Have you ever had a moment when you thought — I used to do “fill in the blank” all the time, and I’ve gotten so far away from it, it feels foreign and as though that’s not really me anymore … but I want it to be me?

Yeah, I have those moments a lot.  Life being the roller coaster that it is, choosing this door instead of that door, setting certain goals that change how you make commitments in life  — so many things that create the journey taken to this point in time.   It’s actually kind of fascinating.

And then I’m here — remembering a time when getting home at night didn’t consist of pouring a large alcoholic beverage, pulling on comfy pants and turning on a favorite TV show or movie.  Thinking of the time before I took my current job, and my schedule changed every week and took no notice of whether it was the weekend or not (I can hear Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess -during Downton Abbey’s first season- asking in a blankly perplexed voice “What is a week – end?”)

Now I find myself armed with my laptop, my Nook and Pandora, hoping to recapture some of the nights and afternoons of my mid-20s, when I felt creative, when I found a book more enticing than the TV.  And all I can think about is how life changes and grows and you can never be certain where it will lead you.

Two years ago I thought I’d run a marathon one day.  I hoped that I might marry my funny, handsome man.  I had no qualms about jumping in at the restaurant — carrying a tray, bussing a table, taking an order.  Two years ago I had a savings account for possible lasik or a breast reduction.

Six years ago I was living at home with my parents.  I had no savings accounts.  I’d known John for a little over six months and I was a complete and total emotional mess most of the time.  I’d gotten him Bruce Springsteen tickets for his birthday.  I’d just gotten my first legit event planning job.

Ten years ago, I was in the midst of finally moving away from State College.  I was a ‘professional’ server.  My car was stick shift.  I liked the wrong guys and had little to no self-esteem.  But I was still in touch with all my theatre peeps — and I miss them.  A lot.

Eighteen years ago I’d just moved to Wyomissing.  My brother and I took ‘joy rides’ around our new neighborhood and listened to Celine Dion (that was my choice and trust me, Dave doesn’t let me forget it).  I was right on the verge of meeting some of my longtime friends, learning all the responses to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, waiting my first table and singing my first true lead role in a musical.

And then I come back to now – I have a good job, the most perfect furry little girl named Lucy, a best friend and soul mate (puke puke, I know) who cherishes me, respects me, believes in me and takes care of me.  I live in a beautiful apartment.  I eat sushi at least once a week without it breaking the bank.  I have two last names.  I feel stable.  I also have MS.  Shit happens, right?

So that’s me, tonight.  I have Edith Piaf on.  I’m going to have sushi for dinner.  And I’m going to curl up with my puppy and my man and watch a movie.

And I’m a-okay with that.



my Lucy, my “dog”-hter

I’m not the best at being home alone when my husband is away on business.

I’m also not especially proud of that.  My mother is a strong, independent woman.  Both my grandmothers = the same.  And here I am, dithering away, sad and lonely because the man is away.

Long story short, a few years ago he was sent to Costa Rica for what -originally- was going to be a six-week trip to launch and ramp up a new LATAM (sp?) office for his former company.  I balked.  I never used to have a problem being alone – but in January of 2008 I was robbed while asleep in my bed and something about my inner DNA changed.  Being alone -at night- no matter how much safely could be assured – just didn’t sit well with me.  Now, I’ve definitely gotten better over time.  But — well, that’s part of the story.

Our lease terms dictated that we were not permitted to have pets.  I fretted about this, telling John that only a dog -another living being – would make me feel secure.  He’d been to Costa Rica a few times before that, and I’d spent that time in a  perpetual state of overwhelmingly bleary-eyed fatigue.  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t function.  Even my co-workers counted the days until John came home.  It meant I would once again be capable of doing my job properly.

MIraculously, our landlords agreed to allow us a trial period to have a puppy.  There were stipulations – about things such as noise, and breed  – but we were given permission to get a dog.  On January 7th 2012 we brought Lucy Lou home.  She was a nervous dog, falling asleep standing up out of fear.  She shook nearly our entire drive home, and often in the first few weeks.  It didn’t bode well in terms of ‘protection.’  And then John went away, and it was just her and I … and we sort of figured it out together.

Now, here we are, my girl and I, snuggled on the couch two and half years later, still a team when John goes away, still protecting each other, and being an alive being when otherwise we would have been alone.  She knows me (she prefers her Daddy, but such is life) and when I’m hurting, or vulnerable, or scared, she’s right by my side, her big brown eyes assuring me that all will be okay.  And she even has a pretty ferocious bark – not that I ever enjoy being in a situation where she feels inclined to use it.

The truth is, she’s so much more to us than just a companion.  I think adding Lucy to our lives taught us immeasurably about ourselves – our capacity as caretakers, our depth of feeling regarding a creature who looks solely to us for her quality of life and well-being.  We will never have children (and that’s a decision we’ve had careful and considerate conversations about over the years of our relationship) but we have her, and she means more to both of us that words could ever describe.

I miss John when he’s away.  And I still have a hard time being home alone, especially at night.  And I still feel like a little bit of a failure for that.  But being here, doing spreadsheets for work while drinking red wine and watching a Harry Potter marathon wouldn’t feel nearly as comfortable if my baby girl weren’t curled up by my side, the soft snuffle of her breath the only break in the her rhythmic breathing.

And we had a good night.  We dropped John off at the airport and came home.  We wandered around the yard while Lucy found a myriad of sniffs she clearly never smelled before (cue raised eyebrows and skeptical look).  Then, while she scarfed her dinner, I made some zucchini pasta and scallops for dinner, and poured myself a generous glass of Cabernet.  Now, we are together on the couch, watching Harry Potter (I could watch HP every day) and getting ramped up for the beginning of the week.

And- let’s be honest – it will be Wednesday in no time.

good vibrations

I have a weakness for self-help books.

Not – well, I don’t know how to describe it.   I love “The Four Agreements” and things of that nature.  Right now, I’m just getting into the good stuff of a book called “Within” by Dr. Habib Sadeghi.  Theoretically it’s about weight loss – but the thing is, it isn’t about weight loss at all (so far as I have read).  It’s about human thought patterns, emotions, the ‘harmony’ of life within yourself.

I’m obsessed with nearly every idea in it.

I’m thirty-four years old and I have made mistakes.  There are times in my life that I haven’t been overly proud of how I’ve conducted myself.  But there are other times that I’ve succeeded and been in a really positive, happy place.  And I have found that I spend far too much time remembering and regretting things, instead of being in the present and being proud of who I am and the life I’ve lived so far.

That idea is one of the reasons I love books that help me look at life from a different perspective.  Books that hope to give women in the workplace help being powerful, books that examine inner character … and books that help identify negative thought patterns.

I guess it also helps that I buy into a lot of it.  I really believe what I’m reading and look at ways it is manifesting in the world around me. Dr. Sadeghi talks about String Theory in the first chapter of his book and once I read the basic idea, I became hooked (just watch my husband’s face every time I mention vibrations!).

But it all sort of became crystal clear the other day when I received a very random friend request on FB.  And it niggled in my brain for days.  And I accepted it.  And it niggled some more.  And then I ended up unfriending.  And here’s why ~ social media, and FB in particular, ties us to each phase of our life, and who we were in those moments.  And I think that life was designed to allow us to grown and move away from certain parts of life ~ which social media makes nearly impossible.  I don’t want to be friends -either legitimate or otherwise – with people from my past who may have condemned me, judged me or otherwise thought badly of me.  Why would I do that, except in a pathetic self-flagellation punishing myself for -basically – being young, misguided and confused?  Why would I choose to remember that every time I opened up my FB feed?  Why would I revisit a time in my past I’ve outgrown and has little to no relevance to who I am now?

Without self confidence and self love, I would, just to punish myself for ‘crimes’ or injustices I felt I committed years ago.  But I don’t owe anyone apologies for who I was, just as they don’t owe me any apologizes for you they were (regardless of how I felt at the time).  That time has passed, and we have all moved on and found comfort and safety in the partners we have found and the lives we have carefully created.  The people I have in my life now I have chosen specifically, because they are genuine and honest and enhance my life.  And hopefully, I theirs.

That’s sort of the beauty of finally hitting my stride in my thirties.  I love the confidence I feel in who I am, the people I surround myself with, the life I lead ~ and I’m okay with embracing all my idiosyncrasies and weird loves.

And I don’t want to go back to my twenties when I was rife with insecurity, was confused and misguided with no sense of what direction I wanted to head.  And surrounded by people who superficially were my ‘friends’ but didn’t actually know me or really care about me.

I like the idea that the world is made up of different frequencies of vibrations and similar vibrations are attracted to each other.  When I am happy, happy vibrations come back to me.  And having that idea in my head not only makes me want to send positive vibrations out into the world, but it makes me want to eliminate things that bring about negative or anxious vibrations.

That’s what I love about self-help books.  Finding the positive.

the grand canyon

A few moments ago, the man and I sat on our couch, gently speaking to Lucy and petting her, as the lights flickered and finally went out and the storm outside raged.  The lightning flashed and the thunder cracked and the sound of the rain against the windows pattered rhythmically.  Our little girl was shaking like a leaf, eyes wide and head darting to and fro as the lightning intermittently filled the room.

Our power is back now, and the sky is a sherbet shade of orange through the trees.  Lucy has settled herself in, no longer shaking in complete terror.

Something my yoga teacher said today during mediation really struck a chord, and the storm this evening sort of – in an unrelated, yet somewhat related way – reinforced it.  Marissa read a quote from her teacher’s teacher (and I won’t insult anyone by attempting to remember his name because I would inevitably get it wrong) which distilled the idea of struggle.  People want life to be happy and full of sunshine and light.  But what actually defines us, defines our character, are the struggles we all face and how we choose to deal with them and work through them.

I’d heard this before.  But it never had as much relevance to me as it did today.

Each of us faces challenges throughout life.  And none of us can definitely say that my battle is more difficult, or more debilitating or more defining that someone else’s challenge.  Social media can tell me in one day that a friend from college has a premie baby, a friend from high school as a teething child and hasn’t slept in weeks, another friend’s one-year-old son is staying in the hospital overnight with a staph infection.  An old co-worker’s husband left.   None of those things are comparable.  We all wake up to our own burdens every day.  Like the old saying goes, if everyone threw their problems onto a huge pile, more than inevitably, you’d choose to pick up your own compared to someone else’s.

The first thought I had when Marissa was speaking was that the perseverance that one has through a struggle is sort of like the perseverance of the water that -over millennia- formed the Grand Canyon.  And that perseverance made one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world.

I guess it’s all about perspective, y’know?

Time changes everything.

There are a lot of clichés but I’ll refrain from listing them all.  At the heart of most clichés is a nugget of truth; possibly even wisdom.

In the end, we all get to choose how to handle our life’s journey and how we choose to tackle each obstacle in our path.  Those choices speak to who we are more than so many other things.  So each day, when faced with something unexpected or difficult, I hope that the choices I make reinforce the type of person I hope to be.