A Mermaid Princess…

Little girls dream and act out their fantasies of being mermaids and princesses. I know many of my fond childhood memories involved splashing around in my neighbors pool with my friends Melanie and Monique. We’d act out movies we’d seen, dance horribly to music on the radio and pretend we were mermaids almost constantly.

This was raw mermaid imagination at play, well before Ariel or the mermaid trend of these days took center stage. When I look back, the only Mermaid pop-culture references I can think of were in the cartoon of Peter Pan and the Tom Hank’s movie Splash… The mermaids we became were nothing at all like those adaptations so I’m not sure what inspired us- other than the water.

I don’t recall ever pretending to be a princess, but my youngest daughter definitely did. Her imagination was princess rich, and I loved every second of it. Up until recently, society has loudly delivered the message that such aspirations belong in childhood daydreams and deserve no place in grown-up lives. This is a truly sad thing, don’t you think? I’ll admit, as a parent, I too fell into the whole dream crushing mentality of frankly selling “reality”, responsibility and that most dreams simply don’t pay the bills… And, I mean, it’s true- most dreams don’t pay the bills. That doesn’t mean we have to stop dreaming them though. (lesson learned unideally late.)

This week’s podcast guest, Jessica is all grown up. She’s a single mom. She is a first generation daughter, whose father came from the Dominican Republic. She has grown up learning to work hard and pursue relentlessly. She has responsibilities, hardships and the many  other things we all have. What sets Jessica apart is that she also has dreams, and she fully embraces them. Jessica dreams of owning her own Pastalito food truck. Jessica also dreams of being a mermaid princess. Full of so much energy, life, light and motivation Jessica is pursuing both dreams equally, in her own ways. Check out  episode {37} by following this link to our various listening platforms. As you hear her incredible story, I hope you can find a glimmer of courage to go after your own dreams too…

What’s in a name…

It has been a hot minute since I’ve participated in a FMF writing prompt, but when the mind finds itself wide awake at 2:30 a.m. on a Friday, I have to guess it really wants to… (You can join in and link up here, or just check out the other writers who are participating!)

There are relationships in our lives where, to the other person, we often become less of an individual and more merely a title of how they feel to call us. No longer do our identities belong to those pieces of life which make us. Instead we grow, within their heads, to the villainous character they desperately need for us to be, validating their own inadequacies.

We all have the possibility of such construction, no one is except from the label creations or the being created non-consensually. Suddenly, beyond a beating heart, a mind and a flawed human being, we simply become the whatever.

This insult.

The bitch.

The whore.

The parent.

The wife.

The bad guy.

the liar.

The one.

The blame.

The name…

Often we fail to comprehend the damage we can cause by giving name to a negative thought regarding someone. To anyone really, including ourselves. Negative thoughts happen, we’re human- it’s life… But once we allow ourselves to give birth to reducing an entire person into a neatly labeled, ugly little box, things change. Toxicity sets in and decay is inevitable. Perceptions change, our ability to dwell in reality changes. We change…

Sometimes life is hard. (most times, actually) There are days we wake up ready to run the race, face the music, suit up for the fight of it- other times we don’t. These are the moments we are most at risk of ourselves, these are the times when we need to embrace the courage to process through a moment, through a thought, through a feeling and then be completely honest with ourselves. Avoid the naming, avoid the box. While it’s easy to embrace the name-game today because it balms our spirit for a moment- the grave reality is far darker, later on.

It is so much harder to undo something that never had to be done.

Hello, Summer…

It has been ages since I’ve sat down and really focussed on an intentional post within this space, so I’m just going to pretend we’re in the middle of an exchange, okay?

Sure, summer is technically 20+ days away, but we who live within the confines of an Americanized calendar operate under the summer system of Memorial Day to Labor Day, and truthfully I’m a fan of this practice. The bright blue sky outside hardly screams SPRING, and with my freshly summer pedicured toes red and ready for sandy beaches and flip flops- I am more than happy to stand up and say what we’re all thinking: Helloooo, Summer!

For the 4000 Jurassic years that I have existed within adulthood, (for the Ross Gellar’s out there pointing out the flaws in my wording, I’m pretty sure you caught my drift so, as far as I’m concerned, mission accomplished! XO) I  have had specific practices that summertime has held:

Fresh squeezed lemonaide, BBQs with friends/family, swimming, my grandma’s cobbler, warm jars of sun tea, red toenails, fireflies, long summer evenings the highest SPF of sunscreen allowed (I’m irish, after all), drive in movies and dreaming of real beach time- these made up the bulk of said summer lists…

As summer draws near, in between adulthood stresses of work and life, I have been plotting my summer reading plans. We have gotten our sunroom all ready and have been enjoying early morning cups of coffee, fresh fruit snacks and conversation in its breezes. The smell of fresh cut grass wafts through my window screens and there are cubes of cold watermelon in my fridge. Our summer plans are casual, yet carved out. (these may or may not read like this: grilled tacos, beach, grilled fajitas, beach, margaritas on the patio, hiking, beach, farmers market, beach, drive in movies, tacos, tacos, tacos…)

The really fun thing about our new home, and this being our first summer here, is that it is a SUMMER DESTINATION. Life amps up and, from what we can tell, the party gets started right about now, and wraps up around snowfall. Friends have told us all about all of the “musts”, and we are ready!

The not-so-fun, but still kinda-fun thing about our new home is that while we live at a truly beautiful beach, it isn’t the ocean. I know my heart will still long for a true sea coast, but also, I’m feeling really blessed to have this beach too.

in ALL of my adult summers, I have spent weekends at the Farmer’s Market and kept beautiful, fresh flowers in my home. Whatever we may, or may not have taken on that summer, these two things were SOLID. This is where the truly odd thing about our new home comes in-

NO FARMER’S MARKETS

NO FRESH CUT FLOWERS

Sure, re: the later, grocery stores have some. Honestly though, it’s the worst selection I’ve ever seen and they are 3-4 times the normal price. Re: the first absense- what the actual heck? Truthfully, I cannot wrap my brain around it. We are surrounded by farms. SURROUNDED. Word on the street (iow: the World Wide Web) is that there is a decent market about 90 minutes away. NINETY MINUTES. (While my heart wants to take a moment to whine about my grandma’s cobbler recipe, our summer-staple homemade ice creams, and my end of summer (most delicious ever) jam, the reality is our grocery stores do an amazing job of stocking local, organic produce. While it’s a bit spendier than the average Farmer’s Market, I am still really grateful for this so I simply can’t actually complain about it.) I just really love the experience of the market, with the community, farmers and artisans coming together… (plus then our local taco truck could set up somewhere other than a pub or brewery…)

For all the terribleness of these two things, I’ve still mustered up excitement at summer in our new city. There are a few road trips planned, lots of adventure and exploring, and both my patio & sunroom are prepared to be well lived/loved… Probably (tragically) my house is going to stay fairly flowerless, with my treasured Kate Spade vase feeling alone- but my toes plan on being sandy and my taco-loving-tummy happy, so it feels like a win for me.

What do you love about summer? Where are your favorite places to summer?

Too…

 

As January rolled around, I had the very best intentions of writing in this space more regularly. I won’t apologize for what appears like neglect because the truth us that I am present in my life and the reality is, certain seasons of life are far more heavy and consuming than others.

When my mother was far younger than I am, she buried her brother Ben, who died in Vietnam. From that point on, she avoided all things funeral, military and war. A devout lover of classic movies, she reacted to anything dealing with those mentioned topics with complete shock and re-immersion into that dark season of grief. Some of us make the conscious decision to house our hearts in the places of deep loss and grief forever. I have tried, in my forty-three-year-long journey NOT to be one of those people. This isn’t because I feel I am better than them as much as I personally believe the sunshine exists beyond such sadness, and my fair-skinned-heart longs to live in the sun, even if it burns sometimes.

In February I sat underneath the New Mexico sky, beside family, at my beloved uncle Phil’s graveside service. As I sat, dressed in black, heart full of tears, I admitted that military services could possibly be all of those things my mother avoided, in one. Though a beautiful tribute, they are also all-at-once devastating… I made a mental note, deliberately ignoring the reality that my son is a soldier, to not attend another veteran service for a long, long time. (I apparently have strong beliefs in my power, I am also a fool.)

Last Thursday I sat underneath the rainy Kentucky sky, beside family, at my father’s graveside service. Also dressed in black, I found myself deeply swirled in awe, sadness, gratitude and loss as the military shot rifles and meticulously folded his flag.

Too soon…

Too much…

As uncomfortable as the shotgun sounds, the sadness and the hard may be- I am so grateful to have been there to honor each man, I am so grateful that I knew and loved both men. I am blessed to have been loved by each of them, and so proud and filled with gratitude that our country belonged to them too.

This year has been equally as uncomfortable regarding sitting through the hard things and clinging to the grateful… In so many ways, for so many, it feels like too much, too soon. Too… These months are feeling too in all of the bad and sad ways. Here in the season of too though, there is growth, or at least there can be. We can choose to be among the ones who sit in the big dark sad and hide from the sun, but we don’t have to be. This too shall pass, things will be ok- this is not cliche’, this truth. It is important that we remember though, that though the sunshine will come again, so will another dark season. It is what we learn to face this time, that equips us for that one. It is also that brave, unconventionally beautiful growth which helps us love the sunshine so much more.

Take my hand, forward we go…

 

Don’t just fly…

When I was a little girl I was enamored by Dumbo. My mother loved this movie, and became a sobbing mess at the Baby Mine scene every single time she watched the VHS.

I too loved it, at first, because she loved it. I love it now for my own reasons, and admittedly I also tear up during the traumatizing melody. I know why this song pin-pricks my heart, and find myself wishing I knew why exactly that it affected hers so much…

She was not a mother, by nature.

What if, like Dumbo and Jumbo, we had lived in the Circus? What role would I play? What role would she?

She would love the animals, true. Anyone who knows her would say that immediately… However, she wouldn’t take care of them at all, really only coddle them for her own emotional fulfillment. That job wouldn’t do. No, I imagine her (though if I could ask her, she would disagree) as something between showgirl and clown. Clown Showgirl? Would that even be a thing? She would be the ever committed guys-girl, ensuing laughter with one outlandishly ridiculous performance after another. Once the night lights were dim, however, she would cast herself as a real guys-girl in other ways… Among the circus family she would be both the most loved and hated woman around.

I know this is all true.

At first I struggled to see myself…

Dirty, neglected child of a performer? Hiding with the animals, where I made friends and found solace? I imagine a childhood of days passing without seeing my mother, and seeing more her flashes of anger and belittling than the joy inducing woman seen by others, in the ring.

I know all of this is true, as well. Strip away the tent, the spotlights and the tigers and I can honestly say I have lived this childhood. A version of it, anyway.

I cannot think of Dumbo and circus life, imagining what role (within the circus) I might play, without considering my mother. It is an emotional DNA impossibility. That being said, one day the little girl would be a grown woman. She would stay with the circus long after her mother was gone because, in ways her mother never did, the girl valued family, even when family did not value her. She would care for the animals and love them as deeply as she could love anyone. She might fall madly in love with a behind the scenes designer and life would be hard, because- well, it is life- but also, circus life is hard, and this life was all she had ever known.

As time passed, she would give of herself, enabling other performers to be their very best. She would dive in and make herself needed, focussing on her ability to create, design and grow the gifts that this show could give to their audience. She would, eyes twinkling, find her most soul filling moments were when she secretly watched the children drink in the magic of human ability, animal and wonder unfolding before them.

Probably this girl would pass away in her sleep one day, an old woman, eternally unappreciated and alone. I’d like to think that it wouldn’t matter though, because she would carry the happiness she helped others find, and that she’d found joy in this too…

(Something nags at me that this post went too dark and too deep, considering it’s about a children’s movie. If you know Dumbo, and the story, it is a deep and often dark telling of so many hard to digest topics. Just like all escapes, we see only what we choose to. It is in the acceptance of the darkest parts that we find the ability to truly love ourselves completely, which is what we’re longing for others to do anyway, isn’t it?)

My birthday is on Thursday, and I will be front and center at the first local showing of Dumbo. I know it will be amazing and I cannot wait. This gift Disney has given to me, (let a girl pretend a little) is the perfect way to usher in a new life year.

Did you ever dream of joining the Circus?

What would you have done?

Are you anticipating this movie too? Here’s the trailer to hold our excitement for a few more days!

 

From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight.   Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.  “Dumbo” soars into theaters on March 29.

 

Website: https://disney.com/dumbo