Friday, May 28, 2010


I'm so humbled and honored to be the ThetaMom Community Featured Blogger today! (I've always wished, hoped, SO wanted to be the Featured Blogger and today I get my chance!) So hello to my fellow Theta Mom Community bloggers....I'm so glad you're here. I look forward to new connections and conversations. And to my returning readers, if you haven't checked out Heather's ThetaMom Community, you should. Right now.

I've written about it here. And here. And here. Apparently, I write about it a lot. Those of you who read frequently might even be getting a tad bit tired of it. But...

I keep coming back to it. Now. Being here. I, like Dani Shapiro, ache to be "held in the infinite arms of the present".

This moment. Living in the body of this space...and not yesterday's space, or tomorrow's or even the last minute's. I'm tripping and stumbling through my nascent, but ardent, attempts to live presently. The questions dance: How do I plan for the future while basing myself in the now? If I'm still angry about something from yesterday, how do I reconcile the power of my emotions (which serve a powerful purpose) with the call of the present? Am living in the past as I carry yesterday's anger with me, or is the anger guiding me through the topography of my psyche, unveiling twisty, hidden routes which crave exploration?

More questions than answers. But I reach, slip and humbly keep returning to my touchstone of Now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

38 Years. Some birthdays seem to carry more weight than others. For me, it's not always the milestones that give me the greatest pause. It's usually some odd, unexpected age when I become retrospective and sentimental.

Today, I reflect on 38 phenomenal years. Some things I know, without a doubt:

Homemade chocolate butter cream frosting acts as a salve to my soul, and the cake merely acts as the vehicle to get the frosting into my mouth, to my anticipatory taste buds. Oh. Man. Is. It. GOOOOOOOD.

Now that I'm a mother, I know that certain things are decidedly genetic. Like hating to be wet when you're supposed to be dry (Henry got this from me). Or furrowing your brow when you're thinking about something, no matter how trivial. (Abby furrowed her brow at me the day she was born--and when she is 38, she, too, will have Grand Canyon crevices in her forehead as evidence of this lovely genetic trait.)

I don't know what will happen tomorrow. Or in the next minute. I openly embrace how little I know about things. Gone are the days of my 20s when my bravado and I knew sooooo much. This gracious non-understanding allows me to explore the intricacies, the conundrums, the small things--by asking and learning from the everyday sages who surround me.

Each day imparts gifts; oddly, awkwardly wrapped little nuggets of truth, sometimes disguised as shitty days, weeks or months. Sometimes, the significance of the gift unravels molasses from a jar.

Sometimes, I'm a real bitch.

I am fiercely grateful for the constants in my life: wind, trees, air and the ground, meeting my feet with each stride. Love and joy from unexpected pockets, friends and kindred spirits.

I am painfully afraid of loss. I am still terrified of losing someone I love...the fragility of the human condition pummels me. (And, while reading Dani Shapiro's phenomenal Devotion, I realize I want to go deep on this topic...)

Nondescript divinities truly knock the air out of my lungs. The moments where time sits heavily in my hand, when I'm kissing the top of my son's head, or when my daughter inquisitively looks at me through long lashes, with furrowed brow, sparkling eyes dancing on a sea of delicate freckles.

I hit the jackpot when I met my Hubby. And he hit the jackpot when he met me.

I love wearing things that remind me of people--a grandmother's necklace, a dear friend's bracelet, hubby's fleece. These things steep me in flooded memories.

I always have a choice.

And today, I chose to celebrate all of it--ALL 38 years of it.

Friday, May 21, 2010


One recent May day, the jet streams brought tumultuous winds with their ancient rhythmic dance. Invisible. Powerful. Significant. Woeful. Wind. Its wild call spoke to me. What was I supposed to hear? Something...meaningful. The gusts were so forceful. I stopped.


The omnipotent wind understood that I need a push. Swoooooosh. Coursing, pulsing, pushing me...

but where?

Where should I ride these winds, so boisterous and bold? Was I supposed to know? Where are they hinting, suggesting? Why, on this day, did they push so vehemently?

The congruence of the west winds, pulsing and calling my follies out to play. As if ordained and scripted solely for me. Forcing my latent dreams up, up and out...until they floated in the stratosphere with the colliding jet streams.

My lungs filled.
My heart thumped.
My soul lifted.
My dreams soared.
My brain questioned.

Brilliant pure white clouds illuminated by the sunlight, piercing the space between me and the royal blue open.

Open, it seemed, to anything I dared throw at to absorb all. Challenging me, daring me, encouraging me, pleading with me...


Coursing. The wind blew so hard that as I inhaled it, I imagined bringing in air that had just left Minnesota. The gale-force wind pushed through my yard and sliced into me, lifting me. Blowing my norms and sensibilities into submission; allowing alliances with novelties, which, on second examination, were actually old, familiar thoughts, stretching after years of dormancy.


Then I pulled back, awash in myopic shame, guiltily wondering how I could be so audacious as to believe this wind, and its unbridled energy, visited just for me. But the wind just pushed more.

A cloud sprinted. The wind shook the sky's colors into an explosion of every possible, perfect blue. The wind staked claim to the sky's effervescent splendor.

All day, pounding. All day, wondering. And finally knowing: I could finally interpret its wild call: "Be here, Denise. Soak in this exact moment. Right now." A physical, tangible talisman of right now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"My default answer to everything is no. As soon as I hear the inflection of inquiry, the word no forms in my mind, sometimes accompanied by a reason, often not. Can I open the mail? No. Can I wear your necklace? No. When is dinner? No. What you probably wouldn't believe is how much I wanted to say yes." -Kelly Corrigan, LIFT

My days are filled with my children's questions and my answers. I field many, many, many inquires every hour:

"Can Buzz Lightyear fly?"
"Can I fly?"
"What's for dinner?"
"Can we have a sleep over?"
"Will you buy me high heeled shoes?"
"Can we have dessert?"
"Will you push me?"
"Can we have a snack?"
"Will you give me a manicure? With little flowers on each nail like the babysitter does?"
"Will you come now?"

Before kids, I fancied myself a patient, positive person. After nearly seven years at this parenting gig, I realize that I am not the patient, positive person I previously thought. (Granted, before I delivered my children into this world, I hadn't experienced the tyrannical nature of children's constant, continual spray of questions, firing like rounds from a machine gun. (A little too harsh, perhaps? Sorry...'twas a long, questioning morning at the MusingsdeMommy home.)

After a question is sent my way, my tongue perches at the roof of my mouth, readying to produce the "N" sound, preparing to say NOOOOOO. And to try to hide my penchant for No-saying, I've devised ways to say No without actually saying No.

"Let me think about it."
"I'll see how the evening goes."
"If you eat healthfully..."
"You guys go out first and I'll meet you there."
"I'll be right there..."


It's so heavy, brooding and dark. Necessary, at times, but not at ALL times. Yes, on the other hand, reverberates; so lively, powerful and affirming. Punctuated with possibilities, ruminating with promises.

When I started reflecting on this, my stomach sank in misery. Why am I so quick to jump to No? What am I, on a subconscious current, teaching my children about life? Are their questions truly that outlandish? My children actually lob their questions and then I hear them quietly pleading, with me, the winds and the universe, "please say yes please say yes oh please say yes". Am I that transparent?


Today, I'm putting my negative responses on notice. I'm bringing back Yes. In an effort to be more adaptable and accommodating, positive and both my children and myself, I'm replacing my old, tired, reflexive No and finding simple, inspired reasons to embrace Yes.

Yes, you can.
Yes, we can.
Yes, I will.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


A craving. A guttural need to satisfy. A flutter...of anticipation. A deep inhalation.

Heart beat quickens and pulse complies.

So close. So close. So cloooooooooooose.
I'm almost there.

I reach into the dark, hidden corner of the kitchen cupboard. Stealthy, I find the bag. I tear off the wrapper. Hello small, dark and handsome. How YOU doin'? I place the dark chocolate on my tongue. Oh it's so good. I close my eyes and savor but then devour. I silently give thanks that my world is one that includes large doses of dark chocolate.

I'm. Submerged. In. Chocolate. Ecstasy.

(Part of Momalom's FiveforTen. Today's topic is LUST...Blush. Sigh.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Like the Corners of My Mind

November 2002.
Driving home.
Song playing:

Two days, past 18
He was waiting for the bus in his army greens
Sat down in a booth, cafe there,
gave his order to a girl with a bow in her hair.
He's a little shy so she gives him a smile
And he said would you mind sittin' down for awhile
And talking to me
I'm feeling a little low.
She said I'm off in an hour and I know where we can go.

[Note: I am crying.]

So they went down and
They sat on the pier he said
I bet you got a boyfriend but I don't care
I got no one to send a letter to.
Would you mind if I sent one back here to you?

[Note: tears and snot steadily falling down my face and soaking my blouse.]

I cried, never gonna hold the hand of another guy
Too young, for him they told her, waitin' for the love of a traveling soldier
Our love will never end
Waitin' for the solider to come back again
Never more to be alone
When the letter said, the soldier's coming home.

So the letters came from an Army camp
In California then Vietnam
They told her of his heart, might be love
And all of the things he was so scared of.
He said when it gets kinda rough over here
I think of that day sittin' down by the pier
And I close my eyes and see your pretty smile
Don't worry but I won't be able to write for awhile...

One Friday night at the football game
The Lord's Prayer said and the anthem sang
A man said Folks won't you bow your heads
For a list of local Vietnam dead.

[Note: Body shaking sobs have taken over my body.]

Crying all alone, under the stands
Was a piccolo player from the marching band
And one name read but nobody really cared.
But a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair.

[Note: I can barely see the road now for my heaving sorrow.]

The Dixie Chick's poignant, haunting tale of a young Vietnam solider willed its way into my psyche. It accompanied my sobs. I cried because of the inequity of death, I cried for the traveling soldier's mother and the grief that surely encompassed her heart. I cried for all mothers who'd ever experienced the death of a child.

Then, a random thought throttled through my disdain:

That morning, at work, I drank V8. I walked to refrigerator stocked with every imaginable drink and I chose to slam a V8. Twice.

I hate V8.

So, I'm sobbing listening to the Dixie Chick's Travelin' Soldier and drinking multiple V8's with vigor.
Hormones snapped from gloom to joy.

I called Hubby.

Before he could eek out a Hello, I blurted, "I might be pregnant!"


"Really?!?!?!", he said.

"YES! I'm drinking V8 and sobbing!!!" (Because he's a smart man, Hubby took my assessment at face value and did not question my logic.)

Detour: Stopped at the store for pregnancy tests. I felt so proud buying them, so aligned with the universe. I didn't realize I had dark black mascara tracks lining my face from my moments-earlier bawling session.

Home: I ran to the bathroom with the crinkly plastic sack (with nary a hello to Hubby). I took the test. (Aside: it'd really be nice if this test could be taken differently...really, wouldn't it be nice to NOT have to pee on a stick and watch the urine-soaked stick and hang out in the bathroom right before you find out you're going to be a mother?).

I wrapped everything up and sat on the toilet lid. The stick sat between my feet. I stared at it.

At the destiny-defining, urine-soaked stick.

I desperately coaxed air into my shallow lungs.


Sweet! The results.
Shit! I have no idea what two lines mean. I study the instructions again and learn that

Two lines = PREGNANT.

"George!!!" I screamed.

"WHAT???" he peeled in, thinking I'd fallen and cracked open my head.

"I'm pregnant."

May 2010.
Driving home.
Song playing:

Dixie Chicks Travelin' Soldier.

Detour: November evening, 2002. I travel right back to that night and remember my fierce certainty that I was going to be a mother and that, at that very moment, a microscopic life formed inside me. That life became Abby, my willful, beautiful, intelligent, passionate daughter. The music tied together past, present and a hopeful future. Notes, someone's thoughts, passions and words, and my misty, water-colored memories, all encapsulated in a song.

(This is my Memory post, part of Momalom's great FiveforTen write-a-thon. Click here or the button on the side bar to learn more.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Yin, Yang & Other Necessities

Happiness. Glee. Gosh, I could drone on for hours about the thousands of simple joys in my life that truly make me giddy. Narrowing down to one, consistent thought proved challenging for me.

But, I did it.

But, before I go there, I must go here.

I believe, that in order to appreciate the full beauty of the oak tree, I must experience its dichotomies and sweeping opposites. In winter, the brazen, dark, hard edges of its leafless branches, boldly reach to the charcoal-infused sky. In late spring, its leaf-laden branches create poetic stanzas with their natural rustling and shaking. Yin and Yang.

I believe the same principal applies to happiness. Sadness, the polar opposite, provides a launch pad from which to experience joy. Boy Howdy do I have a launch pad.

Depression descended into my life years ago. Looking back, my struggle probably started in my late teens. Those first years of flailing, crushing sadness walloped me. I didn't know what was wrong or how to make it stop. I cried. I believe anxiety replaced the blood that was supposed to course through my body. Depression ate away at me, replacing vigor and strength with fragility and a belief that I was not worthy. I devastated so easily; the doubt and dark sadness became pinnacle to many episodes of my life. Self confidence? NONE. And the people in my life? Well, many had no idea. I was a master of disguise, secretly battling the demons. Thankfully, I realized my problem and sought help. Thankfully, good therapists and wonderful antidepressants exist in this world.

It is through THAT experience which I experience joy. And of the myriad of events, people and natural beauties that bring me pure, explicit happiness, perhaps one of my paramount happy-makers is the northern beaches of Lake Michigan.

Soulful, raw, beautiful and epic in its ability to calm me, charge my battery, make me happy and whole, even when I'm empty. A constant companion through my years, always holding onto happiness, especially when I could not. Even in the deepest despondence of depression, like a true friend, Lake Michigan soothed. And smiled. Or threw a crashing temper tantrum on my behalf. Simultaneously mimicking my internal struggle and showing me it was ok. And then I'd smile.

I vividly remember one particular August visit. My dear, dear friend and I went for a weekend. Upon arrival, I dashed from the car and ran to the lake. "Hello, Lake! How are you?" I screamed to the vibrant blues, turquoises tipped with white. "Have you missed me?!?!?!?"

I'm sure I saw her nod in reply.

And then I wrote this:

That day was chilly, even by Up North standards. Gray clouds and 66 degrees. The children still swam, their heads bobbing in the turbulent waves. Swimming on a cold summer day is a hardy, essential, Yankee right-of-passage (one in which I proudly partook repeatedly). The scene, ensconced in my memories, is so familiar: white sand, an occasional sea gull, bent dune grass and the geographical slant of the dry land slowly converting to water. Broken pieces of children's laughter bouncing to shore over the waves. Flags taught, saluting the wind. People in the distance, through the grasses, headed into homes. Natural, native, primitive. I was full. And happy.

Then, I walked back to our bed and breakfast. Moments later, I sat on the cozy front porch, removed from the raw song of Lake Michigan. Cars, stores, shops, voices all creating a sweet, syncopated commotion. Just one half mile from the tranquil, natural cocoon of the beach. A jarring juxtaposition of sounds. Not unlike most of life, very unique things occurring simultaneously, in stride and right next door.

Those unique dichotomies exist within me, always. Happy precedes sad and sad precedes happy. Both necessary pieces coexisting to create the full, raw, weighted, joyful picture. Yin and Yang.

Momalom's FiveforTen Part 2: Happiness. (To find out more about this great movement, go here.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Doing It Anyway

I just discovered a new site yesterday, Momalom. They're hosting this great movement, Five for Ten Again. You write a post on the topic they serve up. Participation, for me, was a must. And, thanks to their inspiration, I give you my thoughts on the first topic, Courage.

A new school, anonymous faces, gripped hands holding wildly, deriving strength from one known, staunch journeyman.

A racist comment lobbed. A contrary, heavy stare returned, words spoken to challenge and usurp the ignorant thought. The bigot walks, questioning the longer accepting their narrow view as THE truth.

oh-so-sweet-and-red, quivering lip boldly walking into preschool, alone, despite the gorge of tears threatening their descent.

An unleashed dream, finally spoken to the universe.

Openly listening to an opinion that is the polar opposite of yours.

Sending my children into the world, each day, and hoping that our time together continues, yet not knowing ...

Speaking the truth. Word following word, each small piece building on the next. Telling the rank, puss-filled, painful truth.

Love. Diving into this divine, treacherous territory, not knowing how the story ends.

Mea Culpa. Admitting fault, assuming responsibility. "I'm sorry" is courageous, each and every time.

So big. Courage arrives in bold swaths of action. It also resides in the small bits. Looming chances. Microscopic opportunities lauding, requiring vast depths of courage. Days, seemingly rote, suddenly turn and necessitate a quick pull from the courage reserves. And when pulled upon, the unwitting owner can inwardly beam at their untapped power and stamina.

Firm. Shaky. Resolute. Brilliant. Fear. Persevering. Doing it anyway. Small and big. Verve, residing in hearts, rising and creating forward momentum. Courageous.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Mom

Sacrificing. (But not in a martyrish way, in a "I-just-can't-imagine-doing-it-any-other-way" way.)
Unbiased. (Unless it's about her children...then all unbiased bets are off.)
Born to be a mother.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I've moved -- a lot. In my 37 years, I've lived in 15 cities in 10 states. Most of the moves took place when I was a student l or when I held an office job--this provided me (for better or, sometimes, worse) a natural networking and friend-making resource. My last two moves, however, occurred when I did not have a classroom or an office as a social outlet--all I had was me and my sparkling, clever charm.

Making Friends.
Our first summer in Arkansas, I used the pool (and the women there) as a breeding ground for new friendships. It'd go a little something like this: after the 15 minute migration from car to pool (toting one child, corralling another, schlepping towels and a gagillion water toys), I'd find a chair (not to put me in but to put stuff on, sigh) and slather all three of us from scalp-to-toe with sunscreen. We'd finally enter the shallow end. I'd look around, surveying the pool goers to find someone with whom I could drum up a conversation.

"Oh", I'd think to myself, "she looks nice...I'll ask how old her kids are." That was one of my favorite opening lines. A cute bathing suit also served as a great conversation starter. If things went well, we'd chat and I'd feel so happy that I connected with a potential friend. Near the end of our chat, I'd begin to wonder if I should ask for her number. Then, I'd suck up my courage and ask. If we did exchange numbers, I'd wonder. Did she give me her number because she felt sorry for me (because I was new to town, clearly with no friends)? Or did she see past my desperation and peer through the SPF 50 and Jackie-O sunglasses to see a potential soul-mate?

Would she call? Did she think I was funny? Would she call? Did she like talking to me? Would we be friends????

(Wait a second. This reminds me of something. Hmmmm....Oh Yeah. My twenties. And Dating. Ugh. Geesh.)

After my chlorinated pool friend-finding missions, Hubby would ask how our day went. If I'd met a potential new pal, I'd excitedly recount our interaction. I'll tell him about something interesting she said, how well the kids played (however briefly), and then about something ridiculously funny I'd said. And I'd wrap with, "I hope she calls...."

Fortunately, she usually did.

It takes time to get to know a person and their various shades and levels; idiosyncrasies and a true understanding unveil slowly, over the course of years. Grasping a lay of the land, learning whom I adore, who can put up with my quirks, who I can trust, who will be the start-with-a-playdate-and-segue-into-a-dinner-date friend...well, it all takes time.

And all that time, and dating strategies, invested over 10 states and 15 cities? So worth my effort.
Sure, sometimes I wish for the implicit comfort of the daily, yearly, decade-long familiarity of one town and generations of friends. But instead, I get to celebrate the many dear friends, laughs, cries, joyful memories and tearful goodbyes that punctuate my nomad journey. Moving shaped and informed me. I feel like I'm a unique amalgamation of every region I've lived and each friendship I've experienced. Even my accent reflects a special blend of south, north, mid-west and even a bit of east coast. (Interestingly, my northern friends think I sound southern...and my southern pals think I honk like a Yankee.)

Hanging certain pieces of art (whether they be watercolors by Abby or some fantabulous Spanish street artist, discovered outside of Madrid's Museo del Prado) denote home. Home is, of course, my house. The physical structure is important to me. But as I mature, and move from city to city, home has become much more. I find home in various faces, cities and restaurants. In a familiar-sounding swoosh of wind through leafy boughs. Sometimes home is still in my mother's arms, head on her shoulder, gratefully allowing all my angst, worry or celebration to spill out of my pores into hers. Sometimes I find home in my husband's thoughtful, analytical response to one of my pressing, emotional probes. At times, home is crisp, bleach-scented sheets and the luminous glow of my bedside lamp. Others, I'm most at home with the heavy weight of one of children spooned into my lap. My friends, their stories and energy, make each stop on my homeward destination true and full. My home transcends four walls. I am so grateful that home follows, and dwells, wherever I am.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In A Blink

On Saturday night, I walked through Times Square. Yes, this past Saturday night. The Saturday night when an SUV was discovered, sitting near the Marriott Marquis, getting ready to detonate. Yup, that one.

Thankfully for me and thousands of others who sauntered, sped or lollygagged though Times Square, alert New Yorkers saw the abandoned, smoking Nissan Path Finder. The crude car bomb attempt, and the subsequent murders, were thwarted. Luckily, it seems as if the case is progressing.

That night, my two children spent a snug and comfy evening at home with a babysitter. That night, I walked through the warm Manhattan evening with Hubby and good friends. That night, my tangerine silk blouse fluttered in the spring air. That night, I sat in an open air bar, giddy with spring, and engaged in cold beer and thoughtful conversation. That night, one man thought that in order to prove some point, it might be best to kill people. That night, I could've walked right past a detonating car bomb and died.

My mind, instead of focusing on this possible brush with death, has joyfully focused on my rekindled awareness of my mortality. Sobering, yes, but hopeful. I have NO IDEA when I'm going to die. I can't control my death. Could be an exploding Nissan in Times Square. Could be ANYTHING.

Oddly, I feel calm and assured. My mantra has been reassured: Right now. Right. Here. Right. Now. I do not know when I'll depart this physical world. What I do know: I have right now. My silver lining lies therein: a powerful, if slightly morbid, catalyst to be fully present in the now. Ave Maria, burning candle, Twitter conversations, sound of Hubby's ice clinking in his glass. Sisal carpet under my toes. Mesmerizing flicker of my candle. Muffled barking of a neighbor's dog. Cool night breeze sifting through the open window, heralding my arrival to this moment.