Goodbye 2008

As I write, I am sitting snug in my home office with my sweet white Lab Retriever sleeping at my feet. The whole house is asleep but me, which is quite normal and, in my opinion, quite wonderful. So here I sit, but here, I am not. Without closing my eyes, I am transported, with laptop, onto the shores of an Oregon beach. It matters not which one, as they are all equally amazing, all facing the same perfect ocean. I am here, in this place which forever holds my peace, almost every time I write in this blog. I can hear the gently rolling waves, taste the misty salt air, feel a slight shiver from ocean breezes as I wrap my blanket tighter around my shoulders. I can feel the sand caress my feet as if to gently exfoliate away the heaviness of the day, the subject matter of the post, the fact that I am not physically there but here, and yet there all at the same time.

In a few hours, it will be 2009. I've never been more ready for a new year to arrive than I am this year. I share with you my writing transport secret because this past year more than ever, I have had to mentally transport myself elsewhere in order to get any writing -or other work for that matter- done; the here and now has been too chaotic, too painful, too confusing, too insane.

Normally I would write a stupid little look back at the year but tonight instead I think I'll skip the mundane details and dig right into the hard stuff. The emotional stuff. The aspects of the year that hover above all actual specifics and bind the year together.

This is what I know from 2008:

1. My whole world collapses when I realize I have let someone down, not lived up to their expectations, or just not made them happy in some way; at least, that is what it feels like... my whole body aches, and I cannot think about anything else for a long time. My head knows that I cannot make everyone happy, but this year I have definitely learned that I still want to, and even though I have come to realize there are many, many people out there who will never be happy, who just need to complain or share or need to exert their self-imposed importance on others, my silly illogical side still attempts to appease. So here it is: this stops when the clock strikes midnight. I bid adieu to the 24/7 people-pleaser once and for all. 2009 will be the year I learn to say "Sorry, but this is how it's going to be." And I won't always follow up with my usual lengthy, near-apologetic explanations, but I will allow myself to follow up with a silent mental note of "you annoyingly selfish dipshit jackass" as I smile.

2. I have reached my limit. With work, activities, friends and family... with everything. My life is full and rich and I cannot add anymore ANYTHING. No more meetings. No more playdates. No more lunches and dinners and girls night outs. No more events and fundraisers and appearances for support. No more blogs and radio shows and articles. And yes, no more new businesses. No more, that is, than the regularly scheduled programming. I'm tapped out and barely able to fit in all of the wonderful people, passions and causes into these short days. I am reserving the first part of 2009 to fully engaging in everything and everyone already in my life. I love meeting new people, checking out new events, trying new things...but the "new" can wait until I feel I have fully loved and enveloped the "now" with everything I can give.

3. Nothing is certain. 2008 was most certainly the Year of Death, Divorce & Debt. What a horrible year for so many of my friends, my family, and for the world in general. What pain has been suffered... and so much, so suddenly. BAM! Hello, horrible happenings. Never saw most of them coming. I do a great job talking about how I live a life of no regrets, but let's face it: there are always things we wish we could have said or that we could have done, decisions we would or wouldn't have made. So here comes 2009 and I'm ready -- ready to walk the walk and truly say what's on my mind, all the time. Reach out to those I've missed in my life. Dismiss those who only add misery. Do the things I've always wanted to do but for which I've always made excuses. Tomorrow is not a promise; today is all we've got.

4. Goodness is everywhere, in everyone, within every moment... even amidst death, divorce and debt. As painful as this year has been throughout, life has also lifted my fingertips from shielding my eyes to let me know that it's ok: there really is peace, goodness, joy in the chaos. Strangers have become friends, friends have become my hope and happiness, and that happiness is what allows me to live into 2009 with a huge, goofy smile and a hop-skip in my silly step. No matter what, it will be ok. I know we'll all be ok. We survive the death of loved ones, cancer and other illnesses, tragic accidents, broken relationships, impossible finances, and slowing businesses... we survive it all, and we do it together. Goodness is always with us, prevailing over heartache, loss and complicated chaos. I know no matter what 2009 brings, it's ok. It's life. And it's all good, my friends... it's ALL good.

To anyone out there who may be reading this, thank you for reading my words in 2008 so that they have a home. I look forward to sharing more online (and some of you offline!) conversations with you all in 2009. Happy New Year!


The Magic of Santa

I know it sounds a little silly for a 30-something woman to be saying this, but I believe in Santa. More than just the idea that the spirit of St. Nicholas lives on in each of us, I believe in the magic that Santa can bring. Maybe it's just the little girl still inside of me who didn't just want to enjoy the rewards Santa would bring from a year of being (somewhat, sort of, ok not really but I hear he was a forgiving man) nice, I was the odd little girl whose true wish was to be Santa. I longed for the magic he possessed to make millions of kids smile, to have his ability to change lives, to give hope for one day in the life of a family who might not have hope the remaining 364 days of the year.

And now, that strange little girl finally gets her wish. This year, I AM Santa Claus.

My son is 4.5 years old. Until tonight, I was sure he didn't believe. Each year, I would talk about Santa. We would attempt to visit Santa at the mall, I'd make cookies, we'd ask him what he wanted to ask for Christmas from Santa. Even this year, at any mention of Santa, my son would look at us cautiously with a sideways glance and half heartedly seem to play along with his parents' pathetic attempts to make him believe. Then something happened tonight. Something magical. Santa finally became real, to all of us.

For fun (my own almost more than my son's, as I had almost given up on him believing in Santa), I decided to see where Santa was on the Norad Santa Tracker. My son sat next to me, and as I showed him the map with all of the present icons across Europe, as we watched the videos of Santa in Egypt, Paris, Madagascar and Russia (all places that my son is absolutely obsessed with), my son started talking with rich excitement and enthusiasm, for the first time, about Santa coming to visit our house. We talked about his letter to Santa, about leaving the cookies I was baking on a tray for Santa to thank him for his long journey. My son was amazed. "I can't believe the reindeer pulled Santa all that way!" "WOW - look at Santa! I saw the great pyramids!" "Look at Santa in Russia - that's where the firebirds are!" and so on. And that was it. My son, ever the creative sensitive soul, just needed a visual. And those visuals were like 10 pounds of sugar being pumped through my son's veins in less than 3 minutes. He was hyper beyond hyper the rest of the night.

After his bath, I happened to glance at the TV and saw Santa. "Hey Boo! It's Santa!" I shouted. Pound, pound, pound he came flying down the stairs totally naked. "IS HE HERE?!!!?" He shouted, his voice bubbling with hope. I explained he would probably be here while we were sleeping, which, according to Santa Tracker actually worked out to be true (my son's logic would have sniffed it out immediately had the travel time on the website not worked out accordingly).

So Boo wrote his note to Santa. Or rather, he dictated and my husband wrote, since my son was too busy bouncing off the walls and furniture to stay still long enough to write. He wouldn't stop talking about Santa. About Christmas. About Santa some more.

And there, in the crazy mad span of less than 2 hours of hyper bouncing (literally, he was bouncing) and nonstop louder-than-normal-loud chatter, I became Santa.

Tonight, and I'm guessing through tomorrow, I get to be the one who gives my son undeniable joy. More than the present he has asked for, I know my son is excited about Santa, the magic of Santa, the idea that there is a person who brings joy to little girls and boys all over this amazing earth. And I get to be the one to bring this magic to him. It is all I honestly could ever ask for this Christmas, or any other day of the year.

Thank you, Santa. Thank you for letting me share in your magic.

(And to all my fellow Santa mamas and papas out there, Merry Christmas to you and your little ones. May you all be surrounded by love, and may your holidays be filled with the magic of the season. May you, too, have a Santa in your life who brings you unbelievable hope, love, inspiration, and enough joy to make you bounce off the walls grinning ear-to-ear. You all deserve it, and I wish you a happy year ahead!)


double the...fun?

I am so grateful to have amazing friends who had children before me, who could offer their wise advice to the overanxious first-time mom that I was. And yet, now that I have two kids, I want to yell at some of those very same mama friends, those who had their second or even third child before I had my second, the ones who told me when I was pregnant with our second child that having two was "different." No, my dears, it's not "different." I think the words you were searching for were "hard," "insane," and "may drive you both to drink heavily." Looking back, I honestly don't know what I was bitching and moaning about when we just had one child. All of those hours lost worrying about sleep (or lack thereof), about every little morsel that he ate, about development and milestones and blah blah blah. What a waste of time. I should have just instead enjoyed how EASY that time really was, back when it was just me, hubby, dog and son. Oh how easily we fell prey to all of the unnecessary and ridiculous first-child worries and woes. Oh how we thought everything was so damn difficult then. And I'm sure, at the time, it was. Our son had a tumultuous first two years of life, and we were first time parents: of course it was hard.

But here we are now, with a son who is 4.5 and a daughter who is 20 months old (yikes! how'd that happen?!), and now we know better. On many levels, we're wiser, which makes it all the more annoying sometimes. Two kids isn't double the work, it's 10 times the work. And that is something no one told me until RIGHT AFTER I gave birth a second joyous time and the madness truly began. Before two kids, it was all "oh you'll love having both a girl and a boy!" "Oh, it's so great to have two and watch them grow up together!" "Oh it's so much easier the second time around!" Yes, those words are all true. HOWEVER, they all failed to mention we would probably never have a "relaxing" night or weekend ever again, our shoulders will ache even more than ever before from double the constant lifting, we'll be spending WAY more time cleaning up than ever imagined because of double the toys, clothes, junk, food & other odd object smearings all over the place, and that never again will we want to set foot in a grocery store or any other store because taking two kids into a store? IT IS HEEELLLLLLLL. Nobody mentioned any of that. Nobody mentioned that even at such early ages would the two have drastically different schedules that we'd be running around like mad more than before. Nobody mentioned the inevitable constant screaming that would happen with two kids who both want the same thing at the same time...All. Day. Long.

Thanks, friends. Thanks for no warning!

But then... as crazy as it is, there is no other way I would have it. You knew the cheesy part was coming, right? Well here it is. Just as those with one child or three or four couldn't imagine their lives any differently, neither could we. Our house is louder and our schedules are busier, and we're always tired and sometimes in physical pain, but it's almost this perfect imperfection that makes us so very happy and fulfilled. We love that our kids will grow up with each other, having each other for support in difficult times as they get older, to grow up together and get in trouble together and lie for each other or tell on each other. We love that they'll be siblings, friends, confidants, enemies, cheerleaders all at the same time and in different ways throughout their lives. We love watching them now. Their bond grows everyday, and it's so amazing... of course they fight and scream and are pretty violent with each other sometimes, but they also make each other laugh like nobody else can, they hug and kiss, and they hold hands. It's so freakin' adorable I can't stand it! These two perfectly flawed little beings are the best parts of my life, and even though having two can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining, it's also the most exhilarating, soul-filling part of my life.

I do, however, wish that moms would be more open about how much harder it is to have two than to have one. Damn you all for your silence. Hmph.