Tough Broads

11 10 2015

Ever since my daughter, Jade, was a little girl and we both had to use a squat potty on a trip to visit her dad’s family in Malaysia, we’ve jokingly called each other tough broads.

It expanded during her Girl Scout years when we named a rainy weekend camping trip, the Tough Broad Campout. Whenever we said this, it was followed by pounding on our chest, then a thumbs up saying, YOU ROCK.

This past summer, my baby girl moved to Chicago to follow her dreams of maybe, someday, becoming a comedy writer. My sweetie and I u-hauled her stuff up North (meaning Steve did all the driving and heavy lifting). We spent a few days visiting my only child in the windy city, 1000 miles away. I have always supported her move, but have had my motherly concerns.

Me and my millennial at Chicago's Millennium Park

Me and my millennial at Chicago’s Millennium Park

I was concerned about where she lived. She has a teeny, tiny, expensive bedroom with a “kitchen” which is called a studio apartment in the big city. But she did her research and she was right. Lakeview is a great neighborhood; full of people her age, full of beautiful homes and full-sized apartments. While rent may be high by Baton Rouge standards, it’s good for the area she’s living in. I’m relieved she’s not in a bigger, cheaper place in an edgier part of town.

I was concerned about comedy being a pipe dream. Part of me wants her to get a “real” job with real benefits. But again she’s done her research and is well into classes with The IO Theater, a comedy company with a serious lineage. This is her graduate school and it took this trip for me to see it that way. No matter what her career eventually evolves into, she’ll be able to use what she’s learning.

I was concerned about her getting stuck waiting tables. She’s working at an upscale Irish pub, Wilde, a short walking distance from her place. She was right when she said it was a good place to work. The food and drink are great. But more importantly it’s well run and the staff is warm and welcoming. This job allows her to pursue her passion, to pay all her bills and even have a bit extra at the end of the month.

I was concerned about her being so far from family and friends. On my last night in the city, I went with her to see one of her friend’s perform on a small stage in a basement venue. The crowd was small, but Jade’s new friends were all cheering for their friend on stage. Most of these new friends were from Baton Rouge, connected by old friendships. I realize while Jade is embracing all things new and different, she has found a supportive, understanding family with her new tribe. A tribe who understands the importance of Mardi Gras and following your dreams.

Winter is coming

Winter is coming

I was concerned about the upcoming winter. The Chicago winter continues to be the main subject that everyone from Baton Rouge friends to Chicago Uber drivers issue dire warnings about. It is something we talked about when she began to consider moving. I agreed with Jade when she said, if she hated it or couldn’t take the cold, then she could move somewhere warmer. But the real tragedy would be to not go out of fear of really cold weather.

I was concerned about a lot of things. However reconnecting with my daughter after five months apart wasn’t one of them. We both find the name of a main Chicago thoroughfare, Wacker, hilarious. And the possibility of her working through the holidays makes us both weepy. We both loved walking the Chicago tree-lined streets; people watching, being a tourist in a great city and meeting new people. We loved telling our stories to others and making my sweetie listen to them over and over.

My baby girl is a tough broad. And I guess I am too, because I let her go. I’m beating my chest and giving her a thumbs up ’cause YOU ROCK.


SteveAnother huge YOU ROCK to my sweetie, he made the trip possible for these two tough broads.

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15 06 2015

My baby bird has left the nest. She’s following the migratory path of others her age and is starting her adult life 800 miles away in a place very different than the hot, southern clime she grew up in.

sunset at the sea

I realize the universe has been sending me quiet gifts in the last few weeks. My sweetie (Steve) and I have been slowly transforming our small, ignored backyard for over a year. And by we, I mean Steve, though I do offer moral support and ideas from Pinterest. Most of his hard work is unseen; replacing, repairing and building. He’s worked hard at creating a solid foundation for our garden. We now have a new deck and the garden pots are filled with freshly planted, bright yellow and orange marigolds. We have an outdoor place for our early morning coffee and our end-of-day conversations. It is still a work in progress and several seasons will pass before this small garden space will be complete.

The addition of a birdfeeder preceded my own baby bird’s leaving by a few weeks. My sweetie was amazed at how much time my daughter and I (and the cat) watched with simple enjoyment. He always had a birdfeeder at his home in his life before me. My daughter had menageries of animals growing up; cats, dogs, bunnies, hamsters, fish and even a hedgehog. But there was never a birdfeeder in our yard.

We watched in amusement the squirrels try and try again to learn how to get to the feeder. It finally took a leap of faith as they learned to jump from fence to feeder. They eventually accomplished their goal, even if they fell a few times in their attempts.

ThinkstockPhotos-105558154I love hearing the cooing sound of the pair of morning doves that live high in the trees, as much as I love seeing the vibrant splash of the red cardinal when he flies by. Some birds are colorful and stand out, while others are plain and blend into the scenery. I’ve learned that there are bossy birds and meek birds. Some birds come alone, others come in pairs and some only come in a group. Some play well together and some are very territorial. They don’t all eat the same way; some eat at the feeder and others eat the seeds that fall on the ground and some even feed each other. They are all unique.

Flying away

Flying away

My only child is now all grown up. She’s been busy this past week creating her own nest in her new city. I’ve enjoyed our FaceTime visits as she shows me her new place and tells me of her daily adventures. I ooh and ahh and coo, just like a mama bird does. She will soon have a new flock of friends. I know I’ve taught her to spread her wings. And just like the birds I enjoy watching in my backyard, I’ll enjoy watching her soar and wonder where the winds of life will take her.

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1 01 2015
Three Generations (I love mom making a silly face)

Three Generations (I love mom making a silly face). Spring 2014

I’ve seen the abundance of New Year’s resolutions and nonresolutions floating around social media. The idea that resonated with me was to pick one word for your New Year. On this grey and cold January morning I pick the word Transitions.

I spent a rare New Year’s Eve with my 24-year-old baby girl. My sweetheart fell asleep early and that left my daughter and me deep in talk as one year transitioned to another. In sparkly hats and glasses of wine, we talked of her childhood, of her teen years when her father and I divorced. She and I talked of the uniqueness that we are both only children and how close that makes us since we don’t have siblings to remember our lives with. We talked honestly of her grandmother, who is slowly slipping away from us. My daughter told me that watching me with my mom has taught her how to be a daughter.

We’ve watched my mom grow frailer over the last year with three different visits to the hospital. But it’s just over the last few weeks that her mind has slipped away along with her strength. We knew when she told us that her 90-year-old boyfriend was building something with batteries that she thought was a bomb—it was his hearing aid—that something had fundamentally changed in her mental state.

It was just a few weeks ago that she told me how much she appreciated me and how important it was to her that I was always honest with her and was always there for her. I grew up with unconditional love from both my parents. Our roles shifted after my father died and I became my mom’s caregiver. Her compliments became rare and there was often a bite in her conversation to me. I took her compliment as the gift it was.

My baby girl is going to boomerang home next month. She’s determined to save all her pennies and take off to Chicago this summer. I support and even encourage her following her dreams, just as my parents did for me when I flew out of the nest.

I will hold this last holiday season tightly to my heart, all of us together enjoying each other’s company. I will find the gifts the universe sends in the transitions the New Year will bring to my life. I will also allow myself to grieve for things that are no more. I know there will be bumps in my 2015 journey and I also know there will be unexpected gifts.

Joy will always shine out. Happy New Year.

 Here’s the bloghop that inspired this post. Click here to check it out.

And the seasons they go round and round

27 10 2013

LeavesLoss comes in many forms. I got a late night call from my daughter this week to tell me her long-time friend Michael had taken his life. I had an intense maternal need to wrap my arms around my baby girl to protect her from the tidal wave of grief that swept over us both. I could feel the emotional aftermath that was hitting all who knew this talented and brilliant young man.

As I tried to make sense of it all, I rewatched Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on creative genius. She talks of the fear of being a creative person and being undone by those gifts. We know when we have seen the artist who is lit from within, when they give a performance that is transcendent. When we have this experience, we see a glimpse of the divine.

Those who knew Michael saw his transcendent gift as we watched his hands fly over the piano keys when he played.  Perhaps the burden of that gift was too difficult for him to bear.

The universe has been whispering to me of the seasons of life. While Gilbert’s TED Talk spoke to my intellect, it was listening to Joni Mitchell’s song, The Circle Game that unleashed the tears.

My daughter is looking at a spring college graduation, just as her friend Michael was. A year from now she will probably be living in a far off city. While I want to hold her close to me, it is my job to encourage her to fly.

We can’t stop the seasons from going round and round. Pain and tragedy are part of living a full life.  As a parent I hope I have given my daughter the tools she needs to enter her new adult life and the inner strength to sustain her in difficult times.

We leave our gifts with the world no matter how long we walk upon it. My week ended with a baby’s christening, a life just starting, full of promise and possibility, blessed by the universe.

The seasons they will continue.

The Circle Game
by Joni Mitchell   

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like when you’re older must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game 

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town
And they tell him take your time it won’t be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game 

The Box

21 07 2013

Does life push us into a box? You know the box, that safe, sometimes boring place that’s not known for creativity and innovation. But it feels comfortable, reliable and safe. It keeps you dry when life rains on you. It’s a place of lists of to do’s and should do’s. You play by the rules because you have responsibilities and the world looks at you funny if you get out of the box.

Youth doesn’t yet know what the box is. This is why so many entrepreneurs are young, no responsibilities, and free to be whatever they envision. Time passes and life moves us forward. Relationships, mortgages, parenting happens—all good stuff—but with it comes real grown-up responsibilities…and grown-up bills. It’s harder to take a big risk because you don’t want to risk your child’s tuition bill or the roof-over-your-head bill. I certainly found myself deep in this box.

And then before you know it, you have an empty nest and you’re smack dab in mid-life. Wow, you realize you can get out of that box. You may miss its safety and it may feel strange to be out of that comfortable box or it may feel strangely familiar. It may make you feel young because the last time you felt this way you were young. You may be single again, dating again. You remember those fluttery, sexy, feelings of desire again. You desire to get out of that safe box.

But it’s different from your youth because you have life experience. You know what’s important to you. You know that the safety of being in the box is an illusion. By midlife, you’ve lost loved ones who played by all the rules. You know that life can unexpectedly and suddenly change in an instant.  So now instead of the safety of the box, you’re out, you’re back in the exhilaration of free-fall.

Maybe your risks are more grounded than in your youth. You know if you’re starting something new, it’s not a bad idea to have a plan. And if you have a plan, you know when it’s OK to make a change when something is not working. You know to grab that opportunity when it presents itself, because if you wait too long, it may not wait for you. You also know that life should be savored and you know there has to be balance. This is the gift of mid-life.

Out of the Box

Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 1.03.03 PM

Some people call it a coincidence, others call it synchronicity, and I call it a cosmic happening. That moment when the universe aligns and sends you a sign that you are exactly where you are meant to be. As I’m writing this blog post, I check my email inbox. It has a delete box, as well as folders for rules and junk. Could this inbox be a metaphor for life in and out of the box? I just got a deal for skydiving. It came right after an email that reads, “Go for it”. Hhhmmmm, I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, out of the box. I’m going for it and I know I’ll land safely.