Tag Archives: relationships

Fierce and 14

Last night, I woke up to the sound of the wind howling. It was fierce and powerful reminding me of where I had been exactly 14 years previously – in labor, climbing the stairs at St. Peter’s Hospital. My progress that night was slow, despite it being my third time at that particular rodeo, and I walked up and down those stairs countless times in an attempt to cajole my third baby boy to come out and join the family.

The stubbornness he demonstrated during (his time in utero and) delivery was a precursor of the level of stubbornness he has exhibited ever since. Q was characterized by his grandmother, who sadly died shortly before his third birthday, as “formidable.” She knew of what she spoke, having raised 5 sons of her own, and I so wish she had lived longer to provide further observations and maybe even advice. This kid is a force.

I’ve often described Q as relentless. He just digs his heels in and refuses to yield and it never fails to exhaust me. In the midst of a disagreement, negotiating isn’t an option with this one. I’m learning to quietly tell him the conversation is closed for now, with the promise of revisiting it at a designated later time. It’s the only way out. But, speaking about the way out, this is the same kid who never hangs up or allows us to part without a kiss and an “I love you.” He’s wonderfully demonstrative and affectionate, sometimes to a fault when it comes to his girlfriend.

We learn so much about ourselves as parents from our children. This one has taught me to pick my battles thoughtfully, to be willing to table disagreements and to do your best to always let loved ones know that you care. Happy 14, QP.

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23 and me – yes, me!

As a Christmas gift to myself, I bought a 23 and Me kit. I grew up not knowing any biological family members and I was curious to see how much of the limited family lore might be confirmed – or disproven. For years I had considered my heritage to be pretty cut and dry (50% German, 50% Irish), but I had come to learn that DNA is not really that clean and simple. Yes, both of my parents had been born in the counties from which I associated them, however, that didn’t necessarily mean there hadn’t been other ethnicities mixed in with their German and Irish blood. It was time to learn for real where my people had originated.

Within days my kit, which I had ordered on Cyber Monday, arrived in the mail. I registered it online and started trying to produce enough saliva to fill the test tube to the marked line. Not an easy task for a person whose salivary glands have been damaged by radioactive iodine, folks. Approximately 40 minutes later I had what I thought was an acceptable ratio of spit to foam and capped the tube, placed it in the box and dropped it in the mail.

I received an email when the specimen was received and a couple of weeks after that, I received my results and…

Drumroll…

Apparently I’m of 100% European descent. Shocking, right?

Here’s my makeup:

  • British & Irish – 65.3%
    (Ireland, United Kingdom)
  • French & German – 20.4%
    (Germany, Switzerland)
  • Spanish & Portuguese – 0.5%
  • Broadly Northwestern European – 11.6%
  • Broadly Southern European – 1.3%
  • Broadly European – 0.9%

Despite a friend’s long held assertion that I must be Jewish, that does not seem to be the case. My love for matzoh ball soup, bagels and pickled herring remains undiminished, I assure you.

In terms of genetic makeup, there may not have been much revealed, but there were a couple of things that prompted unexpected emotions. The first was the almost immediate contact made with a woman who shares the surname of my father, the parent I never met. It’s an unusual name, outside of the county where my father was born and raised, and seeing that name, and the scientific evidence that linked she and I together, was so powerful that I couldn’t immediately even process it. Days later, I was brought to tears by this connection with someone I will likely just like my father, never know. The map that accompanied my results also confirmed my sense of community, my feeling of belonging to a family, with its concentration of relatives in Donegal, the county from which I know my father and his family originated.

I know there are controversies about services like this and about having one’s genetic information available for public consumption, but, you know me and my ridiculous drive to be transparent. I’m not all that concerned about that really. Finding out at 52 that the person you had hoped was your parent more than likely was, made 23 and me add up perfectly for this a bit long in the tooth colleen.

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Filed under aging, Europe, family, Germany, ideas, Ireland, Irish, Observations, Recommendations, relationships, Uncategorized

(The) freedom of obligation

Wow, January! You were really something. During your calendar page time, I made my way home from California, spent an evening with friends in New Paltz and had a quick getaway to Miami Beach. There were numerous runs, some yoga, lots of golf course walks with Jeter and the first ski of the season. It was a month full of living life and spending time with people whose company I enjoy. 2019, I think you’re going to be a good one…

As I spent a little time reflecting on the past month, I couldn’t help but recognize that it didn’t matter where I physically was,  wherever I was I felt happy. I guess this internal happiness I’ve been working to cultivate travels well. It really is true, you know, wherever you go, that’s where you are.

It didn’t matter if I was traveling alone or with someone else, if the sun was shining or the wind blowing, or where I physically was – my general state of emotional being was positive. I felt lucky to be wherever I happened to be, even when it wasn’t a place with a scenic view or the warmth of sun on my face. I’m alive. I have family and friends and people with whom I enjoy sharing my time. I have a home and a job. My health is good and my body (mostly) does what I ask it to do. And, there isn’t a single day that I don’t appreciate every single one of those things.

One of the best gifts about growing older is learning new lessons about life and oneself, and how those two things relate. I think the happiness I’m currently experiencing comes in part to my recent realization that beyond my children, the only one I’m obligated to is myself. I’ve known for a long time that I alone am responsible for my own happiness and security, but I’m starting to have a different understanding about what that means. To me, at least.

The commitment I have to being happy, to living my best life, comes with an emotional independence that I hadn’t previously considered. While I most certainly owe honesty to any romantic partner I am with, I’m not obligated to sacrifice my needs to a relationship which may not fill my soul in the manner in which I desire. This is, to me, a rather radical understanding of myself and the state of being linked emotionally with another. I don’t have to stifle my feelings or longings because my ultimate commitment is to me. I only get to do this life thing once and I’m unwilling to experience it as an observer. I want to live it. All of it.

How is the new year treating you? What are you doing to make your life one that is well lived? Are you living your best life?

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The light of the moon

The other night I looked up into the sky and gazed at the moon. It was just a sliver of a thing at first appearance, a soft yellow crescent just hanging in the sky. But, as I looked more closely, the dark shadow of the remainder of the moon was visible as it completed the circle. A lyric from my favorite Waterboys’ song came into my head:

I pictured a rainbow / You held it in your hands / I had flashes / But you saw the plan / I wandered out in the world for years / While you just stayed in your room / I saw the crescent / You saw the whole of the moon

I sighed, wondering how our focus can often be so different from someone else’s, how what we see can so dramatically diverge from what another sees when we’re looking at the same exact thing. Or person. How do you explain it?

There have been times in my life when what I see when I look at a person is dramatically different than what others might observe. Where I might see someone as fallible and imperfect, another might draw a far more negative conclusion. Whose perspective is more wrong – the one that sees the dark or the one that sees the light? How do we come to interpret and process the same object or person in disparate manners?

I have no answers, just instincts and optimism. My eyes might linger on that bright spot in the sky, while others can’t see beyond the darkness and I believe that’s their choice. While there are times when I may wish for that same negative perspective I know that, for me, I’ll continue to do my best to see the light and the whole of moon.

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Filed under aging, beauty, love, musings, Observations, relationships, Uncategorized, winter

Bins, boxes and folders

I may need to consult with an astrologist because it feels like the planets have shifted recently and things have gotten a little whacky in my world. My head is full of thoughts and wonderings and second guessing and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, to be honest. It’s exhausting and I need to get myself in check and put things in order asap.

Enter – organization and alphabetization! You see, that’s my technique for gaining a sense of control. Somehow the act of sorting, folding and tidying up my possessions, both real and virtual, soothes me and helps to calm my mind. Yesterday, I cruised the aisles of Target searching for just the right containers to place my running clothes, sweaters and shirts into to create a more harmonious home. Here’s what I walked out of there now owning:

My plan is to remove everything from my clothing armoire, determine what to keep and then neatly fold everything into the appropriate bin. There are a few small organizers as well, which I’ll be using in a large kitchen drawer to maintain the order recently created when my middle son finally gave me the Christmas gift I most wanted from him – the cleaning of that particular drawer. See how easy to please I can be?

With my Target purchases stowed in my car in anticipation of a weekend of gaining organization, I took on my next task: digital peace of mind. I’ve been mocked before for my IPhone’s desktop appearance, but I don’t take offense by critics seriously, especially when their phone desktops are a jumbled array of apps and icons with dozens, if not hundreds, of unopened emails and notifications. I shudder at the mere thought of that kind of lack of organization! As you can see above, I have thematic folders for my apps which somehow make sense to me.  The additional time it take to click on the folder to launch an app is justified to me since I don’t have to waste time thumbing or scrolling through my phone’s contents. The fact that my folders are in alphabetical order…well, I’m a librarian. What can I say?

How do you deal with mental or emotional angst? Stress eating? Substance indulgence? Physical activity? Share, please.

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Filed under friends, love, musings, Observations, relationships, stress, Uncategorized, winter

Being a better love-r

Despite having returned in recent months to therapy, I still find running solo to be the best way to stretch my brain (and legs) while exploring my world, both inner and outer. It’s when I feel most able to release the leash I at times hold on my thoughts.

I’ve been reflecting, as one does this time of year, and I’ve been thinking specifically about the men I’ve loved over the years and how those relationships changed me and impacted my life. Without a doubt, each one has been unique. It seems that love, like snowflakes to go with a nearly-winter theme, is never quite the same twice. That’s probably what keeps us coming back for more – we often don’t immediately recognize it because it sneaks up on us just as often as it sweeps us off of our feet.

Some of the lasting reminders of a love affair are obvious (hello, children!) while others are only revealed cryptically to those beyond IRL friends. While there have been gifts and lessons and disappointments along the way, I’m starting to realize that the greatest impact on me from my romantic history hasn’t really been on me at all.

No, instead, it’s about how I’ve learned from each relationship, each love, how to be a better love-r the next time. I have an improved understanding of humans and how we each have our own unique needs, needs which aren’t always easily or clearly expressed. I’ve become more patient with another’s flaws because I can more clearly see my own. Instead of immediately thinking that someone’s behavior is directed at me, I’ve finally grasped that it just might be who they are without really having anything to do with me at all. I’ve certainly learned what I want from a relationship but, just as importantly, I’ve realized that being willing to learn what another wants, and finding happiness in being able to provide that to them, comes with its own measure of satisfaction.

Being someone’s girlfriend, partner, wife or lover has maximized my capacity to fill those roles. Understanding that love doesn’t necessarily come with a guarantee of happily ever after can be daunting, but knowing that there’s always another chance to be the best love-r you’ve ever been is its own reward. I’ll just keep trying. How about you?

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When Friday is Tryday

It seems like there have been a lot of Good Fridays recently. A visit home, my birthday, the annual union picnic, a couple of galas… I’ve lost count of how many there have been but, it’s safe to say, it’s been quite a few Fridays since I’ve been home, wrapped in my favorite bathrobe, by 8:00. And last night, it felt pretty damn good. 

The week has been draining. A cold is kicking my ass, our world feels increasingly out of control and I can’t seem to find the time to take care of everything in my usual fashion. After a really physically active week (26 miles and 2.5 hours of yoga)last week, I’ve been too exhausted to exercise in recent days and so I’ve felt sick and sluggish.  Not a good combination for me mentally, to be honest.

So, last night I decided to push myself and take a run for the first time in a week. I figured if I couldn’t run consistently because of the hacking cough I’m currently victim of, I’d walk. I just needed to try. 

It was nearly dark when I hit Delaware Avenue and I wondered if maybe I had underdressed. Should I have worn gloves? A hat? The thermostat said it was a moderate 55 degrees, but my body has been struggling to maintain an even temperature and I felt a little chilly. I found myself, surprisingly, running a bit faster than usual. The miles started to add up.

As always, my thoughts ran with me. I reflected on memories recently made and how different my life is from last year, from even six months ago. Letting go, and making the changes necessary to open myself up to something new, has been difficult for me.  It feels like a combination of walking, running faster than it seems  I am, and not necessarily being prepared for whatever lies ahead. And worth trying, of course.

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