Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I am a woman;
filled with childlike naivety,
red, purple, blue and black. 

I am a mother and caregiver;
a protector,
rarely a risk taker.

I am a friend;
shy and awkward at first,
loud, loyal, and slightly obnoxious ‘til the end.

I am a giver;
a reluctant taker,
providing what I can, when I can, when I want.

I am a manager of things;
a list maker,
a planner planning more spontaneity. 

I am a widow;
an emotional person,
searching for me in a world of we.

I am a musicophile;
listening on repeat,
finding life, meaning, and purpose in someone else's words and a wicked beat.

I am a loner;
valuing time to myself, for myself,
struggling with being alone.

I am a fighter;
standing up for what I believe in,
defending those that deserve it.

I am a believer;
in God, karma, attraction, the innate good in others,
in myself.

I am the sea goat;
practical, responsible, independent,
stubborn, and often fearful.

I am not cookie cutter;
uniquely defined,
constantly evolving my shape.

I am strong;
I am awesome;
I am fierce;
I am enough;
I am me, undefined.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Control of My Happy

The last two weeks have been pretty exciting, exhilarating, and exhausting.

Fretting over the possible sighting of a grey hair and a long faded home dye job, I contemplated coloring my hair. Coloring requires upkeep. Upkeep requires time and money. As with most people, when I have one, I don’t always have excess of the other.

The fun began with a sassy new demi-permanent dye job. Red, copper and a little purple. I wanted something different, something fun, but not entirely outrageous for work. I mean, I already push boundaries wearing leggings and black lipstick, I didn’t want to come in with unicorn hair. Since it is demi-permanent and already fading, I have my next appointment set in five weeks. We’ll see what direction the color goes; I leave a lot up to my stylist.

Two days later, I was off to the Total Package Tour that I mentioned in an earlier post. BoyzIIMen, Paula Abdul, NKOTB. What a great show with a great friend. Followed by the car adventure the next day.

That's me touching Donnie Wahlberg!
Hello, Jordan Knight!

Four days after the concert, after nearly three months of searching, I bought a car! I did a lot of research and had a few friends also help with the research and provide advice. Test drove cars on two days, negotiated then purchased on the third. This is huge for me. Thanks to the employee pricing benefit Ghon had while working at Carmax, we did buy a couple vehicles that we didn’t necessarily need. Like my Yukon. At one point, we had 2 drivers in the house and 5 vehicles. His truck, his Le Mans, my Camry, my Yukon, and an old Corolla that he used to commute in while Linda was abroad at school. Otherwise, and thereafter, we ran cars to the ground. To go shopping for a car when my KIA was still in decent shape was not the norm for me. But, I’d already put a ton of miles on it the two years we owned it, it was worth less than I owed and the kids and I really did need something bigger. I traded it in, gave a hefty down payment, and am now the owner of a 2016 Honda CRV.  It’s a little different for me to now have sole (well, joint considering banks) ownership of, or maybe sole indebtedness, of a car and a mortgage. Just me, myself, and I. Who’s a big kid now?

Meet Diana! (As in Diana Prince)

I could have spent more time car shopping, but the next family adventure was at hand. Vacation! Road trip!!

Saturday, July 1, the kids and I set off on our first vacation. Last summer, we did a 1 day, 2 night trip to Rehobeth Beach but otherwise, no vacation. I took them to Reno in October, so I guess that counts too, but when the kids think vacation, they think summer. We packed late Friday and a little Saturday morning. Typical for my packing, I over packed my clothes, just to be sure I had plenty of options. I packed the kids bag just right, allowing one extra “just in case” outfit. When I loaded the car Saturday morning, I was somewhat impressed. One bag for me. One bag for both of them. One collapsible cooler bag for food and drinks for the ride. A tote with enough snacks to last the entire trip (and it did!). And another small bag for all my tablet, charging cords, and maps. Each kid had one small backpack of their car stuff.  If I’d had the KIA still, the back would have been full. I had room to spare! Lots of room!  Something was very different about this trip. Very different; and I’m not talking cargo space or Ghon.

Ready to go!

I was taking the kids to New York City and Boston. I didn’t make a packing list. I didn’t have a hard itinerary, aside from our tickets to see the Statue of Liberty. I make lists. I plan. This time; I had mental notes, a transit app on my phone and goals. Goals that were not all met. To an extent, I gave up control again and tried to go with the flow. We left Saturday morning, maybe half an hour later than I’d liked, but I had no steadfast plans for that evening that required specific timing. Get to the hotel, get into the city, go to Coney Island. Eat dinner at Nathan’s, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, ride the Wonder Wheel. Two of these things did not happen, and it was still a good night. We had a safe drive to our hotel. I fretted over getting into the city since we stayed in Secaucus, NJ. I looked at three transit maps, and couldn’t believe that once I made it to the Port Authority Bus terminal, it would take over 90 minutes to get to Coney Island. I felt fear creeping in over me about taking the NYC Subway. I can drive in Baltimore. I Metro through DC. Suddenly, I felt less like a city girl and more like a country bumpkin. Intimidated by the thought. Maybe it would be easier to just stay at the hotel that night. No. No, no, no. This was Coney Island night. Not a hard plan, but the best day to accomplish these wish list sights. We threw our sneakers on and left.

The bus ride was OK. We ate cupcakes from Carlos’ Bakery. I found the Subway. It took me FOREVER to get three subway passes. Found the right platform. Track work. Change trains. Nearly two hours after we left the hotel, we made it to Brooklyn. We ate our hot dogs. We did not walk the bridge, we did not ride the Wonder Wheel because it was closed. We did walk around the boardwalk and eat gelato. We did make it safely back to the hotel. It was a good evening.

For the majority of our time in New York, we made use of one of the hop on – hop off tour buses. Again, for Sunday, very little agenda. We hopped on and off, visited many locations, and to keep happy kids, worked in a pizza lunch – and eventually a pizza dinner, a trip to Dylan’s Candy Bar, M&Ms World, and we took a horse and carriage ride around part of Central Park. Monday, we saw a few more sights from the bus, then visited the Statue of Liberty. I bought tickets in advance and we had access to the pedestal, which was pretty awesome. Quick stop at Ellis Island, back to the bus, to Manhattan, eat more pizza, to the hotel for our car and we were off to our friend’s house in New Hampshire!

Grant's Tomb

July 4, we attended the Amherst, NH parade and watched our friends Hazel and John ride in the bicycle parade! After some down time at their house, moms and kids headed to Boston. Melissa and I both carried backpacks with us that day and once we attempted to enter the esplanade, found out that no backpacks were allowed! Next adventure – find a bag we could take in! We walked around the gardens, just missed a swan boat ride, bought some souvenir bags then ate at the bar/restaurant where the TV Show Cheers was filmed. Back to the esplanade and we worked our way in and watched the Boston Pops! Now this didn’t mean a ton to the kids, but for me, this was pretty cool. Especially when I found out there were additional live performances by Melissa Etheredge, Leslie Odom, Jr, and Andy Grammar! Very cool!! Following the show we switched spots and watched fireworks!
Me and Melissa
Jonathan, Genevieve, Hazel and John

The crew in Boston!

Andy Grammer and the Boston Pops!

My favorite things include chocolate, live music and fireworks. I was with friends, eating chocolate ice cream during a concert that was followed by fireworks. It was a great night.

July 5th was the long ride home. Quick stops for bathroom breaks and gas and we made great time. I did so well with the packing for this trip, despite no plan or list, that I had everything unloaded, put away, and laundry done in the first hour we were home! Not only that, I repacked the kids who were leaving the next morning to go camping with my dad for 4 days!

Insert a couple days of work and cleaning the house up, purging more stuff, a trip to a salt cave for a little relaxation, and a visit from a friend on Saturday afternoon. That night, off to Baltimore to stay with my best friend Melissa. The next day, it was a girls trip back to New York with her daughter Rylee and my friend Amanda to see Kinky Boots on Broadway. Brendon Urie from Panic! At the Disco, one of my favorite bands, was starring in the show for a limited run, so we went to see the show while he was performing. The show was phenomenal! Following the show, we hung out by the stage door and was able to get autographs and photos of many of the cast members, including all the leads. THIS INCLUDES BRENDON URIE! (Insert ultimate fangirling here.)  A great day with friends. Only downside, was not getting home til almost 2am!!

Me, Melissa, Amanda

If only....
J. Harrison Ghee - Lola

OMFG BRENDON URIE!!! - Charlie Price

Self explanatory - See that B? BRENDON URIE!!

The euphoria of getting that close to BRENDON URIE and driving through the city with the top down. :)
I thought briefly about this, and Facebook of course gave me a reminder, that this time last year, I was three weeks out from losing Ghon. Existing in complete fog. Barely functioning and not knowing how to accomplish much of anything. A year later, I feel like I’m living. New hair. New car. Two concerts with 7 different performers. A Broadway show. Two trips to New York City and a trip to Boston. All of this, much of it with two kids, in just barely over two weeks. Sure, I might be a little tired. But I’m having a great time.

There is one thing that is a guarantee in life: you will die. Yep. No denying it. You will not always know when it’s coming. You may have a long time. You may not. The people you love, whether by choice or death,  may not be with you forever. You may be the one left behind. It’s that control thing again – you cannot always control when you die. Likewise, there is no timetable for when a grieving person should live again, or not be sad, or not be angry. By living my life, I AM moving on. It’s what you should do. You meaning everyone, not just those in a grief situation. Some people think that’s a bad thing. Hogwash. You are alive. Be alive. Insert a million ways to say it; eat dessert first! Live each day/moment like it’s your last. Make a bucket list and do it!

While we can’t control death, what you and I can control is our emotion and reaction. I navigate a world of emotions on a regular basis. I chose which ones I allow to take hold. Occasionally there are some I don’t care for some that breakthrough for a bit. I give them their moment, as they are here for a reason, acknowledge the feeling, and if it’s one I’m not comfortable with, I change it. During a conversation with Melissa (NY trip not Boston trip, LOL), when I was running through a myriad of emotions and confusion, her words to me were “I just want you to be happy.”

Happy. Yep. I deserve that. My kids deserve that. You, reader that is still here with me, you deserve to be happy. Happy isn’t forgetting my past or being specific, Ghon. Forgetting him would be the opposite. Happy, is acknowledging and remembering the good times we had. Happy is moving on and living my life as it exists now and as I chose to make it.  Happy is thinking of all the things I want to see and do, and learn about myself and others and doing them. Happy is not letting negativity rule my world. Happy is saying F-off to naysayers and doing what I want to do for a change. I’m a big girl now. Happy is seeing my kids have experiences that I didn’t have or didn’t think they would have. Happy is getting a break once and a while from them; but not too long because my house gets too quiet and I get into weird non-happy emotional places and miss them. Happy is knowing that I like a noisier house. Happy is having friends stop by and help kick the silence out. Happy is having friends to chicken-sit for you so you can live outside the house. Happy is going to New York City. Happy is knowing I will be going back; happier would be knowing when! Happy is feeling the sun on my face. Happy is having friends that care, dark chocolate, live music and seeing fireworks. Happy will be getting more than 4 hours of sleep tonight.

While it’s fun and even necessary to give up a little control and learn to roll with the punches once and a while, like having no plans in the city or ditching your backpack so you can make Bostonians feel better, I will always maintain some control. Control over my happy.

With that, I leave you with a request and a question. If you are part of my happy or contribute to my happy, please keep it that way. And tell me, what makes you happy? I want you to be happy too. Comment below!!

BTW - Blog comments on the blog post also make me happy. So do it!