Remembering Mom at Christmas

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and all that I love about the season stems solely from my mom. She was the spirit of Christmas for our family, which made celebrating this year that much harder without her. But in some ways, she prepared us for it by removing herself from most of the festivities in 2021 – and I remember remarking on Christmas eve last year that she’d never be with us again during the holidays. It was a heavy statement, and I hated to acknowledge it. But in my heart, I knew it was true. 

As long as I can remember, my mother loved holidays. She couldn’t wait to decorate the house, consider what we might bake or what craft we could work on, the outfits best suited for a particular holiday – and those outfits would be within the spectrum of colors most appropriate for the holiday – and so much more. 

Christmas was a major focus in our house. There were years she painstakingly waited for us to finish decorating the tree so she could mount a many-hours-long project of placing individual strands of tinsel on its branches (thank goodness that trend ended when it did!). Other years we worked on hand-crafted holiday cards or spent time seeing how many words we could come up with using the letters in the word “Christmas.” One year, the cards we made using a reindeer cookie cutter and lots of glitter we thought were just beautiful. Weeks later at a holiday party, a neighbor employed snark telling my mom how cute it was that she sent out cards her kids had clearly made. 

The window candles were alit each night, and the picture window was beautifully dressed. We decorated Christmas cookies and made fudge. Christmas carols went on the stereo on Thanksgiving night and were on non-stop until the big day. Sometimes my mom played carols on our little Wurlitzer organ, and my brother and I would sing along. 

And then there were the presents. In more recent years, my mom would remark that I bought way too many gifts for everyone, and I’d widen my eyes and say, “This is coming from you?” Her grandchildren will back me up because every Christmas eve, we’d go to my parents, and there would be gifts encompassing the entire area around the tree and spreading far out into the family room. She’d enlist one of the kids, often my oldest son, to help her hand out gifts – and she was known to lob a present across the room to one of us.

My father’s role was holding a giant trash bag and encouraging everyone to toss their discarded gift wrap. I can still see my dad in 2000, in his usual spot, gathering the paper, all of us knowing this would be his last Christmas. He had been diagnosed with a brain tumor a few months before, and while it was successfully removed, lung cancer surged through his body. We knew there were only a few months left. He passed in late March in a hospital bed set up in my childhood bedroom, with hospice care support. 

After my father died, my mom didn’t want to decorate for Christmas – she wasn’t in the spirit of the season. I encouraged her to decorate and, once again, to host Christmas eve. Except for this time, I’d help, and she would come home with me when the night was over. That was the last time she had Christmas at her home, and my brother and I took turns hosting going forward. 

Almost six years ago, my mom had a bad fall shortly into the new year and suffered a bilateral broken pelvis, broken elbow, and other injuries coming out of a restaurant in her town. It was clear that living in her three-level home would no longer be an option, and she would need assistance in her day-to-day life. Downsizing her home was difficult, particularly when she wasn’t in a state of mind or body to fully engage in what had to be faced and done. Nevertheless, as she had done years prior, she encouraged us to take some of her Christmas stuff since she wouldn’t have the space to use it all. And we did, which thrilled her to no end to see her beloved Christmas decor at many of our homes. 

That first year in assisted living, we decorated her apartment with her, and I left some additional items for her to put out at her leisure. While her place was much smaller, it still held charm and showcased her love of Christmas in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Each year, we’d unpack her Christmas boxes, stored at my house throughout the year, and pack them up for the journey back again. She loved when the staff at her assisted living admired how festive her apartment looked. 

In 2019, my mom’s day-to-day needs became more significant. While she had the support of local friends who helped with doctor appointments and much more, it became evident she’d benefit from being closer to us in New Hampshire. So when I broached a potential move, my mom wholeheartedly embraced it and seemed relieved. In September 2019, she moved a few towns over from me into a lovely place. I know this transition wasn’t easy, but she quickly assimilated. One of her favorite restaurants was next door over, and I could visit more frequently, too, and stop by after work. 

Then 2020 hit, and everything changed. My mom felt safe at her assisted living, despite being sequestered in her room with no social engagement. We facetimed, spoke on the phone, sometimes several times daily, did window visits, and arranged for family communication from the parking lot on special occasions, holding up large signs bearing our love and good wishes. 

Finally, outdoor visits, masked and many feet away from each other, were possible – and we took advantage of these visits. However, they often felt awkward, especially when a staff member was seated nearby. I took my mom out a couple of times, once in the late summer, so she could visit with our family outdoors and finally hold the two great-grandchildren born earlier that year. While Covid conditions ended off-premise visits in the fall of 2020, I got permission to bring my mom to visit my dad’s grave. I also took her for a quick visit with her brother and his wife in their driveway. I’m so glad I did, as it would be the last time they’d see each other. He passed away early in 2021. 

Come Christmastime, only window visits were possible. I sent in Christmas decorations earlier in the month and her gifts from everyone via many bags and boxes. She was overwhelmed, not knowing what to do with so much in her small apartment. We hated not having her with us, although our celebrations were not the complete family get-togethers we’d usually enjoy. 

As vaccines and boosters became more readily available, we all looked forward to what the holiday season might offer us in 2021. My mom chose to stay at her assisted living for Thanksgiving and began to hint she might stay home at Christmas. I arrived at her apartment early in December, laden with two boxes of Christmas decorations. The week before, I put Christmas window clings on her windows, which was the extent of her decorations.

As I began to open the boxes and put out various pieces of her much-loved decorations, she began to protest. She said she didn’t have room for all this stuff. I also protested, telling her she certainly did; her space hadn’t changed. I’ll admit we went back and forth several times, and then finally, she began to cry, saying she couldn’t have all this stuff around her. 

Her tears stopped me, and not because I was feeling empathy. I was angry. I thought I was mad because my mom was overreacting. I said, “Fine. You don’t want me to put your Christmas stuff up – fine, I won’t.” I packed everything up and slammed the boxes shut. I left in a huff – and by the time I got to the car, I knew exactly why I was so mad.

It was because the mother I always knew, the one that loved Christmas no matter what no longer had the heart for it. She was already on another journey that didn’t involve me or Christmas or any of the things she held dear – and I wasn’t ready to face that or even remotely understand it. I didn’t want to let her go. 

So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when my mom declined to be with us on Christmas eve – our first time together as a complete family since 2019. But it felt a bit hollow without her, and I had to face that this might be what our holidays would be like from then on, but I hoped it wasn’t true. 

But it was. My mother gave me so many hints throughout 2022 that she was declining. And I did my damnedest to ignore them all because to acknowledge it meant I had to face she was leaving us – and that was something I didn’t even want to imagine. 

I spent most of my life dreading the day my father would die, and I sometimes wondered why I didn’t harbor that same fear about my mom passing. I think it was because a life without my mom was something I wouldn’t even allow to enter my thoughts. 

And now she’s gone, leaving us on that beautiful sunny afternoon in late September on the porch of her Community Hospice House suite. The weeks preceding her death were daunting, as were the ER visits before her final hospital stay. And the weeks since have been a blur at times. Yet, they were busy as we began to catch up on all that we had put aside during those difficult days. 

Mom may not have been with us throughout the holidays, but she was still everywhere. Most days, she is, but it’s been especially so over the last month. So many decorations were hers, and I see them throughout my house and at my kids’ homes, too. I know my brother’s family’s homes are the same.

I hear her admiration for the tree’s beauty, her joy seeing her homemade ornaments hung there, and her voice ringing out with excitement seeing new Christmas décor or how much kids have grown from the year before on the holiday cards. But, then, there was her wonder in recent years, taking rides at night and seeing the beautiful lights. She was delighted, saying so much was happening in the world that she wasn’t seeing now that she didn’t go out often at night. 

In more recent years, she’d sit in my living room as I attended to last-minute tasks. I’d put Christmas carols on and tuck her in a big chair or the couch with a cozy blanket. She’d doze off, sometimes with my cat beside her. She didn’t like cats but somehow was smitten with mine. Her last Christmas here, we sat in the near-dark, the living room lit gently by the tree and stars in the window – drinking Prosecco in crystal flutes, watching Andrea Bocelli singing on the TV. 

That’s what I’ve done my best to focus on this Christmas – not what I’m missing but what I have the privilege of remembering. And there is so much. 

Thank you for sharing your love of Christmas, Mom, and instilling it in all of us.

A Wild Ride Through 2017

As 2017 winds down its final week, I find myself – like so many of you – reflecting on the year we experienced and thinking about what’s ahead.

We can never be fully prepared for the inevitable changes, even those that are a part of the ever-moving circle of life, and 2017 really drove that home. There were final goodbyes – to people, to lifestyles, to a family home – and best wishes and love to those in our family who made new homes, some close by and some a farther distance away.

For a family that has been enmeshed in close proximity and lots of time together, it’s been an adjustment. If anything, though, it has allowed us to determine the lengths we’ll go to ensure binds remain solid and what we’re willing to do to be together at special times.

16300087_10156422031356959_8716111934636234025_oNearly a year ago – January 4, to be exact – life changed dramatically with a simple phone call telling me my mother had taken a fall. Now, in the normal course of our lives, this was just one more event that didn’t seem catastrophic. She’s been known to take a fall, sometimes several over a year. We’re used to this news, but this time was different. She had broken her pelvis on both sides and her elbow, and in the months ahead, she would be in and out of two hospitals, two rehabs and stay with my brother for a short time and then me for several months. It was difficult, laden with emotion on all sides and would eventually determine a massive change in her life and ours – with the sale of her home, the donation of her car to a young woman in need and finally, a new home in an assisted living community. None of it was easy, and particularly for her. At times she was ready to give up and I was angry she felt this way – I wasn’t ready to let go. She persevered and has created a new life that is far from the independent one she enjoyed, but my mother has taught us all that you make the best of the circumstance you are in and find pleasure in as much of it as you can.

Early in her convalescence – and the New Year – my youngest son, the last to live at home, found his own independence in Brooklyn, NYC, moving into a studio apartment in the city. While my heart was heavy to have him move to another state, one visit to his new neighborhood quickly allowed me to see this was where he belonged if he was ever to pursue his own aspirations. He was ready to spread his wings and as a parent, as hard as it is, that’s what we want: for our children to move toward their own goals and be able to experience independence and adventure.

Within a few short weeks, we also learned my daughter’s husband was approached with a new position, a promotion well worth pursuing, but in a neighboring state. While we celebrated his success and the hard work that allowed him this opportunity, it was particularly difficult for my daughter to embrace, given she had never wanted to live more than an hour from her family. She, too, is exceptionally proud of her husband and all he has achieved professionally and as they made plans to move three or so hours away, it seemed like the family was being stretched far beyond our comfort zone.

There was a lot to deal with, and even more so as a decades-long health battle came to an end early in late February. My children finally lost their father, a man who had been largely lost in spirit and physical presence for a very long time, but now – he was really gone and there was much to deal with that we hadn’t anticipated, emotionally, psychologically and perhaps even physically.

For the first half of the year, all of this was swirling about. It’s not surprising that I had major stomach issues happening, which led to speculation of dietary problems, food allergies or sensitivities, perhaps my gallbladder, maybe something more nefarious. I was finishing up my master’s, dealing with everything else and undergoing changes at work, at home and in every area of my personal life. Suddenly, by June, many things were resolved and moving forward in positive directions. My mom was settled in a new home, her home sold. My daughter and her family had found a beautiful new house in Vermont and we looked forward to seeing their new digs. My youngest was settled in the city. My other two sons were doing really well in their lives. I was done school. Life should be far simpler now.

Yet the summer felt almost paralyzing at times. I was exhausted, although I had little on my plate to deal with. I lacked ambition although I had so much to do to, so much to catch up on that had fallen to the wayside for six months, a year, maybe ten? I slept a lot, watched a lot of Netflix and didn’t accomplish much of anything. It took a while to understand the toll the first six months of 2017 had taken not just on me but everyone in the family. We’re still recuperating and by mid-fall, my stomach maladies seemingly disappeared.

And here we are, closing out a year of many changes. Here’s what I know:

Our family is resilient, loving and enormously attached to one another. What affects one affects us all deeply. We are committed to each other and to the newer members of our family, too. While we have been blessed to have new partners enter the fray over the past couple of years, this year they truly became family – and their families have become vital parts of our greater family, too.

My friends continue to sustain me. I am fortunate to have a tight group of some of the very best friends anyone could ask for. They embrace each year, and each other, and make getting older fun and memorable, even when we can’t remember the simplest words, where we’ve been or where we’re supposed to meet and when. It becomes more comical by the year. And then there are our collective friends; each of us has a full circle of friends who have become family over the years, not just individually to us but to our family as a whole. We can’t even imagine life without a single one.

The changes we’ve encountered geographically – whether it’s a move to Vermont, to Brooklyn or just to a new home or job – allow us to grow, sometimes in ways we don’t necessarily want, yet it helps us broaden our horizons, pull deep from places we aren’t even aware of and become better, stronger and more pliable.

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 5.08.32 PMWe have had such fun throughout the past year, too: A mother-daughter road trip to Brooklyn and Manhattan, a lake cruise in Vermont and discovering new restaurants there, our perennial favorite – Newfound Lake, lots of music shows – Tom Petty, Seether and TSO, and so many more; lots of texting and FaceTime, great meals, small trips and lots of laughter. There have been really special times, such as an unexpected wedding and a new home in the works, graduation for me, and an incredible joint family fundraising effort in memory of the kids’ father and their uncle, who also passed from Parkinson’s.

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 5.02.48 PMWe have each had our share of challenges over the past year – some as a family and many that have been deeply personal – and yet we continue to get through them with each other’s support and look forward to the year ahead. As I looked around at Christmas, my first thought was not of the challenges, but rather of how lucky I am to have these children, now grown, their partners and my grandchildren, too. We weren’t quite sure even six months ago whether my mother would be here this Christmas, and yet she is, feisty as ever and an integral part of our family.

While I can’t predict what 2018 will bring, I know, in my gut, that there are some incredible things to come. I’m thankful for the growth of the past year, as hard as it sometimes was, but appreciative of everyone that made the journey over 2017 with me. What a wild ride it was!

Reunion: You Can Go Home Again

Lyrics and literature have told us throughout the years that you can’t go home again, but this past Friday night I did. In a year when the childhood house I’ve known since I was barely six was sold, changing so much about what now feels like home, it was a welcome respite to go to a class reunion – something that once upon a time I would never have even considered attending. And that last statement has long been puzzling to me.

You see, I’m a person who keeps in touch, even when others don’t necessarily reach out. I don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t. If you know me, you’ll probably always know me. I’m the one who remembers and generally, the one who stays in touch, even if it’s just sporadically. So it’s been interesting to consider that shortly after graduating from high school, I quickly moved forward and seldom if ever looked back. And I had some great high school experiences and had some pretty terrific friends, so it’s not like I had anything to avoid or bad memories I was creating distance from.

I can only equate that the person I became involved with in my senior year and would go on to marry just a couple of short years later, was eight years older than me. Although he liked my friends – at least those he had met – we naturally gravitated toward his friends and many new friendships. My life seemed a million miles away pretty darn fast from what it once was, and in time, I figured most of those I had genuinely missed, most likely were busy with their lives and probably had little in common with me now.

I got married a couple of months before my 20th birthday and had a son about 18 months later. We had another child, a daughter, three years later, then bought a house, opened a wine shop, had yet another child and life continued at this breakneck speed. In my early 30s, I had another baby, was engulfed in our crazy, beautiful life and before long, high school and everyone I knew in my hometown seemed like ancient history. While I visited my parents a lot in town, I never ran into anyone while I was there and assumed, like me, most had moved away.

It would be another decade before the first connections began, when I got active on social media and started running into old neighbors, schoolmates and people I hadn’t seen in so many years. At first, I was hesitant, almost afraid to make a friend request. Face it; I hadn’t spoken to these people, former friends, in so very long. I wondered if they even would remember me. And yet they did, and in spite of the years and how grown up we thought we had potentially become, those same personalities emerged and I’d smile each time I met up with another old friend online and remembered how much they once meant – and perhaps even more surprising, how much they still did. They still felt like real friends.

Virtual stuff can be easy. I’m a writer and can easily share online and in words. I hadn’t seen anyone in person, and I can’t say I put any real effort into doing so. Then a couple of years ago, a high school friend announced she was heading back to our hometown. She was planning a get-together at a local restaurant and wanted to see who might come. Much to my surprise, I said I’d be there, and I’ll admit I felt some real trepidation as I walked through the door. The faces I’d seen online, the old friends whose lives I’d been following and commenting on, all of a sudden there some of them were, in the flesh and so much as I’d remembered them. Sure, we’d all aged, some of us (myself included) put on a few pounds (okay, speaking for me, more than a few), yet any reticence I had felt quickly melted away. These were people I knew, people who knew me, although we hadn’t seen each other for several decades.

We spoke about our current lives, laughed about old adventures together, shared in each others’ sorrows and joys, and offered support and admiration for what each of us had been through and yet managed from which to emerge still. We’ve all seen a thing or two – lived some hard things and experienced some pretty incredible things and appreciated that we still had so much in common.

When I left that night, I wondered how I ever let so many special people slip away for so long – and I marveled at how many had stayed in such close touch over the years since high school.

Throughout the years, I received reunion invitations. My mother would ask, “Are you going to go?” And I’d cynically shake it off, saying I had no desire to go to a reunion. I wish now I had. I don’t say that as a regret because I’m not a big believer in such things. I say it more I wish I had taken a chance and not held back, because it would have been such a positive thing had I taken the initiative to go. I looked at pictures from earlier reunions and saw the fun my classmates had together and the connections that remained. Maybe it just took me a while to catch on.

So this past Friday night, I saw people I have not seen since I was just 17. I caught up briefly with others who I met up with just two years ago. While I didn’t have an opportunity to speak directly with as many former classmates as I wish I could have – the night went by so quickly. Hearing the stories of what’s transpired for each of us is what truly meant the most. I loved seeing how early talents led to personal fulfillment now, about the twists and turns each life has taken and learning more about what’s next. I only wish I could have heard more.

It was so comforting to be amongst the people who started where I did, the ones that share memories with me and speak in a cadence that is only most familiar to those who grew up where I did. While they often say you can’t really go home again, maybe you can’t for good, but for a few special hours I went home and it sure felt good.

What We Didn’t Know

We always knew this would end badly; there were no good solutions and never the promise of a cure.

What we didn’t know was how it would come about or when the end might be.

Death is tricky, and even in days of waning health and absolute signs of what was to come, strength can arrive from seemingly nowhere and final days sometimes become final months.

We knew it would be hard, knew it would be painful, knew it would release feelings that had been buried for years, and recognized that we didn’t know what else might erupt.

What we didn’t know was just how much it really would hurt.

We knew it was for the best. There were too many years filled with too much suffering, too many tears – his and, of course, ours – the pain of his illness and our collective loss, of seeing a life taken away from all that he loved. We wanted to ease his pain, perhaps to ease our own.

We just didn’t know how hard it would be to say goodbye to someone who left us so long ago.

What we really didn’t know, didn’t even suspect, was that with his death, John would suddenly become himself again – the person we knew so well, missed so much and hadn’t seen in so many years.

When someone is sick, like he was, for such a long time, life becomes reactive, a series of phone calls, medical and managed care facilities, emails, solving problems, taking care of needs, dealing with issues and never feeling like you can ever possibly do enough. Mostly because you can’t. So you do what you can and take care of what’s in front of you and all the best parts of a life you once lived become background noise, seldom listened to, examined even less, because it hurts too much and there is too much in the present to attend to.

What we didn’t know is that in the end, there was nothing else to focus on, except the life we once lived – together – and the memories, and the pictures; so many pictures, bringing back sensations and smiles and the recognition of a life once lived with joy, with a lot of love, lots of laughter and the chaos of many kids and too little time. Yet we didn’t know then how little time we really had, but even if we did, I don’t think we could have cherished it any more than we once did.

We knew once John was gone, we could finally begin to grieve, but we didn’t know what form that grief might take. So tonight, out of nowhere, I wept in earnest, the first time with no restraint, for the husband that’s gone, the life we led, the family we had together and the father and grandfather that would have loved it all so. I miss him so much and have for so long.

What we didn’t know, although we thought we did, was that somewhere inside of us, we clung to the hope that someday he’d be back, be part of our family again, even if we had to have known it would never be. Illness can delude you, give you a glimpse now and then of the person still there. It’s brief and it’s painful because it offers hope where none should really be.

We knew we had lots of love surrounding us – from family, friends that feel like family and even people we barely know well. We could feel it, even before this, and it magnified as the days blended into one.

And as that last day began to come and we finally knew that this was really it, not an illusion or one more close call, what we didn’t know was that almost 20 years would somehow melt away and the worst of it all didn’t matter anymore. Here we were all these years later, remembering decades ago as if they were yesterday.

In death, John became ours again. In life, we’ll miss him every day.

My Family is My Home

heart-homeOver the past decade, I’ve become increasingly detached from my home, particularly more so in recent years. I’ve found this curious, given that I’ve lived there for 30 years now. When I moved in, as a young woman in her mid-20s, with a three-year-old son and ready to give birth to my second child, a daughter, in the month ahead, I saw this home as nothing more than space for us all – albeit temporary. We had the makings of a beautiful yard, in a great neighborhood in a small town we loved. The house itself though was an end to a means. We needed more space for our soon-to-born child, and this fit the bill. Never did I imagine two more children would follow and be raised in this same house – nor did I ever think 30 years into the future it would still be my home.

With six of us for so many years in this not-so-big house, along with an ever-changing menagerie of pets, lots of toys, sports equipment, personal memorabilia and all the fundamental elements of a well-lived family life, we pushed the boundaries of our limited space to the max. I had been sure our family wouldn’t live in this house for more than a few years before moving on to something larger. As circumstances in our personal lives unfolded, it wasn’t meant to be.

So in time, the house that was rather snug became one that I was grateful to afford, especially on my own. Our family dynamic changed and I became engulfed in a new reality I hadn’t imagined as a single parent. Anything larger would have become a tremendous burden, economically and bandwidth wise to maintain.

Kids changed bedrooms, redecorating as they went, as ages and interests transitioned forward. Every parent knows, as children grow, rooms begin to feel smaller and hallways are suddenly shrinking when six-foot children make their way through the house. At times it felt as though the house might simply burst. Boyfriends and girlfriends joined the mix and quite often stayed at our house, and there was activity everywhere throughout our home. We often joked at any given moment someone in our family would be up and doing something, regardless of the time of day or night. It still proves true. We’re just not all in the same place.

Then suddenly, my oldest was off to college, and the house seemed a bit emptier. I remember sitting on his bed, in a half-empty bedroom, after dropping him off freshman year at college and suddenly sobbing, as I realized nothing would ever be the same again. The years spiraled forward at breakneck speed. Each of my four children became increasingly independent, off to explore new adventures and the family ebbed and flowed with who was at home still and who wasn’t. There were far fewer pets as the household size decreased, too. What had once been a house bursting at the seams was now a home with a lot of empty rooms – devoid of people, at least, much of the household items shifted there, not used.

I once said – and I still feel it’s true – that for many years our house was this giant, rollicking party, not all fun and games, but lots of energy and activity. The house began to feel as if I was living in the aftermath of that party, treasuring what had gone before, but left with the remnants of many years of hard family living – and an aging house to deal with just the same. I don’t spend as much time there as I once did. Life is pretty busy, and when I am home, it seems I’m rushing around to complete as much as I can in a finite time – or just not interested in accomplishing much at all. I’ve certainly learned the value of unwinding and enjoy my time on my own.

As the last of my children explores his next adventure, which will take him out on his own, it hit me last night exactly why my detachment has grown. It was never about this house. I didn’t move into it as my dream home or a place I coveted for any reason other than it was for my family. Our home sheltered the people I love most and wherever they go, wherever we all are together, is what matters most to me. I always wondered why I didn’t feel more of a sense of connectedness to my home, but at long last, I’ve realized that I’ve always seen it exactly as it has been. When it was filled with family, it had a lot of meaning, but without them, it’s merely walls, floors and rooms. I could be anywhere, but when I’m anywhere with my family, that place quickly becomes home.

The Luxurious Effect of Just Being

IMG_3085This past weekend was one of self-indulgence, from stopping at the liquor store for favorite wines to doing a bit of shopping to watching movies in a fabulously appointed bed in a lovely antique-laden room.

I had a delicious meal at a restaurant I’ve driven by for at least 20 years and always wondered what the food might be like – and woke up to seeing the snowfall outside my window and had nothing else to do but saunter downstairs to a beautifully set table with homemade scones and coffee and two gourmet breakfast choices.

I never go anywhere without one of my cell phones, which I happily left upstairs that morning and settled in to the warmth of the lovely dining room, sipping coffee and nibbling on a cranberry almond scone while Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga offered standards from a stereo.

I could hear the sounds of breakfast being prepared – handmade carrot cake French toast with warm lemon sauce and citrus crème fraiche, seeing the snowfall continue outside as a mischievous black cat kept making his way back to the dining room, wrapping himself around my legs. The owner would shoo him away every now and again, but I think the cat knew I was an ally that didn’t mind.

I thought to myself, “So this is what it’s like just to be for a while.” And how seldom I do that; how seldom most of us do that. I tend to eat while I’m reading, while I’m taking in a video or something on TV – or talking to others, not really focused on just enjoying every sensation, every visual or taste. So that morning, I did. From the tasty scones and delicious coffee, to the cranberry juice and fresh fruit medley alongside the amazing French toast (so very, very good).

Every facet of the bed and breakfast is uniquely and thoughtfully arranged. It would take hours, perhaps even days, to absorb it all. The care in which was taken to create this inner world was immense and I’m certain it’s continuing to evolve. As I took in my surroundings, there was a sense of peace and relaxation that made it hard to do anything than just be.

I hated to leave yesterday, knowing it would somehow break this magical spell, and started plotting what I could do next to extend what I was feeling as I headed south. I know, I know…one would think I’d be satisfied with three days away.

A visit to a favorite Concord, N.H., shop and a then, an excellent movie, before heading home was just what I needed, followed by a relaxing evening at home with a furry friend or two and some wine.

I may not have awoken any earlier this Monday morning, but it was the first time in longer than I can remember that I felt completely refreshed as I began my week – and that’s a luxury in itself.

Newly Committed

ImageIn recent months, I have become a writer that isn’t writing. Sure, there’s some writing involved in what I do in my work, but it has been minimal compared to the time I have spent writing for many, many years. And it’s unsettling.

I looked at my personal blog today and couldn’t believe it had been since late February that I last posted. It seems like yesterday, which is indicative of why perhaps I haven’t contributed anything new. It’s been a very busy year thus far, and although I don’t see it slowing down all that much, I am newly committing myself to getting some words down on the screen once again—and on a regular basis.

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Small-Town Spoiled

320px-Berries_(2)I am incredibly spoiled with where I live–a small town in southern N.H., which used to be known primarily as a farming community. It’s long been a place to get gorgeous fresh strawberries, blueberries and corn, along with many other fresh fruits and vegetables and people still continue to come from far and wide to purchase produce. In fact, we still see people coming at the end of the season, stocking up on potatoes, onions and the like for the months ahead, particularly those who believe in buying in bulk and have the means for cold storage over the winter.
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The Beauty of Words

imagesI used to write a lot of poetry, but I really don’t all that often anymore. Occasionally something comes to me and I feel the need to write it down, but more often it remains nothing more than scraps of paper littered with words, some interconnected, some just random thoughts, and that’s okay. While the poetry I wrote was not half-bad at times, I never harbored illusions of where it might go beyond satisfying my own needs in getting the words out and occasionally reaching someone else as well with those words. While I don’t much miss the writing, I do miss the connectedness at times of those days with other writers also exploring the craft.

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A Day Changed By a Stranger

windshieldI had a bit of an extraordinary experience today, although at face value it might only be construed as a simple act. Someone was lost and I helped him find his way to where he needed to be. Simple enough, that’s true – but the components of the situation are what made it extraordinary to me.

This is a busy time of year for most of us. I try to stay on top of things and be strategic in planning out my day to be the most efficient I can be in getting things done. Last night I made a plan to go to a certain area not too far from where I live and take full advantage of the places I needed to go to in that area to get everything done that might be possible. I made a list (and I may have even checked it twice), figured out what the best course of action would be in order to make the most of my time. I was on top of things, except I was leaving perhaps an hour or so later than anticipated.

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