Monday, February 29, 2016

My "Extra" Day

What a beautiful "Extra" Day ~ Leap Day 2016!
"If it happens today, it didn't really happen," said the voice in my car radio this morning on my commute. "It's an extra day! A bonus!”—another shouted when I clicked to a different station.
Today, FEB 29, is leap day—the day inserted every four years to keep our calendar operating smoothly. This extra day makes the year 366 days long.
Since I am not in the market for the deniability offered by the first DJ (not today, anyway), I got to wondering what I would do or should do, if I knew this was truly an "extra" day. Not to be too maudlin, but if this was it, the end, the finale and I were gifted one more day, how would I spend it?
That sure puts life right in perspective. I have allowed my energy to be drained and my enthusiasm to wane in the last few days because of negative comments made by others. I have spent hours explaining, apologizing, cajoling. Just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap or eat chocolate—did I mention I am on a 3-Day Cleanse? So I pray I wake up tomorrow for a do-ever because today (and much of last week) is not how I would choose to spend my “extra” day.
It might be easier to start with what I would NOT do on my “extra” day. I would not complain, whine or roll my eyes. I would not waste one second with people who are not kind to me and my family. I would not do anything involving money.  I would not workout or worry about what I eat. I know that’s terrible for a Beachbody coach to admit, but it’s the truth. I have often joked about a “Last Supper,” referring to what I gobble down before starting another fitness challenge. To really know it was my last supper, I don’t even know if I would want to waste the time eating. Just writing that literally gives me food for thought.
Family fun last summer.
What would I do?
On my “extra’ day, I would wake up early—like I normally do—because I wouldn’t want to miss a second of that precious day. More importantly, I would wake up next to my husband (we currently live in two cities and visit on the weekends). I would hot tub with him and sip wine—I am aware wine is not a breakfast food, but this is our extra day. I would call all the people I love, unless I could gather them around me.  I would want to see my dad, sister, brother, all our family members and the sweet friends I have collected over the years who know me better than I know myself. I would tell them I love them. I would give hugs freely to people I encounter and share with them the gift of my extra day.

My favorite days are when we gather with the Fish Kids.
I would hope the Fish kids would be with me. Whether they were with me or not, I would write them each a love letter, although I know there are not words for how much I love Kelsey and Cory.  As my fellow mamas know, that love is indescribable and only gets stronger as our babies grow away from us.
I would breathe deeply and appreciate the weather, the sky, the breeze, the leaves. I would savor the sounds of life—dogs barking in the distance, children calling out, birds.  I would also savor the gratitude that I feel about so many things in my life, like the rush I get when I pull up my driveway and realize this is our sweet home or the real rush I get when I pick Tony up on a Friday night at the train station and know that the next two days are ours.
I would take a good long, final look around and think, “I hope I have loved enough and given enough.”  And then I would look up and say, “Thank you.”
And if I am honest, I would add, “More, please.”

This mama friend is missed by so many.
 Ruthanne knew how to live life to the fullest.

But Wait, There’s More….

I am embarrassed to admit that I cried when I wrote this. It surprised me how my tears flowed, until I realized I was crying for Ruthanne, my mother and Tony’s mother—the mamas, who left too soon.

My sweet mama. I miss her everyday.

Tony's mama.

Friday, January 29, 2016

OOPS! Never a Dull Moment...

This is what 4 AM
 at the Rabat Airport looks like.
I can cross sitting in a dark airport alone in Morocco off my bucket list, since that's where I am as I write this.
After a fabulous, nearly flawless week in Morocco with our daughter celebrating our January birthdays, I apparently needed a dramatic finale.  My birthday was yesterday and we celebrated all day—it was great. The morning started with crepes and hot chocolate, followed by a massage for me at a fabulous spa (thank you, Kelsey!) and then a beautiful lunch in a garden at a French CafĂ©. Next some minty Moroccan hot tea at a hotel and some shopping. We later took a walk and then showered and went out to a yummy Moroccan dinner. Cake and champagne followed in the apartment that Kelsey shares with Laziza.  I packed my suitcase and got everything ready for an early departure to the airport. Kelsey had thoughtfully arranged a taxi ride with a driver she knows and trusts. He was scheduled to pick me up at 5 AM. The plan was to sleep a couple of hours and then head to the airport.
Celebrating Kelsey's birthday.
Well…that would have lacked a certain level of drama that I apparently crave. Around 1:30 AM, I decided to glance at my itinerary for the first time since arriving in Morocco. I read it to say that my flight was leaving at 6:40 AM, not 7:55 AM.
PANIC ensued!  What to do?? I would never arrive on time if the taxi picked me up at 5 AM.  Unfortunately, the driver was apparently sleeping (as most folks are after 1 AM) and did not answer the multiple calls made to his phone. So, Kelsey was sweet enough to call another driver she knew of and ask him to come early. He said he would (for double the price), so it was arranged. Laziza was awakened more than once to speak in French to the driver. He needed extra help finding the apartment.
Cheers to me...
just hours before my panicked
and unnecessary early trip to the airport.
I got scooped up by 3:15 AM and arrived at the airport at 3:40 AM—after asking the driver to stop looking at his Facebook as we sped through the mostly empty streets of Rabat. When we pulled in front of the airport, it looked suspiciously dark. Amazingly, a porter ran out to get my bags (and garner a tip). Once inside the completely dark airport, I realized the schedule in my backpack was wrong (or I was sadly mistaken). My flight actually does leave at 7:55 AM. The airport opens at 5 AM.  Luckily, a security guard told me to have a seat and wait…
So that’s how I find myself sitting in a dark, empty airport in Morocco. Sleep is overrated anyway. And besides, this will make a much better story to tell…later…much later!
My apologies to my awesome hosts, Kelsey and Laziza. I had a fabulous time in your beautiful city and it looks like I will get to enjoy one more sunrise from my perch in the airport. I hope you both get a few hours’ rest.
But wait, there’s more…
Unfortunately, the airport internet would not let me post this, so I am posting it after landing at Dulles International Airport, where I watched the sunset as we deplaned. What perfect symmetry...a sunrise in Morocco and hours later in Virginia, a sunset.
I am often accused of being a little Pollyanna about things. Despite my natural tendency to look on the bright side of situations, sometimes finding that shiny side can be a challenge. But, this crazy departure story already has me giggling. There are a couple lessons for me here:  check and double check my itinerary early and often and don’t create panic until double checking the airline schedule online, but where would be the drama in that?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sleepless in Morocco

I am sleepless in Morocco.

Today our baby turns 25.

Kelsey is our oldest child.
Our firstborn.
Our girl.

Kelsey--or as she preferred to be called when she was 4 and usually sporting a pink tutu, "Princess, Barbie, Kelsey Christine, Clarice, Be My Guest, Beauty Belle Fish" or some variation of that long string of titles--has never lacked in style. Even at 4, Kelsey was defining herself and making a name (or multiple names!) for herself.

Kelsey was an early birthday gift to me 25 years ago in that military hospital in Seoul, Korea. My birthday is two days after hers and holding our newborn girl, I was grateful for her and full of hope for what she would become. Even in my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined half of what Kelsey has accomplished already. Kelsey is in Morocco on a Boren Fellowship doing graduate research for her Masters in Global Communications from George Washington University. Our spunky girl moved to Morocco on her own in September and has made a life for herself from scratch--and it's a sweet life full of friends, travel and experiences she will never forget. What's even more amazing is that this is not her first foray into living abroad.

Starting her freshman year at The College of William & Mary, Kelsey lived in Beirut, Jordan, Berlin and Morocco (the first time for a summer, where she studied Arabic in a program sponsored by The State Department). With each of these relocations, she hopped a plane alone and created a life for herself. The shy girl who would have her younger brother, Cory, go ask for ketchup for her at a fast food place because she was too afraid, has found her voice and conquered her fears.

So that's how I find myself in Morocco.

I find myself sleepless because I want this moment to freeze. I am remembering a time when my mom came to visit me in Alabama and my husband, Tony, was away. Kelsey and Cory, were young. My mom and I shared our king-sized bed and giggled like school girls and even then I knew that those days were special. As I enjoy this week-long slumber party with our girl, I just want to cherish every second. We are making promises to always celebrate our January birthdays together with some dedicated "Girl Time." I will hold us to those promises.

What I remember most about that day 25 years ago in Korea is how over-the-moon happy I was holding our sweet girl. I wanted to freeze time then too.  Seeing all that Kelsey has become I am glad time marched on. While I find myself wistfully wanting to freeze time again, I know Kelsey's story is not finished yet and mine isn't either. I can't wait to see what our beautiful, smart, kind girl will accomplish next.

Happy Birthday, Princess.


But wait, there's more...

I haven't written a blog post in months. My writer daughter inspired me to get going again!  Cathy Jones, Sheryl Ellis and Heather Conroy have also encouraged me to charge on. Strong women are amazing. Thank you to all the strong, loving women in my life--especially the birthday girl.