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When I was driving my son and his friends everywhere during his school years, I couldn’t wait for him to reach driving age so I wouldn’t have to be their chauffeur anymore. As it happened, soon after he got his license, I had to take myself off the road due to my visual impairment. It turned out to be a tough decision, though, since not being able to drive anymore really limits your — wait for it — autonomy.

As I thought about all of the things taken from me by my MS, I’ve come up with a theory. Instead of calling them deficits, I’m wondering if it isn’t really just the unorthodox method by which my psyche has tried valiantly to protect me.

Trauma from the past we’d just as soon forget getting us down? Inner me waves a wand. Poof! Don’t remember things anymore! Have some memory issues!

Don’t want to feel this bad ever again? Poof! Don’t feel things. Have some neuropathy!

So what if I have to Google “how to hard boil an egg” every time I want to make an egg salad sandwich. I’ve let go of the guilt of not being able. Everyone else can do X. I can’t. Okay, I’ll focus on doing Y. What I can do is tell you my stories and offer encouragement to get through your own hardships. When I’m not sure if my thoughts make sense on the page, I can always rely on Lori and SueBE to proofread for me. Find your team and you’ll find your way. I focus on what I can do, and do it.

We’ve all got our share of dark clouds in life, but the silver lining is this: you’re still you. You’re still here. You’ve got the chance every day to carry on.

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My son is in college with the goal of working in music production, so the next thing on his To-Do Liszt is to get an internship in the industry. So, without too much fanfare, I’d like to propose that some dear reader in the music business give him a hand.

Do you know how many points I’d score if some music mogul reading this offered my son a job? It’d be off the charts! Then he’d have no choice but to visit me every so often, even after he hits it big on a grand scale. The important thing is to really get a Handel on the skills he’ll need so he doesn’t end up Haydn some 9-5 job.

So here’s my pitch: he’ll write you a song, and you send him money! Everybody wins! 🙂 Here’s a sample of one of his songs: 

stay here pt2

Barring that, perhaps you know of an internship position in which he could learn the ropes, kind of a bridge between school and the rest of his life. That transition can be major, and sometimes we fall flat when we first go solo.

There’s an old saying: Get a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. I’d love it if he got a great gig, preferably close by, so he can always bring me presents (let’s call them “royalties”); well-paying, so he can pay off my mortgage (maybe he can write a nice house music song to do so); and working with people who are upbeat.

I’m probably preaching to the choir, but life is a collaborative composition. If you can help someone out on the road of life, whether it be a lead on a job in their field or just a kind word, you’re part of a larger movement. That’s humanity in harmony. Thanks for listening. Be Bach soon!

My son and his friend are going to see a concert in Washington DC, and when he told me, I said, “That’s nice, honey, have fun.” I assumed he’d be taking the train.

This morning I realized he was taking our car on this road trip. Oh! That’s a three-and-a-half hour drive. In our old car. I love my car, Carrie (pronounced Kahr-ee, if you would), but she’s been through a lot. Six recalls thus far. She’s been in an accident and is a bit banged up. Is she up for this challenge?

There’s no spare tire in the car, which concerns me, but he countered that he’s got Triple A. He said he’d be careful and that I shouldn’t worry. Okay! Check.✅ Then I won’t. Har har. I offered some snacks and juice for the road, and he and his friend were on their way.

Then I looked out the window at the latest iteration of varmint-trap the wildlife company had set for my resident groundhog, Grady. They’d come out last Thursday to set the first trap, and he dug his way out it. Then the next day, they set two traps, pushed together. He dug out of that one too. Today, they covered the ground with some mesh wire and set up two more traps.

At this rate, if Grady finds his way out of the trap, I’m just going to call it a sub-let and start charging him rent!

You can’t fix everything that’s broken in life in one day. You can’t cover your kids with a golden shield to protect them. All you can do is this: all you can do. Worrying isn’t the same as doing. When you stop running in place, you’ll be amazed at how much ground you can cover.

Today is Mother’s Day, and even though my own mother is no longer with us, I still think of her often. When I was growing up, she made it a point to quote literary giants during the course of the day.

If I was dragging my feet getting ready to go to school, she might ask, “How long, O Cataline?”

If my brothers and I were misbehaving, we might get an earful of Shakespeare: “Assume a virtue if you have it not!”

Now, of course, this was said in a playful way. When we really crossed the line, she knew how to tell us so, in standard, and might I add, quite colorful, New Jersey English.

But it was really helpful to have a former English teacher around when I had to write an essay or got stuck on the origin of a word. “If you know Latin, you know English,” she would say.

On the other hand, I came to realize that I was nowhere near the refined, cultured lady that she was. “Enunciate!” she would say. She tried to improve and educate me.

When she would ask if I knew where that “O Cataline” reference was from, I’d say, “Cicero?” She would nod, then shake her head. “It’s pronounced ‘kick-er-oh.”

I wanted to say, But I’m not some ancient Roman, Mom. We live in New Jersey. Why can’t we say it regular? Or as some of us say in Jersey: reg-ya-luh. Still, I secretly enjoyed those conversations. Sure do miss her.

Let’s implement a new rule: for every memory that crosses your mind that makes you sad, come up with two thoughts that lift you up. It’s what your mother would want you to do.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

In my day, sonny (cue nostalgic music), we used to quietly hold the world together with a pat on the back and a kind word. Nobody noticed but that one child who scraped his knee on the playground who we helped up. Or that person in the grocery aisle who couldn’t reach a can on a shelf, so you got it for them.

As short as I am (5”4), there was an older lady even shorter. She couldn’t reach the can of peas on the top shelf so she looked at it, looked at me, and tilted her head quizzically. She didn’t have to ask. In fact, she didn’t. She just knew a kind face when she saw it.

When my son and his friends were younger, they were amused by what one young man termed Ruth’s Random Rules. One such rule is that when anyone sneezes, everyone is to say “God bless you.” Don’t believe in God? Okay, say “Gesundheit.” Or “Salud.” Even, “I acknowledge that you have sneezed and you are in the same general vicinity as I am; now I shall go back to ignoring you.” Whatever you have to say — but in this home, young men, we shall be civilized.

Another one was that the boys were required to take our dog into the yard every hour on the hour. They thought they were doing me a favor and doing a nice thing for Sheena, which is true. But they were also getting exercise. I wanted to codify it so they had an excuse to take a break from the video game, a real reason to get out into the yard on a sunny summer day.

If you do your best and treat others with kindness every day, those small moments accumulate into a big bunch of blessings.

Faithful readers of our humble bloggie know that I lost my pet partner, KitKat, recently, so forgive me as I ramble on with stories about him for the next few posts. He meant so much to me and my son, and I realized today he was not just a cat. He was a counselor.

My son has dealt with exhaustion due to a medical condition his whole life. It’s affected his quality of life immensely, and, as a mother, it’s pained me that I can’t fix it for him.

One morning, I couldn’t wake up Cole, so I cried for a moment in the kitchen. My cat came into the room. “I don’t know how to help him. He’s not sleeping well or feeling good. I don’t know how to help him live well,” I said to my cat as if he understood.

KitKat came over to me, bumped against my leg and stayed there, waiting.

Pet me, he was saying. You feel good when you pet me. So if you feel good, you’ll be in a better mood. Let go of what you can’t solve now.

Still tightly clenched, I went over to the couch in the living room and he came to sit near me. As I patted his furry head, he purred. The tension was dissipating, and even though I still didn’t have a solution to this fatigue that never went away, I felt my shoulders start to relax.

You can’t reach out and grab hold of life with your hands clenched. Even if you’ve been running in circles for the whole week, find a way to have a day of rest. Lay your burden down and be at peace. If you can’t solve the problem, resolve the energy. You’ll find that things will look brighter tomorrow.

Here’s a picture of the singer, Pink, cooking in her home, carrying her baby in a sling in front of her. When I saw it, I was concerned that the infant was too close to the frying pan and might get splattered with grease. I also noticed that the child in the back, climbing on the counter, looks distracted and may fall.

Now, is having this opinion actually another way of saying that I’m “Mommy-shaming” the singer? I don’t mean it to be. I suppose it’s all about intention and tact. She’s obviously doing her best to take care of her kids, as we all do. It’s hard to know how much you should say to or about another parent.

Once when my son was three years old, we stopped at a local donut shop. I kept him right in front of me, pressed against the counter so that no one would snatch him. A lady nearby was just paying for her coffee and said quietly into my ear, “They put the coffee right there on the counter near your child…just saying the coffee is really hot.” And she left.

Of course, I was offended and shrugged her off with the body language equivalent of “Well! I never!” But you know what? She was right. There was a definite danger that my son could be scalded by the cups of coffee that were being placed inches away from where I was vigilantly keeping him safe from child abductors. Sometimes we’re so hard-wired to watch for large, looming boogeymen that we don’t see the small vipers in the garden in front of us.

If conversation is constructive and considerate, there’s nothing wrong with respectfully disagreeing. Pink is doing fine. Her kids will be fine. Trolls will live under bridges, as well as in the shadows of cyberspace. Life will go on, not to worry. I look at it this way. It’s better to be kind than right. It’s better to be blessed than to be a budinsky. For our younger readers, a “budinsky” is just an old-school way of saying “troll.”

So indulge me in a bit of reverie. Picture me one thousand years in the future, after science has unlocked the key to longevity, so that everyone in the world now has long life, prosperity and an uncanny knack for sassy accessorizing. Acc-sass-orizing, if you will.

This would be after science discovers that people like me with eyes that may be considered green or blue (depending on the comfy sweater we’re wearing) can actually see into the future, so we’re given government jobs sitting at the computer all day, surfing, and predicting stuff (sometimes correctly, sometimes not so much – but, like meteorologists, we still get paid.)

This would be far, far in the future, when I’ve finally learned that just because my Cosmic Cat is sitting at the back door of my mansion on Mercury, facing me with those big moon-pie eyes as if he wants to come back inside, he’s just window-shopping. I’ll ask my inventors to build an auto-cat door that scans his hologram retinas so he can open the door his dang self.

Maybe then my son will read my blog posts! This humble blog has become a time capsule of sorts, a snapshot of my life through the years. What’s important to me at the time. What’s in the news. What I hope for my son as he wends his way down the road of life.

Every so often, I’ll tell him I mentioned him in a blog post. Read it, would you, so I can be sure I’m not saying anything a teen-ager wouldn’t want his mom to mention. Of course, I do realize… That covers just about everything!

So in a thousand years, I’ll ask my son, About reading that blog, honey… How ‘bout now?

Sure Mom, I’ll get around to it. Just about to catch the shuttle to Saturn!

Oh well. If you only read this, Cole, just remember. I love you like nobody’s business. Wherever I am – New Jersey or some nebula in the night-sky – I’ve got your back. And if you call from Jupiter again, don’t call collect. It’s long distance!

So I dropped something the other day – it made a loud noise, and I got annoyed because my teen-age son didn’t bother to check to see if I was okay. Out of nowhere, I experienced intense anger, and a real moment of unforgiveness. The place where my heart usually was felt like a stone.

Normally, I’m as pleasant as pie. So pleasant, in fact, I’ll bet some crotchety-types might find it annoying! Hey there! Turn that frown upside down, grumpy cat! 😾 There I go with the emojis again. I heart smiley-faces!! 😍

So that’s my default setting. Finding myself in such a foul mood was jarring. Now, it lasted less than an hour, but what an intense experience it was. I really had to ask pointedly in prayer, “Take this from me, Lord. I don’t know how to release it.”

The negative narrative was running in a loop: How could he not have heard such a loud noise? Doesn’t he give a heck? Haven’t I raised him better than that?

Even trying to forgive felt forced:  Why have I always got to be the one to let things slide? After all I’ve done for him! I just couldn’t let go of this anger.

In a previous post about Hugh Jackman (my next ex-husband-to-be, only he doesn’t know it yet. Yes, I’m willing to re-locate to Oz-Trailia) I said that it’s possible to find wisdom in unexpected places. This time it came from a roots Rock band called “The Record Company.I gotta pick myself up off the ground. I got the answer to my biggest question. Got to lose where I was to get my direction.

Staying in the moment that had hurt my feelings meant I was stuck in it, as if time stopped there. There was no present anymore, only this past pain.

I talked to my son again after I’d cooled my jets. He’d had his headphones on halfway, so it’s possible he didn’t fully hear the loud sound. Still, I reminded him: we watch out for each other. Because I don’t want to be emoji-less again! 🌈😊😺

My son is eighteen-years-old, and, as you can imagine, I’m keeping him covered in prayer. At the same time, I’m trying to keep my distance.

After all, he knows how to navigate the world, and he’s got a good head on his shoulders. I have to remember that I’ve raised him to the best of my ability, and now the rest is up to him.

Still, occasionally, if my prayers were read aloud, they would sound frantic. Because sometimes, that’s just how I feel.

He’s going to college. He’s got a steady girlfriend. He’s driving on New Jersey’s busy highways.

The other day, I prayed anxiously. I’d been thinking of all the things I hoped for him in his life, and felt tight. At the end of the prayer, I spoke to myself, just as if in conversation with a friend, trying to understand why I felt so unsettled.

I hope he does well.
I trust God knows what he’s doing.
I believe it all works out in the end.

Breathing in and out a few times slowly, I went into my sunroom and sat in the spot on the couch bathed in soft light rays. Just as my cat might do, basking and being. Just being.

There was a subtle shift in my soul and I exhaled, speaking out loud the words I had just said, only this time, I changed the punctuation slightly. When I put the emphasis back on Providence instead of on the problem, a wave of of peace washed over me.

I hope. He does well.
I trust. God knows what he’s doing.
I believe. It all works out in the end.

“What if you woke up and the only things that remained were the things you gave thanks for yesterday?” This is something I read on Twitter recently, by a site called Amazing Grace.

Staying in a state of grace is putting God back in charge. You know. Where he was all along. It’s okay to let go of things you really can’t control anyway. Just a gentle reminder from someone who’s been there.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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