Road Trip Rule #1

Road Trip Rule #1

We have a road trip car rule that applies to the driver. The rule goes as follows. The driver gets the first of the two front drink holder positions. This became a rule over time on twelve-hour road trips to Michigan and back over the course of five years. My son was a witness to this back and forth drink position change as my friend and I took turns driving.

It is a simple rule and as a person who drives at least three hours a day, typically alone. I seem to always make it a thing when I take the passenger seat moving the drivers drink ceremoniously to that coveted position. It just happens naturally.

Milestones happen organically as well, God willing. June is a milestone mecca as many families this time of year deal with school year ending chaos. It ranges from teenagers getting permits, summer jobs, moving on to their last years of high school and those graduating to name a few.

I was on track with sixteen celebration planning. The working papers were in place for summer employment and permit planning was in the works. The party went well. The job interview went fine. My son passed his permit test. All good, right?

It was the moment I rolled in to pick him up from football practice. I parked and moved my self into the passenger side. He shortly thereafter proceeded to get in my car, in the driver’s seat and then moved his drink to the first position. He smiled at me and said, “I’m, the driver, right?” I sat back in my passenger seat with my unsweetened ice tea now in the second position and let out a chuckle as my heart melted with pride.

You think that kids do not take in the little things. You hope they do. In the end, they condense the past in a short version from their perspective. They write their story of their childhood to tell the people they meet along the way in their lives. They will relay the story of why they do certain things based on traditions from their childhood with friends and the family they create.

It cracks me up to think this small gesture meant that much to him on such a momentous occasion. It was our first road trip home from practice along the lake with him as the driver and me as the passenger. When he moved my iced tea and replaced it with his soda it was a milestone, one of many that week, yet this one was my favorite.

Congratulations to all the graduates, sixteeners, new permit holders and first summer job workers. Summer is here. Remember to buckle up, put the phone down, take as many road trips as you can as these milestones come once in a lifetime.

I am grateful to be here and be a part of it while observing it from the passenger side from time to time. A welcomed change.

Special shout out to Faith Salie for  taking the time to make a kids day and mine too.  As most Approval Junkie’s know, it meant the world to me to get the “WONDERFUL MOTHER,” title bestowed to me by a woman I admire.  This book is a must summer read!

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Buckle Up

On the eve of a reunion, over twenty five years in the making it seems like yesterday. I see the pictures of old friends hanging out and see them as I remember them back in the late eighties. The time that has passed reflects in their faces. Taking a look closer, again I see them as I did then. Eighties hair and clothes to be exact.

Memories are solid in pictures each is relative to their own scripts that accompany the time, place, who, what, where and when. The who being the operative word. You look at each person in a reunion photo, in this particular case, remembering different things about different people pictured that you had a connection or close relationship with.

You start with a sadness of having lost touch with them, but when you let that part of it go. You get a flood of the good memories and times you had. We talked on the phone several times a day, now that just dates us right there. We had to make a call with a cord when we were back at our dorms or apartments. If we were not together we were in class or working. We did everything together. We became each others family. We drove across country together. Lived in Los Angeles together. We lived in a European castle together. We experienced Crossroads together (shout out to my Emerson folks).

When I watched my nephew graduate this spring  I saw who his life long friends would be. They had become that reunion family to him over these four years he grew up. It was obvious as they walked in their caps and gowns as housemates, brothers and friends that they had come to this moment together in a way we will never have the full picture of. We do not need to. It is not ours.

It occurred to me sitting in the row with my mom, and my brother at graduation, with my sister in-law and her mom in front of us with my other nephew. The older brother graduating again that month as well with his masters now headed back to Geneva to start his career. I felt this same feeling at my own brothers graduation. My brother still is friends with his college roommate and has kept up with friends over the years much better I do.

The one thing I do well is old pictures as I am known as the Aunt who is still riding around in her car with photos chosen for each of my nephews high school yearbook ads. One could not be proud of this I guess, but then they would not be me.

When my nephew Tucker, pulled out his second present that day at dinner. The first, being the second of our fathers handkerchiefs given to his brother the preceding year for his undergraduate graduation. It was a four picture collage of us fishing on the Little Lake. You could tell it took him a minute to flip through his own life’s Rolodex (does that phrase still apply, or just date me again) to put the image to the memory. He has not seen those photos in over a decade and half. Finally he said, “I remember that day, fishing at Grandma’s.”

The table erupted with their own memory of that day and laughter over other photos from my car scattered in the gift bag. Here we were at a table, all of us, and maybe it will only be a memory as an image, maybe a story told in years to come. He will have his younger family ones and his new ones with his own family.

Brad Paisley told the crowd at SPAC the other night, you might think it’s high school at seventeen. But I do agree that college is one of the best times of your life, for the mere fact that what you know of as your family to that point changes over time.

I look at reunion photos and know I could call any of them at any time. Life is busy. However, those years and those bonds are suspended in time. Congratulations to all the graduates out there this year. You and your parents know what I am talking about.

Enjoy, seventeen, twenty something and take in all the memories that will carry you the rest of your life. Buckle up and remember to write a few on paper, print a few out and create a time capsule. You could keep it at your moms or in your car, either way they are yours. You will need them at various times to remember how far you have come. You did it. Over, Under and Through give yourself credit and take in this moment.

Congratulations!

Fair Trade

 

70 lbs. reduction with one dress.

Yes, you can attempt to reduce the amount of clothing discarded in landfills annually by purchasing one dress.

Sustainable clothing choices impact not only our environment but empower the women who make them and educating those who purchase them.

Instagram led me to one sustainable brand imparticular as I prepared to kick off my travel season Kameleon Rose by Founder and CEO Leila Rose.

We found each other organically through my nightly scrolling and as usual looking for a travel dress with my Blogaversary Tour about to land on Sanibel Island.

I liked them and they liked me, as all Instagram affection begins.  They were gearing up to launch their new design “The Ultimate Travel Dress,” made in and by women of Madagascar with sustainable materials.  It was love at first sight and I just wanted to know more.

If it’s about empowering women entrepreneurs I am all in, yet it goes beyond that.  I need to pack light and I am a larger than life size woman at the moment.  This always creates a wardrobe challenge.  I preordered the XL and prayed it would fit.

They are headquartered in the UK and when my tiny airmail package arrived I was impressed with the compact size, smaller than my iPad Mini.  “Wow, that is a travel packing win,” I thought.  I opened it and  I noticed the super cute elastic band that holds it in its tiny roll.  I unraveled it with precision taking it all in as it came to life, blue in color and a design marvel.

I stood it up and examined it.  The discreet zippered pocket is perfection.  My past European summer travel included walking, buses, and trains.  A discreet pocket is a must.  I slipped it on and began to twirl as the skirt is fantastic and the buttons are perfectly hidden along the bottom seam when you wear it as a tube style sleeveless top or a long skirt.

The noncreasing material keeps the top in place with no straps and no slippage with a flattering waist and swing skirt.  It only took a minute to then take it off turn it the other way and now it is a pencil skirt with a cowl neck as one option with heels or a few buttons later a blousy top.  Both flattering and comfortable.

I found myself doing this stylish flip at the beach and by the pool daily when the sun went down and it was time to head to dinner.  It felt great to know I had quick drying wardrobe options at my fingertips.  I love accessories and The Ultimate Travel Dress let me have fun with them instead of using packing space for extra clothes.  I just needed my bathing suit, my sandals, my heels, a hat, a scarf, a necklace and few Sashka bracelets.

Finding the sustainable brand Kameleon Rose led to finding women making glass beaded bracelets in Nepal through Sashka Co. as I have learned to dig deeper into the brands I spend with.

It started with my first trade in kindergarten when I gave a boy I liked four pennies to buy a carton of milk and my hairpin for his heart.  The pennies went farther than the hairpin I am sad to say, but our friendship lasted a lifetime.  A fair trade after all.

Charleston Bound

Charleston BoundIMG_1480

It was a while ago when the audiobook arrived after a fun author twitter chat in which I won the book. I planned to listen to it on the way from Myrtle Beach to Sanibel and ended up listening to my teenagers choice of music instead.

The gift awaited patiently another month for my return to the road and I grabbed it not sure my driver would approve. I had offered to pack his CD’s and earlier today to grab something to listen to at the thrift store we popped into.

It sat in my Kate purse as we left Sanibel to hit the road to Charleston. When it began In the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell it was immediately captivating.

We pulled into Charleston behind in our schedule about an hour and we were on chapter twelve or so on pins and needles with Lakecrest taking hold of Kate. I was trying to plan our late evening stay as we drove the last stretch with my driver losing patience with my choice of hotels as one by one they were booked.

Moments later as we sat on the deck of our swanky downtown hotel the air was thick as a summer night in July, yet it was still April. The deck went the length of two rooms and reminded me of Lakecrest with its sprawling deck wicker furniture and even drapes, deck drapes, fancy.

We just got back from walking downtown to sample bourbon. We arrived just in time for last call after walking there and as the band was packing up. Yes, getting there sooner would have been cool. To me however, that part did not matter we made it here as planned. I could not ask for anything more. A Charleston night.

The last time I was here was with my mom and weeks later my stroke would happen. It has been two years and here I write on the deck of The King Charles Hotel with Kate at Lakecrest locked in her room by her mother in law.

It makes getting in the car for another long day of driving worth it to see what happens next. Will she remodel Lakecrest? Will her and Matt ever get to Africa? What happened to Blanche and Billly?

Well written Elizabeth Blackwell, well written. It has made our journey exciting and our night in Charleston complete.

Battery Fully Charged

 

I was able to type with my iPad keyboard for the first time since last year’s European vacation. I finally took the time to charge it. It was a feel good moment for me and it took place sitting along the intercoastal waterway, after a day on the island.

Shortly after the sun rose, our morning began with an impromptu photo shoot on my favorite beach.  I quickly did my makeup in the parking lot while my would be photographer, unknowingly waited patiently.  I completed the finishing touches on my makeup by using the car window as my mirror.  My jewelry pieces and props were hurriedly pulled out of the back seat and I made my way to the beach to start shooting.  I’m taking some shots to promote a sustainable travel dress made by women in Madagascar which is designed by my lovely friend Leila from the UK. It is The Ultimate Travel Dress.

My late afternoon office consists of a wood picnic table which overlooks boats, flowers and birds soaring and fishing. Our spirits are raised and secured like the boats lining the canal.  A long year falls between each travel season and yet the moment we arrive, it seems as though we just blinked and we are here again. Time to recharge.

The egrets are our lovely neighbors and everything is in its place as if we just left a moment ago.  Yet we have changed. A year older, a year of taking charge of our own lives.  We can finally see that we are the only ones in control of our choices.

People we love have passed and those moments affect us and yet are reminders that we can only move in one direction, forward. We too have had our challenges and somehow we are still here, still charging on.

The farmhouse I wrote about in Low Battery has been leveled. The castle I love, Chateau de Divonne, had a major fire. The castle is making a comeback as it has for centuries.  It remains to be seen what will become of the farmhouse site, two structures still remain,  the garage and the outhouse. My beloved fence is gone.

Over, Under and Through still stands and is evolving as I begin its second year of bloghood. Upon returning from the beach, my mother, Nan asked,  how the “shoot” turned out.

“You know, I think your blog SHOULD focus on dresses for women of all sizes, most women are a fourteen. I mean some stores now have a 00, but say plus size brands. You should blog about them”, she said.

The fact that my own mother used the word “blog” and has only read it when her kind Sanibel neighbors showed it to her (a year ago) is a win for me. She believes in me and although I wonder why sometimes.

I feel like the Cormorant. We kept seeing this amazing bird swimming while we were birdwatching at the reserve after breakfast.  It spends its time fishing, diving, swimming and occasionally snacking on its catch.  We then had the pleasure of watching one from our makeshift office sunning himself by the shore. He was also recharging after a long day.

While this unhfolds, We are listening to U2’s Songs of Innocence.

“In your dreams everything is alright,” is one line from a song that is playing. How       true. When you charge forward living your life as you intend, everything aligns.  You become what you visualize. You get to enjoy the sun, after fishing, drying your wings and planning your next flight.

Here’s to year two and may you once again come along for the ride or even start to put your own words on paper. I bet someone at some time in your life has told you, “You should write a book.” Maybe you should, keep me posted if you do.

Tea on the Porch

 

Tea on the Porch

The ocean is my horizon as I look to my right just slightly being able to see the beach umbrellas royal blue tops one by one like the top of cupcake frosting swirls. The pool is closer in my line of sight dotted by pool chairs.

Window pane style garage doors waiting to be open as the sun continues to rise over the ocean. The Porch Southern Kitchen and Bar is where the Blogaversary Tour 2017 finds itself today in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Conversations have grown as a large group of firefighters are here. I know I am in good hands while giggling to myself. Years ago at a girls day a lady came to read our palms. She had us keep notes and the word “firefighter” was at the top. It came second to “You hate your marriage.” This was after holding my ring, was it that obvious. I really loved my marriage, the idea of it, just not us in those moments when you know it’s over and you are thinking how will you find the strength to go.

My ex came across my reading notes and I’m sure he thought I was having an affair with a firefighter. It is moments like this being surrounded by them that I am filled with pure joy as this is right where I am suppose to be on my path.

Ah the first pane behind the bar is open as I glance up to see the palm trees just past the open window and the firefighters. Georgetown City Fire Dept one shirt says. When you travel with your snowbird and your assistant, aka teenager, through the back roads it can be fearful at times.

It is these signs that keep appearing or I notice them, either way I am grateful for this moment. The blog reaching the one year mark and being able to celebrate it with all of our new readers, loyal followers, friends and family. This idea of being out there with my writing is only possible with your support.

The song at the end of the movie Moneyball is one of my favorites. The scene with the dad driving away.  He listens to his daughter’s song after all that happened and the choice he made to stay in Oakland with his daughter and not take the Boston offer. When it came on as I sipped my morning signature unsweetened ice tea with lemon tears came over me. I have never heard it on the radio before now, thanks for the sign dad.

The choices are ours and ours alone, yet they take those we love the most with them. Our son will be choosing a college and our hearts will go with him, but the choice is his. We walked the grounds of UNC the day before and we both felt the same feeling as excited as we are for him to go we are grateful he has two more years at home.

The Blogaversary Tour 2017 with Nan and my son road tripping is in full swing.  We are meeting great people, hearing their stores and making memories of a lifetime. My hope for you is to get your stories on paper for those you love and enjoy the choices you have made while processing them.  Grab your tea and hit the road!

Godspeed to you and your family.

Thank you for a great year.

 

Minding the Blizzard

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I have many thoughts swirling in my head.   One is that I do not feel that well on a day that I want to do many things all at once.  Yes, this is something that happens often, but today I feel that sense of weakness that comes over me post stroke, heart attack and brain bleed.  It comes like a wave and lingers like a fog.

Things I want to do include writing, exercising, cleaning, again with this sink.  Why does it pile up and why is it my arch nemesis.  I have accomplished one ten minute attempt on the exercise bike after four days at the gym.  I did include eating a cinnamon bun immediately after as I used the timer for the buns to force myself to get my butt on my bike.  Cinnamon rolls are a snow day tradition, corned beef when I see a snow day coming and get to the real grocery store.  Today I nailed both, feeling excited about that.  I love when I am prepared and can make our snow day special.

The fire is going strong in the fire place which took a few days.  I was persistent and made sure it was going well last night as losing power is always on the horizon living by the lake and on the side of mountain.  The wind and snow are blowing sideways and we are enjoying our phones, computers and television as we know that could end at any moment.

We have our hand crank LL Bean radio on hand and are charging our electronics in preparation.  My arms are sore and weak today from working out for the first four days of what needs to be a daily routine.  It has also been a while since I have written with my old laptop on my lap in my office with my feet up while looking at the railing on the deck now piling with snow.  My deck chairs are snow covered, yet just seeing them makes me happy as those days are ahead.

Ouch, there goes the pain in my head a piercing short burst.  I know I am not the only person who thinks like I do.  I just love the days when I feel invincible and not vulnerable.  The elements of the blizzard are one thing as we live in the woods.  My strength and lack thereof are my lingering worry.  I want to push myself and take a nap all at the same time.

When a snow day passes and you wish you had done this or that what really matters is that you enjoyed the gift as it was given, nature’s way of saying slow down, evaluate what you have that you really need and brace yourself for the storm, if you are fortunate enough to not have to venture out, be grateful and warm.  One of the upsides to a snow storm is everything you need is simplified and appreciated if you are fortunate enough to have it.

Right now I do, power is on, child is fed and I am writing.  The dishes can wait until after my nap.  Thinking of everyone today and hope you are able to enjoy even part of this day the way you wanted to and find the upside if it is not exactly what you had in mind.

Compellingly Asking, Why Not?

img_0198My brother Brian with me, Chris as he calls me, in front of our childhood Catholic Church.

If you asked me if I would marry again I would say yes. If you said it would be officiated by one half of the morning radio duo I adore at Yaddo Garden in Saratoga, that’s a different story.

I say somewhat due to the fact I routinely answer the security question, “where did you meet your spouse?”, with “Saratoga Springs”. Each time I type it I think “will that be true?”, and yet a confidence has always been there that it is.

Wedding planning has taken hold in full force in “Christineism” fashion. The Yaddo garden has been confirmed as the ceremony location and we have almost locked down the reception location at a local winery.

And it is with great pleasure I announce that one half of my favorite morning radio team has agreed to officiate our ceremony. It happened organically and randomly, just like my thoughts.

I tuned in the other morning as I always do. They were discussing why a celebrity was in town. A kid at college? Rehab?, or maybe a stay at the artist retreat at Yaddo. “It’s beautiful there,” Chrissy said. Brian went on to say how exclusive the retreat part is and how he and Chrissy tried to get in.

The thought comes over me, after a half hour of listening and being out of cell range, that I should chime in via Twitter. I meant to just send pics of Yaddo and crack up with them that it is the place we chose for our wedding ceremony. It is a special place. I had no idea I would decide that was our spot when I went there on a whim this fall. It moved me.

So the more they joked about not being able to get in. I thought, “well, I can get them in, to the grounds at least”, and I sent a note with another pic asking Brian if he wanted to perform our wedding.

That is Christine 101. Why wouldn’t I ask my morning radio guy who I’ve listened to for almost two decades to mc our wedding ceremony? It makes complete sense. We’ve been through love and loss, and have kept the laughter rolling.

As we listened this morning to highlights from the week, I shared with my son the whole story about how it came to be that Brian will be at the wedding. Can you believe it? “, I said. He smiled and said, “Yah, it’s cool.”

When a friend asked how I made it happen. I said simply, “I asked.”

What is the question you need to ask?

Find the right person.

Connect.

Build a rapport, promote them.

Ask when the time feels right. When it benefits both of you.

Thank you Ronald McDonald House, Brian and Chrissy from Fly 92.3. for all you do to keep our communities inspired while going Over, Under and Through our daily lives.

Here’s a link to get your generosity on today:

http://fly92.com/common/page.php?id=2111T