Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I am from Boston

I am from Boston.  The tragedy yesterday hurts my heart…but I am from Boston and that means a lot.
I am from Boston.  I live in Groton, but I am from Boston.  I have noticed that many Massachusetts folks like me, when we travel and are asked where we are from…we say, “From Boston.”  If the conversation continues, then there is clarification…a little town northwest of Boston.  But in my heart,  I am from Boston…not Massachusetts...not New England, Boston!   We are on the brink of downsizing and guess where we hope to move…I am from Boston!
I grew up in a small town, 12 miles from the city.  As early as 13 years old, my friends and I would get on the “T” at Oak Grove Station and head to the NE Aquarium or Quincy Hall Market Place…after all, I was from Boston…I love this accessible little city.  My favorite place…Boston.  I love that it is a renaissance city…a city with a continental flair.  It is walkable…it oozes pride, history and a hometown feel.  Boston isn’t pretentious or uppity…Boston is just very sure of who were are and where we’ve come from…we got good roots.
Boston Marathon…Project Bread Walk For Hunger…AIDS Walk…March of Dimes Walk for Babies…Boston Avon Walk For Breast Cancer…Boston Walk for Brain Cancer…MSPCA Angell Walk For Animals…Jimmy Fund Marathon Walk…
A couple of months ago, I was vacationing in Key West, enjoying some fried chicken at Sarabeth’s Restaurant. Out on the patio where seating was at a premium, enjoying the warm Florida wind, we people watched.  Shortly after we sat down, a couple of Russian ex-pats seated rather close to us started talking about where they would next like to visit in the US.  The woman stated she wanted to go to Boston.  Her companion tried to talk her into NYC.  I couldn’t help myself, I leaned over and said “I am from Boston…you should visit…it is such a lovely city.”  When asked when I would recommend they visit, without hesitation I said April or October…April because of Patriots’ Day, the marathon, the swan boats, the Red Sox…October because it is Autumn and the city has a special energy after the dog days of summer…” The woman smiled and nodded and I realized all our meals were getting cold.  So, I raised my glass of rose’ and asked them to join us in a toast to Boston.  I am from Boston, I thought, and I smiled.
Freedom Trail…Bunker Hill…Paul Revere’s house…Old North Church…Faneuil Hall…the Custom’s House…Beacon Hill…Granary Burying Ground…Old South Meeting House…
We are more thoroughly an enlightened people, with respect to our political interests, than perhaps any other under heaven. Every man among us reads, and is so easy in his circumstances as to have leisure for conversations of improvement and for acquiring information  Benjamin Franklin, Boston’s own, spells out a real truth about our city.  We are a city of history, education, politics, philanthropy, and, we have our warts.  Nowhere else I have admired and been inspired by the noble efforts, as outlined, than in Boston.  Boston is one of those places where we own our history…sometimes we are embarrassed by our history and politics, but we never deny it.  More importantly, we learn from it and we teach others the lessons we’ve learned.  Tip O”Neill, Boston’s elder statesman and former Speaker of the House, once said, “All politics is local.”  This is so true in Boston. It is local…it is personal…because Bostonians, and by our regional default, other New Englanders…we care a lot about who we are and where we come from.  We are a world class city…with a unique small town feel.  I’m from Boston.
Boston Red Sox… Boston Celtics… Boston Bruins… New England Patriots… Boston Garden...Fenway Park…NE Sports Hall of Fame…The Head of the Charles…
I am a Boston sports fan.  I am a hom-ah!  I have jerseys, caps and sweat shirts for each team.  I love to go to games.  I cheer and boo and yell at the ref.  I sing the National Anthem.  I love Boston’s pride…I cried when the curse was lifted…I was pumped when #17 went to the rafters at the Garden. I love Opening Day.  The number 4 is my favorite number thanks to Bobby Orr.  Boston fans are the greatest fans.  We are knowledgeable, passionate and driven to love/hate relationships with our teams.  Some followers can be real jerks though.  A few years back, I was sitting in some awesome seats along the third base line at Fenway.  It was raining, but the ballpark was filled.  A few seats to my right, were some Tampa Bay Fans…enjoying the game.  As the end of the eighth approached, and Sweet Caroline wasn’t so sweet, it was clear the Sox were gonna lose.  You could feel it.  The Rays fans were enjoying their team’s skill and nearby boo-birds and drunks decided to take the impending loss out on our visitors.  A couple of loud mouthed broads started cursing at the Rays’ fans and their companions were posturing and threatening a beatin’.  Stupid.  I leaned over and said to the visitors, “This is Friendly Fenway…America’s most beloved ballpark…ignore them.  They are not Boston. Boston is better than that! ”  Something cool happened next.  Other Red Sox fans started to chime in and tell the drunks to shut up…to get out of the park…and lo and behold, the peer pressure worked…that and security popped in on the scene and the offenders were escorted to applause and nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey good bye!  As the game ended, people reached out to congratulate the visiting fans…and we walked out humbled and peaceable.  I am from Boston.

NE Aquarium…MFA…Boston Children’s Museum…Boston’s Museum of Science…Public Gardens…Boston Common…Symphony Hall…The Esplanade…
Boston is a cradle of life, passion, education, innovation, history and liberty.  Her citizens live well, play hard and have passion for things that are good, important and meaningful.  We are stoic and cool…but once the ice is broken you have a friend for life.  No one lives and laughs with more zeal than those of us from Boston.  One of my favorite symbols of the city are McCloskey’s  Make Way For Ducklings. As a baby gift, I give that book to welcome the newborns.  I love the statue…and I love the story of our little ducks in Boston…Mrs. Mallard leads the ducklings ashore and straight to the road in hopes of crossing to reach the Public Garden, but she has trouble crossing as the cars will not yield to her. Michael, the policeman who fed peanuts to the Mallards, stops traffic for the family to cross. Michael calls police headquarters and instructs them to send a police car to stop traffic along the route for the ducks. The ducks cross Storrow Drive, proceeding down Mount Vernon Street to Charles, where they waddle on toward the Garden. The people on the streets admire the family of ducks. When the family must cross Beacon to enter the Public Gardens, there are four policemen standing in the intersection stopping traffic to make way for the ducklings.  Mr. Mallard meets up with his troop at the Public Garden.  The Mallards decide to stay in the Garden and live happily ever after. I thought of that story yesterday as our first responders and those amazing volunteers rushed to help the wounded and frightened.   We do what must be done. We are brave.  We are giving…Boston is a city of purpose.  I’m from Boston…and I love that dirty water…Boston you’re my home.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Power of Prayer = Joy

For a few years now, I have had a crisis of religion.  My Church has been experiencing growing pains...not wanting to move into the modern era as quickly as I would hope...not accepting responsibility for the institutional frailties of being a human construct while endeavoring to be omniscient…The Church hasn’t felt like MY Church for a while…but I still have hope.  That being said, rest assured, I do not have a crisis in faith. 

I believe in a higher power.  I believe I am a creation and a part of creation.  I also believe that I am invested in that creation…I am to care, engage and act to the best of my abilities for the good of creation.

A long time ago, my mother taught me to pray.  She assured me God, Mary, Jesus and all the angels and Saints listen.  She taught me that my prayers matter and that I shouldn’t feel disillusioned if my will and God’s will didn’t quite mesh.  I needed to trust that the answers I seek and the answers I need might be different…and that is okay.

She also taught me that I am never alone…that God is with me, but if I felt too small or unworthy of His attention, He blessed me with a Guardian Angel.  I thought this was great and I named my Guardian Angel, Fred. 

I haven’t told many people about Fred; mostly because he is my angel.  But, also because people who talk to angels can be viewed as a bit…um…weird.  So, if you think me weird, that is on you.  Fred helps me with that “serving creation objective”. 

As a mother, I taught my daughters to pray.  We pray in the moment at lot of times.  For example, whenever we hear the sirens of emergency vehicles, we pray for the safety of all concerned…that the rescuers find strength and courage and the victims find hope and peace.  When we see something beautiful in nature…we thank our Maker for the gift of that beauty.  And when we find ourselves weak or at fault, we pray for humility, the grace to ask for forgiveness and the gift of  patience.

I pray every day for people who have touched my life in some way, shape or form.  I pray for strangers when I hear news of a challenge that faces them. I pray that God’s will be done and that all who are touched by this can find comfort, even if the answer isn’t what we expect.  I also pray for the strength to keep praying.

Lately, I have been busy praying…some people know I am praying for them but many do not.  I believe in the power of prayer and acts of faith.  I prayed for us all that tragic day in Newtown, CT.  I pray for my friend’s daughter who is battling cancer…and I pray for him…that he continue to have faith and strength during this battle. I pray for my friend and her family who are struggling with addiction.   I pray for my children, that they find joy in each day and that each decision they make brings them happiness. I pray they find companions worthy of their goodness and love.   I prayed for a neighbor who went overseas to do God’s work…that she discovers she is the answer to some young girls’ prayers. I pray for a mother who is struggling with depression and the estrangement with daughter and grandchild. I pray for our President.  I pray for world peace. I pray for a long distant friend who had to make a very difficult decision about letting a beloved pet go to another home… I have a long list of prayers…I trust that God will answer these prayers for the good of His creation.

Over the weekend, a young man from Medford got lost skiing.  I heard the story on the news and I said a silent prayer…God be with this boy…give him strength to return to his family.  Bless those who are searching for him. 

I also asked Fred to go and be with him.  I prayed that my Guardian Angel keep him safe and stave off his fears.  I believe in angels…and I hoped mine would take my prayers to this boy and his family.  I send Fred on rescue missions all the time…

When I woke up on Tuesday, I tuned into the TV morning news and saw the distraught aunt of the missing boy, talking about her nephew…I prayed again…and a short time later…prayers were answered.  I offered a prayer of thanksgiving…and I felt buoyed…I guess it was Fred.  I immediately realized my prayer had been answered and I felt joy.  I am glad God and I saw eye to eye on this one.

You may think I am off my nut, but this ritual…this practice of prayer…it makes me feel connected to you.   I believe my prayers made a difference for this kid…his name is Nicholas Joy…I like to think that this is more than coincidence.  Joy…it is my prayer for you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Creatures of Habit

Happy New Year!
We are well into the New Year and slowly, I am getting my s#!+ together again.  For the holidays, our nest filled up and as of today, one kid has departed, one remains and my daughter’s new boyfriend has roosted here for a while before they make the trek back to Baltimore for her final semester at college…yippee!
But, since December 16th, my life has been such a whirlwind; I just don’t feel quite right.  I must admit with great guilt and anticipation…I want my empty nest back…just so I can get back to my routines.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been late for stuff…or worse completely blanked about an appointment or two…because my routines have been rerouted for other people’s priorities, schedules and needs.
Someone once told me it takes 10 days to break a habit and 21 days to form a new one.  So knowing this, perhaps you can understand my personal crazy at having my kids at home for the extended holiday vacation.  Between holiday traditions, winter cravings and individual dietary desires, my diet has been assaulted but despite the barrage of processed foods, I have been pretty faithful to my healthy eating habits…as much as the holiday calendar has allowed, I have stuck to my workouts…but all other routines, habits and strategies seemed to have been usurped by ghosts of Christmas past. 
Once a momma, always a momma…something happens to our (adult) children when they return to the nest…they yearn to be cared for and as Momma Bird, initially it is a great pleasure to comply…but after a few days and several mounds of stinky laundry parked before the dryer…something creeps in…For months out of the year, my children can feed and clothe themselves.  They do laundry, wash dishes, make beds and put stuff away…but coming home to the place they have known for 13 years and parents they’ve known a lifetime…somehow they forget all this stuff.  One child reverts to 12 years old and clamors for every family tradition to be crammed into every available moment she is here…hence her desire to have Mommy do it.  The other strives for quality time with everyone…she’ll do any chore you ask…as long as she has company doing it… and of course  you have to ask her to do something…Heck!  I had children so I wouldn’t have to do chores!
I am a bit exhausted with all this juggling of needs, desires and probably the most difficult, expectations.  Somewhere, somehow, my family has created the “Hallmark” expectation…every moment together filled with joy and happiness…birds chirping, cookies baking…and most times, we miss the mark…I am just happy we are together, healthy and comfortable in our own skin…but this artifice of home, sweet,  perfect  home, is very stressful.  There have been days when, because my routines are interrupted or something else, like a hot flash or I am human…I get a wee bit grouchy…due to holiday scheduling, I missed a number of workouts and paid more than one price for having done so…I am back to three times a week …thank goodness….oops, digressed with too many phrases! Ok… But there were some moments when I thought my eyes would get stuck in the back of my head from rolling them so much…it is a defense mechanism so I won’t overreact to the dumbest things…be honest, you know what I mean.  How many times can one go to the cupboard for a coffee cup to find it empty, turn around and see every mug, tea cup, travel mug and yes even lidded paper cups perched precariously in and around the sink…awaiting Mommy to deal with them?  Let me tell you…three!  After that, I started hiding clean mugs and let the rest of them contemplate just how much they wanted hot beverages!  The one situation that really piqued my ire was, once the family realized that I stopped maid service when I turned 50, they pitched in to “clean” the kitchen but, they would  leave serving spoons, baking dishes and various other sundries of common culinary usage on the kitchen table…because they didn’t know where that stuff belonged… as a mature, reasonable woman, I dealt with this the best way I knew how… I opened the bar cabinet, poured myself a little vodka and politely turned to them asking if they considered opening any one of the doors, drawers or containers about the kitchen and see what was contained therein…um, hello…those serving spoons we have been using for nearly 30 years and I have always kept in the silver ware drawer…yup, those…can go back there…the baking dish, which is a part of a “nesting” set…yup…it goes in the same drawer as the rest of them…the coffee mugs…go in the  gall-dern cabinet over the coffee maker at the coffee bar…you know the one I custom designed 8 years ago when we redid the kitchen…and from whence you took that cup!!  Grrrr…I am ok.
In the midst of the homecoming and holidays, we did hit a bit of a turning point.   I was putting the finishing touches on a little book I have been working on for a while now.  And there were times when I would ask for help or attempt to squirrel away time to attend to it and you’d think I’d run away…I did stake my claim to this as it is important to me…more important than watching NCIS re-runs….and once the family noted its importance to me, and the invitation to be a part of the process…we had some fun with final taste testing, photo shoots and the communal clapping when Mom sent off the draft to the printers.
It became clearer to me that sometimes, routines are situational…my adult children function quite capably in their adult lives…so much so that my husband and I beam with pride when they share their exploits and successes and buck up their confidence up when they hit an occasional snag…but coming “home”…it is all about returning to that routine which gives you comfort, strength and that “aaah” feeling. 
So as January 2013 progresses and the nest becomes emptier, for a time…I will get back into my swing of things.  Exercising regularly…dedicating time each day to writing and recipe development…moisturizing...you know, the little “me” things.  And I will tackle my projects and those pesky chores…but down-sized chores….I can get back to laundry DAY as opposed to days…stuff like that…and I will lapse into my waiting routine…waiting for the kids to come visit again… however, after this nearly month long invasion, I will remind my girls of our favorite Ben Franklin quote…”Guests, like fish, start to stink after three days.”  I had this understanding with my dad and never wore out a welcome by always prefacing my visit request by quoting old Ben… this lowered expectations and often left us wanting more…never wishing we had left sooner!
Please don’t get me wrong…I love my daughters fiercely…and am so blessed to have them in our lives…it is just time for us to enjoy new phases in our lives…making new routines which can be challenging for us all but despite the challenges, are necessary. Rest assured the one constant is our love…this will never change.
Thanks for reading…feel free to share your routines and empty nest stories…I’d love to know I am not alone in this crazy phase!!