Tag Archives: Those Covenys

They Coulda’ Been Great – December 2013

Our December sound bites, etc. via Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)


December 2

8:59 a.m.

Santa doesn’t like it when kids are late for school!

Seriously – I just went there.

3:40 p.m.

Oliver: Mom, can I have some ice cream?

Me: Oliver! You JUST had popcorn, and in a couple of hours it will be…

Oliver: CHRISTMAS?!

Me: NO – dinner!

And then suddenly, it was all so clear. Oliver IS Buddy the Elf.


December 3

7:12 p.m.

George: Mom? What does L-I-K-E spell?

Me: George – I think we need to do some more reading practice together. Let’s spend some extra time on that tomorrow, okay?

George: Okay! OR something else.

Not really getting my point…but I’m just happy that he’s still young enough to like the idea of spending time with me.


December 4

8:18 a.m.

It just occurred to me that while George is constantly losing his lunch bag and water bottle, those Pokemon cards make it home EVERYDAMNDAY. Think we need to discuss his priorities…


December 5

8:19 a.m.

Chris has gotten Easter and the Elf on the Shelf confused. It was his turn to move Charlie last night, and when Eleanor asked me to help her find him I COULDN’T. Finally, George found him wedged between the piano and the wall, behind a picture frame. Not at 6 a.m. Chris…let’s stick to the top of cabinets and chandeliers, okay?

4:38 p.m.

George: Mom! I got a dreidel at school today! And it’s yellow!

Me: Cool! [starts singing an inaccurate version of the dreidel song with great enthusiasm]

George: But DON’T LOOK! Because it’s your Christmas present.

Me: Oh – okay.

Then our five-year-old neighbor came over with the red dreidel he got at school and all of the kids played a rousing dreidel game that requires screaming, “ONE. TWO. THREE. LET ‘ER RIP!!

Also? I had to google how to spell dreidel.

#goyim

5:57 p.m.

Career aspirations

career aspirations

6:44 p.m.

And NOW they are playing a game where one person throws the dreidel and the other tries to catch it in a half empty Kleenex box. Is this creative or blasphemous? Jewish friends – please let me know if I need to shut that down. Either way, I’m not allowed to watch since the dreidel is my Christmas present and they don’t want to “spoil the surprise.”


December 7

6:51 p.m.

If I had to guess, I’d say George “fake falls” approximately 125 times a day. #boys


December 8

5:57 p.m.

“I give up” moment of the past week… Hearing suspicious shrieks of laughter over something that George was apparently doing in the basement, I decided to go inquire.

Me: George! What are you doing down there?

George: I’m just pretending that I have a giant penis.

Of course.

#boys


December 10

9:36 a.m.

Another snow day…

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4:47 p.m.

Oliver has officially earned his “helpful male” merit badge. I asked him if he could grab a pair of pants for Eleanor before coming downstairs. Two seconds later, he handed me her ballet leotard from two years ago.

Apparently, he’s learned “if you don’t do it right the first time, they probably won’t ask you to do it again.” And he’s ONLY EIGHT! #soproud


December 11

7:59 p.m.

Eleanor is going to be selling Girl Scout cookies and asked George to help her practice…

Eleanor: [pretends to knock on door]

George: Hello?

Eleanor: Hello. My name is Eleanor. I am in Troop 237 and I am selling Girl Scout cookies. Would you like to buy some?

George: YES!

He’s really making her work for this… Epilogue: He purchased 100 boxes.


December 15

1:00 p.m.

You either get over it and go to Dairy Queen, or you can stay home and cry. You can’t do both.”

This applies to about 99% of my parenting strategies. Including the Dairy Queen part.

4:18 p.m.

When you stare daggers at your dog, and Desperate Housewives gasp, “you….BITCH.” I don’t even want to talk about what she did in my basement while we were out…


December 16

1:23 p.m.

Surprise gift from my fab jewelry designer friend, Kiran Kairab Ferrandino. Love Simply Om.

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4:33 p.m.

My fitness plan in haiku form:

Put on workout clothes
They weren’t very flattering
Made nachos instead

9:47 p.m.

Stealth decorating “my tree” while the kids sleep and just came up with a great excuse for not letting them help: OUR ELF did it! They can’t take issue with the guy who reports to Santa…[villainous cackle of victory] Totally worth the coal in my stocking.

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December 17

3:56 p.m.

I know there are far worse problems to have and I’ll figure it out… But I was just finishing up my tree when it came crashing down, smashing several ornaments (including a few that have been in my family since the 1940s). If I were a more emotive person, I’d scream. #notfestive

10:55 p.m.

Listening to holiday music as I redo the WHOLE EFFING TREE…

Me: Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to sing like Ella Fitzgerald?

Chris: Uh…yeah?

SOULMATES!


December 19

5:40 p.m.

Three weeks after seeing Frozen, Oliver is STILL talking about the part where the king and queen leave for a trip (and then never come back)…”Mom, you’ll stay with me? You won’t leave?

I doubt that boy will ever let me set foot on a boat. And to think my main worry about this movie was that he’d get bored with all the singing!

7:18 p.m.

George has a great deal of diversity in his class this year. So many holidays to celebrate… “Christmas…Kwanzaa…Diwali…Harmonica…”

9:32 p.m.

I’m writing a “12 Days of Binging” song and Chris isn’t supporting my use of “peppermint bark.” Some conservative nonsense about matching syllables…

NOT SOULMATES


December 21

10:07 a.m.

At what point do kids put 2 and 2 together, noticing that most of the stuff Santa brings is available at Target?


December 22

7:29 a.m.

Hark! Let’s do this thing.

angel

9:25 a.m.

Seriously. We are ready! And by “we” I mean three candy cane junkies who wake me up at the crack of dawn to search for an elf.

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December 23

8:04 a.m.

First round of presents! If you haven’t noticed…I’m not that into my tree…

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8:55 a.m.

Oliver likes to sneak up and give me surprise bear hugs. This would be cute if he wasn’t outlandishly strong. I’m not kidding – he could give a full grown man the Heimlich maneuver – no problem. Of course, he FEELS like a “little guy” and has no idea what damage he can do. I’m calling this new era, “the Lenny years.” Also? I think we need a safe word.

10:48 a.m.

I just had an entire conversation with a celebrity who was seated next to me on a plane. In my head. While I folded laundry. That’s a thing, right?

11:07 a.m.

Me to my 3 children and the 5 year old neighbor I’m watching: Who wants to get lunch at Chik-Fil-A? Actually…we might have to hit Target first…

5 year old: Yeah – I was going to try to get to Target later today.

11:16 a.m.

Okay – It was Matthew Perry. I had some questions about how his drug addiction affected his relationships with women (which never seemed very successful…) But really, I spent most of the flight talking about myself. What? You think I ever get seated next to major movie stars in my imagination? Girl, please. Though I’m pretty sure I did have the opportunity to personally declare myself Team Jennifer at some point…


December 24

8:03 a.m.

Blue isn’t exactly the most “Christmasy” of colors, but I love my wreaths this year.

wreaths

8:08 a.m.

Just waiting for Santa to add his… Would it be weird to have a year-round tree? I could decorate it with hearts on Valentines day…flags on Memorial day…

waiting for santa

10:30 a.m.

Officially changing, “that’s not an appropriate word,” to “that’s not an appropriate word for kids.” This is for the sake of my husband, as I may have to kill him if I hear, “but DAD says it,” one more time…

8:58 p.m.

Ah December 24th…the one night a year that children who celebrate Christmas WANT to fall asleep.


December 25

1:11 p.m.

No holiday card this year (didn’t pull it together LAST YEAR either!) Pretend you just received this “good enough” picture of all three kids NOT looking deranged in the mail with a big “HAPPY HOLIDAYS from the Hoods!” Chris would also like to add a note to all of our neighbors: “keep your blinds shut – George now has a telescope.”

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December 28

11:32 a.m.

Look what just came in the mail! This is MY Brave.

brave


December 29

5:08 p.m.

Apparently, there is much dissatisfaction in my house over the cheap toilet paper I bought. If I remember my scene props correctly, didn’t the Little House on the Prairie crowd use actual PAPER? And I’m fairly certain early man made do with leaves… When did we get so soft?! (Unlike the the toilet paper I bought.)

6:49 p.m.

I don’t want lighter fluid on mahogany!” I just said that to my husband about the can of lighter fluid he set on an end table.

And earlier, I told my kids, “no one is allowed to say ‘penis’ when we’re in Target.”

I should have one of those “Family Rules” samplers made for our wall. Send me your favorite needlepoint artists on Etsy!


December 30

10:24 a.m.

Nothing has changed. He’s still David Larabee and you’re still the chauffeur’s daughter. And you’re still reaching for the moon.

No father. The moon is reaching for me.

Sabrina, 1954

This is the opening quote in my Dad’s book. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Terry Coveny, the ONLY straight man in America who quotes from SABRINA!

10:35 a.m.

The light bulb in our microwave is out and I’m at a total loss. I have to keep opening the door to see if the cheese on my nachos is melting. How did Fred Flinstone live like this?!

5;47 p.m.

George is fascinated by Eleanor’s girl scout cookie sales. Especially how, “everyone wants THINAMINS.”


December 31

6:01 p.m.

Do you have a girl scout in your house? Are you hosting a New Year’s Eve party? WELL. This would be an excellent time to put that cookie order sheet on the counter… Drunk people are always happy to put their names on lists and buy stuff. As a general rule, drunk people are “joiners.” Unfortunately for Eleanor, we are not having a party. She’ll just have to count on tomorrow’s hangovers to boost her sales.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

They Coulda’ Been Great! May-June 2013

Hi Mom, Chris, Nancy and the other 98% of my family (and a few of my best friends who aren’t on Facebook)! You know how you never check my blog anymore because I NEVER post anything anymore? And how I always say it’s because I’m so busy and that’s only 50% true because the other half of the reason is that so many of what would have once been great blog posts ended up as Facebook one-liners instead? Well this is for you. And also for me so I can still call myself a blogger.

For further explanation, click HERE.

Heeeere’s May and June!

May 1

8:20 a.m.

The twins are watching the Disney Channel and something regarding a hot air balloon race must be happening on TV…

Eleanor: That’s not true!

Me: What?

Eleanor: George said that when people go on a honeymoon they get into a balloon and float into space.

Me: Daddy and I went to Spain.

George: OR Greenland! You could go to Greenland.

Me: Well, that’s another option…

6:30 p.m.

Exactly who decided that “dinner” has to be a thing? If I could just have wine and cheese every night, I’d be so happy…

May 3

3:30 p.m.

I think I just replaced about 80% of the light bulbs in our house. It was getting very Little House on the Prairie around here… On the upside, I have now decided that I may survive an additional 3 weeks in a post apocalyptic world.

May 5

3:00 p.m.

Thankfully, it didn’t break. [Note: they were wearing helmets because they were riding bikes at the time - NOT for the horse.]

May 5

May 6

5:50 p.m.

This may be my favorite picture anyone has taken of me EVER. And yes I did notice that it’s not a close up. I’m 41 yo. Thank you Amanda!

show 15

May 7

11:30 p.m.

I love it when a “regular guy” gets to be the hero. Just hanging out, eatin’ his McDonald’s and BAM! – suddenly he’s saving women being held captive in his neighbor’s house. LOVE IT.


May 9

7:25 a.m.

I think Eleanor has a Man Cold. Is that even possible?

5:15 p.m.

Oliver does this stuttering thing a lot, and every time he says, “because, because, because,” I want to sing, “because, BECAUSE! Because of the wonderful things he does!” But I don’t because (because, because, because, BECAUSE) none of my kids have seen The Wizard of Oz yet (scary flying monkeys) and my husband hates musicals. So no one would get it. And the dog would attack me because she can’t handle singing and dancing. YAY – life is fun! By the way, I’m drinking wine – CHEERS!

May 10

8:00 a.m.

George: Is it Mother’s Day on Sunday?

Me: YES! And Daddy is going to clean the whole house as my present!

Eleanor: [SNORT!]

I love my daughter.

May 12

11:00 a.m.

Because everyone should have a picture of her daughter on a stripper pole. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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12:50 p.m.

My friend Diane and I are getting Mother’s Day pedicures. Our color choices say a lot about our personalities…

pedicure with Diane

May 14

6:50 p.m.

Every night we have a variation of this conversation:

Oliver: Mom, can I have some ice cream?

Me: No honey – it’s a little early for dessert. We’ll do that in 15 minutes.

George: I’M SOOOOO HUNGRY for ice cream!

Me: There is no such thing as being “hungry” for ice cream – just “wanting” ice cream, and you can wait 15 minutes.

Eleanor: But that’s a LONG time.

George: I’m SOOOOO HUNGRY!

Oliver: Can I have some ice cream?

Me: If you are hungry, I’m happy to to whip up some vegetables. And THEN, after you eat them, you can have some ice cream. Or you can wait 15 minutes.

And every night they make the same decision.

May 18

11:35 a.m.

Apparently, there is no direction, explanation, or threat that will make Oliver understand that he may NOT point to people with gray or balding hair and say, “Look! An old man!” (or when applicable “An old woman!”)

This is a huge source of embarrassment for me lately and I have to be vigilant about who he interacts with when we are out in public.

Unfortunately, I sometimes lose him in a crowd. As we left Costco five minutes ago, I saw him chatting with someone “not young;” and when I caught up with him, he delightedly pointed and said, “Look mom! An old man!” The best part? It was an old woman.

Awesome.

May 20

3:00 p.m.

First dripping ice cream cone seems like an official start of summer.

IMG_6557

May 22

10:20 a.m.

If you are sitting in bumper to bumper traffic and Oh What a Night comes on the radio, do you sing along at the top of your lungs without any regard for what the other drivers think? Keep in mind that you get extra points for posting about it on FB…

11:05 a.m.

So first it was Oh What a Night. Then it was Glamorous Life and THEN it was You Are the Sun, You Are the Rain. And THAT is why I listen to the radio.

2:50 p.m.

Just drove down M street in G-town traffic ON PURPOSE so I could see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same (a lot and not much) and miss living in DC (’cause I’m a masochist like that).

5:40 p.m.

Go get your underwear, and then we’re going home.” I just said that to one of my children. At the playground.

6:20 p.m.

I was so happy with my chin length haircut until it got humid. Now I just look like one of Marge Simpson’s sisters…

May 23

12:00 p.m.

So if you are me, and you’re in need of a totally humiliating experience, I highly recommend trying on skinny jeans. Trust me – it will NOT disappoint.

May 25

3:45 p.m.

Went shopping today and my kids BEGGED for Trix in the cereal aisle (because they’re “for kids” of course – the obsession with commercials continues…) Then at home, they BEGGED to try some since they’ve NEVER had it before. They HAD to see what that silly rabbit was going on about. Eleanor popped one in her mouth and then huffed, “they just taste like Fruit Loops.” Very disappointing moment. So young and so unimpressed. Sad to see my worldly daughter peak at the tender age of six.

May 26

7:45 p.m.

Anyone else get one of those sponsored posts about a pharmaceutical lawsuit including a drug called YAZ, and immediately think “looking from the window above, it’s like a story of love…” ?

 May 27

1:00 p.m.

70 degrees, overcast and a freezing-cold, just-opened-for-the-season pool. These two are in it to win it. George and I are conscientious objectors.

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2:50 p.m.

Me: Eleanor, you have the best eyelashes.

Eleanor: I do?

Me: Yes! They’re so long, and they actually curl.

Eleanor: Don’t all eyelashes curl?

Me: Mine don’t.

Eleanor: [looking at me] You’re right, they don’t…and they’re really short.

Me: Thanks.

Eleanor: Do you cut them?

There is such a thing as too much honesty…

eyelashes

May 29

9:30 a.m.

After catching an unwelcome glimpse upper arm skin “jiggle” a moment ago, it occurred to me that getting old is much like mountain climbing: as a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to not look down.

June 4

5:00 p.m.

I took Alice to the vet today and was informed that she is overweight. Then I ate an entire Toblerone in indignation on her behalf.

June 6

8:50 a.m.

This morning, George crawled into bed with me. We talked about this and that and suddenly, it was long past time to get up. I said to him, “okay buddy – we need to go get our day started.” So he hopped down, and in his odd little George patois, said, “that’s what what I gon’ do.” Then he purposefully walked out the door muttering, “gon’ go get my day started.” I wish I could start every day like that.

June 9

3:20 p.m.

So Justin Timberlake just came on the radio, and George says, “this is Alvin and the Chipmunks!” Did the Chipmunks do a JT cover? So out of touch with the rock scene…

June 12

9:30 a.m.

Guess we won’t be hauling that broken grill to the dump this summer…

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June 13

2:05 p.m.

Exactly when did I become the “go to” person for things people can’t find around here? They don’t even LOOK – they just ask, “where is my…?

I swear if the dog could talk, she’d be all, “where is my bone? No, the RAWHIDE bone. No, not THAT rawhide bone – the one that’s half chewed. No, the one that’s HALF chewed – not the one that’s 3/4 chewed. I DID check my room [lie] – it isn’t there...”

Then I have to acknowledge that I did bring this upon myself by always knowing where everything is. Even the bones.

June 14

9:40 a.m.

Just found out that my 2012 Listen to Your Mother DC reading, “Stupid” was featured on Upworthy.com yesterday! This kind of thing NEVER happens to me – so I’m just a teeny tiny (!!) bit excited about that.


June 15

10:10 a.m.

So I no longer have to worry about losing Oliver at Target. Now when we get separated, he just has me paged.

4:30 p.m.

Post “pool” party

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June 16

10:25 a.m.

Father’s Day at our house means that Dad gets to sleep as long as he likes, get served breakfast in bed with presents, and then spend the day relaxing – which generally involves a nap or two. So basically, it’s like any other Sunday with breakfast in bed and presents.

2:55 p.m.

Just heard Chris say something to Eleanor in Spanish and then explain what it means. Which is weird since he likes to speak to me in Spanish when he doesn’t want the kids to know what he’s saying – like it’s our secret code language. Which is also weird since I don’t speak Spanish…

8:00 p.m.

Patchwork pants and a Sonny Bono mustache…the quintessential ’70s man. Thinking about that Dad of mine on Father’s Day. And now thinking about that dress my Mom is wearing and questioning WHY she did not save it for me!

Kate mom and dad 2

June 17

9:00 a.m.

Me: Eleanor, do you want a doughnut?

E: No thanks.

Me: Really?

E: Yeah…I’m just not wild about doughnuts lately.

To be filed under “When 6 year old girls sound like their 41 year old mothers.”

June 18

8:30 p.m.

Today, Oliver and George commemorated the last day of school by giving each other Sharpie mustaches five minutes before we left to meet the bus. Luckily I saw this early enough to erase most of the damage with turpentine. KIDDING about the turpentine (we didn’t have any).

June 20

4:50 p.m.

What is more fun than cleaning? (I know AS IF!) Trying to clean while your dog viciously attacks the vacuum cleaner. YAY PETS!

June 21

8:20 a.m.

At the dermatologist for a weird rash on my ankle. But I really just want to talk about wrinkles.

June 22

4:40 p.m.

I’m almost 7.” Why the rush? You certainly won’t hear, “I’m almost 42,” from me next spring…

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June 23

2:50 p.m.

Switched Oliver from adapted soccer (which he loved) 20 minutes away to adapted basketball FIVE minutes away. How does he feel about this change? “Um, Mom…I think you’re fired.”

June 25

11:00 a.m.

You know when you take your family to one of those kids’ movie showings, and there is that one little boy who is SO LOUD and won’t stop talking and yelling out the “funny” lines he really likes, and you really don’t know if you can make it to the end of the movie without screaming SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP! …?

That would be George.

And we only just finished watching the previews.

June 26

8:30 p.m.

Chris: You always hide things!

Me: You mean put things away?

This explains so much about us…

June 27

4:10 p.m.

The vet put Alice on a pretty strict diet, and the weight has been melting off. Everyone keeps telling me how slim she looks. So I can now cross “feeling envious of my dog” off the bucket list…

June 28

8:00 a.m.

Alert to my neighbors: It is 8:00 a.m. and George is dressed and ready to start knocking on doors. Told him no way due to the early hour and the fact that WE DON’T knock on doors looking for play dates. So he’s just going outside to “check the weather.” Yeah right…

UPDATE: G just came in and I asked if anyone was outside. He said, “just a daddy was outside and he was NOT late for work.” Better sprint to the car this morning – or you may get caught in George’s web of questions and important information to impart.

4:20 p.m.

Of all of my friends, only Diane would (possibly) break her foot “doing a fan kick” while choreographing a routine for a pole dancing competition.

June 29

10:20 a.m.

Just made a New Year’s resolution (what? You don’t make these in June?) to go back to putting birthdays on my calendar. I can no longer rely on Facebook to remind me about birthdays, 1. because I don’t always remember to check for birthdays, and 2. because approximately 2% of my family members are on Facebook. Now I just need to develop a system for remembering if I remembered to wish people a happy birthday when I saw it on the calendar. Birthdays are complicated. Think Jehovah’s Witnesses may have the right idea about this one…

11:40 a.m.

For me, THIS is summer. Which may greatly contribute to the 10 lbs I usually gain by fall…

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June 30

10:00 a.m.

Swim instructor told me that when she said, “Hi Handsome!” to Oliver, he countered, “I’m not Handsome, I’m Crazy Pants.” I’d say more like “Crazy Handsome,” but Crazy Pants suits him well enough.

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Saying Grace

I’m not a particularly religious person. We stopped going to church when I was very little, and while I was baptized, I can’t even tell you the exact denomination. Protestant? Episcopalian? Something like that.

Then when we moved to DC, my parents made the incongruous decision to enroll my brother and me in private Catholic school. Though as a parent myself now, I think it’s safe to assume this was less random whimsy than the result of research involving tuition, academic ranking and proximity to our new home.

Nevertheless, at age eight I had to learn the Lord’s Prayer, which was recited each morning right after the Pledge of Allegiance. My mother, a lapsed Catholic, anticipated that we might have trouble understanding the exact words of the prayer with its lack of colloquial phrasing. So she made sure to explain that we were to say, “our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name,” not “Harold be thy name.” Apparently, this caused much confusion in her own childhood.

Outside of school, I spent quite a bit of time in the homes of friends where religious attitudes ranged from well-meaning to strictly devout. Almost all, unlike my own family, bowed their heads to say grace at the dinner table. This is where I learned how to recite another prayer that began, “bless us, oh Lord, for these thy gifts,” and even pop off a nonchalant sign of the cross finale move.

All were rote words and actions for me. I knew that saying grace was a form of giving thanks and asking for continued guidance in the whole “being a good Christian” thing… But I never gave the ritual any serious thought. I chalked it up to one of the many inexplicable have to’s that plagued any given family.

Grace was a nebulous concept for me. In school it was used in religious terminology. In the novels I read, it alluded to fluidity of movement or an innate sense of peacefully navigating the world. Perhaps it was this lack of definition commitment that put grace in the category of words that didn’t hold much power in my life. Too formal or lofty in its religious use and too precious and feminine in everyday conversation – it just didn’t resonate with me.

And quite honestly, it’s not a word that seemed to resonate with the people around me either. Sixteen year old Catholic school girls don’t talk about grace; they talk about boys and clothes and favorite books. I never once heard one of my college friends refer to grace while we were studying for exams or ordering pitchers of beer at the local dive bar. And in our twenties, my Catholic friends were still lying to their parents about going to church every Sunday.

It was almost inappropriate to refer to religion out of context. As if using words like faith or grace would push you into the territory of proselytizing bible thumpers. It just wasn’t done.

Grace, faith, church…just a bunch of have to’s that no one chose to discuss let alone prioritize.

Now at age 41, I can talk about pretty much anything with anyone. And I have a far more diverse assortment of friends and acquaintances. Some of my friends like me, don’t attend church. Others have grown more devout over the years. And no, they’re not all Catholic.

I have friends who feel comfortable referring to God in casual conversation. And that’s fine with me. Because I understand that they consider their faith to be one of the best and most beautiful things in their lives. So if they want to tell me that Jesus was there for them in a time of need, I don’t feel mildly embarrassed and unsure of how to respond. I just accept the words in the spirit they are given – with the best of intentions. By sharing these thoughts with me, they are showing me the best of themselves. They are giving me the best of themselves. How could that be inappropriate?

So it was completely natural for me to sit with a grieving friend and listen to her thoughts about God’s plan in her life. And in the midst of this heartbreaking conversation, she said something that changed everything for me.

She was talking about her feelings of responsibility. How she believed things would have happened differently if her husband had been there to change the course of events. And how grateful she was for the grace he showed her by not looking for someone to blame. She speculated that she may not have been strong enough to do the same.

After a moment of incredulity that she would think blame had any place in such a tragic accident, this one simple word – grace – filled the room. If you think about it, everyone makes this choice on any number of levels, every day. And for a while now, I’ve been giving considerable thought to what I choose. I just never had a name for it. Suddenly, I did, and I could say without hesitation that if put in the same position as her husband, I would choose to show grace.

Not because I’m such a fantastic person of course, but because I’m hopelessly flawed and so often in need of the forgiveness and understanding of others. Aren’t we all… How can she be so selfish? How can he be so cruel? WHY would anyone say something so insensitive? Every day there is a reason to be hurt or insulted or outraged by the words and actions of others. But the concept of other people is subjective. And I remind myself that I have often been the one unintentionally hurting, insulting and causing outrage. Who am I to assume intentions? Why not offer others the benefit of the doubt instead?

Now I don’t have to run through the complicated reasoning behind choosing to forgive or understand or assume good intentions. I just say “grace.” Maybe not with my outside voice…but that one word is a definitive reminder. A declaration. An incantation.

We put up with a lot of have to’s in life and I know that this concept is very much in that category for some. Turn the other cheek…take the high road…give it up to God. There are unlimited personal versions of what is largely considered a trite platitude. But giving it a name and seeing it as a choice has put it in a new context for me. What was once a sigh inducing “have to” is what I now consider to be the best part of me. The best I can give anyone. I can show them grace.

Sure, I get mad or feel offended sometimes. I lash out in anger. I even place blame. But it’s momentary, because at the end of the day, I don’t like feeling that way. I hate the idea of someone carrying the weight of guilt on their shoulders. Life is hard enough – why not cut each other a little slack?

Initial perceptions don’t always match true intentions. And people usually have good intentions. That should count for something, right? Destination notwithstanding, they do make excellent paving stones…. And maybe my choice to see things this way – my grace – can help to reroute that descending road. I’d rather believe the angel on one shoulder than the devil on the other. What the hell – it helps me sleep at night.

One of my favorite movie quotes is in The Big Lebowski. The Dude says, “You’re not wrong Walter. You’re just an asshole.” Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in ideas and principle, that we forget about people. We forget that it’s so easy to stumble over that line we’re so quick to draw in the sand. So easy to say the wrong thing – to do something so incredibly stupid. And to not even be aware of it. Why is it so hard to forgive or understand or just assume that no harm was meant?

Why not be more mindful of this choice? Why not choose to not be an asshole? Give the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions. Choose kindness over principle and forgiveness over justice. Let people give you the best of themselves, regardless of your personal beliefs or habits. Consider the perspective of others. Consider the fact that to everyone else, you are “other people.”

I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer, but I don’t think it’s too late to choose happiness. For me, being happy doesn’t come easily. I fight for it. I choose to look for the best in others. I stumble and fall short sometimes, but I choose to get up and try again. I choose to let go of the past. To give second chances. To keep moving forward. To see possibility in the future. To say that today was a good day.

I choose to accept that sometimes I will be an asshole. And to not judge others who make the same mistakes. I choose to say I’m sorry or I forgive you. To say that it’s okayI’ve been there. I understand.

To say that just meaning well still counts. That just being here is a miracle.

To say that I couldn’t do any of this without other people. To say thank you.

To say grace.

Turn Signals

*I read this at DC’s Listen to Your Mother Show, Sunday, April 28. Thought I’d post it here for friends and family who couldn’t come. Since I wrote it for the performance, it may not translate as well on the (virtual) page…but the videos will be online later this summer!

My mother once told me that when she was a new driver, my grandmother plotted out directions for everywhere her daughter could possibly need to go. The purpose of this was to ensure that the recently licensed teenager NEVER had to make a left turn.

Probably not the most realistic of long term plans.

When I was learning to drive in my Capitol Hill neighborhood, right turn only routes were a near impossibility. But I doubt Mom would have repeated this same tactic anyway. While she did her best to shelter us from the harsher realities of life, my brother and I were also given a great deal of freedom to make our own decisions. At the very least, we were allowed to turn left.

At the time, I didn’t acknowledge this leniency. Instead, I rolled my eyes as I caught the peripheral movement of her foot pushing down on the passenger side brake that all mothers have. I huffed in exasperation each time I stopped just a liiiittle bit short, and she flung her arm across my body like a back-up seat belt. I stared at her with incredulity when she instructed me to put on my left turn signal as we waited in a left turn lane.

“Mom, don’t you think people know I’m turning left? I mean, the big arrows painted on the road kind of give it away.”

“Well,” she said, “use the signal anyway. Just in case.”

My mother knew we needed to chart our own course in life, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t worry about us.

Over the past 15 years, Mom has had several recurrences of cancer. And it was our turn to worry about her. Each time, she said she would be FINE. She just knew it. And she was. We’ve been very lucky in that. But nothing is ever simple, and she’s had her fair share of left turns to navigate.

One summer, when my children were still toddlers and preschool age, things got a little weird. It seemed like Mom worried about EVERYTHING.

At the time, she was on a round chemo that was particularly rough and was taking various medications to help with the pain. Through previous treatments, she maintained a positive attitude and was relentless in her insistence that we share it. But now, she was filled with anxiety.

“Kate. I want you to make sure that your new stove is anchored to the wall. Is it anchored to the wall?”

“I don’t think so Mom. They just slid it in…but it’s pretty solid. I can’t imagine how it would tip over.”

“Can you check? Just in case. I’m worried about the children pulling down. You know how they like to climb.”

I looked at my very heavy, very square stove; and the teenager I once was rolllled her eyes and sighed in exasperation.

“Okay Mom. I’ll check.”

I tugged on the edges where it seemed my monkeys might find a hand hold.

“Yeah…I just don’t see how they could tip this thing. It’s pretty wide…”

“What about the top? If they climbed on top of it, could they pull it over that way?”

As my mother waited in anticipation of my answer, I wondered how it had come to this. Exactly how many wrong turns had we made to end up in Crazy Town. Well, I thought, since we’re already here…

I put the phone down.

“Mom. I’m putting you on speaker.”

I then reached over the top of the stove and pulled on the far edge of it. Nothing happened. I bent my knees and really leaned into the pull. Again, nothing. I braced my feet against the bottom of the stove, bowed my back and gritted my teeth, willing that behemoth to fall on top of me!

I broke a sweat, trying to severely injure myself with a kitchen appliance.

And as I held that ridiculous pose I called over to the phone on the counter, “Mom. I am trying to pull this thing down with every scrap of strength I have and it is NOT HAPPENING.”

“Well okay. I guess it’s safe. Thanks for checking.”

As it turned out, there was a reason for my mother’s extreme anxiety that summer. With all of her different medications and dosages, things were a bit confused. And her doctors inadvertently got her addicted to Oxycontin.

So she wasn’t just acting a little crazy. She WAS a little crazy.

Thankfully, this was something that could be fixed, and as my brother so eloquently put it, “we got Mom off the junk.” She went back to being her normal, power-of-positive-thinking self.

But we can’t blame drugs for all of our worries, can we?

I myself, once spent months living with the fear that I might accidentally drop my infant son down our apartment building’s trash chute.

I was too afraid to leave him alone while I walked five doors down to take out the garbage. So I’d bring him with me, and clutch him tightly to my chest the entire time. And yes – I do realize now that there were other options…like putting him the stroller. Or – I don’t know – telling MY HUSBAND to take out the trash!

All mothers visit Crazy Town every once in a while.

But in the end it all comes from the same place – this worry.

We just want to know that it’s going to be okay. And it’s so hard, not knowing.

We all live uncertain lives full of risk. Full of left turns.

So we make maps. And try to pull heavy appliances on top of ourselves. We tell our children that everything will be FINE, even though we know full well that there are no guarantees.  We tell cautionary tales, and laugh and cry and learn. And just live. Live for the moment and assume that all will be well.

But no matter what, we’ll always send our children those exasperating – often ridiculous – sometimes CRAZY signals of our love and hopes for them.

Just in case.

TAP2

Personal History (We Move to Pelham)

I’ve been pretty busy with Listen to Your Mother for the past couple of weeks, but I’ve been meaning to post another installment of that personal history I’m writing for our family “ancestor book.” If you’re interested, you can find the ealier posts under “About Me.” Since this would be “Part Three” and I’m barely four years old…I think we’ll skip the numbers – “Part 48″ will sound ridiculous. Here’s were we last left off…

In anticipation of my brother’s birth, my parents moved our little family from a tiny Tudor house in Scarsdale to a larger one in Pelham, NY.

I loved that house with its wisteria covered, wrap-around patio. Set on an incline, the basement was full of light from large arched windows overlooking the backyard. And our hill was excellent for sledding.

We had a swing set, but the main attraction for the kids who visited was rope swing so long and so high, it’s miraculous that no one was ever brained on the tree trunk. You couldn’t pay me enough money to get on that thing now, but at the time it felt like flying.

On the other side of our yard was a house where one of my then four-year-old brother’s first friends lived. He was also named Matthew and had an older teenage brother who taught them to light firecrackers and took them for rides on his motorcycle. I’m not sure how my mother found out about that, but I do remember the waves of frantic anxiety I could feel in her presence whenever the other Matthew and his family were involved.

My best friend was my cousin, Amy. Dad’s older brother, Uncle Dick moved his family to Pelham first. And he and my Aunt Linda had three girls. Kelly was three years older than me, which at that stage of childhood, may as well have been decades. But Kristin and Amy were respectively one year older and younger.

Kristin was a tomboy, often spotted standing on the banana seat of her bike as she raced down the hill. I could never keep up with that. Amy, on the other hand was a more exuberant version of me. We were both giggly and full of imagination, but where I was reserved Amy was a love. Such an affectionate little girl – no one could resist her charms.

She was also a character. Much to my cousin’s dismay, my Aunt Linda insisted on keeping Amy’s wispy blond hair short (something I completely understand now that I have my own daughter with wispy blond hair…) But Amy desperately wanted long hair. So she would pretend to have waist-long tresses by wearing tights on her head. She’d swing the limp, two-legged pony tail from side to side, asking me what I thought of her beautiful new hairstyle. And as clearly as I can remember that part of the story, I have no recollection of what I said in response.

I loved Amy.

To be continued…

Greatness by Association

Did you know that my brother is an artist?

Well he is. And he’s crazy talented – like “his work should be shown in important galleries” talented. And that’s not just the family love talking (okay .01% love – but the rest is strictly objective).

My parents’ shop participates in a Key West event called First Thursday (every first Thursday of the month, shops stay open later and serve refreshments to the patrons). And they always feature a special product or artist.

This month, Style Key West had a little art show for my brother! Here are some pictures my Dad took:

Don’t his paintings look great in the shop? I think they really work with those giant orange sea horses.

Seriously though – I can’t even imagine having that kind of talent… I’m a proud big sister.

Want to see more of Matt’s work? Check out his website.

And happy Valentines Day!

My Childhood in Pictures

There is something about old birthday party pictures that really transport you back. My Dad has been scanning old slides and periodically sends me images – some of which I either don’t remember or have never seen before.

These seem to be from my fifth birthday party:




So “old school birthday party”… Just a bunch of kids sitting around a dining room table eating homemade cake. No theme – no germ encrusted ball pit – just fancy party dresses and dime store presents.

My favorite detail is the floral centerpiece. Only my mother… Though in her defense, it looks like a silk one that was always on the table.

Bonus pictures! Remember the hippity hop?



They’re still around (I believe people call them “hop balls” now?). But not with horse heads!

And check out my brother’s awesome pants. Men’s pants have a serious presence in these old photos… I’m kind of tempted to do a post celebrating my father’s 1970s collection. It was epic.




But I must say, Mom gave him a run for his money now and again…



…and she wins by a hat!

Taking One for the Team


Have I ever mentioned that I hate sports? And it’s not even just athletic competition – I really don’t like games of any kind. Family board game commercials give me hives. Gambling in Vegas? No thank you. I would rather spend the afternoon at the dentist office than sit through an hour of poker.

This tends to put people off. How can I not like FUN? But you have to realize that from my perspective, fun rarely involves a my team-your team smack down. I can usually get away with my aversion to gambling since many people prefer not to trust Lady Luck with their wallet. And I’m certainly not the first person to have little attention span for rolling dice and moving game pieces. But sports! What could be more wholesome and character building than sports? Running down a field with your opponent hot on your heels pumps your body full of endorphins and makes you feel young again. It’s not normal to dislike sports. It’s unhealthy. It’s UNAmerican.

But I really just don’t. And I’m totally okay with this. I lived through years of school P.E. classes and feel perfectly confident in my preference to sit on the sidelines with a book. Don’t bother inviting me to join your weekend kickball team. I understand that it’s just fun and no one cares how bad you are. At this point, it’s beyond me not being good at sports. They just bore me to tears. I exercise for my health and leave competition out of it.

So you may find it surprising to hear that I actually did join a sports team recently. I just had my first practice on Tuesday and tomorrow will be our first game. I have to admit that I’m a little nervous. There will be people watching and I dread all of that time standing around in the sun, but I just try to focus on the ice cream that Coach Keys promised we’d get after the game.

Oh yeah – did I mention that I’m playing tee ball?

Actually – it’s “Blast Ball,” which is kind of pre tee ball. I wasn’t quite sure we were ready for tee ball yet. And I say “we” because both Oliver and I are Rattlers. That’s our team name – we’re The Rattlers.

Initially, only Oliver was going to play. I thought it might help prepare him for Kindergarten P.E. next year if he got some exposure to team sports. This would be the first year he’d be old enough for tee ball, but I was thrilled to hear that a new team for four year olds was being introduced to the league. Blast Ball is similar to tee ball but even less complicated. The idea of an “easy” game accompanied by the bonus of younger children who might be a bit more on Oliver’s wave length seemed perfect for him.

Unfortunately, Oliver gets nervous about new situations, and I experienced my own fair share of anxiety over this foray into the world of little league. But Chris LOVED team sports and has ALWAYS wanted to be a little league coach for his kids. So he was very enthusiastic about the idea. Like me, he had little concern for Oliver’s performance, but looked forward to sharing this great personal joy with his son. Awesome. I could sit on the sidelines. Maybe not with a book…can’t do that with my kids… But at least I could close my eyes and la la la in my happy place when things got tense.

Then, Chris tried to build a new deck.

More specifically, he and his friend were unloading lumber for the new deck, and tragedy struck. His foot to be exact. As they were opening the truck gate the wood came shooting out and landed on Chris’ left foot. It also took out his right arm and left leg in the process, but the serious injury was the big hole in his foot that would require eleven stitches and two weeks on crutches.

So the first practice day did not find me making dinner and entertaining the twins while wondering how things were going at Blast Ball. Instead it found me calling encouragement to a terrified five year old who has trouble understanding what people say to him and responding in full sentences. Even the simple directions being explained to the six other team members (ranging from age three and a half to four and a half) went completely over his head.

My heart broke with each pleading look threw in my direction. And toward the end of practice, when the sun was in everyone’s eyes and he was dying of thirst because his stupid mother forgot to bring a bottle of water (I remembered to bring the coach’s cell phone number – just in case – but obvious necessities like water and a baseball hat? Not so much…), I saw that he had a few tears running down his cheeks.

He was exhausted. Not from the physical exertion though. He was working so hard to understand what was expected of him and he was so worried that I would suddenly disappear, that he had finally reached a breaking point.

The kind coach, who had no idea what was going on with Oliver did know that something needed to be done. So he suggested that maybe Mommy could play too! Maybe that would be more fun.

Neither Oliver nor I had much hope of achieving “fun” at this juncture, but I would be damned if we didn’t get through that practice. Oliver just needs to know what is going to happen next. After a few practices and games, he would understand the itinerary and feel much more secure. Would he love it? Who knows. Would he at least have a little fun? I certainly hoped so. But the first step was to survive that first time. I knew that going in, and I was ready to do pretty much anything to make it happen.

So with 15 minutes left in the practice, I ran with Oliver to the base and back. I stood with him in the “outfield” and dragged him toward the ball with the other kids. And just as it looked like we might be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, Coach Keys announced that we were going to finish up with a drill.

I don’t know if he actually said “drill” – he might have called it a game – but I spent enough time in P.E. class to recognize a drill when I saw one. And of course this one involved my two favorite things: running and competition.

We had to line up and then on the word go, run after the ball that the coach threw for us. The distance was long enough to provide time for scrappers to gain the lead from the back, but not so long that anyone would drop off to examine an interesting bug or pick dandelions. Whoever got to the ball first would then sit down while the rest lined up for another run.

Oliver had little understanding of what we were doing at first, and sort of trotted aimlessly behind the rest. But I ran with him and yelled, “come on – let’s get the ball – go go go!” And other horrifying cheerleader-like encouragement of that nature.

Suddenly, I had a flashback of being six years old and running a relay race at one of my cousins’ backyard birthday parties. My Uncle Dick ran alongside me as I tried to keep my egg on a spoon while keeping one eye on the finish line. He yelled, “come on, Kate! You can do it! Just keep your arm straight – hold it steady…you’re almost there!” I doubt a six year old could actually identify feelings like humiliation or despair, but my 38 year old brain conjured up the self loathing that I know continued to rise as I saw the other party dress sashes moving further and further ahead of me and my slow egg balancing progress.

I knew exactly how Oliver felt at that moment. Maybe he was more physically able to win than I ever was, but he couldn’t understand why the boys were running so fast to try to get the ball. Where I couldn’t keep up, he purposely lagged behind. But we both watched others pass us by. And we could both feel the failure in that.

As we lined up for one of three more throws (and at this point, I was actually saying to Oliver, “just three more times, and then we can sit down.“), I heard one of the boys who were watching say, “I wonder who will be last.” It was innocent and artless, without a hint of derision – but still made me want to sag with defeat.

Then something amazing happened. With fewer kids around him, Oliver started to try. Maybe it was fewer people and less confusion. Or maybe it was just having four other practice runs. But he actually tried to get the ball. Not hard…but at least he was looking at the ball and moved in that direction. And he smiled.

So when I got back into line with my son and that one other boy, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. Oliver smiled and he understood. And when the coach yelled “go!” Oliver actually ran. AND he caught the ball. He wasn’t last. And I jumped up and down, clapping my hands like I just won an all expense paid trip to Europe. Because when you’re a mother, that’s exactly how exciting your child’s happiness is to you.

At the end of practice, we huddled up for a quick pep talk and put our hand in for a “go Rattlers!” Then Oliver and I ran for the car. I’m generally one to stay a bit too long at the party, but at that moment I wanted to get while the gettin’ was good. And Oliver was holding me to my many promises of ice cream at Dairy Queen.

We made one other stop first. We had a tee ball set at our house from Summers past, but the bat and ball disappeared a while ago. I suggested that we stop by Target to purchase new ones, and I held my breath as we approached the sports equipment aisle. I was worried that when he saw the bats he’d run screaming out of the store. But instead, he enthusiastically selected a red one.

So we survived our very first sports team experience. And again, I say “we” because this is my first official team too. I’m sure that my apathy for competition has roots in my early performance anxiety and feelings of failure – but don’t diagnose me just yet. I don’t worry about losing anymore. I feel no pressure to be any good at games. I’m an almost 40 year old woman with three children and more every day responsibilities than I can count. Whether I cross the finish line last is the least of my concerns. But I do intend to finish the Blast Ball season with Oliver no matter what level of participation he needs from me. Tedious or not, I’ll be an assistant coach and run next to him during drills and wear shorts outside of the gym. I’ll do everything I hate to make sure he has fun.

As much as I’d rather be sitting on the sidelines of games, I’ll never forfeit my responsibility to Oliver. I’ll wear my Rattlers hat with pride (I’d better get one…) And really – it’s just a couple of months. If I was able to handle those grueling years of working mom commutes and divided priorities, I think can withstand a little humiliation at Blast Ball. And truth be told, I just may be the best one on the team!


Next up: Coach Kate’s exclusive practice sessions. Oh yes – we’ve already had a couple of those. More to come on that…

Okay, So I Started a New Style Blog

I know that there is this idea floating out there among my friends and family that I have like 100 blogs. Actually – I only have two, this site and Wishing True (where you will find a copy of this post today). The As Good As Cake site is just a page for giveaways and reviews – so I consider that to be part of The Big Piece of Cake.

Sure I had that Underdogs site for a big – but it fizzled. So yeah – two blogs. That’s it.

Until this week.

Because I have now added Style Key West to the list.

My parents live in Key West and own a great home furnishings shop and design service, and they are now expanding with an online store (still under construction at the moment).


I’ve been trying to convince them to start a blog to help drive traffic to the online store, and they finally agreed! The decision was contingent upon my availability to help set it up (they’re creative people and not so techie – unlike me - snort!) So I put together a little blogspot for them as a start:


And I will be writing one or two posts for them each week in addition to their own. The site will focus on their shop, their design work, their daily life and the party island that they call home. It should be a fun blog since they are some of the most interesting people I know.


My mom has amazing taste and has a long history of putting together beautiful spaces on small budgets in addition to the high budget work she’s done for her decorating clients. She’s also the sweetest, most beloved person I’ve ever met. Everyone falls in love with Jo Coveny.


And my dad is a real character (maybe one of the driving forces behind their move to Key West?) His lifelong hobbies include wine tasting, breeding hibiscus flowers, landscaping their homes (without formal training) and songwriting. He even wrote a musical. I mean – who does that?! Anyway – life is never dull with Terry Coveny.


So I would LOVE it if you would help support this new endeavor by subscribing to their blog, following them, tweeting about it, forwarding the link to your design-minded friends…telling your own parents… Whatever. Any traffic they can get would be fabulous and a wonderful start to building their own social networking community.

Here is the link to the first post I wrote for them: An Introduction…

Since then, mom has posted some pictures of their home and a huge Dachshund Walk (seriously – a wiener dog walk – only in Key West) that just took place last week. Future posts will cover happenings in their shop, interior design projects they’re working on, lovely online finds, crazy stories about their life in Key West, ideas for DIY projects and ways to use color in your home…and who knows what from there – but that’s what we’ve discussed so far.

It should be a fun read. So make sure to visit Style Key West. And come back often!

Magical Thinking, The Secret and Wishing Really, Really Hard

*Don’t forget to enter my Blair Waldorf approved giveaway from Andrea’s Beau! Click here for details.

Sorry for the re-post – but I wanted to put this guest post on my own site as well. And if you didn’t read it – well here is your second chance.

I wrote it for my friend Christy’s blog, so she figures prominently – and it’s a little different from my usual style – but my mom said it was the best mothers day present I could give her, so that was nice!

Magical Thinking, The Secret and Wishing Really, Really Hard
May 7, 2009

When I first met Christy – I was almost bowled over by her enthusiasm. The Christy experience is one you never forget. Her excitement for life is truly a force to be reckoned with.

And she’s a good woman to have in your corner. I often call her my own personal cheerleader. If it were up to Christy, I’d have an agent and a book deal tomorrow, all based on the haphazard scribblings in my personal blog. I have no real writing experience, but Christy sees no hindrance there. She doesn’t waste time worrying about obstacles – she sees only infinite possibility. This ability to focus all of her energy on “making things happen” has served her well. She found her dream husband, her dream career and became the mother of a baby who looks to have sprung directly from a Botticelli painting of angels. She knows how to live life to the fullest and does so every day. And it’s all due to the fact that this girl keeps her eye on the prize.

Everyone has heard of “The Secret” by now, and Christy is in fact, a success story for this Oprah-approved method for finding happiness in life. In one of our recent conversations she told me that when she was single and feeling ready to meet Mr. Right, she thought about everything she would want in a husband and always kept that in the periphery of her thoughts. She went on plenty of bad to so-so dates, but never doubted that this perfect man was out there. She could picture him clearly and knew that she would recognize him the minute he appeared.
And apparently she did, because they’ve been married for five years.

And when they were ready to have the as of then unknown Ms. Foo…the same rules applied. As it did for the dream job. While direct routes may not have been available to her, Christy always knew what her final destination would be be. This complete confidence comes from knowing what you want. And now, thanks to a wildly popular self help book endorsed by talk show hosts everywhere, anyone can be a Christy.

I’m not mocking The Secret of course, but it just strikes me as funny that people need a manual for something that boils down to common sense and a positive attitude. It’s all so simple, or at least it can be if you let it.

So it’s no wonder that a seasoned professional in self-doubt like me would find inspiration here. And not just because it sounds so logical and attainable. For me, this approach to life also sounds very familiar…

While she may not engender Christy’s particular brand of zest for life, my mother is another force to be reckoned with. Jo Coveny is a firm believer in taking responsibility for your own happiness. She didn’t “see the light” as early on as Christy did – but hey, better late than never right?

It all started when I was in elementary school and found myself making frequent trips with her to the Georgetown new age bookstore, “YES! Books” (if you read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, this may sound familiar – Anna Brashares grew up in the DC area and actually featured this blast from my past in her book). Crystal healing and meditation became common topics of discussion in my house and I believe there were “workshops” involved as well…

Since we were children, my brother and I didn’t actually meditate or read up on what crystals would best absorb the negative energy causing a recurring nightmare, but we were “exposed” to my mother’s new interests. A story that mom loves to tell involves my seven year old brother answering the phone while she was meditating and telling the caller that his mother wasn’t available at that time since she was not to be disturbed while she “levitated.”

But long after the crystals became fewer and far between, the self actualization tactics held strong. And my mother was a firm believer in the laws of attraction that The Secret explains. For YEARS I’ve been hearing that if I visualize good things coming my way, they eventually will.

I’ll admit that I’ve always battled a tendency to sit back and let life happen “to” me. Playing it safe and accepting what is offered is just so much easier than asking for more. But with Jo Coveny behind me, I’ve managed to expect more when it really mattered. I have a wonderful husband and beautiful children and my friends inspire me and make me laugh every day. But there is always that one tough spot. The one that doesn’t come clean with just one scrubbing. For me it’s a lack of confidence in my ability to “be something.” And it seems to be a stain made with permanent marker.

Or maybe not.

I recently read Magical Thinking by Augustine Burroughs, and was rather taken with his attitude that he can cause things to happen simply through sheer force of will. And he had this his whole life, even while he was “running with scissors” through his outrageous childhood. I love that he just decided one day that he would write a book that would be on the New York Times best seller list – and then DID.

Magical thinking is pretty much the same concept that the The Secret outlines. That you can make things happen for yourself. And I believe this – because I’ve seen it first hand.

My mother has cancer. She has for years. It began ten years ago as breast cancer, and after a long remission, came back as lung tumors and then brain tumors. So you might wonder how this secret magical thinking BS could be working for her. And I don’t blame you, because I’ve often wondered the same thing.

But that’s just not how life works. You can never dream up a perfect life and then get it. Nothing will ever be perfect – but it can still be wonderful. And the parts that aren’t so wonderful are always subject to change. The Secret proposes that “The Universe” is always listening. If you say “hey, Universe – how about sending me a life without any problems?” – you won’t get much of a response. It seems The Universe is more of a short order cook and not quite equipped to cater to requests on that large a scale. But if you ask for something specific, then you may get better results.

My mother realized many of her dreams. She and my father moved to Key West and opened a home furnishings store. They’ve faced floods and recessions – but they’re still there. In fact their current store is even more beautiful than the first location, and they now have a new business partner and best friend to share this dream. Mom wasn’t handed a perfect situation, but she has never doubted that everything would work out in the end. She knew what she needed, knew it would happen – and then it just did.

She never dreamed of getting cancer – but she did believe that she would find the treatment necessary to get her through it. The year that she developed tumors in her brain – a condition once only treatable through radiation and with a life expectancy of a few months to a few years – the FDA approved a new chemotherapy that specifically targets brain tumors. Almost a year later, my mother’s body is almost entirely cancer free. Was this just luck – or the laws of attraction?

Who knows. Maybe both. But we’ll take it.

There was a show on TV a long time ago (one that didn’t last more than a season or two) with a character named Annie who was kind of a flake. She lost her apartment and ended up secretly living in her sister’s garage where she was storing all of her furniture. A snarky friend discovered this arrangement and responded to her claims to have “tried everything” to find a new place to live by asking, “really Annie? Have you tried wishing really really hard?” Of course her deadpan “yes Brian, I have,” was supposed to be funny. But isn’t that what the laws of attraction and magical thinking are based on? That you start with a picture of what you want? A dream. A hope. A wish.

I don’t know if I believe that wishing is enough – but I do wholeheartedly believe in Jo Coveny. And I believe in Christy. And Augustine Burroughs. And everything that they have achieved started with a wish.

Of course you have to take action to make things happen, but first you have to know what you want.

So that’s where I am now. Figuring out what I want. I already have so much – but I want more. As I should. As we all should. So I’m going to make things happen for myself. I’m going to find a career that I love. Like Christy and like my mother (and of course Augustine) I’m going to picture this and believe in it. I’m going to believe that it’s all possible and that it’s never too late. And I’m going to start by wishing really really hard.