Ode to Irish Ones…

Top o’ the afternoon to ya. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all…

I love March, it is a month of more light, memories, Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations and my birthday… which I historically celebrated for the month, March 30 deserves some extra celebrating. I love that we start to enjoy sprinkles of spring, bits of sunshine and a warmth you can only feel if you spent the last few months in the cold of a New York winter. The feeling of standing in sunshine on a 45* day with your boots on and your children basking in that warmth… is so different than standing in the sunshine at the beach on July 4th, so different than visiting the sunshine in Florida in February… it is different. We have waited for this… we have worked for this. We are going to embrace every.single.ounce.of.sun and light that the world gifts us. We just survived a Northern New York winter… we earned that warmth. Friday was like that for us.

Today is Saint Patrick’s Day, and thankfully we got to celebrate for a whole weekend. I left work Friday with so much excitement and anticipation… planning out the moments for the weekend and prepping clothes for the festivities. I felt like a little kid… excited for all that we do on these days. That’s the thing, we don’t really have a thing anymore. My roots and memories are based in Watertown, in the times I had growing up. I had some college Saint Patrick’s Day memories but honestly, I would have taken the simplicity of those days when I was young over the crazy drunken days. I loved those days… days with a church potluck and running around with cousins. Leaving just enough mess at the Parish Center for Sister Norah to notice, but not punish. We would religiously stand at the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, bundled as much as necessary… cold did not prevent the celebrations. After the parade we would walk over to the State Office Building, get our stamps and head in for salt potatoes floating in a pool of melted butter, just like Molly loved. I loved watching the Irish Dancers in the Auditorium. I loved going to the corner where Uncle Sean would always be waiting, watching the State Troopers who had just marched with their families. The bands and the old ladies who would dance… it is an atmosphere that I believe only the Irish can create.

Today looks different than so many of my remembered moments. This weekend as a whole looked so different. I guess I imagined bringing my girls up with all I was blessed to experience, but we all know that didn’t work out as planned. I mean there were some red flags of my fantasy all along, the girl’s father was not a fan of Irish people, of the culture and traditions, he much preferred to lean on his Italian roots. I, myself, loved the idea of Irish Italian girls… products of potatoes and pasta… big crazy families and strong grounded faith in the Catholic Church. He liked to dress them in green shirts that proclaimed that we were just Americans “Kiss me, I’m American”. It poked me a little every.single.time they wore those, but I smiled and allowed it… I rolled over and felt like it wasn’t a good thing to be an ‘Erin’ on a day that honors those roots. I am not that ‘Erin’ anymore…

This weekend I worked hard to create some bits for my girls of the magic of my traditions. I talk about my family all of the time with the girls, I have to remind them of which uncle is the funny one with red hair (that one needs clarification), what Hayle used to call Aunt Bridget, which Aunt takes all of the pictures. They are used to visiting my grandma and grandpa… and our Aunt Jane. I searched for something with some good Irish music and food… I wanted to enjoy this weekend. We went to a Concert at Proctors with The Screamin’ Orphans. It was awesome. There was a bagpiper, Irish Dancers and a Girl Rock Band with the.best.accent.you.can.imagine. We had so much fun… my feet hurt and my brain remembered songs I heard growing up. We came home and watched Boondock Saints… because we all need to watch a couple hot Irish men get rid of the bad guys every once and a while.

This morning we woke up and got ready for Lucy’s Basketball Banquet. We had plans to go to this Ancient Order of Hibernian’s for the Irish Festival, I woke with an idea though. I offered the choice to Lucy- to go celebrate our Irish roots or make the sauce that her Grammie makes. I had this thought that maybe, because we get to choose what our tradition looks like, we could mesh our traditions, mine alongside their dad’s family traditions. They have been asking to make sauce for a long time. Lucy said “Mom, that is a hard decision”… “Sauce and Mumford & Sons”. Of course I decided in that moment that I love her more than anything in the world… or maybe equally to her siblings (we can’t have a favorite right???).

So today, in total difference than any other Saint Patrick’s Day is a Saucey Sunday… with green shirts and hands that have never squeezed wet bread or made meatballs. It is a mix of their roots, I guess my old roots. It looks different but it still felt good… funny how that can happen. We filled that big pot and made those meatballs, seared those sausages… and we laughed with our aprons on. I put on one of my favorite movies after, P.S. I love you. I felt like throwing in some Irish to the day… and weirdly I think it is the most romantic movie ever. Imagine being so planned that you planned to deliver some love after you die. I cry in so many spots of that movie, which confuses my girls, because those moments seem happy. I just wish more than anything in the world that I got that, that I got 10 letters from Madeline, reminding me how much she loves me and that she misses me. What would that be like???

I look at these years and I know that she delivered her ’10 letters’… she warned me way back when of the hurt I was allowing in my marriage, she knew… and she wanted me to move on. She built this foundation, she put the words ‘Best Day Ever’ in my vernacular. She travels on my shoulder and gets pissed when I swear too much or speed… sometimes I do it just to piss her off, it reminds me she is right here with me, mad but here.

It was a good weekend. It looked different, but is different bad? Different is hard, but it is necessary. I wish, I wish… for her. I get to go green with my girls and show them the world as I love it, as I know it. That is my forever. I love my lucky lil lady… I wish she were here to enjoy some sauce and meatballs, after a jolly good day of Gaelic and Irish rock…

Enjoy your lucky charms… whatever they may be. Share your roots… even if you just found out you are Irish from Ancestry.com. If you are Irish go out and be Irish… build community, feed your family and friends… boil what you have and pass that stone soup around… dance even when the world is heavy and awful… if the music moves you dance. When your people die… honor them, smile when you talk about them, stick together and bring them along in your life… that is being Irish, we are way more than a leprechaun, we are a way to be.

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Stay Afraid, do it anyway

Always be a little afraid, a little scared… a little nervous. Nervous rides right next to excited, that ball in your stomach that tells you that you are a little uncomfortable. Get uncomfortable. Be excited. Jump into something new, something challenging- with that piece of uncertainty of not knowing if you can do it. Prove yourself wrong, that little piece of your ‘self’ that tries to stay safe and simple and home.

I love that feeling, that little ball in my stomach that reminds me I am alive and in charge of my choices. I can easily get rid of that little ball, and just say no or decide not to try something. I know this. I try hard to stand on the edge of whatever I am used to and jump into something new… it could be as simple as going to a group workout class or jumping in a pool without my nose plugged. When we live safely we get used to saying no, or not trying something new. I always have reasons to say ‘no’ to an experience, dish or challenge; we all do. I get in a place where I choose to sit and binge watch Netflix instead of saying yes to an adventure; we all do. We are in charge of our choices…

I love that scary feeling right before I go up to speak, my little ball of fear in my stomach. It is shouting all the things that could go wrong- I could trip walking up, I could forget all that I wanted to say, I might fill all my silences with ‘umm’. The best part of that ball of fear, is standing there and doing it. Walking on that ledge and jumping right in, then when I get back to shore, I can see I did it. I did my job, that ball of fear is now mine forever. I love being a little scared and nervous, it keeps me mindful of life.

Divorce helped me understand the importance of all of this. In those first weeks after understanding it was over, I made an agreement inside of my ‘self’- to say yes. I made an agreement to try new things and not say no- to not get comfortable and safe. I wondered how many amazing things I said ‘no’ to, how many experiences or moments I missed choosing to put that ball of fear away. It was easier than arguing or doing the scary thing and having it picked apart for ‘umms’ or mess ups. I reminded my ‘self’ that I get to choose and I get to be excited and nervous and own my fear. I challenged my ‘self’ to travel alone, try foods I always hated, say yes to impulses and jump right into my fear. I started to love that little ball of fear, that nervousness that rides right next to excitement. Divorce was the perfect place to begin building Me better…

I tell my girls to get scared- never stop getting a little scared. Listen to your little ball of fear and try it. I remind them that everything has a cost, not a money cost but a life ‘cost’. It doesn’t ‘cost’ much to stay inside your home and binge watch Netflix, you are pretty safe and secure. The ‘cost’ of going somewhere in a car is more than the ‘cost’ of staying home- but think of all the places you can go. The ‘cost’ of riding a motorcycle is more than the ‘cost’ of riding in a car- but that feeling of open road and wind is addictive. The ‘cost’ of flying in a helicopter is higher than sitting on our couch- but the world is so lovely from that vantage point. We all must chose what we are willing to experience and how much we are willing to ‘spend’. Life isn’t about staying on your couch binge watching Netflix… you need to step on a plane to see the Eiffel Tower, you need to hike to the top of the waterfalls to feel them. Think of all that could go wrong with the plane, the cars, a motorcycle… an accident, a fall, a poisonous snake… all the things to be scared of. Think of what could go right… a beautiful experience AND owning your fear, a speaking engagement AND owning my fear.

I love how nerves ride right next to excitement, and often you don’t have one without the other. I love how embracing that little ball of fear helps build us to be more brave and stronger- more in charge of our choices. I want to be in charge of my life- my choices. I want to be a little scared and excited- to be spontaneous and uncertain. I want to embrace that ball of fear and love it for all it gives me- courage, bravery, experiences, failure, love, adventure and maybe sometimes a new tattoo…

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A Meme Memoir

A memoir is a personal story with many details based on knowing yourself.  Memoirs are intimate and written based on facts an experiences.  A few weeks ago Amelia mentioned she was working on a memoir, she talked about how she helped another boy in her class write his memoir.  She said ‘Mom he was only writing one detail, so I helped him add pieces to his big story’.  She kind of schooled me in memoirs.  I am public school educated but have yet to write a memoir- I remember writing my own obituary and inviting Harrison Ford.  I also remember my teacher letting me know that I could not invite people to my funeral, it wasn’t like that.  All the things we learn… all the things our kids learn before us…

Amelia worked hard this year, and it was visible.  She really matured and is started to fill BIG life and feelings she is blessed and cursed with.  My girls are a reminder daily of embracing the pile and the hard stuff… and living the best you can.  They are the first to help friends- whether it is picking up dropped items, helping others stay safe or rescuing and caring for people who need it.  They are the extraordinary product of a life laced with pain and grief.  I know the challenges that this pain and grief have laid upon those girls, but I see the amazing work God is doing in them along side that pain and grief.  I am grateful every.single.day.

I wanted to share this and Amelia was onboard.  I want to share how God and life build people for a purpose.  I have always known that the most amazing caregivers have a purpose in the care and love.  I know it is true… Amelia’s work reminded me of that.  I always tell my girls you can be anything, anything you work for and anything you desire.  All I ask is that you do it well with kindness… if you are a garbage collector, I am proud, but be a kind one- go out of your way to take care of people on your route.  If you are a teacher, be a good one, go out of your way to build better.  If you are a hairdresser, be a good one, go out of your way to remind people of their beauty.  If you are a police officer, be a good one, go out of your way to treat people well, get the jerks off the streets and build communities better.  I just want them to be ‘a good one’.

Amelia shared her memoir with me… I had a deep feeling that she is going to be ‘a good one’.  No one will leave her care and feel that they weren’t loved and cared for, in fact she plans to take it further and advocate for a cure and for time.  I love how God is using her…

So… finally here is Amelia Musto’s 5th Grade Memoir

I Want To Make A Change

                     amelia5

Amelia Musto                          6/4/18

Have you ever been asked, what do you want to be when you grow up?  I have and until this year I’ve wanted to be a hairstylist, a teacher, a singer, and an artist. But now I know that I want to be a nurse. And I would love to work at Albany Med.

If you are wondering why I want to become a nurse is because I experienced something that opened a door to wanting to help people more.

The  experience that had opened a door is when I was 4 years old my older sister who was 5 at the time passed away. Her name is Madeline. I want to help people enjoy a better life. Until my sister was diagnosed she had a normal life except for she was dizzy and some other complications. When she was diagnosed she had under 2 weeks. I want to change that for other patients.

 I remember we went to a huge cottage with our whole family after she was diagnosed. At the cottage  we decided to go in the hot tub when it was snowing, and my uncle Travis put ice cubes in our bathing suits! I realize now we went to the cottage to spend more time together with our family.

In the future I want to help doctors diagnose patients sooner so the doctors, nurses, and I can help before. And so they can live longer. My sister Madeline had a brain tumor known as D.I.P.G. a cancer they have not yet found out how to cure.

    I also remember the night Madeline passed away how kind the nurses were, they put on scooby doo and brought Lucy and I in a different room to watch scooby doo. My mom wanted fingerprints so, the nurses brought clay to get the fingerprints. The nurses even had them made into a necklace.

    That is why I want to be a nurse. I want the family’s I help to feel special. And help people feel and be better.

Read.  Enjoy.  Comment.  Share.  Think about what made you to be who you are…

A Birthday, a benefit and a baby shower

…because that’s just how life works. At anyone time all of it is happening- celebrating life, birth, graduations, anniversaries, marriages… right next to it someone is fighting for their life, their rights, their marriage or their families. Life is a full-blown mix of all of those things…

In a room of celebration, there is probably a layer of pain sitting right under that joy. While we celebrate the amazing and joyful, the experiences and losses are right there. I remember clearly that when Madeline died, a friend delivered a fresh and perfect baby boy within hours of God welcoming Madeline home. Life is like that- a full blown, hot mess mix of love and hurt and joy and broken and crap… so much that in one day you can go from planting veggie plants to a benefit for a young father fighting for his life to a baby shower to home to enjoy your own lovely daughter who turns 9 today… to a rescued bumble bee that now has a new home. Life.

I am sitting here, with a beautiful breeze and some sunlight hanging out in my yard, thinking about all of it. I get to celebrate my Lucy with her perfect freckles, hazel eyes and playful spirit- I feel grateful for every ounce of her. I wish I could be like Lucy sometimes, she is mellow and smart. She loves to play and leaves the games she loses with a shrug of her shoulders and a “I had fun mom”. She is easy and kind and wears her socks inside out and argues with me about how often to shower. She does the strangest things, and when asked why she did it she replies “I don’t know, I just wanted to see what would happen”. I love that about her… I sometimes just wonder what her brain is thinking when it impulsively sprays purple hairspray all over the toilet seat. I sit and see her play on her big a special day… and I wonder why she has had to go through what she has. I remind myself, that we don’t get to pick the crap, the hard. She is growing and becoming a pretty amazing person- even with her big pile of crap.

I am a little sad tonight… that my home is full of so few people. I wish my girls had a big table of siblings like I did. I wish they had a room full of cousins to enjoy days like today with. Instead it is just me and my girls- 2/3 of them anyway. I guess my job is to make this home a place they love and it’s okay that it’s small. I guess I should remember and welcome all the creatures they bring in, maybe those are our extras. Tonight, we dine with an injured bumble bee- and “mom if he passes we are going to study him with a microscope, because we want to know what he looks like but don’t want him to die.” I will make the Lucy Feast- Hotdogs, Mac and Cheese, corn on the cob and Pringles… all of her favorites. We will eat some cupcakes and I guess the plus is there are many left over cupcakes for tomorrow- which we wouldn’t have if there were lots of Musto’s here. I guess we should look to the positives and enjoy the bits.

Always look to the positives and enjoy the little bits, they matter. In life joy will ALWAYS ride next to the pain, loss will ALWAYS ride next to birth. It is the way. We need to honor that part, feel it all and love the celebrations and the light. Life will have the next hard thing soon, so enjoy the babies, birthdays, recitals, graduations, best days ever… so that when the hard stuff comes- the loss, the broken, the grief, the pain, the sickness… you can keep chuggin’, keep grabbing on to your Rock- for the next amazing thing is coming.

Cheers to the birthdays, benefits and babies. The grand mix. Thank you, Big Guy, my Rock, for being there when the waters were high and painting the most beautiful sunsets. Thank you for it all…

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What a busy and blessed week…

This was one of those weeks that I remember how grateful and blessed I am… and now I am also super glad when I can finally sit down and enjoy some peace. So now I sit in the peace and reflect on the light and feel grateful that I have no plans today.

Monday started with a generous and well-organized check presentation. I was impressed with Blue Cross Blue Shield’s kindness and employee’s dedication to important local charities. It was pretty special to be honored alongside The Ronald McDonald House, Double H Ranch, Things of my Very Own and a few others. I felt very honored and happy in that room. I even got some Starbucks coffee and a little adventure in a real office conference room- things that don’t happen too often in this lady’s life.

Wednesday was the 6th Anniversary Party for Maddie’s Mark Foundation… only my favorite night of the year. This event is a special night at one of my favorite local restaurants, The Point, they shut down and the only people attending are believers in Best Day Ever’s… so it kind of rocks. I was actually early this year, I was prepared with all the items to make the event work and share just how I had imagined. It was impressive, if I do say so myself. I did not make it long in my heels, I had some fresh blisters from lovely flats I wore to work that week. So… I opted for staying a little short for the night, and to be honest my feet have thanked me over and over. I got to see so many people I miss most of the year, and dance until it was time to go. There were moments that were uncomfortable, not really the way things should have happened, but all and all it was a spectacular show of support and love to Maddie and her legacy.

The energy of the space at The Point is exactly how I feel about the foundation- it is warm and welcoming with a few long beat up farm style tables that remind me of family dinners growing up. It is the kind of table and space that says “sure we have a spot for you” to anyone who needs it. It feels more like a home than a venue, and for that it is the most special space for this event. We are honored every year they allow us to host our herd. I love the point in the night that the Vinny, the DJ, hands me the mic and I get to talk and share. It is my favorite, it always reminds me that I want speak and share and talk more often. I feel compelled to do it, and I feel so full when I am done. I hope God has speaking in my plan, I super hope that someday I get to do a TED talk- that is my dream. I spoke that night about gratitude. I have dreams sometimes, not the kind like wanting to someday speak at a TED event, but the kind you have in the middle of the night. Sometimes those dreams do.not.make.sense… sometimes those dreams tell me what I should share or do- ideas for Best Day Ever’s, speaking points and directions I should incorporate into my life. I woke up one day with a strong feeling that this anniversary really express gratitude to our herd, donors, volunteers and beyond. I felt it. I saw it as I spoke. I even got to bring up some of the families we have supported and honor their journeys. It was special…

It was a night I saw so many be happy and silly and content and loving… it was just right.

So then came Thursday… my baby sister was here and we had some time to spend together with the girls. We watched a bit of Ferris Bueller and then wandered into Albany for an adventure. In true life for though, Molly headed out and we had an event at school to do #MaddiesMarkRocks and speak about service for teens and families. Even in my tired state the girls, some middle school volunteers and I got MANY rocks painted to be send out into communities and give the gift of a smile to finder and share Maddie’s Mark…

Funny thing is- Friday was Earth Day at the girl’s school… so Friday I got to teach many 3rd graders about plants and how freakin’ cool they are. I think when they got to touch a Venus flytrap and KNOW that plants eat bugs or see a nice long stick of bamboo they knew plants.are.cool. Well at least I hope so…

Now came Saturday- another #MaddiesMarkRocks event. I got to go to the YMCA and paint rocks with kiddos there. It actually wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be…

It was one of those mornings that I could see the girls way back when, when they would have been hanging their coats on those racks with their tiny backpacks. It doesn’t feel possible that the years of preschool were so many years away from today. Days move slowly and years move fast… that is definitely the truth. I watched little ones come up and paint rocks, I talked to their parents a little about Maddie’s Mark. I had 3 adorable little girls come up to me SOOOOO excited, because it was #MaddiesMarkRocks… and they were called Maddie. They each assumed the station was just for them, it was cute and crappy. Thankfully they can’t understand the crappy part, that is just something I have to carry with me. Cute right next to crappy, joy next to pain- tis life as I know it to be. I guess I just didn’t expect it…

I placed my rocks at Maddie’s Garden right next to Maddie’s Place. I sat quietly until my Uber came (my car was getting some new brakes from an awesome friend). It was like go, go, go, go, go… then all the going was done and I could just sit. Sometimes weeks are like that, sometimes they aren’t. I can say having a nice Sunday to catch up on things is nice. I also know those amazing go, go, go times are invigorating and exhausting. Usually they are chock full of Madeline and history and moments I get to share and meet new people- all of my favorite things. I will take this quiet Sunday and feel that powerful gratitude and fullness that those busy weeks gift my soul.

All the feels in a busy week, that’s the life of this momma, president, sister, friend, organizer, special ed staff, taxi driver, writer, speaker and all the other parts of my life that make it pretty damn good.

 

Life lived Seperate

This week my daughters went with their dad on an adventure of a lifetime, at least a lifetime thus far. They flew out on Tuesday and will be home in a little bit. I loved getting little updates, a picture of Ireland in Epcot- since they know our Irish heritage, a sign on the water warning of snakes and alligators- since they know I am terrified of snakes… and finally some shots of them enjoying the bits and pieces of their trip with their dad. I looked forward to those pictures every day, but never wanted to interrupt their adventure. I was excited to see the last picture this morning of them enjoying breakfast at the airport… soon they will be home.

I thought I would miss them terrible… but it was different than that. I felt many times a day a wonder of what they were doing right then, reminded my brain that they would tell me all about it today and got on with my day. I went about my normal evenings- meetings, faith formation, running errands and finally a date night with Mr. Rick. It was a good few days… but it was weird to do it all without them. I didn’t spend a million minutes just missing them, but I spent many wondering what kinds of adventures they were on, or if they were bringing Madeline down Splash Mountain.

The thing is… divorce is hard. It is hard even long after the separation and hurt and healing. It is hard. It is a life lived separate for the children… nothing I had ever thought would happen. I love life today, separate and full of so many other pieces now. I don’t crave a life together instead of divorce. I just feel pain when this life lived separate means I am missing a milestone.

The tooth fairy visited for the first time on July 4, 2015. I missed it. I remember Amelia calling to tell me and I told her I was so excited for her, to send me a picture. I hung up and I cried. I sat in my car for a long time and cried… sad to not be the tooth fairy, sad that Madeline never lost a tooth, sad that my life was now lived separately- some of the time. Missed milestones are hard…

It has taken time, but for the most part Matthew and I co-parent well. We are flexible, we accommodate family or traditions. Rick and I watch baseball games or go to recitals, and Matthew is there. I am happy for my girls when their father takes them on adventures and he is happy when they enjoy things with me and my clan. We don’t put one another down to the children. We have gotten pretty good at conversing about and coming to conclusions when there are issues with the girls. It was hard, but I know at least on my side, that we are doing this separate living pretty well. I have seen many different dynamics of divorce in other families… and so many punish their ex with their children, or compete with gifts… it is not helpful or healthy.

So… this week was hard, but not in the way that I thought. I thought I would be all bummed and miss the girls. It was a different feeling all together… it was more like a longing- a sad longing to be with them when they were experiencing something new and amazing- an adventure I have never ventured on. I felt a sadness for me, and excitement for them. I imagine that is how parenting in this life lived separately should go— a tinge of sad for me, a pile of excitement for them.

Divorce is hard. Life lived separate is hard. It is work… work to heal and grow and build and create. It is hard work. It is worth the hard work… I want my girls to enjoy this world with me and without. I love them like crazy- and I trust Matthew with them. I love them and I am glad they love their dad… he is half their DNA. If I told those girls I hated their dad, they would think that half their DNA is crap… and that is just not true. God made them with my DNA and their dad’s… my job is to love and build those DNA sequences into some rockin’ good adults who live well- and never feel like they lived life separately.

Divorce is hard. Co-parenting is hard. Life lived separate is hard. Life is hard. Birth is hard. Parenting is hard. Working is hard. It is all hard… and beautiful and broken and lovely and terrible. Life is hard… but we can do hard things. Do them… do this life better. Co-parent, divorce, marry, parent…. Do it all better…

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So far from ‘old’ me…

 

I am just not that person anymore.

I made apple crisp yesterday. My house smelled like apples and cinnamon and fall. The Musto Mountain of Laundry was put away. The pumpkins were all ready to be carved. We were excited to have a pizza/pumpkin night.

I had a thought as I stood cutting apples with the girls… I am not the person I was back when these things were the normal. I used to cook for people every.single.weekend. I used to theme out taco nights and invite friends to cut pumpkins with the girls. I would make a pot of sauce and host… I used to be that person.

I felt, not in a terrible bad way, so far from that person. I started to think of all the things that have changed since then, back when I hosted and cooked and committed to events. I thought about when the girls were little carving pumpkins. I thought about family dinners that weren’t just the 3 of us. Three is such a small number… I know I am just not the same person anymore.

So many things have changed since then, many really great things. All these things life has brought to me have made me a really different ‘me’ than then. I miss her… I miss old me. I don’t wish to be ‘her’… but I miss how she had a slight naïve piece in her, how she loved to commit and plan better. I miss how she cooked and kept up on all the holiday decorating and thoughtful gifts and important events. I looked back at ‘her’ while I cut apples with my girls. I just felt far away from her, but a little nostalgic too.

My world looks so different now, I am not surprised that I am different ‘me’ now than then. I was much younger and I seemed to find time to run with friends and move more. I had a schedule that included naps for my girls. I loved hosting friends for dinner and events… trick or treating and holidays. I see now that many of those ‘friends’ weren’t really friends… but this different me has some of the best people. Back then I had a husband, but never felt loved enough or accepted enough- different me has a boyfriend who loves her always and anyway. I now work full time, run a foundation, parents my girls, cheer them at baseball and more, teach faith formation… and I fail often at keeping my house in order or getting a good workout in.

This me has lived 100 lifetimes in only a few years… I like to think I am ageing well (minus the extra pounds). I have felt and been immersed in great pain… I have been lifted and carried… I have seen and felt great Joy right in the midst of it all. I know I have some extra wrinkles, some extra baggage… but I quite like this different me. What if I were still that me…

Maybe I will work in a little more apple crisp making, hosting more dinners and squishing into my little house. It felt good yesterday… soul filling. Maybe I saw ‘old’ Erin for a few minutes yesterday to remind me of where I am now, and maybe last night reminded me that I need that. I need to squish people in, carve pumpkins, feed them lots and watch movies… it really felt good.

Today I am sitting with my girls, watching Phineas and Ferb, and thinking about it all. I’m sitting in the same living room, with the same red curtains and the same TV… feeling pretty good about where I am right now. I might miss bits of old me, but I love this me. It’s hard to explain. I wish always that there were 3 girls snuggled up with me, but it is what it is. I am who I am- 35 years old, but at least 52 years old in life experiences.

Do you ever look back and think about not just how different life is now, but how different you are? How life’s big piles of amazing and crap built you to be different? … or is it just me…