Tuesday, January 29, 2013

preparing to let go


Sometimes I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and thinking, “Oh, Michael is in the next room, how nice.” And I’ll close my eyes and snuggle inside the warm, comforting realization that my youngest is still home.


But there are other times I’ll wake up in a drowsy, clouded state and my first thought isn’t a thought at all, it’s a flutter of panic as I think, “Oh, my God, Michael is graduating soon.”

And in the next second, I’m mentally counting the months, and realizing how little time we have left before he goes. And my mind will go crazy thinking about the clothes on his floor and how messy he is, and why didn’t I do a better job teaching him tidiness? And I’ll be flooded with cringing images of his college room being in shambles.



But mostly, I’ll feel a dull heaviness in my chest that I now recognize as that certain sadness that comes with letting go of one’s children.

How do you learn to live with a missing part? You just do.

I was describing these middle-of-the night feelings to Mr. Moss on one of our evening walks. And he was soothing me with the teachings of mindfulness. “It’s OK Les,” he said. “Just observe your feelings and stop judging. The idea is to simply watch your mind and  allow your feelings to come and go,

and Name Them. Whatever the feelings are.”

He gave me an example.

“Right now I’m aware that I’m feeling sad about Michael leaving…and this also makes me  a little anxious and worried, wondering if he’s ready…”

He tells me that in order to avoid being led by your emotions and constantly reacting, mindfulness teaches us to develop a degree of healthy separation. And this comes from having a curious, flowing observation of oneself.

It happens when we slow down and listen in the quietness

to our heart.


 Patrick and Michael;  the preschool days

As I write these words, I’m aware that my pangs of sorrow may be different from yours.

Because letting go is a unique, breathtaking experience for each mother. It has to do with who the child is, and the relationships involved, and the woman herself, and how she deals with Loss.

I’ve also discovered that launching a child out of the home often elicits well meaning comments that happen when someone tries to reassure away our sadness. To plug up the hole with words. And although it’s meant with kindness, I want to assure them I’ve been through this before and that  …

I already know I’ll be absolutely fine.

I already know I’ll have a bucket list of projects in the works, because that’s who I am.

I already know I’m lucky in love and grateful to be entering into a new era with Mr. Moss.


And I realize that the soulful bonds I feel with my kids will never prevent me from being the first one to push them out the door, towards those exciting possibilities that await them.

But I’ve also learned that it’s Ok to feel the hollowness, and it’s fine to be mindful of the empty spot where once there was someone and now there’s not. And this I think, is the resplendent courage of a mother’s love. We love our children with every fiber in our bodies and when it’s time

we simply let go. We adapt. We do what’s best for the love of our children.


And if you’re wise, you prepare for the inevitable strangeness of one day waking up and realizing that your college aged child lives miles and miles away from you.

And believe me,

You’re going to be just fine.


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Blessings to you,




I’m linking up here:


Saturday, January 26, 2013

the beauty of being real




God I love realness.

I love those deep, satisfying conversations with true friends, when pretenses are left at the door and you’re just being You…



I love it when I’m with someone who is refreshingly honest about who she is, someone who isn’t interested in putting on clever airs or being fabulously happy all the time…

just for appearances.


I find it admirable when I see a women take a risk and put herself out there, because risks involve discomfort and they’re hard. Only at my age I prefer plucky and bold to soft and timid.

I’m drawn to women who aren’t afraid to show their real face to the world and who share tender pieces of their story so others might ponder their own lives,

and be better for it.

This past week I was struck by a few of these women and I thought I’d share some links here in the spirit of passing-realness-forward.


I don’t know much about Grace Coddington, the  British creative director of Vogue, but when I saw her on MSNBC’s Morning Joe I was intrigued. Any seventy-one year old fashion icon who warns women not to hide behind make-up, and says things like, “Beauty is always the person,” and “I like the imperfections of people,” is a woman I immediately like.  I might just pick up her memoir.


And in the blogosphere I found something shimmering and real in each of these posts.

I hope you find something here to the inspire you. You deserve it.


moving on (from baby dreams)

 a tender disclosure about depression

facing your insecurities (entertaining in your home)

tiny beautiful moments (loss and gratitude)

a child of divorce explores “the fear” of marriage




I’d love to hear what you think. 




I”m linking up here:


Thursday, January 24, 2013

where I blog

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Early this morning when I walked into my office, I saw my old shoes under the desk

and I smiled.

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The sun was beginning to filter through the shutters, bathing the room in an soft pool of light

and I was suddenly struck by the quietness of the house

and the beauty of this little space.

This is where I blog.


There’s nothing fancy or expensive about this room, but I love it because it’s my own space in the house, filled with a collection of thrift store finds and antique pieces mixed in with the practical things. The printer and the small TV of course, so I can follow the crazy world of national politics. 

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Some people watch reality shows. I watch Morning Joe, Meet the Press. This Morning with George Stephanopoulos and Face the Nation faithfully. I find that watching the petty antics of the US Congress is better than any fake melodrama, although it does make me rant at the television and regularly wish for a female President. But that’s another subject.

On this particular morning I came into the room looking for something and for some reason I stopped. I found myself looking over the objects that surround me everyday. Really seeing things.

And  I decided to grab my camera.


For one second I thought about replacing these worn shoes for the photos, bringing in my silver ballet flats instead. You know, staging things. But then I thought, wait-a-minute, this is really Me. Why pretend with my readers?

And I thought that maybe you have a pair of old shoes you still like to wear because they’re so comfy.

So I left them in the pictures.



This is the latest love of my life. It’s a fluffy sheep skin throw that I keep on my chair because I’m always cold. If you ever notice a woman huddled in a thick coat inside the movie theater it might be me. Seriously, even in summer.


I keep my pens and pencils in an old teapot. This morning it was sitting on top of one of my current reads, Wherever You Go There You Are.


Whenever I sit down I usually find myself staring at the latest photo Mr. Moss has put on the screen.

What do you see when you turn on your computer?

I happen to love this photo because the boys look so young; and they’re still shorter than their six foot tall Dad, which is no more.


Do you mind seeing the warts-and-all of this room?  On the side of my desk is the cord that I plan on hiding some day. And my current files that I’m using.


Behind me is the waste basket. I bought it at Home Goods because it had a lid, and I prefer not seeing garbage. But there’s something quirky about the lid.

Oh well, I think I’m liking it’s oddness.

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This is a close up of one of my favorite mirrors of all time. I had walked up immediately after the antique dealer hung this up in her booth for sale and I couldn’t believe it. It was exactly what I’d been looking for.

Don’t you love when that happens?


And here’s what this vintage mirror looks like on the wall.


When I’m writing I can glimpse the industrial style shelving on my right.


Although you can’t see it, the words, “Be Grateful” are typed out on my Grandfather’s old typewriter. I actually struggled between that message and the one I remember him always saying which was,

“Always be humble.”

Do people ever say that anymore?




Now it’s time to pretend you’re peeking over my desk. This is the view of the oak piece I refinished in a soft, gray color. It’s what my printer sits on.


This is what I started with.

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And this is the final finish.


On the wall next to the printer I have a burlap bulletin board with personal mementos, photos, an old letter from my grandfather and some precious artwork from the boys. (As you can see, I don’t have an average size heart,) 


This morning I had Anne Lamott’s book, bird by bird on my desk. I consider it a “must-read” for anyone interested in writing.


I also cannot begin my day without a strong cup of coffee. Actually I can’t get by unless I drink at least 2-3 cups of strong stuff. But I always put 1% milk in it.

How about you? Do you prefer your coffee black or with milk?

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One more shot of some winter white loveliness…


Do you have a special place where you like to write or read?


Virginia Woolf believed that every woman needed a room of her own, But I believe that was actually a metaphor for simply carving out important time for one’s self. A place to contemplate and create things and develop your own life.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear.



I’m linking up here:


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

the lesson of Lance Armstrong: a post for parents


Does anyone else feel saddened by the Lance Armstrong story?

After watching both of Oprah’s interviews with Lance Armstrong I agree he’s not a likable guy. I watched him squirm and offer surprisingly vacant insights into himself, I heard him admit he was a bully to anyone who threatened the life he had built on a shifting sand of lies. And I realized why terms like pathological liar, narcissist, and even sociopath are being thrown around in discussions all over the internet and cable news.

But I’m not a Lance basher.

Maybe it was my years as a psychotherapist that left me permanently altered. That helped me understand the complicated layers that make up a whole person. And left me feeling compassion for those who unconsciously create their own hell here on earth.


Or possibly it was my work in the eating disorder field that made me wary of people trying to pass off a perfect looking story for their real life. Because working daily with beautiful, thin women who hated their bodies taught me that behind every beloved hero, every glamorous celebrity, and every glossy photo shoot there’s only a mere human there. With flaws in their personality and pain in their story, just like you and me.

Whatever the reasons, I know that nothing is ever what it seems from the outside.


But still, hearing Lance Armstrong acknowledge that he cheated his way through seven Tour de France wins made my mouth drop open. And listening to his admission that he was a bully to anyone daring to tell the truth, was a sobering moment. But one that left me with a strange sense of relief.

I actually thought, thank you Lance. Thanks for reminding parents to be careful what dreams and wishes we have for our children. Thanks for the reality check.

Because Lance Armstrong is an glorious example that racking up achievements, and wealth and world-wide fame do not guarantee one’s inner peace or happiness or a well-lived life.

I’m sure you already know this. But when it comes to raising our own kids this means something; it means we need to be careful about over-focusing on our child’s achievements. At the risk of neglecting the heart and soul stuff.

And for all those sports-driven parents out there, Lance is a wonderful reminder that developing into an elite athlete and developing a moral compass and character are not the same.

And while we may know our child’s baseball stats or mile time, we should definitely know the statistics on the important effects of family dinners  on addiction and relationships. Because this is the stuff that has lasting value.

Lance Armstrong reminded me once again that it’s much more important to raise a great kid,

than a kid who is great at something.

And that teaching morality and empathy for others, is key to raising a kid who tells the truth, even in the toughest situations.

Because qualities like integrity, curiosity, grit, perseverance, work ethic, and gratitude have been linked to a fulfilling, successful life. And THIS important book about character and success is something we all should know about.


There are lots of thoughts I have about Lance Armstrong. And his win-at-all-costs lifestyle.

Mostly I felt bad about those deeper voids inside him, and his admission that he’s never talked to his mother, about the biological father who abandoned him. That’s some powerful avoidance.

But when the dust settles, I’m left with this truth.


Lance Armstrong showed the world you can be the best athlete in your sport, but if you don’t have the admiration of your child, if every word you utter is doubted, if you’re branded a cheater and scorned by the world for being a bully

…it doesn’t much matter.

Tell me what you think.




linking up here:

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Happy thoughts


Eighteen years ago today, I was in the hospital with Michael.

Wow. I love birthdays.

Today the sun is shining.

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Michael is smiling. Patrick is back in school, safe and sound.

It’s a holiday weekend. I started reading THIS book and THIS book.

We’re headed over to watch a football game at my parents.

Good food awaits us.


And I’m in the middle of lots of painting projects. Which makes me happy.


Sometimes I have no idea where I’m going to end up. I just start painting. Just because it feels right.

And I’m aware that this makes me sound like a loony woman.


Which I’ve never denied.


my pinterest beauty board

How about you?

What are you doing today?





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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

on the verge of change: a white painted fireplace


Well, here it is. Already the middle of January in a Brand New Year.

How’s it going so far?

I find myself checking the date a lot and making a special effort to observe things. I’ll actually stop myself in the middle of some random moment and take a mental snapshot of what I’m doing. Who’s around? What feelings do I notice?

That’s because I have a surreal Alice-in-Wonderland experience of January.

I think of January as my poor-Cinderella-step-child-month. It’s so easy to overlook... at least for me. It’s a month that’s usually filled with stretches of long, winter days that seem dutiful and busy. But unexciting. Days where nothing much is happening and yet, each year when I blink, it’s over.

And I’m left standing in the grocery line telling the cashier, “I can’t believe it’s already February!”


But I’m tired of missing January. I’m trying to slow down and savor the small things and I was recently inspired HERE.

So I’ve decided to make a few changes in my surroundings and make this month more memorable.

What kinds of changes are you focused on?

Because we can shine a light on different areas of our life at once. We can make a few tweaks here and there and it all adds up in the end. Tiny, positive changes that can make us feel wonderfully empowered and grateful

if we do it one day at a time.

At least that’s how I do it. With baby steps.


In my last post I shared a few of my smaller painting projects that were easy to do. And today I’ll show you the BIG change that’s on my mind right now. Only I admit it, I’m a bit nervous.

Because I’ve decided to paint my tall fireplace wall…a creamy white.


What do you think?









Let me remind you.

This is a photo I took a few minutes ago of my family room with all the brick.


This is what my bricks look like right now.


photo: commonground

And this is the photo that makes me feel brave.

Do you all know Debra over at Common Ground? She’s got an amazing home. It’s warm and beautiful and has lots of creamy white everywhere, which I love. And this is what her own painted brick fireplace looks like. You can go HERE to see more of this room. And you  really should too, not just to see her lovely decorating style, but to meet someone with a kind heart.

In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I need to wash the bricks and do a bit more research on the paint.

And I’d love to know what you think….



I’m linking up here:


photos: BHG, designsponge, apartmenttherapy, remodalista, countryliving, alantishome,


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