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

 

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Land Ho

 

When you have those moments you have had thousands of times before with students planning their lives and then your own teenage son actually starts the conversation how not prepared was I.

As he began to talk about his day going on a visit regarding his academic choices towards a career I was listening and excited, yet catatonic inside wanting him to stay right where he is in that seat next to me in the car forever.

I know better. I know he has to go. I want him to go. I want him to plan and prepare. I want him to be able to support himself doing something he loves for his adult life. The adult life that we get and then spend all of our days thinking about this exact time in life, that he is recognizing slips by so fast.

It was a long, long week. We threw in laundry for the morning basketball clinic and then hit our beds exhausted. Up early and getting things out of the dryer together we got laughing. I was giving him a lesson on drying his uniform with towels to keep them from not getting scratchy in the dryer. I said, “Remember this for when I am not around.” He looked at me and said, “It’s ok, you’ll be there.”

I said, “Yes, I will. Maybe one of those big houses in LA where you do not even know I am there.” The thing is we both know he will go his own way and yes I live with my mom so I see that he would, if it went like that, yet most likely not.

I think the idea of growing up is as hard on him as it is on me. It is those moments I cherish. I will be there, even if not here or there with him. My stories, my lessons will always be with him.

See you after basketball with smoothie in hand as today I get to pick you up and you are still a teenager. These days are here, right now and we are together. Keep growing, planning and preparing for your adult life. The grass may not always be greener as we age, but the seeds you plant now, the choices you make matter. Take the time to really think about what you like and love to do with passion.

Do that and nothing or no one will stand in your way. The key is to find love along the way to enjoy the passage to the New World of adulthood. The seas get rough and boats sink.  You may need to tread water from time to time, but land will appear and it may be more than you even dreamed if you had not kept going.

I have you because I kept going. I will keep going because of you. I am excited to see where we land, love you my angel so very much.  Teaching you to fish is the accomplishment I am the most proudest of in my adult life, pay it forward as I know you will.

Birthdays and Benchmarks

Sense of Family

When you see or feel a sense of family, what comes first, do you need to observe it first or feel it or would just a thought be enough.

This weekend I felt all of it and I think using we makes sense. It was another added layer to our sense of family as we ventured out. We had it planned, family game night, now that our Friday football nights have ended.

It had been a while since we had all of us together. The planning was easy this week. We are all into the school schedule routine. Heads down to the five week mark as our first benchmark.

The boys did it. They came out strong. They saw their hard work pay off. I could not do what they do and give them major props for listening to us as we push the importance of staying on track.

We are trying to instill as I have written and have observed that staying the course is easier when the bumps happen if you’ve been working your plan up to that point. My college kids helped verify my premise as I saw them want to derail the entire class or job due to one bump.

The flight or fight response kicks in and it’s easier to just blow it up and level the playing field. Yes, for the moment that is correct when the bump in the road happens. It is later with experience and age you realize that is not how it really works in life.

My mission with my family and my sense of family has shown me if you accept the hurdle and work through it you come out stronger, wiser and on the right path. Life throws you under sometimes to force change, to force you to work through issues and rewards you with the over moments.

My birthday is tomorrow. It is not spent under in the hospital with a brain bleed, not speaking or being understood. It will be spent as an over milestone having gone through more than I thought I could handle, that my body could take. Why, I’ll never really know.

I do know this. I would not be this forty-seven year old resilient woman if I had not worked through it all. To my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students and my mentors I thank you for guiding me still.

I could not be me without you.

Mission Snowbird

 

Do what you want as you are living your goals right now.  We listened to a goals CD and even though I was extremely tired that was my take away.  It was day two of our thirty-hour mission Snowbird and after listening to a book the prior twelve hours it was my fiancés pick.

It seems to have sunken in.  My motivation after completing our road trip was to get to work on our son’s first college visit in combination with getting his grandmother from one state to another later in travel season.

I said to my fiancé that doing these service missions forces us to take some time to be together and see other parts of the East Coast.  The election is fast approaching and our country is in such constant debate, state by state.  It was the perfect time to drive through seven of those states and see what signs, bumper stickers and media are taking hold.

It varies and it is felt with conviction either way.  You feel part of it all as you ride state to state and see the majority change from one candidate to the other.  We rented a car for the ride back and it happened to have Canadian plates.  I felt weird being Canadian at times depending what state we were in and the majority opinion being displayed.  Sometimes,  I felt excited to try it out and others worried we were being judged.

Hurricane Mathew was evident along the roadside in the Southern States.  It was not just a news topic which is why I like road trips to experience, even just for a little while other parts of our country.  When we hit the New Jersey Turnpike on our way back home and saw the New York City skyline with the Empire State Building lit up in Red, White, and Blue we both were in awe.

I found out later today, sitting back in the pickup line at my son’s school that it was in honor of the Stand4Hereos with the Bob Woodward Foundation ten year anniversary.  It was lit for just that night.  I was too tired to take a picture and just took in the moment, kicking it old school.  When I saw the picture on a facebook post and learned more I smiled and sent it to my fiancé.

He thought the same thing I thought that it was that way all the time and I knew he felt what I felt.  We pushed through to have this over moment knowing we had witnessed and shared something special.  It came after twenty-six hours of him driving and yet if we had not pushed on we would have missed it.  You end up right where you need to be exactly when you need to, most of the time.  The key is to go with the flow and take in those chores, task and work commitments while enjoying the over moments in between with those you care about the most.

I am proud to be a New Yorker, an American and enjoyed being viewed as Canadian for fifteen hours on this particular road trip.  I plan on staying no matter what the election brings.   If you have not taken a road trip, or it has been a while put it on your list of things to do.  We are diverse and we are fortunate.  Get out there to see it for yourself.  It makes coming home better and our task seem smaller as they are just mile markers on the road while what we need to focus on is enjoying the view.

Thank you to all who serve and the heroes who support them for their continued fight to get the care and services they deserve once they come.  May they all come home soon.

Sensing an Unplugged Morning

 

Sensing an unplugged morning under the moon

When the morning plan includes going to breakfast,  followed by a spa appointment and a hike finishing with time at a campfire before hitting the road, it’s going to be a great day.  When it happens to be waking up at LaTourelle Resort and Spa,  even better.

The overnight travel my fiancé and I had planned involved seeing a show and wanting a relaxing place to stay outside of town.  We were busy once we arrived enjoying the grounds playing chess and taking a hike.  We had a fireplace in our room, with a library and balcony to enjoy while we got ready for the show.  We enjoyed the delicious chocolate chips set out for guest as they arrive.  Again,  pleasantly surprised by the details.

I was excited for morning to come, looking forward to the whirlpool bath before heading to the Bistro for breakfast.  As we headed back to the lobby and into the Bistro, our table was set for two against the wall.    We settled in. My iced tea arrived.  We gave the lovely waitress our order, which gave me time to take pictures.  As I looked up, there it was, a stained glass style canopy style ceiling, arched over the breakfast nook area.

Thoughtful details continued to surprise me as they appeared in just the right places.  The food arrived. The oatmeal encrusted french toast is incredible, each bite being better than the last.  I would drive three hours just to have breakfast there again.  I thought this was just breakfast, but it proved to be an experience.

We took a walk outside on our way to the spa and got closer to the yellow barn we could see from our balcony.  It was creatively painted with bold colored pretty flowers of purple and blue to contrast the yellow.  There is a garden along the backside of the converted to all suites barn where they grow ingredients for their restaurants.

One overnight was not enough for all LaTourelle Resort and Spa has to offer.  We are excited to return for our honeymoon next fall to enjoy the dining experience at the restaurant.

The August Moon Spa was my next stop.  As you head down the stairs, a beautifully appointed spa is there to greet you. Tranquil and friendly, it is luxury relaxation with two rooms.  One room with fire,  and one with water.

Prepare to unplug and fully delight all of your senses from your room, your tent, your table, your hike, or August Moon Spa experience.   A delightful day is wrapped up with a warm fireside evening outside or by a cozy fire in your room.  Take the time to explore all this unique getaway has waiting for you for just one night or for your special occasions.  LaTourelle Resort and Spa delivers.

See you very soon by the fire for a S’more

http://www.latourelle.com

 

Falling for LaTourelle

Fall swept us off our feet with increasingly dark morning commutes, followed by busy days and longer nights.  The upside, when you catch it, is the seductive sunsets on warmer than usual fall nights.

We had tickets to see alt-country artist Sturgill Simpson.  I found a hotel,  LaTourelle, online.  It was unknown to us as was the State Theatre where we were going to see the show. It felt like the right choice and I promptly made the reservation.  Summer has ended and school has begun. The days have become a blur. We were excited to head west to see the show.

Two days before the show, we took another look at our destination.  I learned it was family owned and seeing all it had to offer confirmed that we made the perfect choice.  We wanted a place to relax after a drive and unwind before our show.

The day arrived. Time to pack and hit the road. We were ready.  The foliage was in full peak but was not to be cast aside by the the light rain that started as we drove.  Nothing would hold them back as they gleamed through the gray clouds as we neared Ithaca through rolling farm country.  Spectacular views charmed us all the way.

Pulling in it was unassuming and quiet.  The tasteful signage and understated grounds as you approach the main hotel entrance are inviting. You park in the circular drive and begin to notice delicate details.

After entering under the arch, you arrive in the lobby.  You feel a part of the theatre experience already as you look up and see all around the  State Theatre performance framed signed posters.   You feel a part of the scene as you search them all to find your particular favorites. It is in this  moment, my musically inclined fiancé fully appreciated our lodging choice.  As he scanned the room for musicians.  I found my favorite. Although not a musician, writer and humorist Mr. David Sedaris photo adorned the wall. He had just appeared that week.

We were there celebrating many things and planning our wedding for next fall. Our planning  was not really meant for this particular trip.  But we then fell in love again as we sat on our deck overlooking an outdoor chessboard, queens and knights included.  Castle elements were prominent among a beautifully painted yellow barn on one side and a camp with upscale tents on the other. “Where are we?,” I asked myself.

We were compelled to take a hike after settling in.  We headed out through the hotel back door and took a short walk to the Firelight Camps area of the property.  An oasis appeared among the trees with these cool, chic tented camps on large deck like platforms. Every grown ups inner child dream realized.

When we saw the tree house style tents we knew this was our honeymoon spot.  The way they hug the trails to Buttermilk Falls State Park is so peaceful.  This was only our arrival and the experience just kept delivering.  A spa, the dining, the wine tasting, and s’mores by the fire with cozy blankets.

Check it out for yourself to fall in love in any season, for any reason, it’s not that far and offers the complete Ithaca experience.  Take the time to unplug, unwind and enjoy all LaTourelle has to offer. Your stay will be unforgettable.

We are counting the days to our return as Mr. and Mrs. Over, Under and Through.

Thank you LaTourelle and the Wiggins family for creating such a find and reminding us all to take time to live simple and well.  It was a pleasure.

http://www.latourelle.com

 

 

 

 

Going Through it

Going Through it

When you are going through something, it becomes your present planned or not.  I have often thought and said that my idea of getting hit with a left hook is the universes way of telling you to stop and work on what is right in front of you to handle it, right then and right now.  There is no time for conversation or excuses.  You typically are alone in those trying moments.  It is when you reach down in your core to find the strength or the will to keep going through it.

The people that you first text, that first call when you can or are able to, or the call that comes from someone else when they find out (if you are the receiver you know that the shit has hit the fan if it is someone else making the call), someone is “going through it.”  You hold your breath to hear who and what waiting for more of how and when.

The more I write the more you know my over, my under and my throughs .  I have been fortunate on so many levels and it is those going through moments that have defined what matters to me the most.  I also know like many people that the alone times are when it takes the most to find a reason and a will to push through.

On the anniversary of my heart left hook; I drove my son to a team breakfast on this glorious fall morning along the lake.  The Adirondack Mountains have come alive with color and the lake is glass.  I am not waking up in a hospital with a new pacemaker.  We all went through that as a team last fall.  I am able to drive our son to his team and be at his game, not missing it like last year.

The heart ordeal led to the brain bleed, from blood thinners, winter.  The anniversary of that horrific time is a month away.  My team knows all too well, that includes you, thank you for being a part of it, that all of this can change at any moment for any of us.

You also know that after imagegoing through my team went over it with my son and I going to see my nephew in Europe this summer.  I have a magic eight ball and that will be my book signing give away in the future.  I have relied on it and pulled it out of the garbage from time to time, as its triangle reader is a little banged up, and the blue liquid fogs if you shake it.  I have learned to turn this old one from side to side while asking it a question and then it provides a clear answer.

I think that says it all when you are going through your own it, remember to slow down, turn to your team that is on your side and the answers will be clear.  You will get through it and while doing so plan, dream and pull from your soul what that over moment is going to be.

I died for four minutes last fall and today drove my son to breakfast after taking him alone, by myself to France and Switzerland, but not without the support of our team.  Thank you all from the bottom of my upgraded Tony Stark heart.

Happy Anniversary

For Here or To Go?

 

For Here or To Go?

The phrase for here or to go is uttered and I smile as mine is for here. School is back in session and as hectic as that is the familiar routine provides carved out blocks of time. Between drop off and pick up, my time is typically filled with commuting, getting ice tea, rehab, errands, talking, groceries, and writing.

My fiancé had a camping trip planned with old law school buddies and I saw my window open. I could not wait for my blocks of time to do things, nothing in particular. He would laugh now, of course I have thoughts on it. My first was my brother.

I have not hung out with just him in a very long time. One text later and lunch was planned. My fiancé had not even left his office yet, being type A he was working his way out the door. I was already out and on my way to Saratoga post track season. I drive through it every school day and yet rarely get to enjoy it. Today is that day.

My first thought was Mrs. London’s, at my big brothers suggestion, for a wonderful On The Half Shell and lovely unsweetened ice tea with a delicately placed lemon slice. Heaven, absolute heaven, I take a window seat and begin to take it all in. I see him, the man I saw in Geneva a month ago. My brother is early and taken up a spot on a bench across the street. Here we are about to have lunch and catch up in Saratoga not in Switzerland, I took a moment to cherish this. How long will it be before I can say that again.

I finish up my treat and head over to meet him. He does not see me until I cross the street and as I approach he looks up, “Hi, Chris.” This phrase is a familiar one and no one else calls me Chris, but my brother and no one says with his emphasis the, “Hi.”

He feels the same as we walk and talk about how long it’s really been since we had time like this. We were are old selves and grabbed lunch to sit outside and catch up. A bee stalked us and he battled it for his turkey sandwich which the bee clearly had eyes on as he caught me up on my nephews and life.

A man approached that knew him an old acquaintance and we enjoyed talking to him and I enjoyed being his sister as I was introduced. When you are young that is your identity, if your lucky to have one. I was. He always brought me with him and always included me. I may have had to ride on the handle bars of his ten speed down a major hill to our village, but I got to go, most little sisters do not.

I have written a lot about our father, yet my brother was the father figure and our dad was another child of my mothers. It was that dysfunctional dynamic that we did not know was upside down that kept us close. We thought everyone lived that way until we got older and went away to college.

With the bee attacking his sandwich, with him determined to unsuccessfully get rid of him it became part of the fun we were having catching up. I listened which I am working on and was proud of myself for doing so well. I thought how happy this lunch would make our mother and thought the bee was our father as usual being a burden as he was at times while we stayed on course in our own lives.

He took his life to go and many summer morning drives take me through his paper mill town. The days I go to rehab take me by another paper mill. When I see men standing on their break on hot summer days I realize the vice his mind was in. My brother spent one summer in my father’s mill. He knows what that hell is and was here to go through way more of the aftermath than me. He protected me and dealt with more than I will ever know.

A simple phrase, “For here or to go today?,” ask yourself? If it has been a while and connect with those who are close while they are here and forgive those who choose to take it to go. They have their reasons. Reaching out these days is simple, let go of what you think is going on with those you care about to listen and realize you mean to them exactly what they mean to you. How I feel about you my brother, that never is to go. Thank you for lunch and all the times you stayed even when you needed to go. You are the best big brother a little sister could ever have.

Over, Under, and Through, that is how we do!

Is There any Doubt?

 

Doubt

Is there any doubt?

Is there any doubt I am a writer?

Or is it just me sometimes, some days, some hours?

Then you see something, read something or listen to other women writers you admire and see their vulnerability played out as well in their work. It is then I hear myself say, “OK, they doubt themselves at times as well.” I then see them with Oprah or their book launch on social media getting to express that doubt still lingering through their excitement, having made it. Validation now in hand as they continue to create while living through their complicated lives in the process. I take extreme solace in that and appreciate hearing more and more that when you are compelled to write, you are a writer.

When you know what is coming next and you are feeling anxious until it hits paper, afraid it will leave your mind. When you spend every waking hour thinking about it and not sleeping because of it, is that when you can say it?

My heart has given out. My brain has bled. I would be going back to campus myself to teach today as I did last year on my son’s first day of high school. He was proud of me and I was proud of myself, having had a stroke five months earlier. I loved teaching at SUNY Oneonta. I loved all of it. The two hour commute each way, three hours on my feet eventually having my heart attack. My heart broke today as I dropped my son at school and drove to rehab not back to campus. I have even finally changed my profiles.

I am a writer officially, as of today.

Thank you all for your continued support of my journey and continued inspiration. I would not be able to do it and believe in myself without it. Over, Under and Through, that is how we do!