True strength

A hastag trending on twitter tonight is #BraydenStrong. My dear friend ends her posts about her son with TitanStrong. A certain cyclist built a brand around LiveStrong. The common theme here is, obviously, strong. These people are conjuring an image of a fighter, of someone with great strength, something so powerful as to beat in these cases, the other commonality, cancer. In this month awash in pink for breast cancer awareness, I think of the women I know who have survived and those who haven’t and the strength they all had. The young mother of 4 who lived down the street who was always smiling, even as the cancer spread to her brain. The teenage boy bravely facing debilitating chemotherapy and radiation to prepare him for a bone marrow transplant. The co-worker who found a lump and now celebrates 5 years of recovery. The college friend who fought non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and won. The reporter who lost his fight after cancer cells invaded his tear duct. These people, all of them, and their families, are stronger than I’ll ever know. It is near impossible I would say to find someone whose life hasn’t been touched by cancer. Young, old, every race, every part of our bodies, the faithful and the faithless. It does not discriminate, hesitate, differentiate. It thinks it’s the stronger one. To Brayden’s parents, To my friends by their son’s side tonight, to anyone who is battling this devastating disease, cancer is wrong about one thing. You are all stronger. The strength to fight back, to face another day, another round of treatment, to smile, remain optimistic, love each other, to live. I am in awe of you, moved, inspired, and so, so grateful you are in this world.

StayStrong.

October 2, 1993

It was a beautiful October day. Perfect, really. Blue, cloudless sky, bright sunshine warming things to around 75 degrees, the slightest breeze. I woke up in a strange bed next to an even stranger best friend. Her tiny first house was to be my dressing room for this most important day. We lay there and talked and laughed. We ate, showered, powdered, curled and loaded up her car with one giant off white long-sleeved brocade gown, crown veil, and matching heels. Our trip was not a long one, not a trace of traffic as TLC’s “Baby, Baby, Baby” blared from our windows. If you know the song then you’re familiar with the lyrics “Baby long as you know that I could have any man I want to/ Baby that’s actual and factual/ But still I choose you to be with me.” I had chosen a man. Rather, we’d chosen each other 9 months prior when he got down on his knee in our first apartment and asked me to spend my life with him. This was the day we made it official. I remember climbing into my dress, placing the veil carefully over my curls, touching up my makeup, and peeking through a curtain adjacent to the church entrance to see who was there. I remember my 3 dear friends in their green velvet suits, munching on Wheat Thins my mom had snuck in. I remember the smell of the gorgeous fall flowers in my bouquet, the sweet sounds of my Aunt Cindy playing the piano and singing from the balcony, the feel of the ring, still new to my hand, the taste of champagne as we toasted. My grandfather’s tribute to my grandmother who’d just passed, my little brother’s too big tuxedo, the crunch of the paper holding my puffy sleeves in place as I hugged and hugged. My stepfather writing checks to the DJ and caterer mid-reception, the table of rowdy collegues from the TV station where I currently held my first job, my dad and stepsister doing the Pee-Wee Herman dance to ‘Tequila’ by The Champs. The song my sorority sisters sang while surrounding me on the dance floor, the sachet favors at the door no one took home, the melting cream cheese frosting on the grocery store cake, the headache from smiling too long in pictures, my dad cracking me up during our dance to Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” I wasn’t nervous. Not once. I’d never been so sure about something in my 23 years. I’d memorized his face but felt I was seeing it for the first time. His hand was sweaty when I took it, his back warm where I placed my hand when the priest, his Uncle, said he’d always wished his nephew would be a priest, his eyes shining as he looked at me during our vows. The red Acura sprayed with foam, the sad ‘honeymoon suite’ at the Sheraton, the exhaustion of entertaining everyone you know while completing a rite of passage. Our song from our first dance as husband and wife Sade’s “Kiss of Life” still playing in my head. It was October 2, 1993 in Spokane, Washington.

I have more money now, more experience, what some might consider better taste. And I wouldn’t change a thing. It was perfect.

Marrying you was the best decision I ever made. Happy 20th anniversary.

wedding picture

There must have been an angel by my side
Something heavenly led me to you
Look at the sky
It’s the color of love
There must have been an angel by my side
Something heavenly came down from above
He led me to you
He led me to you
He built a bridge to your heart
All the way
How many tons of love inside
I can’t say

When I was led to you
I knew you were the one for me
I swear the whole world could feel my heartbeat
When I lay eyes on you
Ay ay ay
You wrapped me up in
The color of love

You gave me the kiss of life
Kiss of Life
You gave me the kiss that’s like
The kiss of life

On my mind – 9/24/13

Homecoming is this Saturday. Daughter has decided to go with friends. Cute dress should arrive tomorrow. See previous post about how different this ritual is now than when I was in high school and for embarrassing picture of me, my date, and his eyebrows.

When I was in school you didn’t go to dances with a group of friends rather than a date and that’s a shame. It would’ve been so fun and a hell of a lot less pressure.

Speaking of pressure, I have foolishly waited until the week before the deadline to get a physical for my health insurance coverage. Yes, yes, I read the emails and heard the announcements months ago. Hey, I work in news, I’m deadline oriented.

It’s close to impossible to get an appointment for a physical on such short notice so I’m going to walk into an urgent care place tomorrow and get it done.

Never underestimate an urgent care clinic. I stopped in one last spring with a ‘funny feeling’ arm and was sent right to the ER with a blood clot. I called the clinic doc a few weeks later and thanked him. Said it was the first call of thanks he’d ever gotten.

The power of thank you. I remember a few years ago, Deborah Norville was in town promoting her book about the power of saying thanks. She’s onto something. I feel we don’t do it enough. We all want to feel appreciated.

Was reading a post from a blogger I like and she shared the 6 words she thinks we should all say to our children. “I love to watch you play.” I like it. So often, when our children show us something we will critique or say you’re doing a good job when hearing “I love seeing you do that” seems to have a much sweeter effect. Works on adults too I would imagine. Who wouldn’t like to hear that someone loves watching you sing, cook, dance, play an instrument, laugh.. You get the idea.

As an adult, do you know the body parts that give away your age the most? Excluding the face here. It’s your hands, neck/chest and earlobes! Obviously your hands and neck/chest area see a lot of sun in your lifetime so I’m sure that is a factor. I guess those lobes just get dragged down by big earrings and gravity too! My grandmother hates her hands, says they’re too bony and veiny. My mother has the same hands, just a few decades younger, and me too. I’ll never forget my daughter saying “You have Nana’s hands.” She’s right. And she’ll have them too when the baby fat burns off.

She’s not a baby anymore, though. Wanted to wear a strapless dress to Homecoming. Dad and I nixed it. Not yet.

Plus, I told her she’ll be tugging at that thing all night while dancing.

I always wonder that when stars wear elaborate or stapless gowns on the red carpet. How much did they mess with it all night? If I mess with an outfit on set, it’s out of the rotation. Can’t be worrying about my clothes during the newscast.

Loved seeing Jeff Daniels win his first Emmy Sunday for “The Newsroom.” If you follow me here you know I’m a fan of the show and its second season did not disappoint. Although I will admit the season ender almost felt like a series ender. As if writer Aaron Sorkin wasn’t sure it would be picked up for a third season. I trust he’ll find a way to write his way out of most of it when that season starts NEXT YEAR! Why must they make us wait so long?

I worked Sunday because the Emmys mean a large audience for CBS and the bosses like me there for large audiences. And I do too. Thank you kindly, sirs.

But this Sunday will be spent at home with a much smaller audience, listening to our girl describe her first Homecoming and telling her in so many words, “I love to see you happy.”

Your turn.

Homecoming

It always seems to come so early. I envision leaves and sweaters, giant chrysanthemums and satiny sashes blowing in the fall wind. But Homecoming is upon us and it was 90 degress today. My cheerleader and her squad will have cheered for only 3 games before this one. The dance appears on the calendar when many freshmen are still learning their way around and the names of the faces beside them in class. It’s homecoming. The tradition is, of course, for alumni, mostly football players, to return “home” to enjoy the game and at some schools even be recognized on the field at halftime. Really though its become known as the first school dance of the year. Kings and Queens are crowned and they get paraded at halftime instead. As a young cheerleader myself, this game meant a little bit more, winning, meant a little bit more. Getting asked to the dance took up a lot of lunch time talk. Strategic loitering was done in between classes as to make yourself more available to askers. Lucky for me the guy who liked me had a last name starting with A and since our lockers were assigned alphabetically that worked out reeeeeeal nice for this gal with a B last name. I’ve seen on my daughter’s Instagram account where girls share tall tales of how some people were asked to Homecoming. There are elaborate announcements at football games, invites spelled out in pepperonis or Skittles, treasure hunts filled with clues, full scale videos made. Presidential elections have gone off with lesser fanfare. I don’t remember the specifics in the hallway at Mead High School in the fall of 1984, but I know he asked and I accepted. I got a shiny red dress at NorthTown mall, borrowed my Mom’s pearls, and headed over to his house just a few streets away. I think we went out to eat with his older brother and his date. They were (and still are I assume) Mormon so there were a lot of them. Another brother or sister may have come to. At least that spared us the indignity of having one of our parents drive us to the dance. Could I just die instead? There was dancing, pictures first ’cause you don’t want to be sweaty and ugly, and socializing and the inevitable slow dance that I’m guessing I tried to lead since I still have not yet learned how to the let the man lead. The 30 second drive from our school to our neighborhood, I’m positive no goodnight kiss (see above: Mormon), and home. His name was Matt. He played football. We would not become a couple. He would become a friend through our high school years. I would turn to him to escort me during the pinnacle of high school life in Spokane, Washington when I was part of our school’s Lilac Princess competition. I did not win. It had nothing to do with Matt’s escorting abilities. More homecomings would follow, more tacky corsages, more awkward slow dances. It is a rite of passage. I passed. Barely. My high schooler will to, although with many, many more pictures, a Vine or two, some tweets and a status update. Thank god all I have is this one piece of evidence.

homecoming

September 11th

It was early. My husband woke me saying something had happened and I should probably call into work. He did actually leave for work and take our daughter, who had turned 2 the day before, to daycare. They would return home shortly once the country shut down in shock. Despite the events unfolding on my TV being the biggest news story of my life I was not needed in the newsroom right away. At the time the station I anchored at had only a morning show and a 10 pm newscast and our morning crew had already handed things over to a fairly new FOX News Channel for coverage. I watched with you as planes crashed and buildings crumbled and lives ended. I listened as seasoned news professionals were rendered speechless at what was unfolding before us all. I felt as fear crept into our living rooms upon the realization we were under attack. My young family came home, where they would stay for the rest of the week, and I left for work. The day is a blur of video and scripts and cut-ins and changes. No one ate or went to the bathroom or even glanced outside that long first day. We did a special 5 pm newscast for an hour, tossed it back to FOX, then came back at 10 for more. It would be this way, it would lead our newscasts, every newscast, for months. It was the entire content of “The Oregonian” the next day and the next. Of which I still have, slowly, slightly yellowing with age. There were connections between New Yorkers and families in Portland. There were concerns, as there were in every major city, with the security of our airport, our tallest buildings, our federal monuments. There were people traveling east to help. There were those stranded with us in Oregon’s largest city when the F-A-A made the unprecedented move of shutting down the nation’s airports. So many stories. So much fear and uncertainty. So overwhelming a news story that none of us in the newsroom had taken a moment to grieve, to process the horrifying unedited video we’d seen, to be able to shut down our brains at the end of these grueling days, to cry. My tears finally came weeks later after picking up an old copy of TIME magazine published in the days after the attack. I flipped through its pages, skimming the words of a story I knew, we all knew, by heart. Then I came across an image I hadn’t seen on our air, on anyone’s air, of two people jumping from the World Trade Center to their certain death, holding hands. It was grainy, partially smoke obscured, and from far away, but it was unmistakably two human beings in their last moments on earth. They had no choice but to leap from their burning offices, so intense were the flames and jet fuel filled smoke. They made their choice and they did it together. Held hands and jumped into that perfectly blue September sky and I hope, God, I hope they found peace in having a hand to hold, that they were not alone. And they still aren’t. We remember. We will always remember.

My living doll

I used to have a doll with long red hair and alabaster skin named Crissy but I called her Melanie Elizabeth. I would dress her up and take my purse and plastic car keys and leave my room in our two bedroom apartment and go into the living room and pretend to drop Melanie Elizabeth off at daycare so I could get to my high powered job in the kitchen/dining room. I would take my time brushing her hair and choosing her outfit and packing a diaper bag. I would have entire conversations about what the daycare workers needed to know about my daughter. I would stick a plastic spoon to her stained mouth to nourish her and put her in her footed pajamas so I could rock her to sleep, her brown eyes shutting closed every time I tilted her head back. I don’t remember what happened to that doll. I do remember how I handled her delicately and spoke to her sweetly and practiced writing her name on things. The first maternal instincts awakening in my vivid imagination and in my heart. She was replaced by boys and cheer and dance and makeup and first kisses and the like. College, marriage, career beginnings, the treadmill of a young life moving ever forward until one day, the first day of a new year actually, when that changed. January 1, 1999 I found out I was pregnant. Married for six years, about to turn 30, good stable job at the number one station in town, everything was in order. Then I had you. And you changed everything. My politics, my career aspirations, my body, but mostly my heart. I had absolutely no idea what love was yet. Yes, I knew romantic love. Yes, I knew familial love. But you? You showed me how love can surprise you with its intensity, its unyielding presence. You actually looked more like a doll that Melanie Elizabeth. Blonde fuzz, wide, blue eyes, crimson pursed lips. After my days at home with you ended I found myself living out my childhood working mom fantasy. I grabbed my purse and my car keys and left our small first house and drove into town to a daycare walking distance from the station. In this moment I found I had nothing to say to the daycare workers, no care about what I packed in the diaper bag, there was nothing but my precious 8 week old baby. Leaving you there was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Ever. And also the best. We both started down our own paths then, still connected, but independent. I picked you up after the shows, put you in your footed pajamas and fed you from my own body as your blue eyes closed. You knew everything was going to be okay, that I may be away, but I’ll always come back. I knew we could do this thing together, learn how to do it together. I do know what happened to that baby, my living doll. She grew up, independent, but still connected, always connected.

Lucy baby pic

Happy 14th birthday Lucy Caroline.

A selfish decision

Read an interesting article this morning about the ‘no children’ movement. People choosing to not have children and asking others to more carefully consider it. The topic is not new. It has gained momentum though. In a time not so long ago, it was assumed a couple would have children and if they didn’t, it meant they couldn’t. The choice to reproduce is a personal one and some within this ‘no children’ movement say a selfish one. Their evidence lies in our overpopulated planet, our foster care systems teeming with parentless children, our dwindling natural resources. They see their choice as selfless, choosing not to bring another human being into the mix. Among their suggestions to those considering parenthood is to ask yourself why you are having children. I had read with interest up until this point and put the brakes on right here. Why do I want to have a child? The flaw lies in having to explain something that defies explanation. For me, it is easy to explain why you DON’T want to something. Much harder to explain why you do. And any answer falls under what the movement would consider “selfish.” Because I want a baby to love, a larger family, someone to take care of me when I’m older, to create a human being with my partner. There isn’t an altruistic answer in there. Does there have to be? How fake and frankly, pretentious would you find an answer like “to make the planet a better place” or “to raise a human being who will change things.” There is a certain amount of societal expectation that leads to decisions such as marriage and childrearing of course, to not be the one who doesn’t do what everyone else is doing. There are people who bring multiple children into the world without much thought as to who will provide for them. I understand the importance of not entering into parenthood lightly, of understanding the process is expensive, exhausting, time consuming, frustrating. But I’m still stuck on what the right reason to have children would be. What would those who want me to take this decision more seriously consider a legitimate reason? Doesn’t any decision, in this case the one to have a baby, have a selfish element? You’re making a decision about something that affects you, yourself. I respect a couple’s decision to not have children. I respect their reasons, they are well thought out and make sense. I cannot however, give such an eloquent argument for why I chose to have a child. My answer is the most selfish I can think of.

I wanted to. We wanted to. I wanted to have a baby with the love of my life. To make a family. That’s it.

Falcons

So long Summer

We broke a record yesterday in Atlanta. It was the coldest August day since weather record keeping began! Usually August in Atlanta is unbearable. So unbelievably hot and humid you never feel as if you dry out. Showers do little to help. Air conditioning cools your sweat just enough to leave you shivering indoors. It’s a miserable month in the south. I want it back! It’s bad enough our children go to school before any others in the country, Falcons pre-season is well underway, and Labor Day plans are being made – what happened to our summer?! I can’t remember one as rainy and cool and over so fast. Let’s go back three months and remember the good stuff.

Ears were pierced a second time.
ear pierce

Nails were painted.
nails

Tattoos were tattooed.
tattoo

Wine was drunk.
wine and steak

As was Starbucks.
Lucy Starbucks

There were trips to Florida.
lucy and bailey at beach

And to the British Virgin Islands.
thumbs up

Fish were caught.
fishing

Water stunts performed.
Lucy pool

There was lounging.
Henry on deck

Sadie on deck

Laughing..
pig shirts

And love.
me and rick at dinner

The highlight reel I will play as I drive through the rain with the heat on these final days of summer. Now bring on the football and shopping for fall boots!

Back to School

There are two thousand miles and some 20 years between them. One housed around 15 hundred sophomores through seniors, another includes freshman and probably 500 more kids. Snow was as much a certainty at one as humdity is at the other. But one step through the smudged glass doors, with the tuba bellowing from the gym, and the banners urging you to “JOIN OUR CLUB”, and I am back in high school. Not my alma mater in Spokane, Washington but my daughter’s high school in Alpharetta. I awoke early last week to accompany her to orientation and this morning she left at 7:20 am to start her first day. Unlike middle school and most surely elementary school, this day, honestly, did not carry with it any anxiety. None. We are a laid back family in most situations. As parents we have treated our only child as an adult for many years. Milestones are not met with trepidation or concern. Don’t mistake that for uncaring though. Or that we lack excitement. That’s not it. I love watching our daughter’s successes. I ache over her failures. I encourage her interests but don’t inflate reality. And for some people the reality is, high school sucks. It doesn’t have to though nor should she enter the doors anticipating a barrage of bullying, mean girls, crowded hallways, tons of homework and unrequited love. Sure those things are all a possibility. There is also the possibility that none of that will happen. I mentioned in earlier posts about a parenting expert I love, John Rosemond. He’s old school for sure. A child of the 50′s, he talks about how in his day, the parents were the center of the family unit and children and our relationship with them was secondary to the one we have with our spouse. I subscribe to this. I may not always adhere to it religiously. But I agree and try to remember that the best thing I can do for our daughter is to love her father. Last night as my husband and I watched our usual Sunday night HBO lineup and our daughter had gone up to bed, we looked at each other and realized that in four years it would be just us again. That today started the final chapter of her childhood, her life with us. Yes, it makes me terribly sad because despite loving the “Rosemond parenting method” I still overindulge her, fuss over her routine or appearance, and fall victim to the guilt of “always being at work.” I get it wrong just about as much as I get it right. Hubby and I will be just fine when she leaves. She will be just fine when she leaves. She will be just fine in high school. God equipped her with intelligence and grace, her dad and I have done our part with the genetics and coping mechanisms, and she has filled out the rest in a way I could have never imagined. As we navigated our way to each of her classes during orientation, stopping to hug a friend or get our bearings, it all felt so eerily familiar. The quirky art teacher, the no nonsense sciene instructor, the crazy drama club kids, the smell of the cafeteria, the tattered textbooks stacked in the corner, the frantic comparing of schedules to make sure you have lunch with your best friend. It was 1984 again and my mom was sending me out the door not with worry or worst case scenarios, not with anxiety or what-ifs, not with criticism or complaint, but secure in the knowledge she’d done her job and now it was time for me to do mine.

Lucy school 2

Knock ‘em dead this year honey. Like I know you will.

Lucy school 1

Where did I put my purpose?

What would you do if you could not fail?

I’ve seen this on inspirational magnets, posters, and the like. I suppose it’s goal is to get us to forget our fears and explore what most interests or intrigues us. It was brought up today during a live interview segment during our 4:00 newscast. The interview was a broader look at finding your purpose in life and more specifically how that translates into better workplace morale. Quite a heady topic for a 3 minute interview I might add. But, we tackled it nonetheless. The woman I was interviewing had a test consisting of 3 questions you should ask yourself in order to fine tune your “purpose” in life. Above is the first question.

What would you do if you had $25 million in the bank?

That is the second. I’m guessing that’s to eliminate the “I can’t afford it” argument that will win most ‘find your purpose’ fights. The ‘if money were no object’ exercise.

What would you do if you were still a kid?

The third question. Take yourself back to a time before responsibilities, expectations, bills, to when you did what you wanted to do when you wanted to do it. What did you spend time daydreaming about?

Interesting exercise. Maybe even fun. Kind of like what would we do if we won the lottery. But to me, it’s futile. And honestly, a bit selfish. The idea of finding your passion or your calling or in this case your purpose is noble and I’m sure fulfilling. I’m also sure many people do pinpoint that one thing they feel they were put here to do, be it ministry, healing, entertainment. But there are a great many more who don’t. Who work to simply put food on the table. How many children daydream about janitorial work? Or pushing papers within a giant corporation? Of working a graveyard shift behind bulletproof glass selling cigarettes? You can’t eliminate failure or money from the equation. You can’t build a career solely on childhood dreams. If you could, we would be all set with firefighters and ballerinas I suppose. Look, of course I understand the questions aren’t realistic, that they force you to eliminate obstacles you may feel keep you from doing what you really want to do. Like I said, that’s fun. But that’s if you take only yourself into consideration. In the bigger picture, however, we are all part of this team called humanity and it takes most, if not all, of us to keep it humming along. Someone makes the mess, someone cleans it up. Someone heals, someone inspires, someone sells cigarettes. I admit I am lucky. I have a job, that while wasn’t what I dreamed of doing, is a good one. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a purpose. I do belive I’m good at it and at this point not much else so yes, there’s a lot of fear that keeps me here. Yet I am fulfilled most days. There is a sense of accomplishment, of contributing to the team. It’s houses and feeds my family. It even allows us the luxury of travelling, of comforts, of extras many families don’t have. At the end of the day though, it is a job. We’ve all heard the saying “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” My job has never and will never love me back no matter how much I love it. To me our “purpose” goes beyond what we do to pay for cable and gas. And that the answers to the 3 questions may reveal that much to us.

What would you do if you could not fail? Exactly what I would do now. What fun is the game in which you know the outcome?

What would you do if you had $25 million in the bank? Share it. And adopt as many animals as possible.

What would you do if you were still a kid? Appreciate nap time! Ok, fine I’d be a dancer. But what did that kid know, anyway? :)