Chick stuff, View from the Shoe

Kids. The Footprints You Leave Behind

Raising kids is not a walk in the park. They keep you young, they keep you humble — and they call you on your crap.

“A hundred years from now it won’t matter what sort of house I lived in, or kind of car I drove but, the world may be different because I was important to the life of a child.”

Between escalating birthdays and widowhood, I reflect on a lot these days on both the meaning — and brevity of life. The noisy, giggling, sibling rivalry days inherent in raising small children that seemed never ending — but did. The torch passed and now those babies are parental units themselves, running on the same relentless parental hamster wheel of schedules, homework, errands and laundry that once filled my days.

Looking back, though, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to be smack in the middle of those worrywart, race-against-the-clock days, and the babies who inhabited them. The days you lug oranges to soccer games, cupcakes to birthday parties and stayed up nights sewing Halloween costumes end. And suddenly, you’re crying at graduations, toasting an engagement and in the blink of an eye, another generation is on the way. You pass the baton. Long feverish nights, endless science projects, little league games and wee hours of waiting for cars to pull in driveways are now in your adult babies’ hands.

Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. Neil Postman

Children change our lives. They toss them in a hectic blender of love, worry and crazy, then rearrange them incredulously inside people who become adults themselves. Like many in my generation, I was barely 21 when I had my first child. I dove headfirst into cribs and spit up baby food with no nostalgia about lost single days of island hopping, because there was none. Today’s moms trade successful careers, first single apartments and free wheeling travel memories for marriage and child-raising. They bring life experience, and a taste of fulfillment to their babies while others like me bring still young(ish) enthusiasm and a reasonable amount of energy to race lively grandchildren. Standing on the flip side of motherhood, I can totally appreciate both sides of that same coin.

From the minute those squalling little bodies are placed in our arms, our lives are never the same. As they grow, we will do every crazy, exhausting thing we can to try to keep those nuggets safe, healthy and happy. I remember when I, and my neighbor/best bud, went on a no-nitrate, no additive ban, convinced we would rule as health-conscious moms. Unfortunately, boycotting hot dogs, Wonder Bread, and bologna demoted us to the bottom rung of our kids’ food hit parade. Though still suspicious of Marshmallow fluff and Taylor ham, we eventually sold out to hot dogs, but, to our credit, they were turkey so…

Continue reading “Kids. The Footprints You Leave Behind”
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Get REAL

      

Real life doesn’t come equipped with background music. There’s no re-takes, no script, and no fast forward.

Yearn for a world of cunning deceptions, illicit romance and characters teetering on the brink of chaos? Nah, me neither. But, just tune in to shows like Housewives, Bachelors and Bridezillas, and you’ll get a hefty dose. Is getting ‘Married at First Sight” a remotely good idea or is ‘Amish Mafia’ a thing? Would anyone really want to ‘Swap Wives?’ The idea of being a ‘Survivor’ on a wild isle is difficult enough; maneuvering it naked, hell to the no. Maybe the sheer crazy of it all is reason enough to watch reality TV but in my offbeat experience, real life coughs up more than enough drama without adding technicolor crazy.

Reality shows let you experience life’s idiocyncrasies and dramas by osmosis, right from the comfort of your own couch. While they are often a bit redundant, bizarre antics of a celeb family can provoke emotions the daily grind fails to deliver. (thank goodness!) Once upon a time, media experts thought reality TV was a passing fad, now it dominates channel lineups.  Sure they’ve been criticized for dumbing down their audiences, but to many, it’s the recreational payoff that counts. To be fair, some might be educational, some even inspire, but hey, ‘Honey BooBoo’? Seriously?

Imagination and fiction make up three quarters of our real life. Simone Weil

While visiting another dimension that allows you zone out from real life for a half hour might be cool, I’m still kind of sketchy about how much they actually resemble ‘real’ life. Peeping into each mundane moment of people’s lives, albeit contrived, is a little too George Orwell for me. It also begs the question ‘why’? Disguised as entertainment, some of the worst values and personal qualities have been enshrined, things we teach our children every day not to do or be. Even the craziest show somehow doesn’t get ‘voted off the island’, along with any stalwart naked adventurers.  And it helps no one’s entrepreneurial initiative or spirit to be rewarded with a sneering ‘You’re fired’.

We all know where THAT’S gotten us. Continue reading “Get REAL”

Chick stuff, View from the Shoe

Bring It.

Kindness costs nothing. Sprinkle that shit everywhere.

 

What seems like a very long time ago, I walked into a boutique advertising agency and asked if they were hiring.  There was no job opening.  So, they made one up and that tiny ad shop became home – for the next 11 years.

I learned more there than I could have ever imagined when I stuck my head in the door that first day.  Having left big NY agencies, the partners brought their own blend of remarkable savvy. But it was the kindness they brought that shone just as much. Yes, the creativity that bubbled over in those small rooms made believers out of some very big clients. But, beneath clever taglines and spot-on campaigns, was a culture of taking great care, not only of the client but of each person who helped bring those campaigns to life.

What we see depends on what we look for. John Lubbock

Long before inside-joke agency pictures became Facebook postings, we had our own odd assortment of the sweet and strange. There was the authentic Wurlitzer jukebox near the reception desk, and an ironic Garfield fish tank nestled alongside shelves of creative awards. To mark a milestone agency anniversary, we hopped into a limo to celebrate, but, true to form, dinner was hardly the expected.  Unless a famed NYC drag show qualifies.

In a world where you can be anything — be kind.

Then one day, the bird left the nest – with a little help. A nester by nature, I can’t say layoffs could ever be my ticket to ride. Branching out into the unknown and trying new things is hardly new but it’s seldom an easy fit. Even when serial jobs are the norm these days, lift-off is still more difficult when it’s a surprise walk off a cliff.  Still, at one time or another, almost everyone has been dropped on their head in that proverbial lake and been forced to sink or swim.

Mostly, we swim. Continue reading “Bring It.”

Chick stuff, View from the Shoe

Another birthday? Game on.

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I’m not old. Ha! But, if a woman’s best years are between 39 and 40, I’m way past my expiration date. On the other hand, as Marianne Williamson said, “You might be depressed you’re no longer young. Be ecstatic you’re no longer clueless.” So there’s that.

“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”  Charles Schulz

Life seems to go by at warp speed, doesn’t it? Maybe not when we were 5 but now, when we’ve definitely crossed the Rubicon, some days life seems to zip by faster than the speed of light. Mine was pretty much a chick flick; equal parts thriller, romantic comedy, and tearjerker. In fact, probably a lot like yours, give or take some weirdo special effects. Whether or not I love everything that flashes across the big screen in my head, it all happened. Both cringe-worthy or fantastic, the movie reel was my life and, hey, if nothing else, it was entertaining!

Some day, we will all die, Snoopy,”said Charlie Brown.
Snoopy answered,“True. But on all the other days, we will not.”

Our desperation to hang onto the gold ring of youth says a lot about our inability to own up to mortality, wrinkles and the changing face in the mirror. In our grief over the inevitable transformation of our once dewy youth, we kinda miss the point. Owning our age, and all the stuff that comes with it, allows us to pass the torch to our kids, to younger colleagues with well-earned wisdom. It enables us to work on stuff we didn’t have time for in the child-rearing years, in the striving to break the glass ceiling or just to break even. If we want a new outlook on the birthday thing, we need a new narrative.

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?Satchel Paige

Who’s that kid in the mirror? Where is the girl we saw yesterday? Okay, yesterday was at least 15 years ago but hey, we weren’t prepared for the aged-out version of Dorian Gray. Still, there’s no magic youth wand to bring back our younger selves. Remember the last time you were in CVS, thinking you looked pretty damn good, and the guy who, once upon a time would have done a double take, only has eyes for the deodorant in his hand? Yea, that felt good. Still, even the best cosmetic miracle can uncover the beauty within; the beauty that only living, sacrificing, and learning brings. Continue reading “Another birthday? Game on.”

Chick stuff, View from the Shoe

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY – The Shoe’s Summer Snapshots

Take a breath. Set your thoughts free — and preserve your summer in pictures of your own.  The snaps you took this summer may be the stuff of ahh’s and inspiration for years to come.            OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSCF2076.JPG _DSC0024OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA_DSC0006 Continue reading “WORDLESS WEDNESDAY – The Shoe’s Summer Snapshots”

Chick stuff, View from the Shoe

Channeling Benjamin Button

“I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” Benjamin Button

No one’s life is an accident. Of course, it is chock full of accidental incidents but then, that IS life, right? All the ‘if only that hadn’t happened’ incidents are out of our control but still intersect our lives. So do the people in them. It’s said that we are all connected; a world full of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. Spoiler alert: That’s even truer on ‘the other side’ — and I don’t mean across the pond. When this world is in the rear view, we’ll find people from every culture, value system and coloring in a mash-up of everyone who’s ever lived here, there and everywhere. It would probably make sense then, to pay more attention to making friends, or at the very least, acknowledge with kindness some of the souls who’ll be our roommates in eternity.

Life has a time limit but as long as we’re here, why not try? Change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it, we just have to be awake during the ride.

Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.

Like Benjamin Button, the aging process is pretty much a metaphor. Whether we live our lives backwards or forward, the beginning and end of life is the same. The point is how we live in the dash in between. Anyone who’s lived a near death experience is pretty adamant about not wasting a minute on things that don’t count. Money is a means to an end; not the goal. Work is merely tool to make ours and others’ lives better. Instant gratification isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Superficial lasts only until it becomes boring. Fear and anxiety are real, as real as the feeling you get going bungee jumping if you’re afraid of heights. Moments shared, kindness multiplied; those are the true fabrics that should weave how we want to live.

If you’ve already been to the dark side, things might be looking up. Heights and closed spaces, trains, planes and autos have no meaning because death is something you’ve been there, done that. Everything is relative.

“Life moves pretty fast sometimes. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”  Ferris Bueller Continue reading “Channeling Benjamin Button”

Chick stuff, View from the Shoe

Badass Mrs. Potato Head

Humans don’t come with interchangeable parts. Sure, we can switch things up, like that nose and chin that came with your original birthday suit. But, if you opt for more deluxe models or major tweaks to the basic prototype, you’re into more uncharted territory. In the wild, wild west of plastic options, you can put in your order for bigger, better or just different. Or, you can choose to keep the original factory settings. It’s up to you.

Some adjustments may be necessary, some even a blessing. Replacing what breast cancer takes away bestows critical self-confidence to women already devastated by a take-no-prisoners disease. When terrible accidents play havoc with faces, skin or other critical pieces of our being, plastic surgery is a miracle. But,  reconstructive surgeries aside, which get my 100% vote, some serious re-thinking is in order.

While we weren’t looking, our society seems to have ascribed to an if-it-ain’t broke/STILL-fix-it society. When The Graduate’s Benjamin Braddock was told “There is a great future in plastics”, maybe he should have listened. Though I’m certain cosmetic surgery wasn’t what his father’s friend had in mind, it was nifty advice.

Every year, more than 18 million people spend billions of dollars on cosmetic surgery. Billions. Think about it. To be sure, I’ve had my OMG mirror moments. You know those times when you lift your chin back where it used to be before gravity took over and it looks oh, so much better? Yup. Unfortunately, my bathroom mirror’s Broadway backstage lighting are a bit too Lon Chaney to be inviting. Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t say firmer skin, and erasing those little WTF lines between my eyebrows don’t annoy the heck out of me.

We are each our own worst beauty enemy. Continue reading “Badass Mrs. Potato Head”

Chick stuff

Ode To Joe’s

happy teenage hippy girl in shades with peace sign

How do I love Trader Joe’s? Let me count the ways.

I hate grocery shopping. As a new bride, supporting my then husband through school, I budgeted groceries for two through a nefarious envelope system. There were the years I shopped with one babe on my hip and one attempting his escape out of the cart. There were years adolescents begged for snacks they knew were not on approved list of mom’s good-for-you eats —through every aisle of temptations.  When all the birdies flew the nest, grocery shopping became an even more irritating chore. My late husband, however, oddly enjoyed the food shopping gig and happily took over the the gritty household item list, knowing he could also drop in treats that weren’t on HIS healthy list. The upside was, that also left me with grocery nirvana – Trader Joe’s.

Disclaimer:  Before you think this is merely a PR shill for the store, no groceries have been harmed in the writing of this blog; nor has Trader Joe’s contributed to my advertising earnings. (Damn it) Any words of praise were simply written as an ode to grocery shopping done right – in my humble opinion.

People’s shopping preferences are as different as tomato/potato.  As for me, there’s nothing like picking up ‘just two things’ (hah!) in the welcoming aisles of Trader Giotto’s. If you’ve never been, it’s hard to articulate the contrasting experiences of weekly foraging. Maybe it’s TJ’s mellow-yellow vibe, where flower children of the 60’s can subtly dance with their grocery carts to reminiscent funky tunes or maybe it’s the Haight-Ashbury playlist. Either way, I’m totally cool with it. Continue reading “Ode To Joe’s”

Chick stuff, Holiday Madness

Flower Grinch

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I may have come from the land of misfit toys but, full disclosure, I’m not the biggest fan girl of flowers. Shocker – and on Valentine’s Day, too. But, I have no intention of turning in my woman card. I’m still a warm and fuzzy Libra girl who just isn’t a total sucker for a floral bouquet. Working in my parents’ florist shop might have something to do with my blasé attitude toward blooms. Nothing says bursting the floral mystique more than frantic holidays of cranky last minute orders, stripping thorns and using enough floral tape to giftwrap the entire planet.

Admittedly, flowers are pretty, gorgeous even, but well, they die. Ooops. Shakespeare once asked “Is it better to love and lose than never love at all?” Despite that great advice, the concept of ‘perishable’ never held a lot of appeal – especially in these last 3 years. Still flowers can make your day and have made many of mine, but for reasons other than their horticultural wonder.

“At my age, flowers scare me.” George Burns

The mushy artist in me has been super appreciative of flowers that came to my door looking utterly gorgeous, especially the exotic, wildly lush ones. Some have been flashy, in eye-popping colors and some sailed in, softly hued and gentle as fairy dreams. Humans are wired to love flowers simply because they are beautiful. In fact, when we think of the word beautiful, one of the first things that comes to mind IS a flower. Continue reading “Flower Grinch”

Chick stuff

4 Chicks at the Cape

I’ve been a goner for an elbow shaped piece of land called Cape Cod since I was 6 years old. It’s always been my happy place. I’m pretty sure, that in less than 5 minutes of meeting me, you’d know more than you ever wanted to know about it. I dragged my husband, who didn’t quite get the attraction, there many times but only in the last few years of our travels did he come to see what drove my addiction. In fact, he fell a little in love himself but our last trip 3 years ago never got a rerun. He died A few short months later.

Last week I finally paid a return visit to ‘my Cape’.  I’m not sure if my four widow friends decided to share the trip to help celebrate my milestone birthday or see if the island lived up to my constant hype. I was just pretty darn grateful to cross that Sagamore Bridge again and in whirlwind few days, I was hellbent to leave no shell or lobster roll unturned.

“The waves of the sea, help me get back — to me.”

As a fresh-faced little kid, the trek from New Jersey to the Cape took a whole lot longer than it does today. In the wee hours of the morning, my father would stealthily carry me and my brother’s (nearly) sleeping forms into our spiffy green station wagon. Edging into the early morning darkness, my dad naively hoped we’d sleep until the sun came up over the Cape landscape. Um, no. Before we ever hit Boston, (the route of the ‘old days’) he’d hear a chorus of “are we there yet” and “I’m hungry.” My mother doled out snacks to hold us over, but there was no way to hold back our excitement. My parents were doomed.

Back in the day, utopia was a small group of weathered shingle cottages, complete with shuffleboard and concrete pool, nestled in a copse of towering pines. Even without air conditioning, we slept like hibernating bear cubs in open-window bedrooms, cooled by scented nights. I can still picture Nancy Drew mysteries and games of Old Maid on the beach. Our stubby feet ran along seemingly endless low-tide beaches and I can still see my father’s surprised face as he tasted his first (and last) spoonful of Indian pudding. Far from the creamy concoction he envisioned, the sturdy cornmeal dessert was an epic fail. Luckily, my brother and I opted for ice cream.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Costeau

Friday night tradition dictated strolls along Hyannis’ Main Street, past an endless booty of gift and candy shops. Not one ever bask in the sun now, my rosy childhood skin is imprinted in my memory. Decked out in a gaudily colored swim tube and bathing cap (yes, I did), I paddled contently in the Cape’s salty Atlantic waters; the same waters that churned up boxes of multi-hued taffy. Once, in that said tube in Cape Cod Bay’s calm waters, I had the brilliant idea of raising both hands up, happily waving to my parents. Wrong move. When I found myself looking UP at the water, too stunned to register that oh, yeah – I’m going to drown, you could say I was a little confused. Luckily, my visit to Davy Jones Locker was shortto tell the tale.

“Heaven seems closer in a little house beside Cape Cod Waters” Beverly Baldwin Continue reading “4 Chicks at the Cape”