with Lynne and Leslie

Coleslaw, Loss, and Perspective

by SweetMidlife

HI! It’s Lynne! We haven’t written all summer, so I hope it was a good one. I am writing this gingerly because I had surgery on my left index finger last week, and I am writing with it sticking up in the air. This will be short :).

Today marks 20 years since the death of Britain’s Princess Diana, and seeing all of the specials and articles that have been commemorating the day, I remember where Leslie and I were when we found out about the Princess’ death. We were dealing with an overabundance of prepared salads and disappointment.

Our dad, Ed, was about to turn 50 years old, and Leslie, my mom, and I had planned a surprise birthday party for him that weekend. It was actually about 3 weeks before his actual birthday, but because my parents were living in Charleston, SC at the time and were planning on coming north that weekend, it seemed like a wonderful time to get our MD family together. We planned the shindig for a Sunday, in the backyard of the house in York, PA, where Leslie had an upstairs apartment that she called “The Hallway”because it was really narrow. It was a great hangout, and we were really looking forward to celebrating our dad with people who loved him so much. Leslie had even ordered like gallons of potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw and tuna salad from a caterer, and we were feeling very accomplished, and we were all ready to pick them up on Sunday morning, and get our salad and our party on at the same time.

So, on Saturday, I was headed up the Baltimore Washington Parkway, headed to Leslie’s, when I got a call from Mommy, who said the thing that you don’t want the people you have planned a surprise party for to say, and that was this : “Lynne, we’re not coming.”

Say who now?

I pulled over at a gas station, because I knew that this was going to be something I needed to be still for to hear.

My dad spent most of his professional career in transportation management, and at that point, was managing the school bus contract between the company he worked for, and the Charleston school system. This was right before school was to start for the year, and things weren’t going smoothly, and since he had no idea that we were planning a party, he decided that they couldn’t leave, and that they could just come home the next weekend.

Surprise!!

So, she had to tell him about the party, but his duty was still to his job, so we had to call everyone and tell them that the party wasn’t happening that weekend. And we still had to take possession of all that prepared salad, because the lady had already made it. And we were bummed. We wanted the party now, darn it, because we had planned, and because we missed our parents, and because this isn’t how it was supposed to go, and we had a lot of tuna salad to eat now. Between my mom and us, we let everyone know, and we went to Leslie’s room, and fell asleep with the TV on, feeling sorry for ourselves.

I woke up in the middle of the night, and the news was on, and it was talking about what had happened in Paris. I woke Leslie up.

“Leslie, the Princess died.”

And we were snapped out of our sleep and mostly our disappointment over missed parties. Because two young boys had suffered more than the loss of plans. They had lost their mom. And the whole world was seeing it. I have no idea how long we stayed up, crying in disbelief, but I know that our attitudes changed, because we would see our parents next week. And after we went back to sleep, we got up and picked up the salads, and Leslie had friends come over, and we ate. And the next week, my parents came, and we had the party, and it was glorious. The picture at the top of this post was taken there. And you see happiness and relief at being together.

And this is what’s important. Well, parties are important, because they celebrate life, and life is precious. My dad died 15 years later, at 64, 3 months before his 65th, breaking our hearts, and also missing out on the really good senior-citizen discounts, a thing he was really looking forward to. I write this not to make you sad, but to implore you to make the memories that make the pictures, and enjoy your lives, and roll with the changes and the plethora of mayo-based foods. Enjoy your people. They are what is important.


Playdate Junction in Elkridge, Maryland Takes Care of Kids AND Their Parents

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne! I have been planning on writing this post for about a month, but it got delayed because of job and family stuff. And for that, I apologize, because I really want to share with you the awesomeness that is Play Date Junction, a fantastic place owned and birthed by my friend Portia Bates. There are a million ways in which she is fab, but if you don’t read any further than this, I want you to see this: If you are a parent of little kids and you are anywhere near Elkridge, MD, you should check out Play Date Junction, the play space that she owns whose slogan is “Where We Serive Children While Shamelessly Catering to Their Parents”. If you don’t read anymore, I hope it’s because you are grabbing your keys and also your kid and skedaddling to 6020 Meadowridge Drive, Elkridge, MD 20175.

Yay! You’re still here. So now I can tell you more.

I met Portia about a year ago when I invited members of the local blogging group I belong to to a special performance of my theater company’s first show. Portia was a part of that group, and she brought her kids to the show, and afterwards, told me about her in-the-work plans of opening a play space. It would be that welcoming and inviting to kids, but even more, would be a place for parents to socialize with each other. As a mom who is an entrepreneur, but also one who struggled with feeling isolated as a new parent, I was intrigued by not only her idea and how it could really better the lives of parents, but by her determination to make this a reality. This was April of 2016, and after several buildings falling through, Portia found the perfect spot in the fall, and was open by October.

But let’s backtrack a bit. Portia is the mother of two girls, and while she experienced the wonderfulness that comes with parenting humans, she also went through something not so wonderful, but just as common: the lack of connection with other parents. Finding time to see friends is hard, Portia says, “Because everyone is booked. Your life is so planned, and it is hard to fit (socialization) into that”. And as much as she enjoyed spending time with her kids, she was missing something, because “I really like to do other things, and to have a life” outside of that. This need to care for her kids and grow them, as well as recognizing her own need for friends, conversation, and a change of scenery inspired her to open Play Date Junction. And it’s a wonderful place.

Don’t you want to go there?

It may look like a standard play place, but it is anything but. PDJ is 90% open play: this means that you can pretty much come anytime that they are open. The main room is designed so that a parent can walk around the space with their kid, or, as Portia says, “They can plant themselves and let their kids go” on the inside playground equipment, as well as the fully-equipped dress-up station.
Parents and kids can also sit at a craft table and make things, color, or read together. You don’t even have to leave when you get hungry because you can bring your lunch and eat it there and then get back to the fun.

This is where Playdate Junction does the shameless catering to parents. There is a self-serve complimentary coffee and tea bar, where you can get your caffeine on. There is also a relaxation room, a dimly lit space decorated with candles and a lavender oil diffuser. It is a place for parents to come and sit and chill. It is also a great place to nurse, or bring your child if they get overstimulated outside. It is an oasis in the middle of an oasis.

Playdate Junction really serves the whole family, and the whole community, even offering meet-ups for special groups of folks on certain days, including Grandparents as Caregiver Tuesdays, a Family Date Night on Fridays, and Sensory-Friendly Mondays, with no loud music and no lavender smell in the relaxation suite. They have really considered what a family might need, because strong parents make strong kids. You can drop in for a visit, or buy memberships, which give you big discounts if you are a frequent visitor.

I hope that if you are in the area you can visit Playdate Junction, because both you and your kid need a place where you are both happy. Seriously. You might not hear that enough, tired parent. But it’s true. Take care of your kid and take care of you.


Hair grease, yoga and happy birthdays (plus a giveaway at the end)

by SweetMidlife

Hi!! It’s Lynne! It’s been about a month since Leslie and I have posted on this here blog, first because we kept meaning to get around to it and didn’t, and then because our web host shut down our site for a bit because we were getting too many spam comments! We’ve fixed that, the time and the spam thing, so now we’re back, peeps!

So, there is a bunch of stuff that we want to write about, including an upcoming post about an amazing friend who started a business to take care of other moms (that is coming next week), and a post where Leslie was going to interview me about my theater that does shows for kids, because we have shows coming up this weekend and I really want people to come, and we might still do that. But not now. Because today is about me, and that’s about me too, but it’s about me having me time. Leslie actually just wrote about that, so we Streeter Girls are into that.

My son has school in the morning, so I decided to do something fun for me. There is an yoga studio around the corner from me that I have never been too, because I have talked myself out of it when I could go to the gym I used to attend or just do it at home. But this seemed like the day to let that go. So I had my son dressed and ready for school, and he looked extra cute, because it’s picture day at school. And I put on my yoga-iest outfit, and I grabbed the brush to brush his hair….. and I was greeted with an oil slick. Because he decided to put like a half pound of hair grease on himself as a way to help me out. Yeah.

I can’t even.

So I tried to wash it out without giving him a shower, but that didn’t work, so I gave him a shower and washed his hair, and there was still a 1/4 pound of grease left, and then I dressed him, and then he said he wanted to wear his fire fighter outfit in the pictures, and I was like YES because there is a hat involved, and you wouldn’t see the Eddie Munster of it all in his streaked head, and I scraped out more grease, and brushed it, and then we finally got to school, and they said that the pictures would be taken during chapel so he couldn’t wear the hat then but he looked less Munster-ish and maybe like a small skunk. It’s a’ight.

So then I went to yoga, and I didn’t have a mat or towel and they loaned me one and it was so chill, and I could do a lot of the poses, but not all of them, and that was okay, because it didn’t matter, and I wasn’t self-conscious in a bad way but I just focused on me and my breath and my joy and it was awesome. And I thanked the teacher at the end and I said that it was my first time there and she said “But not your first time at yoga?” and I said that no, I had practiced before, and she said she could tell, and that made me feel nice, even though I often felt like I was doing a new yoga pose called “The Waiting Uncoordinated Person”. But that was all good. Because I felt awesome. And I feel awesome. And there are still 12 hours left in my birthday!

Because I’m HAPPY!!

I often have these expectations for special days like birthdays, and Christmas, and I feel like I only have specified times to breathe and take care of me, and that feels like more pressure, and I measure my good time against some target I can’t even explain or quantify. But starting with last Christmas, I decided to not do that. To just enjoy the day, and the birth of Jesus, and the Chinese food and the friends who are family. And it was wonderful. And that is what I am doing today. No expectations that it has to be the best day. Just doing what I can.

And that makes it the best day.

So if you are still reading this, I would love for you to tell me of a time where you just went with it and took care of yourself, and if that hasn;t happened in awhile, tell me how you would LIKE to do that. Write in the comments below, and I will pick a person to give 2 tickets to my theater’s upcoming family shows in Hanover, MD this Saturday. Cool?


It’s all about ME: Jealously guarding your time to yourself, no matter what

by SweetMidlife

 

Getting to the root of the matter

This is Leslie, and this is a picture of me getting my highlights done. It is not the cutest photo in the world, nor would it ever see the light on my eHarmony or Match.com profiles, if I had not run fleeing from those sites because they have produced not a daggone thing for your girl. But there is something very vital, even beautiful happening here. See that smile under all those ridiculous and lovely foils? It’s the look of a mom who’s getting to sit in a chair for a few hours dedicated only to making her a more gorgeous, happy version of herself.

There was also day wine. But that smile was mostly because of the Me Time.

Me Time is important. I don’t think I really understood that when all of my time was Me Time, when I was single, and even after I got married, before my son. In a weird way, even my job is sometimes Me Time, at least the times when I’m writing first-person columns about my life or opinions. But it’s not really Me Time, because I’m on the clock, with parameters set by someone else on just how much Me I share, and when. Even still, before my little Brooks was in the picture, the time when I wasn’t at the office was mine, focused on what I needed and wanted. I could get up at 5:30 a.m. and go to Boot Camp, and as long as I was done in time for my next interview it was cool. I didn’t have to feed and dress another human being, look for something semi-nutritious to throw in his lunch bag, wipe the syrup off of the tablet I thought I told him not to use while eating waffles but am too tired to walk across the kitchen and take. Picking my battles. Deciding whether to count the calorie or two in the syrup I just licked off the finger I wiped the syrup off the tablet with.

I know I am not telling any of you who are parents, or other sorts of caretakers, anything about the lack of You Time, of really focusing on yourself. And I don’t mean painting your nails while you make lunch, or scarfing down an extra bag of Cheez-its while you wait for your conference call. I’m talking about taking at least an hour to get your own nails done – no returning work emails! – or taking yourself to a lunch and keeping your laptop in the bag. I’m talking about having a conversation that you’re not watching the clock during, or watching an episode of whatever you want without interruption from someone demanding “Paw Patrol.”

And not feeling guilty about it. And not making excuses, or cutting it short for anything less than an emergency. And knowing you deserve it.

You do, you know. I do. Even when I think I don’t. So there’s the story behind that smile, goofy under the foils. It’s the look of someone who was, before this photo, fighting the urge to check my email or do something about my grocery list. And guess what? Work went on without me. Nobody starved. But me? I got to breathe. I got new hair. I got to have a fun talk about pop culture and random conspiracies with my stylist who is also my friend. I spent hundreds of bucks on myself and I didn’t mostly feel bad about it. (I did for a few seconds and then was like ‘Thank you, New Hair!)

I can’t do it all the time, because then no one would eat, or have anywhere to live, and I’d get fired and don’t nobody want that. But in this moment, with all the shiny foils, I was all about Leslie. Because she deserves that.


Non-Zen thoughts that went through my head during this morning’s yoga class

by SweetMidlife

Yoga can make you as chill as this sleeping child on a plane. Of course, he was acting afool ten minutes before he passed out from foolishness-related exhaustion. But you feel me.

This is Leslie, and I am a bad yogi, I am more Yogi Bear, Including the picnic baskets.  

Still, I have been doing more and more breathing and moving on mats in tranquil rooms with twisty, Zen people all around me like a multi-generational Pinterest board. And my body, including my problem knees and gnarly runner’s feet, seem to like it. My mind does too – I admit to checking my text messages from my mat, my iPhone hidden under my yoga blanket, when I first started back, because I was a bad person. But that was Two Months Back Leslie. Current Yoga Leslie is better than that. Most of the time. Allegedly.

This morning, during a very chill but challenging Gentle Yoga class, I tried to follow the instructor’s suggestion to being present in the class and to clear my mind of the thoughts I brought into the studio. My mind is old and watches a lot of “Law and Order” when it’s not working full time, paying bills and talking a 3-year-old down from a sleep-deprivation tsunami of nonsense, so it welcomes the clearing. The problem is, I was so chill that it was hard to block the weirdness that flowed in to fill the spaces vacated by “Bob The Builder:” I swear these are actual thoughts I had while doing a seated Warrior 1. I’m sorry.

  • “I wonder what this is under my foot…is that a peppercorn? How did I roll a peppercorn into my yoga mat? Have I been eating risotto over my yoga mat in my sleep?”
  • “Where do they buy their sconces?”
  • “I wonder if anyone here is vegan. I could eat the heck out of some curry right now.”
  • “I must ask what this essential oil she gave us is. Lavender? Maybe. Smells like cookies. Are there lavender cookies? Or does every smell remind me of cookies?”
  • “Seriously. Where can I get some curry? Who should I ask?”
  • “I really should have lotioned my feet more. I got Ashy Yoga Foot.”
  • “These yoga pants are really big. Have I lost weight or can I not properly buy yoga pants?”
  • “Why can’t I get “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” out of my head? That is not remotely what that yoga ambient noise song sounds like.”
  • “She said we didn’t have to use a pillow but I’m not too proud to use a pillow because I ain’t trying to hurt my back trying to look fly in a Gentle yoga class.”
  • “Crap. Did I fall asleep?”
  • “I’ma look for some curry on my walk home.”

Happy Isn’t Always the Point, and Disappointment Happens, But That’s Okay!!

by SweetMidlife

HI! It’s Lynne. We haven’t written in a bunch, so hi!

So we have had an exciting few days here at my house. We have been fighting all kinds of sinus grossness, then last week I was diagnosed with bronchitis. In the middle of the ick, though, has been some fun, like the birthday party that our son went to on Saturday, where he did gymnastics stuff, then came home and went with the birthday friends to our local playground, where he jumped and ran, and then back home, where he tripped on a stick in the front yard and fractured his leg. So, our weekend looked different than we planned, with ER and ortho visits, but there was also lots of eating in the living room, which we don’t usually do, and lounging and carryout and eating fun things like Lunchables from the hospital vending machine. Life is like that, especially when you are trying to adult. You make adjustments, and even though you go through lengths to try to make your kids not so disappointed that things are different, you hope that they know in the end that you are doing what you can without passing out.

And sometimes they don’t.

My son’s cast that my husband performed Spider-Man and Sharpie magic on

This morning, the little boy and I were supposed to hang out with friends of ours, another mommy and little boy pair, and it was going to be awesome. Except I woke up this morning feeling sinus-y again, and I already have a work commitment tonight, and our house looks too crazy to have them over here, and a restaurant play place would not work with the cast, so I decided to reschedule. Which made the little boy who lives here unhappy. And my friend (the other mom) and I were on the phone trying to work out all kinds of ways to still see them elsewhere, but that was getting complicated, and we just decided to wait to get together for a few days. And I knew that this wasn’t going to make my son happy, and that made me pause for a second, but I quickly realized, with my dad’s voice echoing in my head (I miss you Daddy!!), that this was okay.

Because my son has not just the necessities like a home and clothing and food and love, but he has perks like the internet and ice cream and several couches and lots of toy trucks. We aren’t trying to toughen him up by making him eat hardened bread crusts and walk 2 miles to preschool. But making other people happy isn’t always the best thing for them if….

…It makes YOU unhappy or sick. We make sacrifices for the peeps we love, but me not getting better helps nobody.
…It teaches them that it is okay if other people are unhappy or sick as long as they have what they want
…It teaches them that momentary happy, which I personally find awesome, is always more important than anything else ever
…They think that they are owed everything that they want like donuts every time you pick them up from school, which is awesome because donuts, but you do eat them a lot and then that time you really just need to go home because it’s late and also there is a limit to donuts, they say that they never get to do ANYTHING, and because they aren’t going now they will NEVER HAVE DONUTS AGAIN EVER and you NEVER do nice things for them.

So. We aren’t going to see our friends today and that is fine. We will see them in a few days. And we might go around the corner and get a treat later that’s closer because I am still into fun and happiness. Because it’s cool. But so are other things. Treats among the other things are good.

We’ll be okay.

 


Fear and things

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne.

I spent a lot of time yesterday making a final decision on the next show that the theater I run (we do shows with professional actors for kids) is going to do, and after a bunch of time going back and forth, I decided on a show about a town of people who are afraid to go outside and live life until someone shows them how to get through that fear, and they get to live full lives. It’s a wonderful message, and I was feeling really great about it. Then I read about the shooting at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale. And on the way to pick up my son from preschool, and while I was there, and then while I was at Trader Joe’s, I realize that I was uneasy, because I began to eye the people around me suspiciously. And I mean everybody. And it was a horrible feeling.

And I wanted to go back to my house and barricade us inside.

Bad things happen. It’s on the news, and it’s in our lives. I have very dear friends who are hurting unimaginably  because of something horrific that happened to a dear friend of theirs.

And life still happens, even in the face of hate, and things that don’t make sense.

I believe in being cautious, and smart, but even that doesn’t prevent bad things from happening.

Fear can come from big and little things.

15942873_10154152070563053_1145041546_o

Today, it snowed here, and my son has been itching to go outside and play, even though there wasn’t a bunch of snow, and even though it was still snowing. So we put on our stuff, and we went out, and we played with digger trucks in the snow, and we saw 2 of our teen aged neighbors riding their bikes. The little one and I walked up the street to see them doing wheelies, and ride really fast, and on the way back to our house, my son asked if we could ask the boys to come play with us. And I  tried to avoid it. I said we were going in soon, which we were, and I said that the boys were already playing on their bikes and wouldn’t want to stop doing this to come play in our yard. And as my kid looked at me and begged me to PLEASE go talk to them, I realized that I didn’t want to ask them because I was scared. I was scared of rejection, and that they would say no, and that my kid’s feelings would get hurt, or that they would feel obligated because a little kid was asking, and they really wouldn’t want to, and I imagined all of these things, and he still pleaded me to go ask, and so we did. And the boys were beyond sweet, and asked him about bikes, and we talked about my son’s new bike, and the boys rode really fast so he could see them make tracks, and one of them even got off of his bike and raced my son up the street on foot and let him win. And it was lovely and my son now knows about the kindness of big kids.

It’s good.

None of this changes that bad things happen, and that even if you cross all of your t’s and dot every i (and do that), bad things might still happen.

But live, okay? Say hi to new people. Go play in the snow. Travel. Grow things. Be a growing thing. Live.


Pamela Smart, TV murder and who’s writing your story in the New Year

by SweetMidlife
Bang your own drum, or be content with someone else doing it for you. And that means they get to pick the tune.

Bang your own drum, or be content with someone else doing it for you. And that means they get to pick the tune.

Leslie here! One of my New Year’s resolutions – yeah, they’re mostly poppycock, but hear me out – is to spend less time reading other people’s writing and actually writing myself. I’m a writer after all. Says so on my business card and my tax returns. It’s almost embarrassing how not proactive I’ve been, particularly when you consider that I always thought I was. But if you don’t take careful possession of who you actually appear to be, and who is telling your truth, you are doomed. Like, “doomed” if you were reading it in Vincent Price’s voice. Like you’re screwed.

I was reminded of this on New Year’s Day, watching “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart,” a 2014 HBO documentary that’s not so much about the murder of a young husband by his wife’s teen lover and his friends that she’s accused of setting up, but why we think we know what we know about it. Smart, a former school New England school media coordinator who is serving life without parole for engineering the plot, still maintains her innocence, and director Jeremiah Zagar seems to think that’s possible. But that’s not what his movie is about. It’s about how Smart herself was set up as the unfortunate subject of a “ripped-from-the-headlines” culture in the early ’90s, before myriad studies on how media coverage effects both juries and public opinion. There were several books, a widely-scene TV movie starring Helen Hunt and even a wickedly excellent Gus Van Zandt movie, “To Die For” that was loosely based on the case. Even though the movies came after the verdict, there is evidence that they have tainted any chance Smart has of getting a new trial. Person after person involved in the case, from co-conspirators to reporters to even the filmmakers and writers who recorded it as history, admit that they have a hard time separating fact from fiction. They sometimes forget which details were in evidence and which were lines spouted by Helen Hunt on a TV set.

It’s eerie to imagine that a real woman could be sitting in jail for the rest of her life – she’s spent more than half of it there already – because she had the dumb luck of falling into a salacious situation of her own making. It possessed all sorts of nasty little made-for-Geraldo details like the seduction of a teen boy,  old found bikini photos made to look like they were taken explicitly to seduce the kid, a secret, damning tape and the like. Smart’s defense team, who decided that they didn’t want to try the case in the press, didn’t insist that she tell her own story. What they didn’t appreciate is that this story was going to be told for her, in so many televised testimonies and talk show punditry. Watching the court of public opinion bury Smart two decades later, in glorious early-90s big hair and shoulder pads, is claustrophobic, because of what we know now about how media can bury or salvage you depending on its whims. The case predated the present Casey Anthonys and even the Dalia Dippolitos – troubled women with a whiff of sexual inappropriateness and big doe eyes that make people either want to save them or smack them. Maybe they’re all guilty. But if they weren’t – like if there was video of someone else committing their crimes – some people would still refuse to believe it because we’ve all discussed it and decided that they did it.

So what I’m saying is this – whether you’re the First Lady or the lunch lady, you are a public person to someone. There are people who are curious about you, who are forming opinions about you based on your Facebook profile or your last ten Tweets, or your Pinterest boards or even what they saw you buy at the Winn-Dixie last week. They probably don’t even realize that these opinions are being formed, but they are being formed, all the same. I respect the right of everyone to have their own lives, to curate the details of those lives accordingly and to not have to justify anything they do to a bunch of strangers. But “Captivated” reminded me that if you don’t take an active role in telling your own story, it’s still being told. I will take that lesson this year as a person who posts about working out but doesn’t lose weight because I keep eating things you don’t see, as a writer who sometimes spends too much time watching TV someone else wrote and not writing herself. Stuff like that. I can say I’m one thing, in all the Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter I want, but if I don’t actively inhabit those things, I am not them. I am telling a different story. Be aware of who you are and how your life tells that story. It might be speaking louder than your words.


2016: The year that was…sucky…and great…and a good set-up for something better

by SweetMidlife
Keep on rocking in the new year!

Keep on rocking in the new year!

This is Leslie, who does not write nearly as much as she should on this blog. My previous excuse has been that I write full-time as a newspaper columnist so I don’t always want to sit down and write some more, but time is money, and as a single mother I can tell you that making money is worth my time. So even though we don’t really make any money on this labor of love because we don’t write enough, we certainly won’t make any if we don’t write. Synergy and stuff.

So this is why I’m up at 1-ish a.m. on the last day of 2016, briefly writing about how even though this year sucked for so many reasons, it was OK or even transcendent in some cases. Yes, yes, I’m talking about the same year that killed Prince, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, Glenn Frey and George Michael, among others. (Hide, Betty White!) And then there’s the fact of some major nastiness, racism and ugliness that seems to be bolder about showing itself. It was always there,  but now it’s just braver and not hiding (and if you’re attempting to blame racism on people who note that there is racism, this blog is not for you and you can go now, seriously. Get out of here with that mess.)

But bad and good things happen in every year – 2015 was the year I lost my husband, and 2016 was the year that the adoption of our son became final. So I’m a bigger fan of 2016. I am sure that in all of your lives, there are highs and lows in any 12-month period. I can’t speak for you, but here is a list of the reasons that 2017 might be better than 2016:

1) If 2016 did not kill you, you can make 2017 better.

Yep, that’s it. That’s my list. If you are still breathing, you have the opportunity to find something about 2017 to like. I am not attempting to downplay the very real pain that you may have about politics, or that rise in nastiness and sharp drop in courtesy and civility. It sucks. It’s real. And it might get worse before it gets better. (Again, go hide somewhere, Betty White, until the smoke clears.)

But let me lay something real on you – in 2015 I got the wind kicked out of me. In an instant I was a widow, a single mom, the primary breadwinner and a matriarch. Stuff got real. I was doubled over. And then I crawled to my feet and kept moving. I am not a hero. I am not special. I am not Beyonce. I’m a person who had to keep breathing, broken heart and all. For a while, I was just treading water. But now I’m doing something approximating thriving. It’s not the way I would have defined that before, but I now have some joy. And a new beginning. 2016 was a new beginning for my family – actually, everything that came after my husband’s death in July 2015 was a new beginning. And this year represents another one.

It is another year to fight the injustice we see, to slap down ignorance and buffalo racism, sexism, homophobia and other isms and phobias till they run screaming. It’s another year to lick our wounds, to regroup, It’s another year to hug your babies, to kiss your partner, to fall in love. To love on your mama and your grandma, or, if you don’t have one of those, to hold close whoever you have. It is a year to be better.

Because we are still here. Which is better than the alternative. Happy 2017, guys. It might not be the most awesome new year, but it’s awesome because it’s a new year we have.


Marvin Gaye Was Right

by SweetMidlife

IMG_20140114_105806 (2)Hi. It’s Lynne. (And I say in the way of disclaimer that because of Leslie’s job as a journalist, there are things she can’t comment on here, so what follows is from me.)

So, the last time I blogged it was the day after the Presidential election in November, and some people were elated, while others, including me, were not. And I wanted to think about the fact that on a human level, we all hurt, and those hurts and wanting not to have them anymore, often plays into how you vote, and to how you feel when your person wins. Or doesn’t. I was raw.

In the month that has passed, there has been a lot of ugliness, and hate crimes, and generalizations, and just trying to make sense of everything, and how people are feeling, and why they feel that, and whether or not you even care how they feel, because, well, you have to live your life.

Which is how the heck we got here.

So I ask you to take a step back and really look at your fellow humans and ask WHY they feel the way they feel. We have acknowledged THAT we hurt. But do something to figure out why. People aren’t just whining because their candidate lost, and if you stick with calling people Buttercup and deciding that they are just sore losers, or calling them Deplorable and decided that they are all just wretched, you miss why they are sore and bleeding. And it isn’t about losing a daggone election. There are so many things happening that affect real lives on a basic level. Here’s just one of mine: I can say for me, that an administration that wants to deny the existence of institutional racism, and who thinks that profiling people and whether they will commit crimes based on how they look directly challenges the physical, moral and dignity of existence of me and my husband and my son. This is not okay. No. Not. This is what’s going on for me, and I am sure that you have your own things that give you pause, that challenge your existence, that influenced your vote for or against the President-elect, or for or against his Democrat opponent.

I would like to hear it. Like really hear it. Because we aren’t going to get anywhere if we aren’t listening to what’s going on in other people’s lives.

Last month I was at the funeral for my husband’s beautiful sister in Texas, and after the service, everyone went back to my niece’s house for fellowship and the most ridiculously awesome mashed potatoes that had butter swimming on the top. Yes. That is the good stuff. And as we ate, I was talking to a couple from my family’s church, and it turned out that they and my husband had lived on the same military base in Japan, and as they talked and remembered what it was like to drive in blinding white snow, and compared notes on people they knew, and the sights, I didn’t have anything to add to the conversation at the level that they did because I never lived there. But instead of just listening at first, I realized that I was trying to catch pieces of the conversation to turn things back to stuff that I could comment on, not so much because I wanted to be a part of the conversation, but because I wanted something to say in a talk I knew nothing about. And when I realized what I was trying to do, I kinda kicked myself, and just sat there and really immersed myself in the conversation around me, until I could see what they saw because they described it so well. And I learned.

And this is what I challenge us all to do. Really find out what’s going on in other people’s lives who are different from you. I guarantee you that if we did that, we would have less division, because I couldn’t reduce you to talking points, and you couldn’t do that to me. Because people aren’t just licking their wounds. People feel like their lives are being threatened. I am not being dramatic, even though I am an actress and do drama well. Just keep your eyes and hearts open. I promise to do the same. I am not content to saying, “Oh well, we got 4 more years. We can win in 4 more years.” Because seriously, if people were less concerned on either side with winning than they were about making people’s lives better, well, maybe people’s lives will be better. And maybe we would have less “sides”.

Okay, I am starting to repeat myself. But just really try to see what’s going on, okay? What’s going on with you?


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