates music? Yeah, me either. In a world full of differences, being a fan of music is a commonality. It’s kind of amazing, isn’t it?

With the recent deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington looming over the world of music, I love seeing people come together, sharing songs, videos, quotes, interviews, lyrics or moments that resonated with them.

And then, of course, there are people who choose negativity. I’m sure you all have at least one of these people in your lives. You know, the ones who post things like, “Soundgarden sucked” or “Chester Bennington didn’t have a great voice” or “What selfish pricks they both are for committing suicide” or “Here come all of the (insert band name here) “fans” who only purchased one album”.

This last one is the one I want to talk about because it confuses me the most, as I’m not sure of the intended goal of the statement. What benefit could a post like that have to anyone, including the person who posted it? Was it to make fans who only bought Superunknown or Meteora feel like lesser fans because they only purchased the “popular” albums? Maybe this negative poster feels that if you don’t own every album, or if you don’t only wear the band’s t-shirts, or if you don’t have posters lining your bedroom walls, then you aren’t worthy enough to be a fan? Is the thought that if you only ever downloaded one song by the artist, then how dare you publicly say something nice about how his music helped you through a difficult time or made you smile?

Seriously…I don’t get it, mainly because I consider myself a musician. And if you are bold enough to make that claim, then you probably understand and respect fans, regardless of how much of your merch they purchase.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m this crazy good musician, as most of my performances have included seedy bars or restaurants, with people dropping utensils while they eat their dinners, all while I sing my heart out. But my point is that I have performed in public, and on rare occasions, I have shared songs that I have written. And yes, it’s an amazing feeling when a “fan” requests one of your songs, or asks you the meaning of a certain lyric, or hums three bars of your chorus. As a musician, I think connecting with people is the goal, even if that connection is only one song, one lyric, one chorus or one moment.

Now if I were to multiply that feeling by millions, that is the number of fans we are dealing with in terms of Cornell and Bennington. Some fans are die hards and some aren’t. But if you claim to be a fan, all that really means is that somewhere along the way, a piece of someone else’s creation made you feel something. It really is that simple.

So, to the Cornell fans who maybe don’t know ALL of the words to Black Hole Sun, but love the music anyway, or to the Linkin Park fans who only purchased Hybrid Theory and no other albums after that, this is for you. Don’t ever let someone else tell you that you can’t mourn the death of a person who created a piece of art that was powerful enough to speak to your soul.

Music has the power to bring you back to your first date, your first kiss, your graduation, your wedding, your divorce, a failure, a success, a birth, a death, a new beginning, or a sad ending.

Just always remember that it’s this power of music, not the purchase of the album, that connects us all.

And over the last few months, I’ve learned that anyone who tries to downplay that connection, simply doesn’t get it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Stuck in Paradise

My Sunday morning routine always starts with coffee on my back patio. Because of the consistency of Florida weather, this is a ritual I enjoy year round. However, this past Sunday, as I stared into the abyss of palm trees obstructing my view of the sky, I started thinking about the relativity of beauty.

Being a New Jersey native, my version of beauty may be somewhat skewed. Growing up fifteen minutes away from one of the most influential cities in the world was definitely a perk. As a teenager, the epitome of freedom was cutting class to hang out in “the village” with only five dollars of lunch money in my pocket, hoping desperately that I didn’t get too swept away by what New York City had to offer, and wondering if I would be able to make it back home by the time school let out. By my early twenties, I embraced my obvious crush on the Big Apple by spending as much time there as humanly possible.

And then I got married…and had children.

My love for the city was instantly overshadowed, and eventually became a liability. While I knew how much the tri-state area had to offer my children in the future, my concern came from what I witnessed in other children while living there, which was that city kids simply grow up too fast. Above everything else, I didn’t want to cut my kids’ childhoods short. So, here I am, years later, living in Florida, where my twelve-year-old daughter is still interested in toys rather than make-up and thinks boys have the cooties, and my nine-year-old daughter still believes in Santa, the Easter bunny and fairies. Moving here accomplished everything I wanted…for them. But for me? I’m stuck in paradise.

Most people come to Florida to get away from it all. The lure of swaying palm trees, sunshine and Mickey Mouse offers peace, warmth and fun. When the Orlando airport doors swing open, vacationers eagerly welcome the staggering humidity that slaps them in the face as they draw their first breaths. They find beauty here, even if it’s just for a week.

And I get it. But let’s not forget that beauty is relative, and for me, it doesn’t include palm trees and beaches. That kind of beauty, that is so apparent to everyone else, is completely wasted on me. Sure, I’ve vacationed in some “island-y” places, but lying on a beach in the sweltering sun, trying to keep my sunglasses from sliding down my sweaty face, trusting my sunblock to not make my already-dark-skin darker, was never a treat for me. None of those island vacations screamed beauty to me. If anything, they left me bored and slightly agitated.

My agitation continued upon moving here, when I learned that the running joke was, "Florida is where you come to vacation, retire or die.” Although it got a chuckle from me the first few times I heard it, this particular joke had a bit too much truth to it. It made my inner child whine, “I want to go home!” And by home, I am, of course, referring to New York City.

For me, beauty is the music coming from the guitar of a man sitting on the mucky subway floor, hoping that his song will encourage me to drop my dollar bill into his beat up guitar case; it’s ducking into my favorite pizza place on Broadway to “grab a slice”; it’s hearing a man’s whistle, while watching his arm extend outward, expecting a cab to stop immediately to rush him off to his next appointment; it’s the hustle and bustle of Times Square mixed with the peace and tranquility of Central Park; it’s witnessing how much life is crammed into these overcrowded spaces. This is the version of beauty I understand. Despite the clichéd smog, dirt and grime associated with the city, it is the only place where I can breathe. You see, for me, beauty is not necessarily beautiful.

But trading skyscrapers for palm trees has shown me that if I truly wanted to find my personal definition of beauty, I had to start by looking deeper than the picturesque views of seagulls on the beach, or the memory of Manhattan’s magnificent skyline. Living in both places has taught me that beauty is not what I see, but rather, what I feel. Beauty is whatever makes my heart beat faster.

Beauty is what makes a person feel alive.

And although my current zip code is missing the palpable energy of New York, each time I walk through the door and see my daughters and my husband, the flutter of excitement I feel on the inside is a constant reminder that, no matter where I am, my heart will always find the beauty that will lead me home.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Being a Mommy

Not all of us are lucky enough to have someone in our lives who makes the transition from mother to mommy. Regardless of how many hours of labor you went through, or whether or not you chose natural childbirth over the epidural, becoming a mother by giving birth to a child is the easy part. Becoming a mommy is much harder. 

I'm not sure which traits qualify us as good versus bad moms, but I think I associate the "mommy" title with how engaged a mom is with her kids. I frequently ask myself if I’m good enough for my girls, and my husband always tells me that the fact that I even ask myself that question makes me a good mom. He also is always quick to point out that, at nine and twelve years old, both of my girls are always singing, and he correlates singing with happiness, and happiness with how I parent them. So, in an If-You-Give-a-Mouse-a-Cookie-way, I am doing a decent job. But while going through the daily effort of trying to be a mommy, rather than just a mother, I can't help but reflect on my own mom, and the example that she set for me. 

My mom has always been a worrier. Being that I was an only child, diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of four, I can't really blame her. Having kids is hard enough, but having one who needs constant medical intervention? I can't imagine it. As a kid, teen and pre-adult, I had a really hard time with her constant concern for my wellbeing. But now that I am an adult with my own kids, I totally get it. While my worrying style isn't as pronounced as hers, I understand how pure love for your children can make a mommy's heart worry. 

When it comes to my mom’s heart, love incessantly pours out of her four-foot ten frame, touching everyone around her. Whether it’s love, time, loyalty, food, money, or even clothes, she is always emptying her pockets with an expectation of nothing in return. She rarely does anything for herself, and if she does, she figures out a way to give some of it to others. She gives one hundred percent of herself, sharing everything she physically and emotionally has with anyone who has the pleasure of knowing her. She is staunchly supportive and makes it abundantly clear that she is always on my side, and she extends that support to my husband, my kids, and even to my friends. She is the greatest cheerleader you can ever dream of having. But my favorite quality of hers is that she makes me feel loved.

Someone once told me that love is a verb, but being a mom has shown me a different definition. Sure, we all do whatever it takes to make our children happy. But for me, love doesn’t mean that you always have to be doing, acting, proving. Love, from a mommy’s perspective, is an invisible quiet feeling that is constantly coursing through your veins. And if you are successful at being a mommy, in the way that my mom is, you simply just make your children feel loved, without saying it, doing it, or proving it.

No matter how crazy your mom makes you, no matter how many mistakes she may have made, in the end, if you feel her love, then she gave you the gift of doing it right. She was your mommy, and always will be.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mommy, and to all of the other wonderful mommies out there who, regardless of time or distance, make their children feel that they are always loved.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Beyond Type 1

“Don’t forget to take care of yourself” is one of my favorite pieces of parenting advice given by other parents. The unexpected life that unfolds before you as a parent can be overwhelming, so every once in a while, it’s important to focus on your own wellness. However, I can’t help but laugh at the thought of NOT taking care of myself, simply because, if I stopped, I’d be dead.

You see, I live with a chronic illness that doesn’t allow me to skip self-care. I have Type 1 diabetes, so naturally, I have this “me time” thing down to a science.

When I brought my first daughter home from the hospital, it was extremely difficult to accept that my health, not my child, was my number one priority. It was not an easy adjustment. But it’s probably safe to say that because I am a diabetic, I learned sooner than most moms that taking care of myself is not optional.  It is a requirement.

I know this sounds strange, but I actually feel lucky to have been diagnosed with a disease that promotes self-care. If you do diabetes right, you get rewarded with a longer life and fewer disease-related complications. Diabetes gives me control over how long I get to enjoy this earth. In comparison, I’ve watched family members and friends fight through cancer, which lowered their body’s defenses and limited their abilities to continue life as they knew it. They didn’t have the options that I have. For me, it all comes down to how well I choose to treat my body. Admittedly, I don’t always comply with the strict diet rules that come along with Type 1. However, I know better than to abuse myself.

Of course, I didn’t always live as I do now. In college, I pretended diabetes didn’t exist. I ate whatever I wanted and consumed alcohol like a true party girl. I took “being young and dumb” to a completely new level. My endocrinologist even banned me from her office.

Luckily for me, I grew up and have been taking small steps every day that enable me to take control of my disease and my life.

Like most moms, my daily routine includes showering, brushing my teeth, taking care of my family, and working a full time job. However, it also includes other responsibilities like testing my blood sugars, counting carbs to determine how much insulin I need for everything I eat, and logging all of my meals, numbers and carb to insulin ratios so I can detect patterns and adjust as needed.

Then there are the smaller “blink-and-you’ll-miss it” features of my life like when driving my children to school, I pack juice boxes in the car. Not for them, but for me…just in case I feel a low blood sugar episode coming on while I’m driving. Or when I decide to go for a run and have to test my blood sugars first to ensure I won’t go into a coma along the way. I also need to be selective when packing snacks as I need food that will help balance my blood sugar without causing hyperglycemia.
In addition to eating well and exercising, I also enjoy risky adventures like skydiving. And as freaky as skydiving may be to a non-diabetic, the stress that comes from that excitement also affects my blood sugars negatively. So, even when planning to do something fun that gives me butterflies in my stomach, I always have to be prepared.

My point is that even though I have a few more steps to complete each day, I don’t mind making certain accommodations for my disease. Type 1 diabetes does not define me, but it is a part of my life that needs to be acknowledged and taken care of on a daily basis. And as long as I continue to take the cliché parental advice and take care of myself, my illness won’t stop me from spending time with my two beautiful daughters, dancing with my husband, running a marathon or jumping out of an airplane.

Living with a chronic disease was not my choice, but living beyond Type 1 diabetes will forever be my goal.

*This piece was published on Reality Moms on April 5, 2017.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

John Wesley Jewelry

John Wesley Jewelry.  It has a ring to it, doesn’t it? With the media’s love for abbreviations, I can already imagine the variety of nicknames that will be given to this shop when it goes global.


John Dubbya Jewelry.


The possibilities are endless!

And now I’ll come down from my cloud.

I know. You might be tired of bloggers trying to push products. I get it. Rather than listening to our personalized ads for items that you may not need, you want to hear our interesting/funny/relatable stories.

Well…this is not one of those posts. But in my defense, I have been telling stories without any product pushing for the entire year so far, so I’m due for some sort of campaign.

But before you go away, there is a cuteness factor about this particular “product push” post. 

It’s personal.

Are you ready? Here it is.

The beneficiary of this blog campaign is my extremely talented husband, John.

Aww…isn’t that sweet? Yes.  Yes, it is. But let’s not make this into a romance movie just yet.
If you’ve read my blog before, you already know that the hubs is a creative genius. Whatever he tries, he’s good at. And his new venture is a perfect example of that.

John has been creating handcrafted wire jewelry for a few years now. With each year, he challenges himself to make more intricate pieces, and the results are breathtaking. Now, he’s finally reached a point where he is confident enough in his talent to take the show on the road. Or, at least to Etsy.

And I’ve decided to help him.  Because, aside from being my awesome husband, blogging + promotions = success for everybody.

Feel free to click on some of my favorites below. But if those don't strike your fancy, there are plenty more gorgeous pieces to choose from over at his Etsy shop, John Wesley Jewelry. Also, he is fantastically adept at figuring out new designs, so if you have something specific in mind, send him a message, and I am sure he would do a brilliant job of creating a custom piece for you.

Copper, Silver or Gold colored wire wrapped dangling earrings
Copper wire wrapped cuff
Basket weave copper earrings with red faceted bead
Wire wrapped sunburst earrings with turquoise bead
Silver plated wire wrapped hoop earrings
Steampunk gear earrings

And now, my faithful readers, this is where you come in.  Go check out my husband’s shop, 
John Wesley Jewelry. Share this post with your friends and family on your social media platforms. Shout it from the rooftops that John Wesley Jewelry is opened for business.

John Wesley Jewelry can be found on Facebook and Instagram, too, so make sure to click on the links below to support his shop and follow his journey!

And just for being the awesome readers that you are, for a limited time, you can use this code at checkout to waive shipping costs.  BALLOFWAX4JWJ

Happy shopping!