Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Captain's Log - Day 9 - This is Your Life

                    


Good Morning Friends -

Are you settled in to your new home office for the long haul? Have you been working on house projects that you never seem to find the time to do? Have you been getting out for some fresh air and sunshine? We are all worried about physical health but I think our metal health is just as important and will have a lasting impact on the rest of our lives.

  
I’m still working on my photo sorting project. Last night I was reliving so may fantastic memories and thought “this is your life.” All my loved ones, friends, family, places I’ve been, all right here in these boxes of pictures. Digital is great and it certainly takes less time, space and money but most of our photos stay trapped on our computers or phones after we text or email them to a few people. There’s something about holding a physical picture just like holding a real paper book. It’s not the same as looking on a screen. We no longer have to be selective about how many photos we take as long as we have enough storage on our devices or in the cloud. We can take thousands in the matter of minutes. Back in the day, we only got 12, 24 or 36 pictures to a roll so we had to use them wisely or carry a big stash of film (which I always did). Not only was it expensive for film and developing but you would then have to hold your breath as you opened the developed photos after waiting over a week just hoping you were lucky enough to get a few really good shots. I’m sure many of you have never even had to load or change a roll of film. Yes, I know, I’m old.
 
I remember being at a Boston Celtics/Chicago Bulls game that went into triple overtime. It was a battle between Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. I was able to sneak down to the court and sit down next to the row of photographers with my camera/zoom lens in hand. The sad part was that I had already run out of film so I was just pretending to take pictures. These pictures were from a different game but probably my last pictures of Michael Jordan in the Boston Garden:
 
   



 
Does anyone remember the show “This is Your Life”? It was before my time, I’m not that old, but I remember seeing reruns of it. At the start of each episode, the host of the show would surprise a mystery guest (typically a celebrity of some kind). Consulting the series' trademark red book, the guest is told that "This is your life!" and is then transported to a previously-prepared television studio. As the host recounted important events in the person's life, the guest was reunited with family members, old friends, and other important figures from their past and present.
              
 
The subjects of This is Your Life were kept in the dark until they were on a live TV where every little detail of their lives might be examined. It's not hard to believe that some of them were bound to be a bit unhappy about the situation. Some of the subjects found out about the show in advance and flat out refused to appear. The show was not without concern about what the shock of being brought to a live show might do to an unsuspecting guest. However, most of the subjects relaxed after the initial shock and enjoyed meeting friends, acquaintances, and relatives that they hadn't seen in a long time. Imagine seeing your fifth grade teacher who helped you with a reading problem when you were ten years old, or an Aunt who took your family in during the depression? Or who you spent time with in isolation during the virus pandemic? Or someone who you saved from drowning when you were 20-years-old and they were 4-years-old? Or the casting director who gave you your first job in show business thirty years ago?

Would you be happy to be the subject of “This is Your Life”? What would your “Red Book” say? Ten or twenty years from now, what will you remember about the corona virus pandemic of 2020? Will you remember the difficulties of getting toilet paper or will you remember having the opportunity to slow down and spend time with your family? Will you have developed a new skill or found a new passion now that you have more time in your day not having to commute? What do you think you will remember about these days? I’m hoping I’ll remember how we all eventually realized that we had to do what was necessary to save lives. The sooner we all socially isolate the sooner we’ll be able to get back to socializing again. It’s hard to believe just a few short weeks ago we were all happy to be staring at our screens and now that that is pretty much all we can do, we want to get out and connect in person. I am thankful for the technology we have so we can at least stay connected through the screens. My friend’s company even started having social gatherings by video conference just to see each other face to face safely through a screen. As much as we may be isolated, we are not alone.  

Take care my friends. Have a great day and, as always, please let me know if you need help with anything.

Hang in there. We can do this!

Stay connected but



PS. Sorry for being so late with today’s log but I had some actual work to do which has to take priority. I’ve already gotten a few e-mails asking “Are you ok? Haven’t heard from you this morning. I look forward to your emails in the morning!  Just checking that you are all right.” Glad you are enjoying these and thanks for checking in on me. You guys are the best!!!

Peace out my friends.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Captain's Log - Day 8

Good Morning Comrades –
 
How’s everyone doing today? I’m a little disappointed we finally got more snow in Vermont and I can’t go snowmobiling but I know that many of you are happy you didn’t have to commute in it.
 
I hope you are all trying to stay positive in these crazy times.  Imagine the stories we’ll be able to tell about how we survived the corona virus pandemic of 2020. I can picture when today’s babies turn 20-25 years old and they break out the last roll of toilet paper their parents bought these past 2 weeks.
 
I’ve certainly had my moments of anxiety and panic but I’m trying to let go of the things I cannot control, such as:
 
·       If others follow the rules of social distancing
·       The actions of others
·       Predicting what will happen
·       Other people’s motives
·       The amount of toilet paper/food at the store
·       How long this will last
·       How other’s react
·       The long term damage
·       The health of loved ones
·       The selfishness of people thinking it’s ok to go out because they’re healthy
·       My family in Italy
·       My 401k losses (DON’T LOOK!!!!)
·       Millions of other things….
 
I’m doing my best to focus on the things I can control, such as:
 
·       My positive attitude
·       How I follow CDC recommendations
·       My own social distancing
·       Turning off the news
·       Limiting my social media (blocking the negative people)
·       Finding fun things to do at home
·       Checking in on family and friends
·       Offering to shop for elderly family, friends and neighbors
·       Sharing old photos J
·       Getting out for some sunshine and exercise
·       Being thankful for all the technology that allows us to continue working and stay connected
·       My kindness and grace
 
I’ve been sorting boxes of pictures for 3 days now. I’ve filled up a trash bag full of people I don’t remember and scenic pics and sharing sweet memories with family and friends. It’s been a good reminder to write names on photos – especially babies. It’s hard to tell who they are 30 years later, unless, of course, it’s your baby.
 
Attached are a few photos from last year’s Balloon Festival at the Stoweflake Inn in Stowe, Vermont.
 
Since I haven’t done my hair or put any makeup on, I’ll show you my favorite coffee mug instead of my mug (I know, you’re surprised it’s not a Patriots mug):
 
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Please show me yours. 
 
I miss you all.  Have a great day and please reach out if you need anything.
 
Stay safe and positive. We will get through this.  J
 
 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Captain's Log - Day 7 - Social Distancing

Good Morning My Friends,
 
How was your first weekend practicing social distancing?  Are you going stir crazy yet? I spent most of the weekend sorting pictures. I filled up a big trash bag with unknown people and scenic pics and got a big storage box of photos down to 3 little photo boxes. I found some great gems and awesome memories. Now I need to get a quality scanner to digitize what's left. I also got a head start on my spring cleaning and other projects around the house in addition to some Netflix binging.
 
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I’ve attached a few more spring photos and below is another poem from my friend Janet:
 
Fresh air is a gift right about now
Keep on reading I’ll tell you how.

There is no shortage, there’s plenty to go ‘round
It’s easily accessible even when housebound.

You can get it any time, no limits In place
It’s sure to put a smile on everyone’s face.

You don’t have to ration it or go into a store
No matter how many get it there’s always more.

You can share it with others without concern
You don’t have to wait in line for a turn.

Get out of the house and go for a walk
Use the time to self-reflect instead of a talk.

This will be behind us soon I hope and pray
But in the meantime try to enjoy every day.
~ J. Surette
 
What did you do on your first weekend of quarantine?
 
Stay safe and have a great day!
 




 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Captain’s Log – Day 4 – Working in Isolation from Home Base

 
I thought I would share my morning e-mails to my co-workers here:
 
Good Morning Friends –
 
We’ve almost made it through our first week of working from home. I’m curious to know how everyone is handling their new normal. Are you enjoying not having to commute? That is certainly one of the perks.
 
Someone commented that they loved the butterfly photo in my email yesterday so I thought I’d share a few more of them (see below and attached). These were taken at Butterfly World in Florida in 2007 when I went down to visit my Mom. The two butterflies in the last photo were like that for hours – who knew?
 
I’ve been making a list of all the projects around the house that I never seem to find the time to do. I’m hoping to get my closet cleaned out this weekend. I’m also looking for good Netflix recommendations. I’ve almost finished “You” which is creepy but so good and I got Bill to start watching “The Good Place.”  We’ve also been watching “Better Call Saul,” “Good Girls,” and “Dispatches from Elsewhere” on regular tv.  What are you watching?  Anything good?
 
I’m not sure where this came from but thought I’d share:
 
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
~Author Unknown
 
I also found some good advice in an article about staying sane while working from home:  https://www.wcvb.com/article/how-to-work-from-home-without-losing-your-sanity-1/31463941#
 
Take care my friends. I’m so thankful to have the technology to work and keep in touch with you all.  I miss your faces.  J
 
Have a great day and please, as always, let me know if there is anything I can help you with.
 
Be safe out there.
 



 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Captains Log - Day 3 - Isolation and First Day of Spring

Happy Spring! 

A reminder that, after a long and not so cold and snowy winter, there is rebirth and hope. We will get through this corona virus season but I'm not exactly sure if we will ever be the same. 

If you know anyone who is still out partying at spring break or getting together with friends for a corona party, please do whatever you can to convince them to stop and think about how many people they could get sick or kill with their selfishness. They have to realize how serious this is by now. This is not just a bad strain of the flu. 

The majority of us are blessed to have technology and Netflix and all sorts of things to keep us entertained at home. Act like you have the virus and just stay home to save the lives of many. Be a hero. You can save lives and give the doctors and nurses a chance to save more. It's really not that hard. If people don't wise up there will be many more casualties and we will be forced into isolation. 

I'm praying we all survive this terrible season and look forward to the seasons to come on the other side of it. Be safe and stay healthy my friends.
~~~~~
To everything there is a season
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
...
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together
...
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, A TIME TO REFRAIN FROM EMBRACING
...
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late
~The Byrds



Peace and Love My Friends!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Captain's Log - Day 2 - Home Base Isolation

I can't completely wrap my head around the enormity of what is happening in the world right now. It is just so surreal. It's like an eerie episode of the Twilight Zone or a Stephen King novel. How are we going to survive this? I just read a headline that the United States expects an 18 month long pandemic with mass shortages. I didn't click to read the article because I just can't take anymore horrifying news at the moment. If I slide down that rabbit hole I may never get myself back out of it.

Working from home again today was a little easier although I am frustrated that everything seems to be taking so much longer to accomplish. I'm just not set up to work efficiently but I'm going to figure out what I need to do it because it sounds like I'll be doing it for the foreseeable future.

I barely got any sleep last night. I was up past 2am, woke up around 4am and got out of bed at 6am which is earlier than I get up when I have to get ready and commute to work instead of grabbing a cup of coffee and walking in the next room. I do enjoy the easy commute and not having to wear a bra so I guess that's a bit of a gray lining - I don't think it lives up to silver status but it's something.

B went out to Stop and Shop first thing this morning to try to get some essentials. They had a small supply of toilet paper but not much else that we really needed. He walked in as soon as the doors opened and went past a guy who was filling a carriage full of single rolls of toilet paper. He walked past him and picked up a 20 pack and left. The guy just looked at him as if questioning that it could be that easy. Is this what it's come down to? If and when life gets back to (our new) normal, are we going to have quarantined shelters stockpiled with toilet paper? I just don't get it. I've offered to deliver it to friends in the area who may not have been able to get any but everyone seems to have gotten enough for now.

After being home for the past few days we were starting to go a little stir crazy so we took a drive down the beach on my lunch hour. There were crews of men working on a construction project and tons of people out on the beach like it was a summer day although most were in pairs or what looked like groups of families. The sun was shining and it was chilly but nobody seemed to mind the cold. I loved it. It felt so good to get out and get some vitamin D and some brisk fresh air before heading back to my new home office.

I can honestly say the year 2020 sucks! Not only has the corona virus shut down life as we know it but then Tom Brady announced he is leaving the New England Patriots - on St. Patrick's Day of all days. If you know me at all then you know how much this breaks my heart. I absolutely adore him. He gave us so much joy for the past 20 years and I just can't imagine him in another uniform playing for another team. It's just not right but it looks like TB12 will be playing in TB next season. How the hell did that happen? The world just doesn't make sense anymore. Of course, that assumes that they will be able to play football come September. It was a great 20 year run and I am thankful he provided so much joy in my football loving heart. I wish it were the only thing I were sad about and it almost seems trivial to even care about a stupid game but I love football. I remember being a Patriots fan when we were just excited to win a game let alone make it to the playoffs. I love Tom Brady and will root for him to win as long as he is not playing my Patriots. I'll always be loyal to my team, even if it is against my love, Tom. I wish him well and thank him for all the good times, comebacks, incredible plays and parades. I've been to all of them.
It's a sad, sad world we're living in and I wish I knew how we are going to make it through to the other side. I have checked in on people I haven't talked to in a while. I've called and asked people if they needed anything. I want to help but I don't know what to do other than to stay isolated and do what I can to prevent myself, my guy, or anyone else from getting sick. B is still recovering from prostate cancer and was scheduled to start radiation tomorrow but that has been postponed. Not only because of the pandemic but some health insurance bullsh!t. I honestly have very little confidence in our healthcare system. I have confidence in the doctors and nurses who work hard to heal their patients but it's the insurance companies that will be the death of us all.

I'm so sorry to come back to blogging and be such a downer but there really isn't much to be happy about but I'm trying to stay positive. I've been sending good morning emails to my coworkers every day offering help if they need it, give them little words of encouragement, silly bitmoji pictures to make them smile and a reminder that our mental health is just as important as our physical health. I'm trying to find the silver lining but it's not easy to spot. I'm thankful I live in a safe house with someone I love and we have what we need to survive but who knows how long that will last.

These are uncertain times when we just need to take care of each other and pray we make it through. How are you handling all of this? Are you freaking out as much as I am or are you thinking it's not a big deal? Please, please, please try to understand it is a very big deal and you could be the one who saves many by doing your part to keep from spreading it down the line. Please take it deadly serious, because it is, and stay safe my friends.

Peace ☮ and Love 💔

It's a Whole New World...



Captain's Log:  Day 1 - Home Base - Isolation due to Coronavirus

It is the end of the world as we know it. What better time to dust off the ol' blog and write something? To tell the truth, I'm scared. We've never experienced anything like this and I'm not sure how the world is ever going to recover from it.

Two weeks ago we all thought that being diligent about washing our hands was enough. We thought that it was just some new strain of flu that gets hyped up every election year. We survived all the others, what would make us think we wouldn't survive this one? Well, we've never seen anything like this before and we can't imagine the destruction and devastation it will do if we don't slow the spread.

We are all at risk. We all need to do our part to get through it with the least amount of casualties. We all need to isolate as much as possible in order to slow it down and give ourselves a fighting chance. There is just too much at risk.

Things got surreal very fast. First they cancelled NBA games, then all sporting events, then my hometown canceled school for a MONTH. Seriously? A little extreme? No, it's not. We saw what it was doing to our sister city in Italy and we tried to get a head start on saving lives. We didn't want what was happening there to happen here.

Last weekend I went to a wake with many family and friends. I had been avoiding shaking hands or touching anyone but we did what we always do at wakes - we hugged the grieving and people we hadn't seen in years. We were careful to wash our hands and not touch our faces but is that really enough? This past weekend we found out that the son of the person who died, who we all hugged, was sick with the flu and had coronovirus symptoms. He was unable to get tested so we don't know if he has the virus but we also don't know if he doesn't. He is feeling better now but we still have no idea if we are now carrying that virus or whether we will recover if we get symptoms or pass it on to our loved ones.

I was so frustrated seeing friends out at restaurant and bars over the past weekend acting like they didn't have a care in the world. Trying to tell me it was all media hype and political sabotage from people wanting to crash the economy. I asked them how that was possible considering what was happening in China, Italy and across the world. We practically had to tie my in-laws down to get them to stay at home. They have a full social calendar and are out at some function or another almost every day and night of the week. It took a while but I think they are starting to realize the seriousness of it now that Disney parks are closed, restaurants and liquor stores are closing, construction is being halted, all events are being cancelled. Flights that are months away are being canceled. This is some serious sh!t!!
People started panic buying toilet paper, hand sanitizer and everything else they could get their hands on. The supermarket shelves are empty in my neighborhood (just outside of Boston). There is no toilet paper, no fresh vegetables, no chicken, no canned vegetables, except 2 cans of lima beans and 2 cans of asparagus. There were 2 bags of frozen pearl onions in an otherwise empty freezer section. The soup isle was bare except for a bunch of Manhattan chowdah. Bostonians would rather starve to death before eating that. There isn't a food shortage or toilet paper shortage but they can't keep anything in stock because many people are too selfish to consider the next person's needs.


When I left work last Friday I got home and had a panic attack. My anxiety had been increasing more and more over the past couple of weeks and skyrocketed on my commute home Friday. There was no way I was going to be able to get back on the train and commute to work with this virus spreading like wildfire. I took the picture below during rush hour Friday morning. I was the ONLY person on the platform when I usually have to fight my way onto a crowded train. It was spooky. Thankfully my office made the decision to allow us to work from home and I'm so relieved. At least I will be able to continue to earn a paycheck while we're locked down for the foreseeable future.

I hope and pray that you are all safe although I know it is unlikely that anyone will actually read this since I haven't written anything in YEARS but it feels a little better getting it out.

I'm thankful I am stuck at home with someone I love. I hope we still like each other after this is over. Be safe my friends and do your part to get us all through this. Act like you already have the virus and don't want to spread it to your loved ones because if you don't you probably will.

Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly. Offer to pick something up if you are going to the store. You don't have to have contact with them. You can leave it at their door and then call them to tell them it is there. Be kind to one another. Take the time you will have to work on projects you never seem to have time for. Get the spring cleaning done early, clean out the closets, learn a language, catch up on your favorite shows, read a book, take a nap, resurrect your blog that you haven't touched in years (hi :o), find a new show on Netfix to binge watch, start an exercise program, do something to stay sane and healthy.

Please stay safe, socially distance yourself as much as possible, isolate if you can and take this serious because it is deadly serious. I pray we all make it through to the other side.

Peace and Love
~MB

Monday, January 18, 2016

I Have a Dream....

Happy MLK Day!

If you have the day off work today, I hope you take a moment to reflect on the reason for the national holiday and how Dr. King's wise words and dreams are still something we need to work to fulfill.

This world has become a pretty scary place and it seems as if we are divided more than ever when we should be coming together and fighting for justice and equality no matter what race or religion. I find it hard to watch the news and our ridiculous politicians who fight for power and money instead of fighting for the people and doing the right thing. We have come so far but have so much further to go.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others? ~MLK

The time is always right to do what is right. ~MLK

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~MLK

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. ~MLK

Every year on this day I like to read the "I Have a Dream" speech in its entirety. It is just as true and powerful today as it was when Dr. King delivered it in August 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

I HAVE A DREAM

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy New Year!?

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and got to spend quality time with the people who mean the most to you. I did a significant amount of writing over the holidays but didn't want to bring people down with my sadness and grief so I didn't post it all.

It's a new year and a fresh start and all that and I'm trying to convince myself that it will get better. Time heals. I will eventually have a day without tears and, honestly, that day cannot come soon enough. The truth is I'm in a pretty sad and depressing place and I don't know how to get out of it. Aren't you glad I came back only to post one depressing story after another? For those of you with a thick skin and a compassionate heart, I really appreciate your sticking around and being so supportive. I promise I'm trying to work my way out of this funk but the holidays were extremely tough when you deep in the grieving process and I'm trying to recover from it all.
 
 I had a bright idea to include my condolences thank you cards in with my Christmas cards but as I started to stuff the envelopes I just couldn't do it. How could I send out holiday wishes along with a long sad letter reminding people of how much I (and they) miss my Mom? So I still haven't sent out thank you cards and I only managed to send Christmas cards to a few people who are struggling right along with me.
 
I'm still trying to comprehend how quickly and unexpectedly my Mom died. As much as she drove me crazy at times, I am devastated she is no longer here and I'm doing the best I can to get through each and every day without her. Every single day I would get a "Good Morning" e-mail from her and we would e-mail back and forth all day long. Of course when I called her she would just repeat everything she told me in the e-mails but she still wanted to hear my voice so I called her and she would end up doing most of the talking.

The holidays were extremely tough. They brought along such a deep grief as I struggled to comprehend that she is no longer here to celebrate with us. She should have been here. This is just the beginning of the year of firsts. I can’t help but weep as I recall happier times and even the many not-so-happy times. Just last year we got to spend a few bonus days together as her return flight to Florida was cancelled due to one of the many big snowstorms we had. How different it is this year – we don’t have any snow and we don’t have her here with us.

While the whole world celebrated, holiday memories flooded in and make grief cut in even deeper. As I turned my calendars to the month of December I saw my Mom’s flight information there as she was scheduled to be here on December 21st for her usual Christmas visit. She should have been here to celebrate her 71st birthday on January 3rd. Never in a million years did I think last Christmas/New Year/Birthday would be our last celebrations together.

We all have a list of time-honored holiday traditions. These traditions are part of who we are and how we share our happiness with the people we love. How do we celebrate when one of the people we love is gone. How can we possibly be happy and celebrate? How are we supposed to fake feeling festive when we miss them so much?

December may be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but it can also be the most painful. There is a profound difference between the external trappings of the season and the way we feel inside. What once delighted us now feels empty and we cringe at all the hoopla. Doesn't anyone know how much we hurt? The gaiety surrounds us and accentuates our feelings of loss.

I have not yet adjusted to life without my Mom. The ache of her absence envelops me like fog even as I try so hard to be cheerful. It is expected that we all be in good spirits during the holidays but it is difficult to pretend to be cheerful when a huge loss is still so fresh. Even though the calendar dictates it, I did not feel jolly or festive.

I  know that the holiday blues are a normal part of grief. Unspoken gloom hovers over all attempts to celebrate. It is a process and I know no matter how much time passes I will always miss her, every single day, and somehow even more on the holidays.


I've had a few good days and really, really bad days, but the thing that keeps me going is trying to do what she would want, which is to be happy and keep smiling. If she knew I was sad it would upset her so I'm doing my best to make her happy (still). The holidays just reminds me how much she enriched and touched my life in a way that made me who I am, and it reminds me to be thankful for all the memories I will forever cherish. Just because she is no longer physically next to me or a phone call or e-mail away, she will always be a part of me and our connection will continue to grow, maybe even in a deeper way. She is my angel now. An angel I know only wants the best for me just as she did all my life.

I hope that you take a moment to show your love and appreciation for all of your loved ones, not only on the holidays but every day, because you never know how many more opportunities you will get to show them how much they mean to you.

Now 2016 will be the year of firsts and the year I somehow learn to live without my Mom. It's been over 3 months since she past but it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. I'm looking forward to a day without tears but that hasn't happened yet. Something always sets me off and I can't help but cry. I have so much to be thankful for and I'm trying to stay focused on the truly important and meaningful things by showing my appreciation to those people who enrich my life.

I truly appreciate everyone who has reached out and offered their advice and sympathies. I know time will pass and the devastating hurt will soften and I will be able to get through a day without breaking down. Death is a part of life and it will happen to all of us eventually. Hold tight to the good times and live your life to the fullest every single day.

Blessings to you and yours....
XO

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Faking Festive....

'Tis the season to be merry and all that but, as you can imagine, I'm just not feeling very festive this year. I'm going through the motions - hanging the Christmas lights and wandering the stores but it doesn't feel like Christmas. It doesn't help that we haven't seen any snow and it's going to be in the 60s this weekend but on the bright side we have plans to go bike riding on Saturday. Not very often we're able to do that in New England in mid-December. We'll probably even venture out and get a tree this weekend but my heart doesn't really feel like celebrating anything.

My work "holiday" party was this past week and as much as I wanted to go home and do nothing I forced myself to go to the party. I went prepared with a flask because they usually only offer beer and wine at work functions and I don't drink either but I knew I would need a little something to get me through the night. Turns out they actually offered a couple of specialty drinks and one was a citron vodka drink so was all over that. I think my office manager got sick of listening to me complain that beer and wine is not "open bar."

The party was at a swanky hotel a few blocks from the office so it was convenient to get there. I had a few drinks, talked to a few friends, had a bite to eat and then went to "work." I gave myself the job of being the official photographer so I could hide behind the lens and not have to chit chat. I was able to float around taking pictures and had an excuse to keep on moving around. Even though I've been at my firm since 2011, I don't know many people other than the group that works on my floor and a few others because the place is so huge and my department is one of the smallest. I'm always asking my floater friend who everyone is because I don't have a clue and she knows everyone. I see these people on the elevators and in big meetings but I don't know them. The past few years I felt extremely socially awkward at these parties and I think it's because I didn't have my camera to protect me. Even though I wasn't in the mood, I'm glad I forced myself to go and I did get lots of great pictures.

I know that this year of firsts without my Mom is going to suck. I broke down when I turned the calendar to December and saw her flight information written on there. She would have been here for Christmas until after her birthday on January 3rd. Getting through these next few weeks is going to be so hard. I wish I were bitching about how much she was driving me crazy because she always did. She certainly knew how to press every single one of my buttons and it seemed like she enjoyed doing it. Over the past few years I was learning how to just let her say what she was going to say (repeatedly) and not argue with her about it (whatever "it" was) because it wasn't worth the fight. She believed what she believed and nothing I ever said made any difference anyway. I'm glad that no matter how much she bitched and drove me crazy we always ended up having a great time. My brother and I really went out of our way to spoil her at least twice a year. We paid for her to come visit over Christmas and Mother's Day every single year. We took her to see her family and friends and we would take her to all her favorite places because we wanted to make sure she had a good time and she always did. I still can't believe last year was our last year. She even got stuck here an extra few days over and above her 2+ weeks because we had a big snowstorm and her flight got cancelled. Who knew how different things would look this year?

It's certainly not easy to fake it. On the outside I may be smiling, laughing and appearing to be having a good time but on the inside I'm a sad mess who is holding back the tears and on the verge of a meltdown. Even though we never stop missing them, I know with time it will get easier. Maybe by this time next year the fog will lift and I will be able to celebrate with a happy heart (right Biz?). Meanwhile I will continue to fake feeling festive until I can learn how to celebrate again without being so sad my Mom isn't here to celebrate with us.

It's not about the presents, the parties or the food - it's about making memories with the people we love. Cherish the ones who are around your tables and trees and enjoy every family get together because someday you will look back and only have pictures of your loved ones celebrating past holidays. These are the days my friends, I thought they'd never end...

Happy Festivus!

Cheers!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Warm Weekend Flies By...

Monday again already? Why must you come back so quickly? I must have blinked because it feels like it was just Friday five minutes ago. Mondays always come way too fast and I never seem to get everything on my to-do list done.

I ended up working late Friday night because I had to take B to the doctor Friday morning to get a few areas of skin cancer cut out (again) so I was late getting in the office. I thought it was funny that when B filled out the doctor's questionnaire that asked "do you have any family history of skin cancer?" he wrote "I'm Irish." That pretty much says it all, right? He is Italian too but his skin is definitely Irish. He is stitched up good on his neck and back but should be feeling fine after he gets the stitches out in 2 weeks. This is not the first time he's had to have skin cancer removed so I'm not too worried about it but it is something he needs to keep an eye on and get checked regularly. It's interesting that the spots I think look bad are nothing and the little spots that don't look like much are what end up being cancerous. Please get checked if you have a similar family history. It's very treatable as long as it is detected and taken care of early.

Saturday was a beautiful day here. After getting some chores done in the morning I spent the afternoon in the salon getting my hair done. I'm so very lucky that my brother is an amazing stylist and colorist who takes care of covering up my old lady grey hair before it gets too noticeable and out of control. It always looks amazing for a couple of days after he does it and then it's back to the no fuss styling since I can't be bothered to break out the hair dryer let alone spend any amount of time making it look as beautiful as he makes it look. So thankful for my brother and his talents.

Sunday was a gorgeous 50+ degree day here. We spent the morning hanging Christmas lights and raking leaves. Hard to believe I was out in a t-shirt raking leaves in December. I'm beginning to believe this global warming theory. The afternoon was spent watching football. It didn't turn out well for me and my fellow Patriots. It was an ugly game. Fingers crossed some of our injured players will come back healthy and we can get back to our winning ways. On to Houston. The Pats loss was the worst part of my weekend so that's a good thing.

Time for me to get my act together and start another crazy work week.

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend and have a Happy Monday.

Rock on...

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Long Time No Blog....

Hello My Friends -

Is that an echo I hear? Hello? Hello? Is there anybody out there? Is this thing on?

Not sure if there is anyone still out there on this line but I think it may do me some good to get some stuff out of my head. It's pretty full up in there and I need some release.

I have been keeping up with you, my blog friends, by reading your posts but haven't been commenting much, if at all, because I read on my phone during my commute and it is almost impossible to comment using that medium. I hope you know I'm out there cheering you on and wishing you well.

Yes, it's been an extremely long time since I posted and, as you can imagine, a lot has changed. This post would be novel-length if I tried to tell you everything that has happened in 2+ years so I'll just give some highlights/lowlights and, hopefully, I'll be back on a semi-regular basis to fill you in on more of the details. I'll start by answering some questions I would want to know if I were you.

Q: Why did you stop blogging?
A: I was never a consistent blogger but after I went back to work I just didn't have much time. Aside from the time issue, there was so much going on in the world that it seemed kind of frivolous for me to be worried about something as insignificant as my weight. Not much has changed. I'm still crazy busy at work (aren't we all!) and the world is even more full of events that make me want to crawl in a hole or run away to a faraway place to be safe but, luckily, I am safe and blessed in many ways so I need to get over that. This is the world we live in and I need to find a way to not let all the violence and sadness of the outside world bring me down. It's certainly not easy. I can't even watch the news some days because it makes me so sad. I just don't understand all the hate and violence. It is so scary.

Q: Why did you change the name of the blog?
A: When I started this blog I thought it would help me figure out why I could lose weight, feel great and then gain it back over and over again. I've come to realize that the weight doesn't really matter. It's not about a number on the scale, or the size of my pants, it's about being healthy and feeling good. That's what I'm going to try to work on. It's more about what is going on in my head so I'm hoping by writing about that, it will help me work it out and once I get my head in a healthy place I will be able to get control of all the emotional eating and start taking better care of myself.

Q: Did I regain ALL the weight I lost?
A: Yes, I'm fat AGAIN! It's amazing how long it took to lose 101 pounds and how very quickly and easily it was to gain it all back. Sit at a desk for 10+ hours a day, don't make time to go to the gym, don't cook healthy meals at home regularly, try to stuff down your emotions with food and it is very easy to find yourself back where you started. Hello, Square One.

Q: Are you still going to those cardio kickboxing classes?
A: Unfortunately, no. I haven't been to the class I loved in years. When I went back to work I tried going to class twice a week on my lunch hour but the gym was on the other side of town and my bosses got upset when I was taking almost 2 hours for lunch so I stopped going.

Q: Are you still working out?
A: I'm not a total slug but I'm not working out consistently or with much intensity. I walk about 3 miles a day, to and from the train station, when the weather cooperates and I get on my bike once in a while but that's about it. I do have a gym membership but it isn't convenient for me to get to so I haven't been more than a few times in the past 6 months.

Q: Anything major happen?
A: It is so hard for me to even write this since I'm still in shock over it. My Mom passed away in September at 70 years young. She was often a pain in the ass and drove me crazy but she was my mother and I loved her. I miss her so much and only wish she were still here to drive me crazy. She was supposed to visit for a friend's wedding in June and the day before she was scheduled to fly up here she went to the hospital because she had a cough that wasn't getting better and she was having trouble breathing. She was diagnosed with lung cancer. Initially they said it was a very small area in her left lung, very treatable and she would be fine after 6 weeks of chemo/radiation. Three weeks into treatment her doctor called and LEFT A MESSAGE saying she was too weak to receive anymore treatments, they were admitting her into hospice and she was going to die. My brother and I flew down to Florida the next day and spent a month with her in hospice. It was brutal and I'm still in shock. I can barely see the screen through my tears so I'm going to sign off for now.

I'll be back...soon.

XO

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Give Me a Break!

There has been so much going on in my little world I don't really even know where to begin. It would probably help if I didn't go weeks/months between posts but I honestly haven't had a minute to myself these days.

Where to start....

We finally moved 25+ years worth of stuff out of our third floor apartment into the new house. You can imagine the great stair workout I got over the past few months carrying box after box down 3 flights of stairs and going back up again and again. It was exhausting and more challenging than any day at the gym but it is finally done. Now I have a 2 car garage full of boxes to unpack but at least I'm away from the toxic environment and all the family drama.

Our place in Vermont got broken into and we had thousands of dollars worth of stuff stolen. We got to the camp around 11pm Friday night of Labor Day weekend to find our beautiful new French doors to the addition broken and every bag and drawer emptied and strewn all over the floor. Our relatively new tv was gone and they stole a bunch of random stuff. Snowboard, snowboard boots, snow shoes, backpacks, tools, CDs and other stuff we haven't realized is missing yet. The key to our plow truck is missing and they tried to steal the riding lawn mower but couldn't get either of them started. Luckily they couldn't get at our snowmobiles or the ATVs but it is little consolation. So creepy to know total strangers have been in your house going through your stuff. I had been so stressed and was looking forward to a relaxing long weekend but that didn't  happen. We spent the weekend installing new locks and securing the place as best we could.

I was almost numb to it all by the end of that night. As sad as it is I keep trying to look on the bright side. The thieving ba$tards shut the door when they left so the house wasn't full of insects and animals, nobody was hurt and it is just stuff. Stuff can be replaced but it is hard to get over the fact that we are not safe there (or anywhere). Some of our neighbors up there haven't locked there doors in 30 years but they are starting to now.

I am in the middle of a visit from the Mothership and I'm losing what little patience I've been hanging on to. She really knows how to push all of my buttons and I'm afraid I haven't been biting my tongue as much as I should and usually do. It cracks me up that the things I actually remember she tells me didn't happen and the revisionism she believes is mind boggling. She is such a worrywart and has a non-stop commentary about everything that is bad for you. You shouldn't eat this or that, you shouldn't drink (as she sucks down another scotch), everything is dangerous and you shouldn't do this or that. It's exhausting dealing with some so negative when I'm trying so hard to get my head in a better place but she is my mother and I must try to keep the peace.

I finally got my Wii hooked up and weighed myself. I was right. I haven't gained it all back but a good 80% found its way back on. I'm doing the best I can to just hold on these days but know I have to get serious about weight loss again. It is so hard to see my friends wearing all my beautiful fat clothes that I gave away when I could wear them again now. Even sadder is all the beautiful clothes I have that I can't squeeze my a$$ into anymore. I swore I would NEVER fill out those fat clothes again so there was no need to hold onto them. When will I learn?

What is it going to take for me to lose it AGAIN and keep it off? Your guess is as good as mine but I'm determined to keep fighting for it.

Thanks to all you beautiful souls who keep checking in on me, cheering me on and inspiring me. I'm determined to make you (and myself) proud again and I'm going to try to check in more regularly so you don't have to read such long rambling posts.

I best get my butt to bed since I'm hosting my first big BBQ at the new house tomorrow.

Cheers!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What are we waiting for?

Hey Strangers -

Long time no blog. Yes, I'm alive! I've missed you! Luckily, I've been able to keep up with things going on in your world thanks to a smart phone, a long(er) commute and Google Reader (please tell me what I should use for a reader now-I'm clueless).

Today is July 1st, my birthday month, and I can't help thinking about how different I felt just 2 year ago and how I really need to get my groove back. Two years ago I was closing in on 101 pounds lost and felt amazing. I was in the best shape of my life when I reached my goal in September that year only to climb right back up the scale like the statistics said I would. I'm trying to look on the bright side - I'm still better off than I was 6 years ago at my heaviest but that's not very comforting. What am I waiting for? I'm certainly not getting any younger.

You can't imagine the things I've been through these past months. I don't even know where to start without boring you to tears with all the gory details. I'll just give you some highlights or, in most cases, the lowlights, to catch you up on the major happenings.

 
  • I'm a Bostonian. I work two blocks away from the finish line where they set up the medical tent. I was supposed to work that Monday but (thank God!) I was nowhere near the chaos and carnage that happened that day. I think He knows I couldn't handle it because I wasn't in the city on 9/11 either. I wasn't at the Marathon and I didn't know any of the victims personally (lots of friends of friends) but I was still devastated by what happened. I just can't comprehend all the hatred in the world and it makes me want to run away (to where? I don't know). Our city was in lock down and it was scary having something so horrific happen here.
  • I was forced to move from the apartment I've lived in for over 25+ years by a family member who returned from out of the country to cause havoc and take advantage of people's generous nature. I call those generous people "enablers" and I just couldn't stay and be a witness to it. Home is supposed to be a place we feel safe, a place we can relax and unwind but that became impossible to do. When someone is in your house screaming, slamming doors and disturbing that peace there is no way to avoid hearing it and getting involved in the drama. It was intolerable and, as much as I didn't want to move, I had to get away from the toxic environment. 
  • We bought a house! I still believe everything happens for a reason and I'm trying to see how being forced out of my apartment brought me to a better place. We closed in March and spent months renovating. We worked our full time jobs and then worked at the house every night and every weekend until we were able to start sleeping here in June. There are still lots of renovating to do and we still have a ton of stuff to pack and move out of our 3rd floor walk-up but we are away from the drama and that is a good thing. I even thought about doing a "What's Blooming?" post like Lori when I saw my tulips, daffodils and lilacs come up in the spring.
  • The same weekend I started sleeping in the new house was the weekend they moved my desk to a new floor. I've only been at this job for less than 2 years but the move was still hard. I've certainly had my fill of packing and moving and I'm not even done yet. My desk faces a different direction, the equipment on my floor is terrible and it takes longer to get everywhere except, unfortunately, the café. I really don't need to be any closer to free food (Lord help me!).
  • The Answer to the $264,000 Question? I honestly don't know what I weigh at the moment. The scale and my Wii got packed away a while ago and I haven't found the time to dig either of them out. I've been working day and night but haven't stepped foot in the gym and haven't been able to get to those kickboxing classes I love. I haven't been making the best choices and have, more often than not, gone for convenience over substance. Some nights we got home so late I was too exhausted to even bother having dinner. I haven't gained it all back but I'd guess I've found about 80% of the fat I painstakingly lost. It is just one more thing to be depressed about but I'm determined to get out of this pit I've put myself in.
  • Once again, I'm having a bit of a pity party for myself. How do I get back to that happy place? How do I make the time to do what I need to do? How do I stop numbing my emotions with food? Obviously I don't have the answers or I wouldn't be back here AGAIN. I really believed I was going to keep it off. I thought I figured it out, finally, but I was wrong. I honestly don't have a clue but I'm going to try, try again.
There has been more family drama and some other major happenings but I don't want to shock you or bore you with all this "woe is me" stuff. Believe me, I realize I have many, many good things in my life and lots of people would be happy to trade their problems for mine but I'm finding it hard to keep up the positive attitude when I really just want to sit down and cry.

There are so many of you that truly amaze and inspire me and I thank you. Just so you know I'm not just blowing smoke when I say I've been keeping up with you....
  • Happy 50th to Shelley! I picture you jumping up and yelling "I'm 50!" like Mary Catherine on SNL. You just keep getting better and better.
  • Happy 45th to Lori! Inspiring weight loss/maintenance with biking and bagels.
  • Happy 1000th+ post to Cammy! Making Tippy Toeing through maintenance look easy.
  • Marion, I love your gym photos and your tough love. You are a rock star!
  • Best Wishes to Suzi as she starts her new life as a married woman. We've both lost and gained but through it all, no matter our weight, we've had the support of great guys and we can get back there.
  • Biz, you are INSANE! Love those sweaty photos - keep 'em coming! You make me want to cook and I hate to cook. I love your pictures, getting a peak into your life and your tales of getting bizzy in the kitchen.
  • Elle, I know exactly how you feel. I'm there and we both know what we need to do to get back to where we want to be.
  • You, you and you too...I'm cheering you on, giving you a kick in the butt or sympathizing with you even if I can't comment much, if at all. I'm there for you in spirit and praying we all find our way.
I'm not giving up because once you reach the bottom of the pit there is nowhere to go but up and out or die trying. What am I waiting for?