45.

Wow, 45 years on this planet. Incredible. I’m grateful for the time I’ve been allowed.

Facebook has this wonderful way of reminding you of what your recent years have brought with its “On This Day” memory feed. It brings me a lot of laughter and even a bit of sadness. It’s bittersweet to see past birthday wishes from friends who have moved on to whatever comes next for us. I am now older than some of them when I was born many years after they were…It’s a good reminder, though, to sit with gratitude for my extended time.

And I’m old enough now to sit with my memories without regret. I can think about the thousands of experiences I’ve had, the people that have come and gone, the dreams that never came true and the many that have. Hindsight and all that, right? I can fully appreciate it now.

Those old posts also remind me of goals I’ve had along the way. Where those unfinished plans once brought heightened anxiety, today I thought about the things that did get done, and I reflected on the obstacles that kept me from accomplishing the others. Instead of being upset that I still haven’t finished a novel, I cut myself some slack. I’ve written thousands of words through the years, after all. I’ve been published in magazines and newspapers. I have four novels fleshed-out and have been concentrating on one for the last few weeks. Tens of thousands of words. I know they’ll all get done.

I have time.

Besides, the kids are having their own pre-teen adventures, and they need their space, so I get a few extra minutes every day to write and create. The time they need from me is concentrated with the really good stuff, too, and I’m grateful they share what they do with me. One shares every detail; one tells me what he can. It’s not always easy. People never are. Luckily, I can read both of them without the words, even if some days it’s like picking apart a poem to get to the truth. They’re complex creatures, my kids. I love that most.

They’ve had their first heartaches (!). They have opinions separate from mine (we actually encourage it). They know how to do things that others can’t (Rhiannon’s starting her fourth year of piano and has written short songs! Sebastian creates board games to rival Parker Brothers!). They’re proud of those things. And they are becoming – every day – more solidly themselves. I know they’re both excited and scared about that. We’re closer and closer to adolescence…

Tony and I are at the point where we let them make decisions. We expect the truth from them, and – while we’re still guiding them – we’re evolving more and more into a support system instead of being the puppet masters. We have high expectations, but at the end of the day the most important thing is that they know they’re loved.

They are excellent huggers, too.

I love their friendship. They’ll talk, and I realize they have conversations we didn’t hear. They have inside jokes. They fight less and less, and we’re a talkative house, so arguments are inevitable. I know that they’ll always have each other, even once Tony and I are gone. I’m glad for that.

Rhiannon is my heart. She’s kind and smart and beautiful. She’s more than I ever expected. I look at her with awe that I ever had a life before she existed. It seems impossible that she’s so new to this world! I am truly privileged to be her mother. And she loves me more than I knew anyone ever could. Sometimes I cry thinking about how lucky I am.

Romance through the years? Ugh. I didn’t know what I was doing! I’m finally figuring it out. Tony is my best friend. God, can he infuriate me. He pushes, and I push back. Our past relationships have made it impossible for us to keep things bottled up, so everything bubbles over. All of that raw beauty. All of this intense beautiful love. I’ve never had a man love me like he does. He loves me, not some construct he created in his mind. He wants to know me. It’s such a gift.

He’s a great man. He works hard. He loves his son and wants to raise him to be a good man. He’s stepped up for my daughter and wants to raise her to trust that people keep promises. He loves her as his own. He is like a fierce warrior who would die protecting us.

It’s amazing.

So, yeah, 45.

There are some leftover goals to tackle, along with, you know, being a mom and wife, running a business, being a community leader, being on a theater board, and still being available to deal with my parents and brother. It’s busy.

And I love it. I’m grateful to be here.

 

on being mom

Tonight I cuddled with two sad kids in different bedrooms, going back and forth to assuage their worries. Every good parent has been there, at that point in which he or she hopes to say just the right thing to make things better. You choose your words carefully on nights like tonight.

For my daughter, who is sensitive and a worrier, emphasizing that some things are out of our control – especially the behavior of others – might seem counterintuitive, but I think she’s a little relieved to have been reminded. She’s happy to take that burden off of her giant heart. No 11-year-old girl should carry that.

For my son, who experienced his first real panic attack complete with shortness of breath, a rapid heartbeat, and uncontrollable gulping tears, it was trying to convince him that he is powerful and capable.

“My brain is making me feel weird, though.”

“It’s when your worries turn sad. It’s not a bad thing. It just means you’re not hiding from your feelings. You’re brave.”

Power has been his topic of choice a lot lately. Power is his biggest wish. He feels hopeless and helpless at times, as we all do, but this particular 11-year-old is feeling it a lot lately.

For both these kids, who are learning to navigate a world that holds them accountable when they feel so little (and, yet, at the same time so old…), it’s reminding them that they are loved by me right now and forever, no matter what else is happening. It’s backrubs and hand massages for my girl, and it’s big, tight hugs for my boy. It’s telling them over and over that the one thing I know for sure is that I will love them forever and protect them when they can’t protect themselves. It’s reminding them that I always want them to do their best, but that I understand that on some days their best is fantastic and on other days it’s the ability to breathe without crying. It’s reminding them of how special they are and that the world needs them…

after a bad week…

I’m determined not to start this blog on a sour note, but it hasn’t been the best week. Because of my newly found determination to commit to writing (mostly) about the positive (the “better” part of this site), I am going to publish what helped me through That Which Cannot Be Discussed (yet).

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First off, cats.

Cleo (nearest the window) is a very old tortoise-shell calico cat that has seen Pooka and me through some rough times. She is a constant in my daughter’s life and is even her designated companion animal. She’s loud, bossy and often gets her way.

Soups – a.k.a. Monster – is Pooka’s transitional companion animal since Cleo is getting older and a bit cranky. He is the goofiest baby ever! He loves to hug your neck, kiss your face and then claw the f*$% out of you.

They’re pretty close to perfect.

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Then we have these goofballs.

They are quirky and weird and too-smart-for-their-own-good and pretty much best friends. They will torment each other, but are fiercely loyal. There have been moments this week when Boy has said, “Hey! I’m the only one allowed to be mean to Rhiannon!”

Oh. Excuse me.

And Pooka will come up to us after a tense moment and say, “Sebastian and I both thought that up, so I guess I should be in trouble, too.”

Good girl.

Don’t get me wrong; one will just as easily throw the other under the bus if wronged. That’s just human nature with siblings, right? They might be step-siblings, but they are closer than most blood relatives. Just now Boy was yelling down the hallway, “Rhiannon! Come on! What are you doing? I thought we were going to start playing now!” Her response? “Geez, Bastian! I needed to pee!”

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Pooka.

She makes everything better. She is honest and loving and kind and smart and beautiful, and my world was grey and fuzzy before she appeared. Life before her doesn’t count except for the stories I can share to make it all better for her.guy

The Husband Guy.

I think I make him most frustrated when I don’t let him help me. He’s that man you wish for – the one who knows how strong you are but wants to open all doors, wipe away all tears and fix everything all the while reassuring you that he understands you don’t need him to do all that. He is exactly what I need for the rest of this life and all the lives I might have after.

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Wishes.

We all need them. Dreams. Goals. Plans. When the shit keeps hitting the fan, sometimes it’s the hope that something even greater is out there that makes it easier to clean up said shit.

So, here I go, towel and bleach in hand, knowing that everything will be okay.

like a virgin

10930025_10204347213932977_4001023787430924732_nI’m really not new to blogging — I’ve done it for years for different purposes and even have a small content marketing business in which I ghostwrite for people who want to keep their online presence fresh — but this particular blog has been stewing in my brain and heart for years now.

What do I mean when I say bangs are better than BOTOX®? Well, I definitely don’t mean that BOTOX® is a bad product. Many of my friends use it for a variety of reasons from frown lines to perspiration and get great results. My meaning is this: Sometimes the simpler route can save you money and time which, to me, is usually better. That means I have bangs instead of paying for injections.

Am I swearing off BOTOX® forever? I’m not saying that either, although I have a bone callous on my forehead that makes me look like the spawn of Hellboy and Liz Sherman, the result of bumping my head so severely that I nearly passed out. I’d have to get that filed down first.

But I digress…11412385_10205386216067381_2575817923073800697_n

I’m a stylist and owner of Illuminate Salon in downtown Boise, Idaho, so telling people I’m against what makes them feel better about their looks would be counterproductive. I do help people grow out their grey hair when they’re ready, but mostly I do a lot of highlights, a ton of haircuts, and hours of talking.

I love my clients! These people are my best friends and most have been with me anywhere from 13 – 18 years. I’ve done hair for 20 years. Even when I was a production trainer at a local semiconductor company, I did hair. Even when I was marketing director of a busy real estate group, I did hair. My hands were in hair three days after giving birth!

Featured imageI thought I’d only have my hands in it for a couple of years while I finished college. Turns out, I really love being self-employed. It makes it easier to be a full-time mom and that is my greatest love. I have a ten-year-old daughter, Rhiannon (or “Pooka” as my Facebook friends know her), who is beautiful and gifted and sensitive and amazing. She has curly hair that hangs past her waist. You’ll read about her a lot. Sebastian (or “Boy”), my ten-year-old stepson, has flaming red hair, the most amazing blue eyes, a brain that is always coding, and is most comfortable jumping on a trampoline or pretending to be the host of Total Drama. They and Tony (“The Husband Guy”) are the great loves of my life. Well, besides my cats. More on them later.

Self-employment means I get to schedule around my family and writing (I’m working on a novel or three.) and I can’t imagine inserting myself back into corporate life. I loved it before I was a mom. Now I love sharing a mother-daughter journal with Rhiannon and figuring out ways to sneak fiber into Sebastian’s diet. I love camping trips and watching them become more independent with each one. I love that they are good friends even though they are very different people. I’m glad they have each other. Sometimes I feel that Tony and I were meant to fall in love so that they could have each other.11156271_10204985203602320_8528947458230423514_n

I’ll write about family, friendship, business, writing, geeky stuff and cats, among many other things. I’ll share a few dutch oven recipes The Husband Guy has perfected. I’ll post some art. I’ll get Pinterest crazy. I might even give away some favorite hair care products. If you stick with me, a lot could happen.