Happy Birthday Elaine

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Today would have been my mom’s 83rd birthday. Now that she is gone I guess it’s OK to let her real age out of the bag, right? I always wrote her a birthday blog post, some of which she had framed, I might add. So it only seems right to keep up the tradition.

In celebration of who she was, I decided to grab one of her many journals off the shelf and open to a random page. You know, so she could send me a message. And yes, I do believe in that crap now. Just go with it.

I suppose you will too, after you read this. No lie, this was the page I randomly opened to. (Click on this image and blow this baby up to read it, you won’t be sorry). This is a list of tactics for discovering pleasure and satisfaction in every day moments. Elaine practiced these her whole life. Genuinely. And with commitment.

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Of course this came from her favorite – Prevention Magazine. And I see from the date that it was February 2008, a time of her life that was filled with chronic struggles.

Elaine was the Queen of this way of living most of her life. She was the Grand Puba of the glass half full. The Crowned Royal of be here now. The absolute over-achiever of carpe diem. She appreciated every person, moment, experience, flower, friend, color… well you get the picture.

In light of all the depression and anxiety awareness this week I took this as a sign of Elaine piping in on the topic from the other side. She never hid her illness when she was well. She would speak freely about it hoping to help others.

The last 10 years of her life were a brave, selfless, many times torturous struggle with the symptoms of depression and anxiety. People think they have seen the depths of this disease, but only those who suffer – or love someone who does –understand what severe clinical depression looks like. Like many who know this first-hand, I was outraged by the words ‘coward’ and ‘selfless’ used this week. They are spoken out of ignorance, for there is nothing braver or more selfless than a person who struggles to get back to the other side of depression. 

Elaine did this each and every day. She did not always succeed, but she never stopped trying. And though it could have been what would finally take her life… it never won. Of all the things I am proud of, this is the biggest one.

She fought to be herself again when she felt she was not. That is my best way to describe depression in one sentence.

She was my hero. 

So today I do not grieve (ish). I celebrate the woman who brought me into this world and chose not to kill me through those difficult years. Who held my hand, always listened to my woes and made me laugh till I cried and cry till I laughed again. She taught me how to be a mom, a wife and a friend. 

But most of all she taught me how to enjoy the moments.

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Yes, she saved this too. What? You are surprised?

In honor of her day of birth, take a lesson from Elaine and vow to take on one or two of these every day. 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under aging, aging parents, childhood, depression, family, health, mental illness, moms, parenting, Uncategorized

Raccoon Boy

Walking home from the morning dog field the other day we came across the Raccoon Boy truck. I love his tagline: When Animals Annoy, call Raccoon Boy! Not sure if you can see the illustration but there are handcuffs involved!

As luck would have it, he was getting out of his truck as we passed. I told him that I loved his name and he came back with a quick: “I take care of annoying husbands, too!”

Gotta love Raccoon Boy.

racoon boy

Then, as with many oddities that come across my path, I was in a store buying new glass doors for the fireplace and on the counter was this article about a rabid raccoon dropping down the chimney, ransacking a woman’s house and then running upstairs and biting her in the face!

rabid racoon

Of course this was a marketing piece to reinforce not only the aesthetic advantages of glass doors but the fact that they will actually shield you from facial disfigurement.

Everyone has a friggin angle!

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Filed under absurdities, animals, marketing

Universal Symbols of Absurdity

What better for an MFTA graphic designer than to embark upon an icon search for a project and come across these. Talk about having fun at work! I might have done a post like this a while back but both I and my search function are a little brain dead these days so forgive me.

I am going to take a shot at what these mean, but feel free to give input in the comments

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Universal Symbol for: Your ass looks fat in that dress

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A lovely little collection for: Perhaps you are working for the wrong boss (I particularly like the top right one – nothing like a sucker punch to the back of the head)

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Universal Symbol for: College Freshman

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And of course the ever popular Universal Symbol for: Spring Break

I might need to make this a regular series, what do you think?

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Filed under absurdities, design, humor, symbols

Siri humor

manIt would appear Siri is slightly hard of hearing. Or at least MY Siri is. She never understands what I am asking for.

The other day I needed the phone number for my favorite doctor on the face of the earth, Dr. Samuel J. Mann. Since he pretty much saved – maybe not my life, but surely the quality of it – I considered him THE Man.

Apparently Siri does not. In fact this was all she could come up with:

“I don’t understand ‘Man’.”

Which stopped me for a moment. You know Siri, I can relate. I don’t really understand man either.

 

 

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CSI Nursery School

csi

 

This!

I saw this in a parking lot last Sunday and it struck me as so funny. Is this where the little investigators go to train?  Instead of blocks and legos do they do fingerprint dusting and dna testing?

Oddly enough, CSI does not stand for Crime Scene Investigation, but rather Congregation Sons of Israel. Apparently no one thought about how ridiculous this might be when they abbreviated their synagogue name. But then to make a sticker for the nursery school (I thought the PC name for that is pre-school), and use a handprint, no less… no one? Not a soul thought about the humor?

Personally, I would have done a fingerprint as a logo instead of a handprint, but hey, not everyone is a graphic professional.

Having sat on a synagogue board in the past – where the discussion of roof tiles and catering chairs, traffic patterns and fundraising efforts are discussed for weeks on end… this?

Yep, I will crown this with the famous MFTA status.

(And yes, I think I might be back to blogging. There are simply too many wonderful things that amuse me lately not to share.)

mfta approved

 

 

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Filed under absurdities, blogging, carry a camera, magnet for the absurd, photography, signage

Time To Cry Tuesday – Graduation (the final one)

danny-grad
A graduation post? Again? Didn’t I just do one of these? I suppose three years could be considered ‘just’ in some circles.

Each time my kids donned a cap and gown, I came here to share the overwhelming emotions attached to watching one’s child ‘grow up’.

There was Jana’s HS graduation; my first experience of letting go. I reread it today and it seemed like both yesterday and 100 years ago. (yes, I cried)

Danny’s HS graduation post brought back the memory of the pending empty nest (which by they way empties and fills again a few times before it is truly vacant). For some reason that was the first of two posts where I had an overwhelming emotional experience in a Starbucks. What the hell is that all about? (Yes, I cried again)

Then there was Jana’s college graduation. I marveled at the woman we had grown as I continue to do every day (yeh, more tears).

So many milestones, so many emotions.

But this time we finally got it right. Instead of all that overwhelming emotion, our graduation trip was a true celebration. We simply had fun! And although I felt very sentimental about leaving Madison after 7 years, I was more excited about my second child starting his life. Danny, in his matter-of-fact, self-assured manner, set the tone. He cut us the slack to be proud but kept the reigns tight on not making it all too big. We have simply had way too much big this past year, and he knew that. With humility and confidence he taught us how to do what he does best… be here now, go with the flow and most of all – enjoy life. (with shades on, of course).

Sure there were mixed emotions, how could one not miss a town with this view that had flyers for a band named Diarrhea Planet and reverse evolution graffiti on the sidewalk. This place is awesome. And my kids are more awesome for having lived there. But all things change. And change is good.

Here is my net of it all:

When your kids first leave for college it feels like an amputation. You think you are losing something you can never get back. You worry about your life changing drastically. Your heart aches as your head is telling you to knock it off and lose the drama. You dread your parental obsolescence.

Here – on the other side – you realize that your kids are not part off you, they enhance you. And you them. You never lose them, for no matter where they live they share their lives with you. Your life will change drastically, and that is a good thing… if you kept going at that custodial parenting pace much longer you would explode. And being someone again, instead of someone’s parent is the natural progression. Let’s face it, you have stuff to do!

Sure your heart will ache from time to time as you watch them struggle and grow, but it is a good ache. It is the physical manifestation of how much you love them. Just like when they were little, they will most certainly fall. The hard part is not trying to fix it for them when they do.

But most of all, parental obsolescence is simply a contradiction in terms. They will always need you, just differently. It’s all good.

Congrats Danny boy, thanks for the best weekend ever. You make us so very proud.

Every.

Single.

Day.

Now go out and be all you can be (and be careful).

 

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Filed under advice to my son, college, danny, education, family, graffiti, moms, music, relationships, Time to Cry Tuesdays

On Perfection

Yes, I am trying to find my way back here regularly. Be patient, I am working on it. And as I was thinking about how I strive to always reach my own expectations of what the perfect me is supposed to be, the following video came up in my Facebook stream.

Today I will bring you one of the best things that came out of starting this blog… meeting Darylle Pollack. Our paths crossed in such crazy ways. First we blogged together at the now defunct 50-something mom blog (where I lied about my age at 49 to get in, how funny is that?). Then on some crazy winter day when my daughter was a freshman at UW, I tweeted something about the weather gods being kind so my daughter could get out of Madison safely. Moments later I received  a tweet back from Darryle that she, too, had a kid there. From then on we became instant friends.

Everyone should have a Darryle in their lives. So today I am sharing her with you. Enjoy.

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Filed under 50-something moms blog, aging, blogging, facebook, friendship