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Brad’s Fundraising Page


Brad’s Fundraising Page
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Look! Squirrel! What I learned from a squirrel this morning…

Look! Squirrel! What I learned from a squirrel this morning…

D2B93767-66F6-42B7-B10E-06E1EB562DABThere was a big, fat, cheeky, cheerful squirrel (as is the case on most days) performing acrobatic stunts and possibly saying “na na nana boo boo!” (in the language of squirrels) as he faced Jane’s wall of glass this morning from his perch atop the vertical slats of the wooden fence.

It was six degrees Fahrenheit. I know this because my Volkswagen told me so as I drove my creaky, holiday-overstuffed body to practice yoga this morning.

These are the mornings I want to stay in bed, to plead the case to myself that if I just stay home from yoga and diet for a few days, I will feel SO MUCH BETTER about going. Because for the past 60 days or so, I have been traveling, drinking, eating sumptuous roasts and the fatted calf and the sacrificial lamb and Burgermeister Meisterburger’s turkey leg…and the cookies. And enough chocolate for an entire neighborhood’s Halloween. And I’ve loved it, but my scale says I’ve loved it ten pounds worth. And my skin is itchy. And my sinuses are sneezy. Even my elbows are fat, or it feels that way. Zippy pants make muffin top, so I had to temporarily abandon them. So I want to hide for a week or two, get myself back in order, and then come out.

If I weren’t teaching yoga now, there’s a decent chance that I would have done just that. But I can’t, because later today, and tomorrow, and going forward, I have a commitment to teach yoga. (I don’t call it a job.) A commitment that I love, and that I live. Because part of the reason I WANT to do it is to share it with others. So, as I always joke to my husband at this time of year, some days my success is that people can come to my yoga class and say, “See? She can do it, and she sure isn’t shaped like a yoga teacher!”

And that’s okay. Because that really IS a success. I’m happy to support that line of thinking.

Back to the squirrel. (“Look! Squirrel!) This morning’s squirrel was fat and sassy, but his (or her) girthy butt was out there, confident as ever. That extra fat, designed to keep him warm and fed during the winter, did not hold him back from leaping with abandon towards a nearby tree branch. It didn’t stop him from balancing and then running on a wood track maybe an inch wide. He didn’t fall, he didn’t balk.

His body didn’t forget what to do. It didn’t lose strength because it had more to carry, it gained it. His power was palpable, the sinew twitching beneath his meaty haunches.

He was also full of joy. Strong and free, season be damned. He was in a good mood.

Sometimes this Tarzan-esque squirrel, or another member of his brood, will taunt us through the window, luring our drishti away to follow his antics, stopping just short of jamming his little squirrel thumbs into his ears and waggling his tongue at us. He is playful but business-like.

If you’re feeling the same way as I am, hesitant to drag your holiday-plumped, pale, wintertime self to do anything physical, come on out.

You’re strong, and your body hasn’t forgotten it. You’re stable, and you will see that you can count on it. You’re flexible, in body AND mind, and that’s what will get you there. And you’re beautiful, which you will realize as soon as you join the rest of us on our mats and see the whole group of us as individual, lovely disasters.

We’re exactly where we need to be.

Have a day! No pressure!!

True musings

True musings

Funny, when I started this blog years ago I used the word “musings” to describe it, but I’m not sure I have done that at all. I think I tend to use Facebook for my musings, Twitter for my criticism (most people I know in my age group and older are on Facebook so I can be meaner on Twitter and still not blow my cover), and Snapchat for…well, snapchat.

I avoid writing unless I feel I have the time and inspiration for a full, concise essay with a message and hook and an ending. Why? No one sees this anyway, for the most part! So I’m gonna MUSE!

Yesterday evening, I realized as I stood in line for fresh peach ice cream, a seasonal offering at Mitchells, that at that very moment when my husband and I were capping off a long day of sun, food, and cocktails in the searing late summer Sunday heat, a boy I went to high school with–and with whom my husband would eventually cross office space with–was sitting at a service to bury his 19-year old son who had committed suicide. We had visited with the family at the wake earlier in the day, not knowing what to do or say besides a hug, tears, and the promise of prayers. Being thankful for our mental health and that of our children, my husband and I, murmuring taboo words about what life would be like for this family now that every day would cease to be about managing the lifelong depression and emotional chaos of this boy. Realizing that on the day of his birth, they had a perfect baby and life was just beginning, and no matter what happened in the years after that, on one blissful day that baby was fresh and new like we all are once and nothing was “wrong.”

I wouldn’t look at the poster boards of photographs of the boys as a child. I didn’t know him, had never met him.  I didn’t have waterproof mascara on. I was afraid of touching that place which I wanted to avoid.

And then, fully appreciating the possibly obscene juxtaposition of our day vs. theirs, we went off to enjoy Cleveland’s refurbished downtown areas, waterfront, dinner, drinks, ice cream. Celebrating our own fifteen years of wedded bliss, and bliss is pretty much an apt description of it. Why do some get so much on their shoulders, and all that has been on my shoulders, it seems, is the sunshine that I seek so fervently this time of year?

So why write when I have no pat answer or cute meme to punctuate these thoughts? Musings. I’m just musing. And that’s how it works.

And a few less important things that really take up room in my head: I want our local weather person to stop telling me whether to eat my meal on the patio or in the air conditioning. I want her to stop instructing children what weight jacket to wear to the bus stop, and for the sake of all that is meterological I want her to stop sharing recipes. Just tell me the weather. I can make the rest of the decisions on my own.

I think BlueApron or whatever this gourmet food delivery and recipe thing is called is stupid. How hard is it to go the store and buy the six items needed for a recipe? This is another reason why people hate Americans. I know I’m right about this, and I know you probably feel the same way about some things I do, like posting yoga poses and swishing with coconut oil and still having a land-line. But these are my musings, so today I’m right.

Now, after months, I wrote something. So now I’m free to go make a playlist for my noon yoga class, because I feel like that’s fun and this is work. Why, I’m not sure, because I get paid for the yoga and not for the writing. Which is another hilarious turn of events since  my intention was not to necessarily teach yoga. But two great yoga jobs were tossed into my lap like a hot potato (vs. a football, because if you toss a football into my lap I will let it fall because I think football is mostly unnecessary in my life, but a potato (hot or otherwise) I will never let pass me by) and I am completely, unexpectedly energized by teaching.

Have a day. No pressure, it’s Monday. Open heart and no complaining.



We Mother Each Other


051            It is no secret that I have a special mother; she has countless admirable qualities.  She is a positive role model, an open-minded and open-hearted friend, a generous spirit.  She tries to be a good person, on purpose, every day.  She doesn’t like to gossip, but she does like to laugh.  She loves shopping and shoes and chocolate, but at the same time she is not materialistic. She is always learning, trying new things, choosing to be productive every day when she wakes up, even after losing my dad last year.  She was a fun mom to us: she once brought strappy Easter sandals to school recess so that I could wear them for the rest of the day with my school uniform because I loved them so much (luckily, that was before Instagram). She yelled at us when we bickered, she tucked us in at night, she bought our favorite foods at the grocery store, and she was always willing to be the one who drove our friends around.  My mom was devoted to her children, and then to her grandchildren.  She is a lady.  Where I came from, I have no idea.  I had to teach her most of the bad words she knows. 

            What is most remarkable about my mom is that she was never “mothered”.  Not the way that we were.  She was raised by her Polish-speaking grandparents who loved her and her sister, but she missed out on the more traditional mother-child relationship and nurturing.  There were no sleepovers, and no one came to her school performances.  She always said that the reason she knew how to mother, how to love, cuddle, advise, and provide security for a child, was from her Aunt Dot (my Godmother).  Aunt Dot has been gone for years now, but as Mother’s Day nears again, I’m reminded about all the important ways in which we are mothers to each other.

            Someone took the time to be a positive influence on my mom when she was a youngster, to show her fun and discipline and family ties.  Aunt Dot spent time with Dolores and Midge, which is all that they really needed.  I know how lucky I am to have the mother that I do, and I’m reminded of it often by friends and acquaintances who joke that they wish they had a mom like mine.  That’s because my mom has mothered other people, as well.  She mothers every friend of hers, every friend of mine, and most strangers whom she comes across.  Despite having the gold standard in moms myself, I can’t help but reflect on some other wonderful women who have mothered me as well, in ways large and small.

            Of course my sisters were forced to mother me, since I’m the youngest in the family, but they also put forth effort of their own volition. When I bounced my first check at around 18 years old, I found a twenty-dollar bill on my dresser, not realizing until weeks later my sister Coleen had silently put it there.  And Judy still doesn’t make soup at home without bringing a bowl to my house.  My best friend Steph got on a plane with her kid to fly home to visit me just because I was having an emotional crisis about fifteen years ago. 

            But even people who might deem themselves as ancillary in my life have made contributions that have truly shaped my character.  My high-school cheerleading coaches, a mother-daughter duo themselves, didn’t allow us to miss practice, ever, without the punishment of sitting out a game.  They didn’t let us talk to boys when we were in uniform, and I will never forget Mrs.Toth’s advice: “when you have a problem, whatever it is, talk to your parents.  No one else has only your best interests at heart.” They were parenting us, teaching us how to act appropriately.  A high school teacher who had formerly been a nun signed my yearbook and made a comment about me having inner dignity.  Dignity?  Me?  (I guess the stress was on the word inner).  But it has stuck with me.  She was trying to tell me something, to lead me to follow the right thoughts.  My childhood pediatrician told me, plainly, “Don’t be such a brat.” My co-worker Mary Helen made a big deal of my birthday even though I was in my twenties.  My seventh grade teacher has asked me one thousand times over the years when I was going to go to college (I can finally shut that one up)!  My co-worker brought me a rosary, blessed by not one but two Popes, from her visit to Italy. A friend of a friend at a jewelry party sat me down and told me, when my dad first got sick, that I must take feelings out of it and do what is best for my parents, even if they got mad at my sisters and me.  Another friend sat all day at the hospital with us almost twenty years ago when my sister’s baby was having heart surgery.  My next-door neighbor kept a key to my house on her windowsill, knowing how often I forgot mine.  Another neighbor once climbed up a weeping willow tree to get me down.  An insurance company representative brought me a gift card instead of business documents when I was having a bad day.  My mother-in-law sends me newspaper articles that remind her of me; her sister is constantly handing me beautiful leather goods like jackets and boots, items she bought but decided weren’t for her.  The lady at the library lowered my fine to whatever I had in my purse that day.  Someone, somewhere, may have lit a candle for me and I don’t even know about it. 

            There are countless more instances, more than I could ever commit to paper, of women taking the time and effort to mother me, and others.  My own mom is not perfect (just today, we had a role-reversal conversation, in which she apparently played the sulky teen):

Me: Why do you make me yell at you?

Doe: What now?

Me: There are two newspapers on your front porch.  If you leave newspapers on the front porch, someone will think you are away and break into your house.  How many times have I told you that?

Doe: Many times.

Me: I tell you to pick up the papers.  And you say “I will!” But then you don’t!

Doe: I will.

             Still, I don’t even want to entertain the idea of what kind of person I would be if I had not been blessed with the devoted, sacrificing, savvy mom that I have.  But because of her, I do understand the importance of other sources of mothering, as well.  I’m not advising anyone to discipline their friends’ children, because that would undoubtedly end badly.  Let’s just take care of each other when we have the opportunity to do so. 

            I’m not a mom, but I so appreciate the opportunity to be a Godmother, a step-mother to adults, an auntie, and soon, a granny!  Thank you for letting me sing to your babies, “ride” the MRI machine with them, hold their chubby hands, check their homework…even clean up their barf.  Somehow, I also managed to be the adult on duty when someone got her first period.  Thanks for that.  I’m not a mom, and I’m in awe of all of you who are moms.  May your children not grow up to embarrass you in print. 

            Happy Mother’s Day all!!