The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

Post I wrote but never published from June 2012:
Welcome and forgive my absence, as usual a lot has been happening around here. Life is constantly throwing things at you just when you think you’re at the finish line – an obstacle gets thrown up in front of you.  It’s June and graduation season is here and in ten days my son will be graduating from high school.  It’s been a long, hard road at times.  The finish line was clearly in sight, he had just a few weeks and he would be done.  All it took was an unfortunate push from behind during a lacrosse game while he was coming out from the goal resulting in a torn ACL needing surgery to make the sprint to the finish line more of a hurtle.
The surgery was 9 days ago but it feels like its been a month.  The first week, twenty four hours a day his knee has been on ice requiring me to fill up the ice machine multiple times a day and once during the overnight.  He had to be given medication as well on top of having to use a CPM (continuous Passive Motion) machine for 6 hours a day. 
It’s been hard to do anything around here to say the least.  Since the surgery I have only been out once and that was with him to go to the physical therapist.  He still has to finish his senior project, a photography portfolio of his work in order to graduate which is due next week. His prom is next week too. 
He did the same thing to his leg last year but earlier in the season. This kid has been injured every single year of high school playing lacrosse. The first two years it was concussions. The second concussion was so severe he was out of school for 24 days and had headaches for months before finally disappearing altogether. 

I reread the post above which I never published at the time for reasons I don’t remember and I get knot in my stomach.  Eight days ago I received a phone call from Nick, my son who is now a freshman at Ithaca College. I had just finished a long relaxing bath after my metal sculpting class (washing is required afterwards since I look like I’ve been down in the coal mines). My cell phone went off around 2pm but I didn’t recognize the number and almost didn’t pick up. It was Nick, he sounded upset and scared. He said he had been in an accident snowboarding.  My first thought – his knees and did he hit his head.  It was difficult to understand him a little – his breathing was labored which I figured was from him being so emotional.  He tells me he thinks he dislocated his shoulder or something – I relax. Dislocated shoulder, not problem we’ve dealt with much worse.  I tell him everything will be okay and that he should keep me posted and that I’d call his Dad who was also in Vermont at the time. He said okay and hung up.

It was long before he called again and said that the EMTs at the base lodge told him he didn’t have a dislocated shoulder and recommended that he get x-rays at the hospital. Since I was no where near Nick and I was getting the information via text message and poor-cell connected short calls, my concern level wasn’t tremendously high at this point. Nick has complained in a text about waiting with all the other morons in the emergency room and how he just wanted to go an hang with his friends. I was afraid he’d leave if the wait was too long.  I was in bed watching TV when he finally called me again. He put the doctor on the phone who proceeded to tell me that Nicholas punctured his lung, bruised his kidney and could have a hairline fracture in one of his lower lumbar vertebrae. He recommended that Nick stay the night in the hospital although he said that Nick wanted to go back the condo and stay with his friends and just rest.  It was at the time I had my boyfriend who is training to be an EMT who told me that the doctor couldn’t force Nick to stay their legally – all he could do was urge Nick to stay.  “Put Nick back on” were my next words.  He was scared and didn’t want to be alone in the hospital. I told him had to stay  – it had become clear he had suffered a traumatic impact –  that I’d get his father to get down there as quickly as possible – but he had to stay with the doctors. I was relieved when he finally agreed.

Some people rely on the groundhog to predict spring – we have Nick’s annual injury which seems to have become our own personal indicator of spring. However, so much has change in our household since Nick’s first injuries in high school.  Nick is in college – struggling to find his way through making the transition from living at home to living at college and being responsible for one’s self.  I have been in a relationship with a wonderful man who I’ve known for 25 years. We will celebrate our second anniversary of being together in May and has lived with us for the last 18 months or so.  We also started a new business together, Homegrown Harvest where we help people grow their own vegetables by installing pre-seeded and planted raised bed and container gardens for them.  My daughter has been on her own journey throughout the years. 17 now, she is a junior in high school who has been on her own journey of self discovery. Another story for another blog entry, I’m sure.

Change happens in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it happens fast and sometimes its gradual.  It can be painful. But overall change is good, it means your life isn’t stagnant.  Life should be like a flowing river – at times there maybe rapids and it gets narrow and rocky. Other times it flows slower, calmer and stretches out comfortably.  Either way the river is in constant motion.  Sometimes in life we don’t always feel like we are making forward progression that we may have taken a few steps backwards from time to time. That’s life on the river – it can sometimes lead you down a false tributary that leads to an end where the waters lay stagnant. It’s your decision to get out and find the right path though. Sure it will take a lot of effort and energy at first as you have to work your way through the marshes and blaze your trail back where you eventually find the waters flowing again and lift you along with them. Just remember you are the one steering the boat. You are the one making the decisions to set a new course – to make that change despite how difficult it may be. 

My brother taught me this lesson when I was 25 years old and engaged to someone I realized was not the right person for me in the long run and I felt trapped and scared and alone. Some of this may have been because I was drunk off my ass when I had this epiphany in the bathroom of my godparents’ house as my future in-laws and my fiance’s two brothers were showing up to meet my parents and family for the first time. I was in there for 3 hours terrified to come out.  I eventually let me best friend in and my sister in law in. After many hours I emerged from the bathroom and hid in my cousin’s room where my brother gave me I have dubbed “The Path Talk”.  He was the one who told me the story of being on a path in life and discovering it wasn’t the path.  He said when that happens you can always change paths but sometimes you may have to get your machete out and blaze a new trail to a new path and that can get messy and take a lot of effort but in the end you will find a clear path for yourself.  I have lived by these words over the years and found them to be some of the greatest words to live by.

Angels Needed

This week as I gazed upon my Christmas tree, I cried a river of tears for the victims, their families and their friends who are faced which such a tragic loss at this time.  My tree has an angel on the top, she’s a beautiful angel with a porcelain head, pretty wings and dress made of netting.  She’s holding two candles and a light from within makes her glow.  I grew up with a star on our Christmas tree. As I recall it was a fairly cheesy looking thing too with tinsel and colored lights. When I was old enough to get my own Christmas tree, I used a star at first something similar to the one I grew up with.

The angel came about by perhaps divine intervention. I had stumbled upon a late night Christmas movie, The Bishop’s Wife starring David Niven, Cary Grant and Loretta Young. It’s a fabulous classic Christmas movie and as late as it was that night sucked me in immediately. Cary Grant plays an angel in the movie sent down to help David Niven who plays the Bishop. 

The movie originally came out in 1947 shortly after WWII. It was a time when many were trying to rebuild their post-war lives and their was still a great need for stories of nostalgia, hope and faith.  Our world is vastly different than it was in 1947, but the need for stories of hope and faith are just as great today if not more.  Today’s world is a very frightening place where we are no longer safe at college, a movie theater, a mall or even a elementary school.   A tragedy of the magnitude of Sandy Hook brings people together. It touches so many people beyond the victims and their families because most everyone has been a first grader at some point, or are a parent who has sent their children off to school, or may have a teacher in their family and because of this all wonder my god what if that had been me, or my child, or my sister or mother?

The pain and grief I have felt this week is eerily similar to the way I felt after 9/11. I was born and raised in New York City which caused me to feel the attack on my birthplace as very personal. A friend’s husband lost his life that day and many of my friends who worked in the financial district had been devastated by their experiences of what they witnessed and tales of escaping the city. I knew our world would never be the same after that. Misuse of religion, power, box cutters and airplanes caused that tragic day.  In Newtown, Connecticut a young man who was mentally ill killed his mother because he was afraid she was going to have him committed.  He decided to misuse three guns and because of it there are now 26 new angels who no longer walk this earth.

Angel

Shortly after reading this news it reminded me of the Boomtown Rats song, “I Don’t Like Mondays”. In 1979, Brenda Spenser shot 9 people, 2 adults and 7 children from her house which was across the street from her home.

The silicon chip inside her head gets switched to overload
And nobody’s gonna go to school today
She’s gonna make them stay at home….

The more things change the more they stay the same it seems.

I don’t consider myself to be a very religious person. I was not raised in a religious household. I do not go to church regularly.  I used to be a “submarine church goer”, only surfacing at Christmas and Easter – but eventually stopped doing that since it felt hypocritical.  However, I silently speak with the Lord and Jesus Christ regularly – at times before bed, sometime in the car or while traveling on a plane.  I do have hopes, dreams and wishes for myself, my children, my loved-ones. I try very hard to have faith in myself that I continue to raise my two children safely in this very frightening and dangerous world. I hope and pray that somehow they will be able to raise their own children one day in a world which hopefully will have learned some lessons from the past and changed it course not to repeat the fateful mistakes.

Life is filled with challenging moments. The holidays are a time when people are supposed to be happy; making it a thousand times harder for those who are not.  The last eight years I have been divorced and forced to share time with my kids on holidays or not see them at all. The pain the first Christmas day that I had to say goodbye to them in the morning and watch them drive off with their father was agonizing for me. I felt like a part of me had been ripped away and I just wanted to cry all day and stay under the covers of my bed. Instead I was supposed to go to my parent’s house to share Christmas dinner with my parents, my siblings and their kids.  It was awful. I think one holiday I actually did stay home and wallow in my self-pity. The rest, somehow I found the strength to join the festivities despite my broken heart.  As the years have marched on holidays remain challenging, although each year a little less so. I have been blessed these last two years for I have been able to share them with my new love, my boyfriend, Mark.

Life goes on and time helps to heal most of the wounds which have been inflicted on us. The scars left on us by life should be worn on us with pride for they help make up who we are and how we came to be there. Some people’s scars are bigger than others and some may have wounds that never fully heal; for how can someone every fully heal from the lose of their own child?

It’s three days before Christmas and I will close my thoughts with a speech the Bishop gives to his congregation Christmas morning reminding us to remember what Christmas is all about.

Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.

But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. Its his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.

Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shinning gifts that make peace on earth.

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” Winnie the Pooh
 Peace – Xine S.

Every Morning Is Like Giving Birth All Over Again

Fewer things in life are more than difficult than giving birth.  Anyone who has done this at least once understands this.  However, the difficulties don’t stop there and they range in levels of degree.  Recently one of the more difficult moments have been in getting my 18 year old son up for work in the morning.  The process takes at least an hour beginning with me entering his room and announcing the time like a modern day version cuckoo clock with a Siri interface.  Silence usually follows my first announcement which now prompts me to start clapping my hands – again images of a cuckoo jutting out from the clock as an Austrian couple whirls around another part of the clock slamming cymbols together come to my head.  I am now being growled at “I’M UP!”  So I retreat back to my desk where I have been working already for about an hour or two.

10 Minutes later – I am forced to go back in as he has managed to hit the “snooze” on this modern day cuckoo.  This cycle repeats itself a few more times before Mother Nature forces him out of bed to take a morning leak.

Once up he continues to dawdle about either in the shower, more time in the bathroom, his room. I always attributed the fact that he was born in the midwest to his Kansas City Joe pace in doing things, since a New Yorker like me has by nature a much quicker pace.  When I went into labor with Nick it took two days for him to finally come out.  Initially my blood pressure had risen and the doctor was afraid of toxemia – thankfully I hadn’t yet seen the E.R. episode of the woman who was pre-eclampsic like I was, and who did do into toxemia. The doctor induced labor upon learning how high my blood pressure had soared and my body had swelled and threw me into the hospital immediately.

The first day was miserably long. I was on pitocin all day and had to get up every so often to walk the hallways as my labor slowly but surely progress.  I was taking forever to fully dilate.  The nurses kept remarking “this baby is done – just too comfortable to wake up and come outside!” Sounds familiar.  The second day, the doctor decided to break my water. I suppose it could be equated to ripping the sheets off the bed; I usually get some sort of response from that, as did the doctors that morning.  Once my water was broken it only took a few more hours of true active labor and a few pushes to get him out.  It’s similar to the last moments around the house before he is out the door. There is usually some commotion as he looks for his shoes, keys, wallet etc…panic sets in sometimes as he races around trying to locate whatever is missing this time.  Then the final push — out the door he goes slamming the door behind him — followed by a moment of silence. I remember waiting to hear that magical sound, the first time I heard him cry.

Now, after that moment of silence I wait to hear a different sound; the sound of his car engine pulling out of the driveway.

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” Winnie the Pooh

Peace – Xine S.

Spring Resolutions

It’s been a long cold harsh winter here in Connecticut. Most of the state was buried under 3 feet of snow for a good long time. Snow piles are still clearly visible some still feet high like at the end of the driveway. Only recently has grass and ground reappeared in spots. My backyard is still mostly covered in snow – it’s just that its not as deep as it was a week ago.

Spring time didn’t used to mean as much to me in my earlier years, as it does now. Now I recognize and appreciate more Mother Nature’s annual reminder that no matter how hard things get, no matter how brutally bitter things may be – new life will spring forth, new beginnings will emerge. A good lesson to for all to remember and keep in mind.

The change of the seasons are one of the things I love the most about living in the Northeast. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. All each have their own unique beauty and gifts to offer. Most of my life I have lived in the Northeast with the exception of when I spent about two years in Michigan. I think it’s important for people to at some point in their life live in a different region than the one they were raised. I believe it gives them a better prospective on things.

We tend to take things for granted when we are in a place for two long, especially if that’s all they know. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence it seems. but you don’t really know for sure until you are actually on that other side.

My son is on the doorstep of selecting colleges. “I wouldn’t want to go to school in Connecticut.” I have heard him say once, “unless it was Yale or something.” He doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of attending Yale, so no worries there.  He talks about schools on the west coast; however has never ever been on the west coast. China, yes. Europe, yes. The West Coast, no – not yet. But it looks like a cool place to go to school. Cool? Yes – sunshine, pretty girls, a laid back, more relaxed attitude about life – what’s not to like?

This summer we will explore some of the west coast – Oregon and California, possibly Washington as well. Its been twenty years almost since my last trip out west. I used to go out annually for a stretch when I was a teenager because my dad would take us out on his business trips when he saw his west coast companies. I’m looking forward to rediscovering northern California and checking out Oregon which I have never been. There’s something about the west coast which has always gnawed away at me though. I have many friends from school who landed up moving out there settling and raising their families out there. It’s not for every one and I always knew in my heart it wasn’t for me either. I’m all about the east coast. Here at home, I wouldn’t consider myself a type-A personality but I think if I were out west I would be. I believe this to be true for my son as well, plus I don’t think he is fully getting the big picture of the benefits – financial and otherwise to attending college within driving distance of home.

Along with the trip out west – I have to carve out time to check out some of the southern schools in area like North Carolina, Maryland. We’ll check out the Pennsylvania and of course the Massachusetts ones. I told him I wouldn’t want him to apply to a school he hadn’t checked out first and been on the campus. I think once you are there walking around getting a feel for things – you can figure things out fairly quickly. Certain things you just know in your gut right away.

So as the winter snows finally melt away and the sun stays out longer every day, I find myself reflecting on the new beginnings before my family. I can hear the birds hear singing in the trees and see green shoots springing from the still frozen ground; all promising signs of promising things to come. But I also know some of the hardest work is at the start and like the fierce spring storms which interrupt the winter thaw – three steps forward, one step back. It’s the fight for something that makes things all the more worthwhile.

“The sun that sets is bound to rise.” – Phil Lesh

The more things change, the more they stay the same

It’s been almost 18 years since I was single and a part of the dating scene. But having dipped my toe back into the sea recently, I am reminded the more things change, the more they stay the same.
When I was younger I didn’t date a whole lot per se. I had a lot of friends who were guys and in college for the most part was “one of the guys” as most of my friends I hung out with were guys. My more intimate experience with men ranges from 4 serious relationships (one of which was a 13 yr marriage with 2 children) mixed in with 5 shorter flings, so to speak. Not a whole lot for a 44 yr old. Since my divorce, without dating I’ve somehow managed to have sex at once a year, except this year I doubled that. Sadly a much better average than during the last 8 years of my marriage. Thank god for friends with benefits – a relationship which for me definitely has its place. Meeting new people is more of a challenge and takes a lot more energy.
What’s changed – Today people have their choice of online dating, 10-minute dating etc…all very different than the methods of the 80’s and 90’s. What’s the same is how people act when they first meet and get to know each other initially which at times can be pretty stupid. What’s changed is the amount of baggage you bring to a relationship at 44 vs. 18-25. What’s the same is the exhilarating feeling it is to have someone show an interest in you despite the baggage.
I struggle with the idea of wanting to find a more permanent companion and rationalize reasons to not look right now. I think about my teenage children who within the next 5 years will be off to college and then I will be completely alone. With that thought in mind, I take the time out to appreciate the moments I have with my kids and try to be more receptive to idea of meeting someone new. After all who wouldn’t want to find someone to be able to share their heart, their love, and their world. I have to remind myself to simply put one foot in front of the other as I re-enter the mystical sea which is said to have plenty of fish in.
I remember the first time I saw the ocean, the waters were so rough and went as far as the eye could see. Growing up amongst the giant skyscapers of NYC with weekends in the country surrounded by NE’s canopy of trees, the sight of the endless horizon view the sea offered was amazing to me. I thought it was magical. The thought of going in frightening. Now as I stare out at the open waters once again before me, the same scared feelings arise from within. But I’m going to try to take a deep breath and try to take one cautious step at a time.

Dennis Hopper kicked off my Mid-Life Crisis – Part 1


As a single 46 year old woman with two teenage children I find that in the last year – give or take -I have been going through a mid-life crisis. Just the words “mid-life” are harsh enough having ‘crisis’ follow seems appropriate though. How can it be that I got to the middle of my life so fast?! And what do I have to show for it?!

It seems like it was not so long ago I was a young mother in her early thirties chasing after toddlers. Not long before that I was dancing at clubs and concerts on a regular basis enjoying myself with my friends night after night. And if I close my eyes I can still clearly see the lake that I spent my summers at and the clay courts that I spent countless numbers of hours playing tennis.

But alas, I am 46 years old so if this is truly mid-life I should live, if I’m lucky enough, until I am 92 years old. That would be in keeping with the women on the maternal side of my family. My Nana, god rest her soul, was just about to turn 93 when she passed away. I believe she would have lived longer too, had she not fallen out of her bed and sustained a spiral fracture to her femur – it was the infection that got her in the end. I miss my Nana – she was my best friend.
So now I’m at 46 and in the last year a very restless feeling overcame me as far as my career was concerned. For the last 11 years I have been working as an equity research analyst for a very small family run hedge fund. But when I went to college I had made a very conscious decision not to work on Wall Street since that’s what my family did and I had no interest in it. Funny how life has a way of throwing you curve balls and you land up on paths you thought you didn’t want to be on. Its been a good path for over a decade but one day when I was listening to Bloomberg TV like I did every day Monday through Friday 8a-3pm, a commercial came on that asked “what’s your dream?” “What’s Your Dream?” Dennis Hopper would say over and over again, day after day until one day I started to hear him as if he was speaking to me. “Christine – hello, I’m talking to you – What’s Your Dream?” Sounds like a simple enough question, but when I thought about it for a second – I came up blank.
It hit me like a ton of bricks – I didn’t have a dream and when I sat there and tried to formulate one on the spot – nothing. Nada. Nil. Not one thought came to mind.I was dumbfound – how could I not have a dream?

Far East Far Out

This summer I had the good fortune to visit the Great Wall of China. Where we visited, there was a chair lift and a gondola that took the visitors up to one of th towers. It was amazing to be standing there overlooking the mountains and see the wall stretch for miles both ways. It’s incredibly steep and the day before had rained so there were parts which were still fairly slippery. In certain sections underfoot was smooth or riddled with tiny steps. After walking around with the kids and my father we proceeded down the mountain alpine slide. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to taking a slide down the mountains in China form the Great Wall!