Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Letter To You

Dear Grandma Stone,
Last night I stepped out of the shower and grabbed a clean towel from the closet, started to dry my face, and stopped. I took a long, sweet, inhale of that towel which smelled exactly like the ones I’d pull from beneath your bathroom sink as a child. That wood-soaked, fresh-laundry smell, hinting slightly of shelf liner and extra bars of soap, transported me back into your house, into the hall bathroom, and I was 5, 7, 13 again, stepping out of your shower and onto the yellow carpet. There were the Picasso-esque New Orleans jazz players on the wall at my right, the brass floor rack that held extra towels by the double sink, the soap dish that cradled mysteriously shaped soaps I was always too scared to use. I didn’t want to mar them. I used the pump dispenser.
And when I went to bed last night I couldn’t get you or your house out of my mind. Was it because it was your birthday and I hadn’t called? Was my obsession motivated by guilt? I laid in bed for over an hour and walked through your home in my memory. Like a 360-degree video clip I scanned each room; the walls, the contents of the cupboards, the index card labels on each box and carton written in black sharpie. Walking into your home always filled me with such a sense of peace; the smells, the quiet jazz station playing from the radio on the counter, the cleanly order of each room, dusted and sparkling perfection. Your home was one of the few places I felt I could truly escape, even amidst the turmoil of life and work and motherhood, and no matter my age, where I could stretch out my arm for the soft caress of your fingers. I imagined all this and for a brief, fleeting moment, felt like things were still as they were. And you still lived there on Manhatton Drive and I could still go to you for respite. In your presence I could always breathe deeply, unencumbered by life.
Dad had taken me through your home when it was empty and cleaned, the walls sterilized with fresh white paint, the new windows draft and rattle free. Walking in sucked the breath from my body as if every beautiful thing and all the magic and all our history in those rooms had been wiped clean, existing only in particles of eraser dust on the crisp, virgin carpet. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to that house then. I’m not really ready to say goodbye to you now.
Is that why I imagined your home so vividly last night? Did you know about today somehow, and send me those beautiful memories to help make today easier for me? It did a little. I think.
You’d be glad to know I’m surrounded by you in my home. I go to bed and wake up every morning seeing your painting; the nude you painted in art class hangs in gold frame on my ice blue bedroom walls. It’s the most perfect place for that piece, the room bringing out the best in the aquamarines and browns. I stare at that painting and try to imagine what you were like at that age, try to imagine you painting it, what you might have been wearing, the strokes of your hands as you laid the oils on canvas. Your other painting hangs in my living room, your dishes are in my kitchen cupboards, I pour tea from the crystal pitcher you gave me, your beautiful crèche adorned my holiday mantel. You are everywhere here. And yet, you live most vibrantly in my memories of plywood play sets and green felt advent trees, red suitcases filled with special toys, and dolls from faraway lands. Wicker ducks and chickens that laid candy once a day, and a closet full of strange and exciting toys I’d never seen and didn’t have at home. The smell of your lipstick and Bill Blass perfume. Your closet that housed a menagerie of necklaces and jewelry. The way you set a beautiful table. Your gift for gracious hostessing. Your bible verses and quotes on the side of your refrigerator. Your never ending lists of things to do, to make, to order, to cook, to prepare for.
I was coming to visit, in three short weeks (now three long weeks), to hold your hand and sit by your bed and keep you company. I would have brought you chocolate covered ginger even if you could have only smelled it. I wanted to show you the book I just published, even if I only read you a few pages. In my heart, did I suspect this might happen? Perhaps. But even when we know what the future holds, it’s still difficult isn’t it Grandma? And although I know there was rejoicing in heaven today when you got up there and that this day was the best of your life, right at this very moment it doesn’t console me much.
I could wax poetic forever about the childhood memories you gave me and the endless ways you made me feel special. But the value of those recollections matter to no one but my own heart. And now, in heaven you know them all. There is nothing left to say except I’m sorry I didn’t call you yesterday. 
I love you.
I'll miss you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

It's a....BOOK!

Rachel Vidoni and her new baby, Little Changes

 I just wanted to let you all know, officially here on my blog, that I had my baby. Well, it was a joint labor really, but the book that Kristi Marsh and I have been working on for the last year and a half arrived in the mail two days ago, in actual pages. With a binding. And amazing illustrations. It was certainly the longest labor of my life; 13,148.7 hours. Not that I was counting. And while I didn’t need an epidural, there were quite a few hours in there that required numerous glasses of wine and a lot of sustained breathing exercises.

When I first signed the contract (over margaritas and Mexican food) to ghostwrite/edit this book, I had little idea of what it would entail, but was excited for an opportunity to actually be part of a book-writing process. Kristi didn’t really know me. I didn’t really know her. I didn’t know much about the book she wanted to write and I had absolutely no clue how to work on a project of this nature (which I’ve kept a secret until now). Honestly, I didn’t know if I was even capable of such a feat, but the book proposition presented itself, so I pretended I was an expert writer who could transform anything she handed me into spun gold. 

Which of course, I did.

Not very humble sounding, is it? That’s terrible, I know. I’m not a big one to toot my own horn, but after a labor and delivery like this one, I’m pretty proud of the book we created and I want to show it off to the world—just like a first-time mom holding up her newborn baby. “Isn’t she beautiful?” I know. How much more narcissistic can I get?

Well, a little more is always possible apparently. 

Little Changes; Tales of a Reluctant Home Eco-Momics  Pioneer

 That’s my name right there. The little blue one under the big pink one. My name is in print on the cover

The honest truth is that it’s a fabulous story. It’s easy to make a delectable, mouthwatering burger when you are working with 100% grass-fed, free-range, happy meat.  Little Changes has an amazing and important message. Somewhere around the middle of the project Kristi asked me, “Why are you doing this? Why are you working so hard for this book and for me?”

I honestly didn’t have a very scientific reason for her. The contract I signed notwithstanding, I worked on this book because I believe in its message. And more than that, as the project continued, I had this gut-feeling that this book was going to be big.

As in, BIG.

And just so you know, I’m going to be blogging about this book A LOT. Mostly because our marketing budget is, well, smaller than we had hoped. Which is why I’m relying on my family, friends, and the three other people that read this blog to help me spread the word. And if you are a blogger/writer and would like a copy to read and review on your blog, PLEASE leave a comment or send me a message. I’ll make sure you get a copy pronto.

As things have progressed and the book is in our hands and so many AMAZING opportunities are coming her/our way, all I can say is;


It’s not too late! You can do it HERE

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The First Test

The forgotten trumpet. 

It’s January 3rd, and I was already given an opportunity to put my only New Year’s Resolution into effect. As is typical, this morning my son was late getting out the door, with my husband waiting for him in the driveway, car running. My son always announces that he’s “ready” for school, even though he’s sitting at the table, barefoot, sporting bed head, with cereal milk dripping from his mouth as he says it. The time between the words, “I’m ready,” to his butt actually hitting the passenger seat is about 10 minutes. At least. Such is the life of pre-teens.

About 20 minutes after he left, the phone rang. I was elbow deep in my daughter's french braid so I let the machine get it. I heard:

“Mom. It’s me. Can you bring my trumpet to school? I need it. Thanks.” Click.

I finished my daughter’s hair and assessed the situation. I was dressed and ready, but my four year old was on the couch in her pj’s, and another daughter who needed to get to the bus stop in 15 minutes, and it was colder than a witch’s….well, it was just really, really, cold outside. We’ll leave it at that.

I flew through the house, grabbing his trumpet from his room, his music folder strewn about his floor, trying to unhook my parka from the closet, mentally checked the fact that I had 15 minutes to get there, drop it off, and return home or either my middle daughter was going to miss the bus, or my four year old would be home alone, and it was getting hard to breathe, and I realized…

Hey. I have choices here. Am I making this decision On Purpose?

No. I wasn’t. I was trying to be a good mom. You know, that good mom who brings the trumpet to school when her pre-teen son should have been getting his things together but was instead watching cartoons on TV at 6:30 a.m. I was doing what I’ve been trained and conditioned to do, which is rescue people/children from situations they get themselves into, and while certain circumstances do call for a mom to bring things to school (medication or a project that won’t fit into a bus seat) this was not one of those times. So I shelved the instinct to be good, and settled for what I do best, and that is mediocre. I was selfish and chose sanity over saving my son's arse. Sealing my decision with a grain of reality, I also rationalized that band was only the first period of the day. Chances were good that even if I got the damned trumpet to school, the class would soon be ending and he wouldn’t be able to play it anyway.

So I made a different decision. I hung my coat back inside the closet, grabbed a new cup of coffee, and had a very pleasant, non-stressful morning. Making that decision On Purpose was so liberating! I made another decision On Purpose and moved my son’s trumpet and music folder to the front door where he would see it when he left for school the next day. You’re welcome son.

The best part about my decision? When my son came home he asked me, “So, did you get my message this morning?”

“Yep,” I replied.

“You just didn’t feel like bringing it?” he asked.

“Nope. I didn’t have time. Did you get in trouble?” I asked, silently hoping for some logical consequences here.

“No. I just changed the subject and my teacher didn’t say anything else about it.”

Well, no consequences, but overall the experience was win-win. My son didn’t get into trouble (this time) and I had a fabulous, productive, stress-free morning.

On Purpose. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Only New Year's Resolution

This year I’m only making one New Year’s Resolution. Broad enough that many things could count toward its progress, yet vague enough that if I miss the mark in some areas, I won’t feel like I’ve failed. My goal for 2012 is simple really;

Live Life On Purpose.

What kind of ridiculous resolution is that? you may be asking. How the heck else do people live life? On accident?  

Yes. Exactly my point. For a long time I’ve been living my life on accident. But no longer.

I’m no philosopher—heck, I’m mediocre across the board—but it occurs to me that many people want results in their lives but don’t actually want to change anything. We make resolutions to lose weight and then refuse to seriously cut out the calories or forgo the pasta and refined sugar. We vow to work out and exercise more, and then show up at the gym twice a week and only when it doesn’t interfere with our other commitments. We want the payoff without the pay; the prize without the contest rules.

Albert Einstein said it best when he said that, Insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

2011 showed me I’ve been insane for a long, long time.

But no longer! It’s a new year and I’m a new person and I’ve been given another chance to get it right. The good news is that everyday I wake up I get this chance again. It really doesn’t just happen on January 1st. That’s purely American Marketing talking.

I HATE exercising in the cold, but I know that I feel better when I go for my walks which clear my mind and help me put things into perspective. I’m going to go walking as much as possible, even when it’s snowing and freezing and I’m swearing under my breath about how damned cold it is. Normally I would stay in bed and relish my warm covers. But now I’m going to pull my sorry ass up, blindly yank on four layers of clothing, and go walking. On Purpose.

I LOVE posting my writing here on this blog, but tend to shelve this desire when life gets busy or stressful. But writing actually frees me, see, and even if I’m tired or stressed, maybe by writing and actually posting, I’ll get rid of some of the weight on my shoulders and feel better. Normally I would choose to sleep, but I’m going to resist that urge and make a decision to write. On Purpose.

2011 also made me realize that for far too long I’ve given the reigns of my life to the wrong people. There I’d sit in the passenger seat of my life and order the drivers around, telling them which way to go, yelling when they’d go too fast or when they’d fly by the patch of flowers I wanted to stop and admire. I’m not sure why I gave up those reigns or what I hoped to gain, but I’m in charge of driving my own buggy and taking care of my own horses and oiling my own leather saddle. It’s taken me a long time to find that joyous part of me again. I’m going to live each day with the joy and excitement I’ve shuttered for years because other people wouldn’t be joyful and excited with me. Or out of fear that they’d think I was crazy. Stupid. So what? So what if I’m the only person dancing in my living room to Lady Gaga while wearing my fuzzy, drawstring pants and sporting morning bed head? So what if no one laughs at my jokes, or acts silly or goofy with me? This year I am resurrecting my authentic self, dusting her off, and letting her shine once more. On Purpose.

My resolutions don’t involve doing anything more, or anything less. I’m not counting calories. I’m not striving to be more patient. When faced with a decision I’m simply going to ask myself, “What have I done in the past? Did I get the result that I wanted? Did my old actions/behaviors bring me joy? Is that what the REAL me would have done?” And based on those answers, I may make a different decision.

A decision made On Purpose. Not because I've always done it that way. Not because it's acceptable. Not because that's what other people want me to do. 

The only thing I’m giving up this year, is insanity.

Who's in YOUR driver's seat? How are YOU going to live differently in 2012?