Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why I don't give a $h!t about Thanksgving

In the last decade or so, Thanksgiving has gone from celebrating the first meal shared between the Native  Americans and the pilgrims and  it has become more about gratitude, and celebrating what we are thankful for.   It has gone from Thanksgiving to Thanks+Giving, the act of giving thanks.  
We see it all over social media with hashtags like #thankful, #grateful, #30daysofthanks, and so on.  People are taking time to count their blessings and share their gratitude with others.  I love this.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving, the celebration of that "big day," is centered around a humongous meal that typically involves more food than any one family can eat.  This is what we remember.  This is what our memories are made of.  We reminisce about family crammed into a house too small to contain all of the visitors, some people sitting at card tables, some on the sofa watching football...traditionally women in the kitchen, football or parades on the television.   I can smell the memories as I type this.

About twenty years ago, my parents decided to move to Arizona.  If I can be honest, there was no real reason.  They liked it, so they went.  This was a Thanksgiving game changer.  While I still had plenty of family in Michigan and was married at the time so I shared his family too,  my parents were no longer the center of my Thanksgiving.  Thud.

I adjusted.  I became a mother.  *I* became the center of Thanksgiving.  I blinked and all of a sudden I was the mom in the kitchen, I was the hostess, I was inviting family and friends to my house for all of the craziness that goes with a day of such magnitude.  So much planning and preparation goes into this ONE DAY and getting this one meal  just right.  Another game changer.

And then we moved to Tennessee.  Just us.  Our nuclear family.  Game changer.  Now if we want to see family on Thanksgiving, there are expensive airfares involved and family everywhere so where do we decide to go?  No where.  We stay here.  We create our own Thanksgiving memories.  We turn it into the day we put the tree up while mom cooks in the kitchen.  We scream about the Detroit Lions
(that will never change, always the Lions on Thanksgiving day).  It's a game changer.  It's different.  But it's ok because we have each other.

And then we got a divorce.

And then we had to fill out that paper where you determine the fate of your and your children's future holidays.

Game changer.  

Let me tell you how easy it would be to be sad about being alone on Thanksgiving.

But I don't celebrate Thanksgiving anymore.

I celebrate Thanks+Giving.







Tomorrow, on November 24, 2016 I will be grateful for so much.  The air that I breathe, another day to screw it up or get it right, my boys celebrating the Lions with their father and grandparents, the soundtrack to Hamilton in my ears, crafts to do, pajamas to wear, chicken piccata for one, pumpkin pie for dessert AND breakfast, my newfound love for chai latte, Netflixthis weather, the beautiful Christmas tree that I put up with the boys yesterday, wine, books, no makeup, family near and far to connect with via this tiny computer in my hand, and so....very....much.... more.

Know what I'm grateful for today?  All of that AND the fact that I'm not frantically cleaning my house and spending 6 hours in the kitchen.  Just sayin'

Guess what I'm doing on Friday?  I'm going to wake up grateful for a billion things and I'm going to make a full blown Thanksgiving feast for me and the boys.  (Which, by the way, is something I do several times a year)

It's just a day.

Thanksgiving is JUST a day.

Thanks+Giving is every single day.  

We live in strange, difficult times, and LIFE IS HARD.  We must stop waiting until a Thursday in November or November period to start being grateful and giving thanks for all that we have. Because look around, we have so much.  

Thanks+Giving is every moment we have with our children, driving them to and from all of the places but recognizing that it's in those precious moments that we are getting to know the humans we created. Thanks+Giving is being able to reach out to a friend in the middle of the night and send them your crazy rantings via the tiny computer in your hand and getting the response, "Yes you're crazy, but you're also okay."  Thanks+Giving is second chances.  Thanks+Giving is being scared and doing it anyway.  Thanks+Giving is Leslie Odom Jr. singing , "My favorite things." Thanks+Giving is succeeding and failing and sometimes all at once.  Thanks+Giving is forgiveness and grace. Thanks+Giving is a great book to read.  Thanks+Giving is heat and electricity, water, and wifi.   Thanks+Giving is surrender.  Thanks+Giving is finding joy in the big and in the small moments.  Thanks+Giving is creating and finding adventure in every moment of the day. Thanks+Giving is the gift of another day. Thanks+Giving is this day.  Period.  

I don't give $h!t about Thanksgiving because every day of my life is Thanks+Giving.  

"Thanksgiving" is just a date on a calendar.  Thanks+Giving is a ......

game changer.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sing it Rihanna

I seriously do not know what to believe anymore.


The world scares me.  People scare me.  The big thing right now is "truth telling," "owning our truth," "living our truth."  But is anyone?  Tonight I was talking to my best friend and saying that my book will sell like hotcakes because my book is the straight dope.  Forget about "truth telling."  My words are just straight, ugly, brutal, and raw.  I don't know any other way.  I'm putting all my junk out there.  I don't care who likes it and who doesn't and I never have.  I think I was hard wired that way.  Maybe it's the fact that I'm half Italian and half German.... come on.... what  a combo, right?  I'm not sure how I got this way, but I never want it to change.  In fact I'm noticing that as I get older and more comfortable in my own skin, the less I care.   The more I get to know about people and how truly disappointing they can be, the less I try to please them.  Listen, I'm just going to continue to show up and tell my story.   Someday my book will be on a shelf and you can buy it or not.  I'm going to be ok either way.

So in the spirit of raw honesty, I wanted to post something I wrote that was so vulnerable it actually surprised me.  I wrote it this summer, with every intention of sharing, and then didn't.  Or perhaps couldn't.

I rang in 2016 with my friend Jessica creating a hilarious memory that involved martinis, movies, and emergency exits, but that's definitely another blog post for sure.   What I can tell you is that earlier in the day, I was at Barnes & Noble, and bought us each a copy of this book.

You can get one here.

Guys I was IN the bookstore.  You know, like with all of the bookish, paper-ey, amazing smells?  So. Many. Books.  There were several versions of this one, but I settled on things to write about ME, because too often, when working with writing prompts, we don't really look inward.   And that's important.  That's how we learn about us, and more importantly, it's how we learn to share our story.  

So in this blog post I'm going to share one of my entries.  There are, as the title suggests, 642 prompts.  It took me until June to even crack this book open, and when I did I was on an airplane and just allowed the book to fall open and began to write.  Here's what happened.  

Your mother's jewelry box:  You're looking through it.  She's said you can have one thing, anything you want.  Describe this object using at least three senses.  What made you choose it?

Even as I type answer surprises me.  

There is an aggressive pull at my heart.  It's physical.  There is an ache there so strong it nearly takes my breath away. 

It's MY wedding ring.

I look back at pictures and I can see it securely on my finger and I'm reminded of all that it represented.  Hope.  Promise.  Loyalty.  Forever.  That is all gone now, just like the diamond from my finger.  My mind goes back to the moment it was placed on my hand for the first time.  There was fear in his eyes, as we were both embarking on the unknown.  Quite literally, the biggest and most important decision of our lives was happening in that moment.  We both trembled.  For fifteen years I wore that diamond and held dearly to all of the promise it represented.  Good, bad, sickness, health.  Many tears, but even more laughter.  It didn't last.  It wasn't enough.  There are many reasons, most I'm sure I'll ever know or understand.  Why do I want it back?  Because while I'm not sure yet if those were "the best" years of my life, what I am sure of, is that during that time I, WE produced the best parts of both of us, in our children.   So while the marriage itself didn't quite stick, these beautiful boys are what lives on regardless of how many ways we have failed each other.  The marriage didn't fail them.  The marriage created them.  They were created with all of the hope. promise, and love that the very diamond represented.  After the divorce I began to wear a very simple sterling ring on my finger.  I felt naked without something there.  It wasn't until recently when a potential suitor warned me that a ring on "that" finger of any kind was a signal to stay away that I began to wear nothing at all.  Sometimes I still look down and see that diamond on my finger.  Shortly after getting engaged, I was working at the mall and and older gentleman said to me, "Someone must really love you."  And with all the confidence in the world I responded, "Yes he does."  But love is so much more than a rock isn't it?  Part of love is BEING the rock.  And he was never that for me.  I suppose that was one of the reasons.   Last month, JP said this to me, "A diamond is  a piece of coal that did really well under pressure." 

  She said that quote always made her think of me.  I think that's why I want  it back.  Because for all the ways it fell apart, there were a million amazing, beautiful, perfect things about it.  We screwed it up in a thousand ways, but there was so much good to it.   The marriage may be considered the coal, it was under an intense amount of pressure and through it all, the diamond remains.  No no no.  I was the coal.  I was the coal in the marriage.  The pressure turned me into a diamond.  And in that way, I want it back on my finger.  I want it as a constant reminder of exactly how strong I am.  I want to remember all of the glorious good and BEAUTY and shine that came from those 15 years.  Yes it's over, but the beauty remains. I deserve that diamond.  I AM that diamond.

Pretty raw stuff, huh?  That's the thing about writing prompts.  It's not like I walk around all day lamenting that I don't have that diamond anymore.  I don't think about it at all.  The prompt forced me to think about it.  For ten years I wore the ring exactly as it was presented to me, a 1.3 carat diamond solitaire on a knife edge band.  I never had a wedding band.  I never really found one that I loved, and secondly I always found my diamond so beautiful, I never wanted to distract from it.  On our ten year anniversary I ordered myself a white gold setting with a simple row of channel set diamonds (very small and tasteful) and had my diamond re-set into that.  Kind of telling that I did it all myself, right?  That was par for the course of our marriage, but I digress.   My mother always loved my diamond.  You could say she was a little jealous of it I suppose.  Jeff went with my dad to pick out the ring from the very jeweler that my dad got my mom's ring at.  All very sweet, all very emotional. 

Sometimes when you get divorced, you need help from your parents.  I have been blessed with very generous parents who have helped me in more ways than I can name.  I gave my mother my diamond.   This shocks people when I tell them.  Everyone wants to know why I didn't sell it.  You guys, my mom was my bank for a very long time.  For Pete's sake in a way I did sell gifting it to her.  She has since had it re-set in this very ugly vintage man's ring that I despise and she loves. That's all that matters.  She loves it and it makes her happy.  

Someday I'll wear a diamond again.  Maybe it will be on "that" finger, and maybe it won't.  But until then, I'll just continue to BE the diamond. 

Seriously though, when you search the internet for a "shine bright like a diamond" image, always choose the one that features Ryan Gosling with his shirt off.  You're welcome.