Call Me Thankful

In keeping with the season, it’s fitting to take a moment to express gratitude. Of course, what I’m grateful for runs the gamut, from A to Z.

Alice, my grade-school chum, who was challenged and different from my other classmates. I’d button her coat for her each school day because she couldn’t do it for herself. In return, she taught me how to share when she’d break off for me, half of her Drake’s Devil Dog snack, at recess. I’ll never forget my sweet, childhood friend.

Blogging. I’m finally getting the hang of it and I love it!

Chargers. The San Diego Chargers, that is. This football team has given me a chance to bond with my son and spend fun times together. Thanks to Josh, I’m a diehard fan!

When I'm tap dancing, I'm channeling Fred Astaire!

Daughter and Son. My kids are alright (Somebody, knock on wood!), having given me little trouble over the years. Best of all, they think I’m a good mother. As Sally Field once said, “They like me! They really like me!” All the guilt I poured on clearly paid off!

Empathy. It made me happy when my son’s daycare teacher told me, Josh had empathy at the tender age of 3. Having it means you care and can understand the plight of others. Indeed, we could all use a little empathy.

Family in San Diego at last! For the first time, I have family living nearby (not counting my kids who don’t live here anymore, anyway). I so adore my cousins, Roxanna, Daniel and David. I just love having them in my neck of the woods! And to all my family—and friends—I offer my heartfelt thank you.

Giving: Giving, no matter the size of the gift, is genuinely a wonderful thing. No doubt our desire to give to charities and help those in need is closely tied to our capacity for feeling empathy.

Harvest moons on a cool evening, when I’m out walking Henry. Ah, perfection!

Indigo, one of my favorite hues, somewhere between blue and purple.

Joy. That’s what I get when I think about the little things in life, like a text message from Sarah, or the embrace of an old friend. Pure joy.

Kathleen, my petite, blonde friend and colleague. A lifeline in times of stress. The woman could crack me up with just one look. She’s still in my address book, and I can’t let go or hit the delete button. Thank you for being in my life, Kathleen, if only for a little while. I will remember you. Always.

LOL. The laughs started years ago when I saw my first Abbott and Costello film and haven’t stopped yet. Some call it the best medicine. I call it the key to life.

Music and Musicals, the soundtrack of my life. I love many genres of music and I’m a big fan of Broadway. To paraphrase Tom Cruise, “Music, you complete me.”

Nordies, aka, Nordstrom’s, my favorite place to shop. An oasis among the retail clutter, especially since I met Patrice, my own personal stylist. Patrice really has a flair for style. Thank you, Nordies, for bringing her into my life!

Old-Time Hollywood StarsCary Grant, James Cagney, Bette Davis and so on. They represented the best of Hollywood’s Golden Years.

Pets. As in dogs. As in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. As in Henry, my pampered pet.

Queens. My first stomping grounds. The best place to grow up, if you ask me.

Rafael, my brother, who willingly took on the role of parent to his siblings. He’s also a good husband and father, not to mention an amazing uncle to my kids. He’s always there for all of us.

Sleep. I seem to have a love/hate relationship with sleep. I often end up putting it off, simply because I have too much to do and not enough time in the day. But when I finally fall asleep, ah….that’s heaven.

Tap Dancing. I’ve always said that you can’t be sad when you’re tap dancing. Trust me, whether I’m doing a ball change or a shuffle, I’m channeling Fred Astaire!

Universe and Everything. So much to see, so much still to discover!

Venezuela. At least, the Venezuela of my youth. It’s different now, but back then it was my second home, and it is and always will be, my heritage.

Wonder. Little can compare to a child’s sense of wonder. Try to keep a little of it always and you’ll be the better for it.

Xylophone, when played in jazz, it’s awesome.

You. Without you, my blog is nothing. Like a tree falling in the forest and no one to hear it. So, thank you, and thank you for your insightful comments.

Zone, as in The Twilight Zone. This is one of my favorite, all-time, (not for kids) childhood shows. I loved how it terrified me and am grateful that I got to meet its host and creator, Rod Serling, in Central Park, way back when.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. I’m taking the rest of the week off and I’ll be back next week with more stories, more tangled webs to weave. In the meantime, feel free to add your own list of what you’re thankful for this year. Toodles!

Empty Nest, Indeed

Sarah, during freshman orientation. Clearly, she had no qualms about leaving me behind, in my empty nest.

It’s time to partition off my life again now that my daughter, Sarah, has returned to school. She’s a sophomore now and you’d think, having survived my oldest child’s departure as well as Sarah’s freshman year, that this would be old hat. But Sarah was home all summer, giving me a taste of life pre-empty nest and spoiling me rotten by wanting to spend time with me—the little fiend! Sigh.  And now she’s gone, and all I can say is,

Vaya con Dios!

Turns out, I’m pretty good at partitioning off my life. Sarah’s gone? Well, I’ll just close my Sarah box and put it on a shelf until she returns for winter break. Now that I’ve tucked away her box, the Work box just got a little bigger. Oh, and now there’s more room for my Blog box too!  Josh coming down this weekend to see a San Diego Charger‘s game with me?  Better dust off his box and get it ready.

By keeping myself organized in this way, I can focus on the here and now.  Kind of like when Scarlett O’Hara didn’t want to bother thinking about what wasn’t right in front of her and said, “Fiddle-dee-dee! I’ll just think about it tomorrow at Tara.”  Trust me, by concentrating on what is in front of me, and not pining for what is beyond my control (Sarah off at school and not here), I can find fulfillment in the present and in what I’m doing now.  Empty nest, indeed!

9-6-09 Empty Nest

Empty Nest, indeed. (Photo taken by roswellsgirl via Flickr.)

Of course, I first started to brace myself for the empty nest syndrome when my first child, Josh was a mere six months old.  He had awoken in the middle of the night, crying to be fed. While I rocked him back to sleep, this sweet bundle of a boy, it suddenly hit me:  My son would be wanting to move out soon.

Oh, sure 18 years seemed like a long time away, but not to me. That was his “sell by” date. Do you have any idea how fast 18 years can go?  Have you heard the expression, “time flies” or “gone with the wind?”  How about “gone in a flash” or “later, gator?” (That last one has nothing to do with the speed of time, but a friend of mine says it a lot so I thought I’d throw it in.)

So basically, the only reason Josh woke up that night—and every other night until he was three—was because he wanted nourishment so he could grow into a healthy and strong young man and be fully prepared to leave me. His big goodbye.  His swan song.  Adios, amigo, it’s been swell!  Later, gator! And sure enough, like clockwork, 18 years came and went and all I have now are the memories of my little boy. Empty nest, indeed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Thankfully, I have my partitioned boxes. A box for Josh, and one for Sarah. Another for friends, for work, for my dog, and for my extracurricular activities. There’s even a box for shopping. These are the boxes I’m using now. They are the sum parts of my life and I switch them out, depending on the moment.  For these boxes keep me sane and keep me motivated. Most of all, they keep me happy.

Hooray for Football Season!

Football season is here! I’m so excited that I’m beside myself! It’s time to get out all my San Diego Chargers gear—my a-bit-on-the-snug-side Charger tees, my Charger sweatshirt and my Charger baseball cap. My Charger banner too. I’m a big Chargers fan, you know. At least that is the case since I figured out that my son Josh, really, really is a BIG Charger fan. He’s a mega-obsessed fan who knows every member of the team (I’m lucky if I can name one), where they attended school, their statistics, their injuries and what their odds are for playing well this season.

A True-Blue Fan

And he’s been so patient trying to teach me everything about the Chargers and the game, so I can be a true blue fan too. I listen and nod and I try to take it all in. Emphasis on try, but the thing of it is (and please don’t tell him), I just don’t get it.

Guys running across the field and then they run back, throwing the ball a few times and man, can they throw far! Of course, the other team makes it so hard for them to run across, constantly tackling and flinging themselves unmercifully on their opponents. Why can’t they just take turns? Why do they have to play so rough? It’s no wonder they have to wear all that heavy equipment, if you ask me. How their mothers can stand it, I haven’t a clue.

So obviously I don’t know much about the game. But that doesn’t matter. The real reason I’m so excited that football season is here is because it means my son is bound to come down to San Diego and visit me! Josh will want to go to a game or two and he will want to stay over because it’s too much trouble to make a round trip drive back to Ventura in one day. So I can’t wait. I’m going to pour over the home game schedule. Then I’ll call him and nonchalantly ask which games he’s planning to attend this season. I’ll make sure I’m free on those weekends so I can be available for quality time. I’ll act as if I know a thing or two about the Chargers, and ask him what he thinks about the new roster. I’ll offer up a word or two about this year’s defense. Maybe I’ll drop a few statistics that I’ve just researched extensively online, so that he’ll be so impressed he’ll want me to come along again.

Thanks to a friend at work, Josh and I scored tickets for a game against the Cincinnati Bengals last December. Another win for the Chargers!

Last fall, Josh’s boss gave him a pair of tickets to see the Chargers play the Miami Dolphins and Josh invited me to join him! It was right around my birthday so I figured it was his gift to me, which made it truly special. What better gift could a mother desire than to go to a game with her son? A chance to spend some extended quality time with my son, all decked out in our Chargers team best, watching him get all worked up over a football game! His favorite team in the world playing the Dolphins!

Problem is, I just adore dolphins. I have been to Sea World many times and I find the dolphin show to be amazing; they’re so clever and smart. Which made me feel sort of bad about rooting against the Miami Dolphins, particularly since they wear such bright and cheerful colors—turquoise and orange—reminiscent of Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas on the “Miami Vice” show. Why do we have to pick sides, anyway? Can’t they all be winners? Still, for my son, I overcame my fashion sensibility and firmly planted myself in the Chargers’ corner, which meant cheering for every Charger field goal, groaning each time the Dolphins scored and doing a happy dance when the Chargers finally won the game.

Yes, it’s football season and I’m changing the sheets on the guest bed which actually used to be Josh’s bed. And I’m baking my special recipe for banana bread, his favorite. I’m also stocking up on laundry detergent so I can get ready to wash the stacks of dirty clothes that he’s sure to bring with him. It’s football season and I just can’t wait. Go Chargers!