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Getting Old While Staying Young

I saw a meme on facebook the other day that said “One of the weirder things about being an adult is having a favorite stovetop burner, yet nobody talks about it.” I laughed way too hard at this, because I too have one (back left, because with kids back is safer and left has the bigger burner). I notice other little changes about getting older, many which are stereotypical. I go to bed earlier, I wake up easier in the morning. A night curled up in bed sometimes beats the idea of a night at the bar. I also realized this weekend that driving long distances has become a lot more difficult. When I was younger, we moved to Virginia, and I often drove up and down the I95 corridor on the weekends in the blink of an eye. Drove down Friday afternoon, back Sunday. I did this often consecutive weeks, for consecutive months. This past weekend, the kids and I drove down to visit my dad. Good Lord O’mighty, 7 hours in the car felt like time eternal! We arrived at 10PM and I couldn’t WAIT to go crawl into a nice comfy bed and relax!

The moment my little old ladyhood jump started into full effect was Sunday night. First, some backstory. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before on here but when I was a kid, my mom had her wedding china. It was a beautiful set with roses on it, very British. I loved it. I loved the print, even as a kid, but I also loved the fact it symbolized the three of us were having a special meal (usually Christmas or Thanksgiving. I unfortunately grew up 3000 miles away from all of my extended family. My dad traveled a LOT for work. My poor mom never really got enough credit from me for all she did, because she handled EVERYTHING. On holidays though, the special dishes came out, and I remember looking down at them and just feeling….happy. Well, my mom said I could have them after she died, only there was some confusion, and they accidentally got sold in the estate sale. I mourned those dishes, and was CRUSHED. Fast forward 12 years, and my husband got me a set of 4 settings for Christmas. I was thrilled to pieces, and he said he would over time help me get some more so I had at least settings for 8. Well, last week, I had just downloaded the Nextdoor app, and saw something pop up about THOSE VERY DISHES. Unused, settings for 4, for a steal. I messaged immediately, but someone had beat me to it. The seller told me someone was picking them up, but would let me know if they were a no show. I checked that damned phone every 15 minutes for the rest of the day, hoping by some miracle the original poster might not show. I never heard back, and consoled myself by saying perhaps those dishes just weren’t meant to be mine (I was full of shit. I wanted those dishes like I want to snarf down a box of girl scout frozen thin mints after a hard day). Still, I tried to keep positive, and said I’d get a set one day. Then I laughed at the fact I am still relatively young, but such a mental old lady that china dishes were such a big topic with me.

Well, a week went by, and suddenly during dinner Sunday, I see a message. It’s from the seller, saying she had waited a whole week, but the buyer never showed. Would I still want the dishes?

Would I like perky books and a rounder butt? YES GIRL, AND I WANT THOSE DISHES TOO!

I told the seller I absolutely did, and I would be home Tuesday, could I come then? So today, I am picking up my coveted dishes, in all my little old lady glory!!!

My dad was chuckling at my old lady dish desires. I explained the significance, and he understood then. The simple fact is that I am highly sentimental about things, where as he has almost no attachment to stuff or items at all. This explains my house, cluttered and chaotic, and his immaculate environment. I tried to explain why I am sentimental about such things, and told him about another Christmas gift this year from my husband. When I was a kid, I had rain shiny wellies (rainboots for the Americans in the audience). I LOVED those boots. They were probably my first pair of shoes I truly adored. I loved how red they were, how shiny, and how I could run in mud and simply rinse them off to their shiny glory. They were perfect and versatile. After I grew out of them, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to ask for another pair. It’s silly really, because I never asked for some but holy shit, I wanted some. This past Christmas, my husband got me a pair of red shiny wellies. I am joyous. My dad was so perplexed why A. I loved them so, B. why I never just simply asked for another pair once I outgrew mine if I loved them so much, and C why I have such a sentimental attachment to stuff. I explained he should be happy, really….because I had such a great childhood that things that remind me of that childhood make me extremely happy. Those dishes? I was beaming on Christmas eating off them. The boots? Joy when I slide them on. I may be a little old lady mentally, but those things bring me back in time to a carefree moment of running in fields, or eating my favorite foods with my two favorite people. They are tradition.

This morning, after a 6 hour drive last night, I feel old as hell. That drive I did so carefree and without much thought at 18 is a lot harder now. My back aches, my brain is tired from concentrating on the road for so long. I am content to be home though. This is a busy week, filled with the little getting braces, training a new coworker, a comedy show and date night, a trip to NY, my birthday (little old lady getting OLDER, y’all. I’ll be in a housecoat and yelling for people to get off my lawn in NO time!) and all the other business that family is. It’s a week of excitement.

My son and I were talking in the car on our long drive home. We have some of our best chats in the car. He is excited for our birthdays, he says. He means he is excited for HIS birthday, because he is turning 13 in a couple of weeks. I can’t even. How have 13 years gone by so fast? He asked me if I am sad I am getting older. I said I am not sad I am getting older. While getting older is a little scary, as you start to see more time behind you and less in front of you, and time seems to go by much faster now, I am grateful for a birthday. Some of my friends and loved ones no longer have that luxury. They don’t get another birthday, another year, like I do. So I am grateful for that birthday. I am grateful for my little life, filled with good people. I am grateful to be a little old lady at heart, with her favorite stove burner, a joy of a quiet night in, pretty dishes, and rain boots that shine bright and red. I enjoy it all (minus the back aches and pains) but I find joy in reminding myself of all the happy moments of being a kid.

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Flu-update. What’s been going on.

Sorry I’ve been MIA the past week. I haven’t posted and I know at least one person has been wondering where I’ve been. (the joys of being stalked). Well, the answer my friends, is that the flu took me down, and hard core. As I begun feeling ill, it suddenly occurred to me “oh NO, I didn’t get my flu shot, please don’t let this be the flu”. Welp, there it was. Dizzyness, body aches, headaches, respiratory problems, sore throat, cough, fever and the chills…all the nasty. Damned flu took me down for about a week! Never fear though, I’m back in the saddle again!

I’m surmising my hit with the flu might be chalked up to my multiple visits into the school to drop off coats, specifically many trips to the nurse’s office (for those not in the know, see my blog called https://themessyhousewife.com/2019/01/30/so-i-did-a-thing/). We all know schools are a petri dish of germs, and so it’s pretty likely that’s where it could have come from, but who knows? Anywho, those trips sure paid off because after collecting over 140 coats, over 80 (with more folks arranged to come in to collect) coats were picked up by families in need. Let that sink in for a moment. The need was far greater than I had ever imagined. Hats, Scarves, Gloves, LOADS of clothing, toiletries and feminine products were also collected as well. The whole project was such a positive one for me and it’s still going on. The flu put a hold on things but I’ll be back at it again soon. What I am doing is just the beginning of a long term project the school is setting up that will help the kids for years to come. I am excited to have been a part of it and will continue being a part for as long as possible. It’s definitely brought people together.

Coming off being ill also means my house looks messier than ever. Compiled with bags of donations, I also had to unload my desk at work of 7 years of accumulation, not to mention my computer, monitors and all the cabling for them. We’re renovating our offices, so everyone has been moved to work at home status for several weeks. It’s pretty eye opening how much one can accumulate in one’s home away from home over the course of 7 years. My husband went with me to help me load it all into the car (he’s the master car packer) and it’s now sitting in my living room. There is stuff EVERYWHERE. It’s overwhelming. How did we acquire so much STUFF? Thankfully many items are bagged for either the school or a local kids’ charity, but much of it has to be rearranged into different bags etc. Once done, it will all leave and free up space. My office stuff is a different matter. Much of it will head back in a couple of weeks, but not all. I wish I could snap my fingers and just have everything clean.

My birthday is around the corner and when people ask me what I want, I say “a tidy house”. They think I’m joking. I laugh along, until I stop because I’m not joking. Ah, what a girl wouldn’t do to walk in to a clean house without having to do it. I dream, I know, I dream. I can’t believe another birthday is coming up. As a kid, it felt like forever and ever between birthdays. Now they zip by in the blink of an eye. I see wrinkles coming, and I don’t like it. I feel like it’s a losing battle to fight them, but then I think of my losing my mom and I realize that wrinkles signify I am still here and enjoying myself. Maybe they aren’t too bad, I’m just not ready for them quite yet.

I treated myself to a few things this year for my birthday. I’m taking off a few days here and there to enjoy myself. I have an appointment with a medium. She came super recommended and frankly….I’m curious. I’ve met with some before and mostly they are cold readers. I think they see what people want them too, or people dig to find what they want to see out of it. I’m curious about this one, however, so I made an appointment. I second guessed it because of the money, but I won the perfect amount on a little scratch off, so I took that as a sign I should go. I have low expectations, so I won’t be disappointed. I also booked a trip to visit some friends and my dad for a few days. It’s a quick trip, but one I’m looking forward to. A girl needs a change of scenery you know. The night before my birthday the husband and I are hitting up a comedy show. It’ll be so fun to relax and have a date night that I’m giddy already. We don’t get to see each other a lot, and when we do, it’s all about the kids and getting the family looked after, so a night alone is a special treat.

Lots of good stuff coming up, more to follow. For now, I’m just glad to be relatively better.

So I Did a Thing….

A while back, I posted about my frustration with out Board of Education and the fact they redistricted our schools. One of the schools that took the biggest hits was the school my children attend. Without the desire or request of our parents, the board demagnetized our school, switched to neighborhood schools, and ripped almost all the existing students out save for a small percentage. They did all of this, upended all of our students, for a few bucks. The rage felt by many in the community was palpable. Our town is very diverse, but individual neighborhoods are not. In order to keep our schools diverse and racially balanced, kids from all different neighborhoods attended all the various schools. The redistricting, however, put us out of racial balance, and effectively segregated kids by socio- economics. Now I know when I was a kid, we all attended neighborhood schools, but the town I lived in wasn’t diverse at all, racially, or socioeconomically, which always bothered me. I always loved how diverse our current town was, and that families in our school helped each other out.

One of the problems of socioeconomic segregation is that the poorer side of town schools are struggling to fundraise and keep up with the other schools. This wasn’t a problem until this year. While we’d probably be referred to as middle class, our home falls in the school district where a lot of lower income families live. This means that we have a lot of full time working, single working parents who are struggling to make ends meet, or families REALLY struggling just to get by. There aren’t the same amount of stay at home parents around to do all the PTA projects and fundraising as we had before. We also have kids who are going without basics because their parents are struggling to get by. The government shutdown likely didn’t help folks either.

I knew it was difficult. I just didn’t know HOW bad some of these kids have it.

I was planning to go through my closets because one of the grades was doing a clothing drive to raise funds. I happened to be on the phone with someone at the school and said “I’m going through my coat closet, does any child, by chance, need a coat? I’ll see what I have.” Her response left me FLOORED.

“We have a LIST of children here at the school that need coats”.

“Like, a couple of kids?”

“No, we have a LOT of kids who do not have coats. We are trying to find a solution. We need to find coats in all sizes, both genders”.

It’s dipping down below -20 here this week, and there are little kids without COATS. I hung up the phone and cried.

After a quick cry, determination set in. Y’all, this is the one time my lack of organization when it comes to my house was the BEST. You see, my coat closet was filled with coats, some were my son’s from about 6 years ago that I never got rid of. I pulled out about 10 coats from both kids. I then put the word out to family and friends. My dad donated some money for me to go buy some items. I used some of my own as well, and purchased up about 10-15 hats and then got gloves to match. I used the money from my dad to buy coats in sizes I didn’t have. I was able to get full school uniforms in multiple sizes. Things started to fall into place! I took my lunch break to race to a friend’s house and picked up a bag of coats. Friends drove by and left coats in bags by my front door. In the middle of the night I was contacted by a woman who works at an organization locally that collects items for children and lets families “shop” for free for what the need. She had coats, she promised, as well as some other items we need for our students, and would drop them to me. The generosity of people was overwhelming. With 24 hours of that call, I had amassed about 40 coats and multiple hats, gloves, and school uniforms. 48 hours later, we have about 100 coats for the families of this town to select from.

The person I spoke to broke down when I showed up with my items in tow. Before long we were both welling up, discussing the needs of our community and how to meet them. She, as well as myself, another mom, and others, are going to work on creating a room where our students can get items they need for free, so that they can focus more on learning. This has been the highlight of 2019 for me. Creating happiness for others and working towards a goal that will help the kids of the community is exciting and one I am looking forward to.

Now I know there are those that will see this and say I shouldn’t have posted about it. But here’s the thing….

I didn’t know.

I live in an average house, in an average neighborhood. Money is tight sometimes, and some months, a bill gets skipped so I can cover something else. That being said, we have our necessities met, and we can afford a vacation or trip sometimes with some planning and hard work. I know there are families in my area struggling, but honestly I didn’t realize how deep that struggle is so close to home. The idea that there are families so close to me that are struggling to provide a coat for their children is one that left me broken and wondering just how much I don’t know. Call me naive, but it just didn’t click for some reason. If there are kids in my town in this situation, there may be kids in your town too. Sometimes folks who are struggling to make it work hide their troubles very, very well. It doesn’t mean that their burden shouldn’t be lifted. I didn’t know the need was there, but now I do, and I want to help. Even better, I am meeting and working with other folks who want to help as well. Strangers are reaching out asking “How can I help? What is the need?” and it’s AMAZING.

Maybe there are others like me, who didn’t know out there. I asked for help to make life a little easier for some kids in need, and people stepped up.In 48 hours, I feel like we made a difference to a lot of kids, just by asking, offering, giving, collecting and being kind. I believe there are others out there who may read this and say “hey, I can do that too” and they CAN and WILL.

We live in a world where we are often told poor people are the enemy. It’s ironic, really, because the rich hold the power but blame the poor for the problems. If you listen to the narrative out there, there is a common thread of everyone judging those they feel are “beneath them” in some way. Whether they look down on poor people, people of different colors or backgrounds than themselves, different genders….it’s as if people judge their self worth by trying to find someone, anyone that they are above. The rich folks love to point the finger at the poor and blame them for problems. No matter where you fall in the grand scheme of things, there is someone out there finding something about you to put you beneath them. It’s really sad.

Yet what if we all tried to raise each other up, with a helping hand, some compassion? What it we looked around and sought out those who might need a little help? What if we looked at the children in our community or those communities around us and set out with the goal to lift those children up and help them succeed? When we raise children up, we lift up our future and make it better.

I have always tried to teach my kids about helping others. I explain that making someone else smile, or making their day better makes everyone happier. It’s a ripple effect. Within 48 hours, I had collected over 100 coats, along with gloves, hats, scarves and uniforms! I delivered the last of them this morning. Hopefully those coats ease the worry just a little of some of the staff and teachers at the school. Kids will be warmer as they walk to school and go about their days. They will hopefully feel a bit happier and have a chance to focus more on school and less on being cold. The families of those kids will have one less thing to worry about. The community at large becomes a better place, because those who donated, and even those that saw others donate, often become inspired to help someone in whatever way they are able to. The children of the families who donate learn that their friends and classmates may be going through things at home and may need some kindness. Kindness circles back.

So I did a thing, to teach kindness to my kids, and to help the kids in my community. I’m writing about it to see if I can inspire someone else to do a little something kind for someone in their community. Even if it’s kind words, some gloves for a homeless person, or even a coat to a school for a child who might need one. Do a thing, and join me in a little kindness.

Chop Chop!

So last night, I did a thing. I did a thing that scared me, made me super uncomfortable, and something that changed something that played a big part in how I identified myself.

I cut about a foot of my hair off.

I come from a long line of strong, brave, hardworking, and classy women. My grandparents were farmers, and my grandmother served in the land army. In fact, one of my most favorite pictures is of her in her uniform. My mom and aunt worked the land for a while, as well as the markets. Most of the women in the family have a love of horses, the outdoors, and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. That being said, when I was growing up, the women also had a soft, pretty and dainty side. At parties, everyone was always super well dressed, the faint smell of Chanel perfume in the air, and almost everyone shared one trait….long, flowing hair.

I suppose I have always associated long hair with my family. It has always stood for femininity. In a family of women who have battled through the best and worst of times, long hair has always symbolized the softness behind the strength. While I personally love loads of short hair styles, I’be never really found one I could wear comfortably, likely because of the shape of my face but also my love of long hair. I’ve had long hair almost my entire life. It has, like me, morphed and evolved over the years. As a child, it was bone straight, thick, and had a mind of its own. It didn’t like to be curled, refused to do anything more than lay the way it wanted to, but it did have a few cowlicks to keep things interesting. As I grew up, I wanted big hair like almost all women aspired to in the 80’s. Mine was still straight, so I attempted to combat its straightness with a perm. I was left with poodle hair, and it never got the volume I wanted. At some point, I was talked into a short, asymmetrical look. My son looked at a picture of this haircut and laughed heartily. The day of the cut, I LOVED it. A few days later, I hated it with a passion.

When I went to hair school, my long hair was coveted…by people who wanted to chop it off. I did hair modeling quite a bit, until I was talking into chopping it off by one of the stylists at a show. In front of tons of people, she lopped off all my long, flowing hair into a tight a line bob. It felt freeing to have the breeze on my neck, but I felt naked. I started growing it again, only to ask a fellow stylist at a salon I worked at to “clean it up”. I was busy doing the end of night bookwork when I suddenly felt a pair of clippers go straight up the back of my head. I screamed and lunged at him, unsure of just how bad it was. He had shaved the back of my hair way far up the back of my head. When I asked him what in the holy hell he was thinking, he said “I think you’re a fierce chick, and I thought you should have a fierce haircut.” I had no choice but to let him finish cutting it, but I cried the whole time, and wore hats for months.

I grew my hair out and never looked back. I tweaked it over the years, layers, no layers, razor cuts, scissor cuts, and an unfortunate crooked haircut (last time that person touched my hair). Babies were born, and my bone straight hair began a soft wave that has stuck with me, however it’s not the beachy wave one would hope for, so I typically blow dry it straight. It changed colors, from dark brown to lighter with caramel highlights, various shades of red and copper, and even blond for a short while (God, I look horrible as a blond, but hey, lessons learned, right?)
Good hair days brought confidence, bad days left me feeling off my game.

However, it’s January.

January makes me antsy for change. Change in location, change in surroundings, personal change, and growth. It also makes me antsy for a change with my hair. It seems to silly that a haircut can be such a big deal, but I’m nervous. I spent years trying unsuccessfully to do a messy bun. Silly, right? Yet I never could do it just so. Yesterday, I did a messy bun, and I’m gonna brag a little…I aced it. I got compliments at work and on the street on this bun. Of COURSE I pull it off the day I want to chop my hair off. I spent the day feeling anxious. It’s hard letting go of something that I have always associated myself with. Would I immediately regret the choice?

A haircut isn’t permanent. In fact, I have spent less time worrying over getting one of my tattoos. In the case of my tattoos, they all mean something sentimental, so I never question my choice to get them. The hair thing feels like a breaking of tradition. As someone who is so distant physically from her family, to cut it seems almost like another type of distancing, one I am not sure I wanted. That being said, sometimes you need to step away to value what you have.

So after getting my hair color freshened up, I had a few balayage highlights thrown in. I then sat in the chair and froze while I tried to make the decision. I decided to go for it. That’s when I saw in the mirror about a foot of hair waft silently to the ground behind me. My eyes teared up and I laughed nervously. Piles of hair dropped to the ground.

I left the salon feeling happy. Nervous…would my husband like it? Did I like it? I think I did! Do I miss my hair? Yes, a bit. Yet as I run my fingers though it, there are no tangles, just soft, silky hair. My ends are neat, not frizzy. There is no dryness. It feels….great. I walked in the door and got rave reviews from my husband, kids, and some friends. Today at the office, folks stopped me to tell me they liked it. A few clearly weren’t fans, but I realized, I simply don’t care. I am enjoying it, and that’s all that matters.

It’s interesting to take something I so defined as being a part of who I was and change it so much. It’s a good chance to expand my horizons.

I am gonna miss that perfect messy bun though.

Granny Panties?

I’ve written about a lot of weird stuff in my life, but today is probably up there on the list. That being said, this morning was deemed a granny panty day. For the record, I abhor the word “panty” and typically only use it only in combination with the aforementioned “granny” before it. I assume I’ll break that rule multiple times by the end of this post. Before we delve into the story, for the record, I own about one pair of granny panties, and usually prefer to go the thong route myself.

So, there are these panties that I’ve had for YEARS. They aren’t huge panties, by any stretch, but as a thong user, these don’t get much use because they are butt-cover panties. I already have a sad excuse for a rear end (all boobs, no ass at all) so I have always decided to go with no panty lines and keep things back there as neat and tidy as possible. No panty lines, no wedgies…just smooth. These panties were a gift from my mom’s mom, and I’ve had them probably 20 years. That being said, they have remained in my drawer, and despite having them so long, they haven’t seen much wear until somewhat recently. My grandmother always got my mom beautiful, dainty and lacy underwear for Christmas each year. I can’t tell you which year I received my first pair of undies from her, but this pair was it. They were black, covered my butt, and had some lace. These were not sexy panties…oh no. These were practical panties with a little lace to convince yourself you weren’t going full on practical.

At the time I received them, I thought they were nice enough, but felt a hair embarrassed my grandmother had gotten me undies, plus shunned them a bit because they were practical briefs…and I had already learned girls with no asses were prone to one cheeked wedgies. Plus, I felt chubby (my god I wish I was as fat now as I thought I was back then…I was about 120 lbs!) so these panties just symbolized my issues with weight. That being said, they were luxuriously soft and comfortable. I relegated such a practical item to the back of my drawer.

Multiple moves, over multiple states, and still those panties came along for the journey. I suppose I kept them because my grandmother had given them to me and I’m a sentimental person. She lived 3000 miles away, but somehow had always made me feel close and loved. She was one of my favorite people, and damn it, if she gave me granny panties, I was gonna keep them, even if I didn’t wear them! That is, I didn’t wear them, until I did.

When I was pregnant, those were a favorite, because they were the perfect level of snug but still comfortable and stretchy, not to mention oh so soft. They took me through medical issues, hospital stays, weight gain, weight loss, and days when I just felt like I needed to be cozy. They weren’t the sexiest, but they were pretty. They felt a bit magical, because they always fit perfectly, no matter what size I was, and their softness made me happy.

Today, I went to grab underwear out of my drawer and my hand felt the softness of the pair my grandmother gave me all those years ago. I slipped them on…after all, it’s a cold, dreary Monday and a girl could use some soft comfort. It reminded me of how her gift has lasted me all these years, and went from being sort of shunned in my young stupidity, to being a favorite in my later years. I felt silly for my early reaction, and mulled over that these panties had meant more to me, and taught me more than I expected. I learned that comfort and practicality is so very important. Quality is important. Happiness with small things in life is important. These make me happy.

Such a silly thing, really, finding happiness in a pair of underwear gifted by a now deceased but always beloved person. Who knew that one could learn a lesson from such a gift. They truly are my “granny panties” but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Collector

Old Friends. They really can be the very best, can’t they? Friendship is something that really morphs and flexes over time, and I am a firm believer that the most cherished of friends should often be the ones that stayed in it to win it for the long haul.

As a kid, we focus on how many friends we have. We collect them like pebbles at the beach or pennies, and it often feels like the more we have, the better. As we aged through to high school, some friends faded away, and a few stuck around. College brings new friends to add to the mix, and new experiences to share with those friends. Post college life, when marriage and kids often happen, is when we see who remains when life gets so darned BUSY. After a while, we look around and see a hodgepodge of friends from various times in our lives, and then we start to pay even closer attention. Slowly we start to weed through those friends, seeing who is a true friend, and who is there to witness our failures without lifting us back up.

When I look at my friends now, I have folks who are somewhat newer friends, but most are those I have known for very large chunks of my life. My deepest gratitude goes to the long haulers, who have been by my side through the best of times, the very worst of times, and the times when I didn’t know I could make it through. My first best friend and I are still facebook friends. We’ve known each other since second grade, and stayed good friends all the way through high school. I moved away, she left for school, and we lost touch for a long time, but have since reconnected and stay in touch. While it’s been a while, I still feel to this day I could call her and say “I NEED you” and she would come, just as I would for her. She holds such a special place in my heart, because she knew the youngest me, the dreamer, the girl who wanted to be a dolphin trainer. She knew the fun me, before the world handed me hardship and responsibility. She’s known me as a wife, a mother, and a grown up with a career. She’s seen the progression of where I came from, as the girl who would wail the “fish heads” song while watching Elvira play music videos late into the night, and the girl who had a search party called out for her when she went missing (I really should document some of our escapades), to a fairly responsible mom of two. She knew my parents, WELL, and I knew hers. We spent endless nights at each other’s houses, went to camp together, and caused general mayhem. A lot of the reason my childhood was so memorable was because of her.

Another one of my closest friends I met in high school. We both liked the same boy, and it so happened he asked me out. We hadn’t know each other before that, but soon a silly argument happened. We ended up becoming fast friends, and soon figured out the boy was a jerk not worthy of a moment of our time. We’ve been besties ever since. She taught me to drive (like a maniac, as she did), she took me to her college classes with her (she’s a couple of years older than I). We cried over boys who broke our hearts and cheered when we each met “the one”. I actually introduced her to her husband. We have laughed a lifetime of laughter together, and the very best part is that I still see many more laughs in our future as we grow old. She was my roomate for years, which created some hysterical stories of chaos and mayhem as we navigated our 20’s as two single women. The week I had the stomach ebola she had gone up to the Yankee Candle flagship store and knocked on my door with a huge tray full of full size candles in various fall scents. She knows I love the fall, and she sent an email the next day saying she appreciates all I do for her and wanted to treat me to something. When I have to put up with crazy people, I call her and we collapse with laughter at the situation. I wouldn’t trade her for anything.

Some of my other friends live down south. I have a small group I know from the 10 years I spent down there. We are a small group of 4 who have stayed connected over the years. There have been some rough times. One of us became and addict, one had her fiance take off with someone else, one’s wife cheated and abandoned the family. One of us ended up on life support and almost died. That was a tough one….I remember getting that call and driving 5 hours each way to spend the day in hospital by her bedside, and then driving to John’s Hopkins a few weeks later and commuting 3 hours each way from there to visit her. At the end of the day, none of us speak often, but when I am down that way, we reconvene for a night out and catching up. All of us have kids around the same age, with three of the group being single parents. We appreciate the luxury of a night out, and often sit up until late in the night chatting and playing catchup with each other. We are a family of sorts, and when the need is there, we show up to support each other.

Back in 2001 or so, I met a coworker I clicked with. She ended up leaving the company shortly after I started, but I always liked her blunt honesty and no bullshit attitude. Imagine my surprise when it turned out we’re neighbors. She lives around the corner from me, and we have become tight friends. We house sit for each other, and each one is the other’s go-to for emergency help. We often sit around the table and laugh at what life throws us. When crazy happens, I tell her all the chaos and the two of us end up in stitches with laughter. I now count her as one of my closest friends.

Another former coworker and I clicked immediately and have been fast friends ever since. People always said we looked a little similar (my husband admitted one day he came to the office and went to playfully spank my butt, only to realize it was her and not me right before the hand connected. Luckily he was able to pull back!) She and I share so many of the same viewpoints, both suffered the loss of a parent, and we shared similar childhoods. She GETS me. While our career paths went in totally opposite directions, our lives are quite different, she is still someone I consider one of my closest friends because I know I can call her for an opinion and it will always be right and well thought out. She knows I am there if she needs me.

There are others, too, who are close to my heart. The common thread with all my friends is brutal honesty and laughter. I know I can call on any of these friends I mentioned above and I will get the cold hard truth. I know each and every one of these folks will call me out on my own bullshit, will tell me if I am out of line or if I am in the right. There is no sugar coating. There is no fluff. There is no guessing where I stand. It’s BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING. Having the freedom to be yourself and have people love you for it, with no pretense and no BS is the very best feeling. These friends have known me before I took on a role as a wife and mother. They knew me from various stages of my life…when I was a dreamer, when I was angsty and messy, when I was anxious and stressed, when I was a little crazy, a lot crazy, and when I settled down into my current life. They support me. They cheer me on, they have my back if I need them. I never question their loyalties to me. Oh, and the laughter. If I you asked me to list some of the things I have done right in my life, on the top of my list would be that I have surrounded myself with laughter. Prime example: When I worked with one of my friends, a coworker, who was in her 60’s, showed up to work in clear, light up stripper shoes, y’all. CLEAR, LIGHT UP STRIPPER HEELS….TO A BANK JOB, BY A 60+ YEAR OLD WOMAN. Now look, a big part of me now is like…go ahead girl, you do you, boo. At the same time though, this was a bank we were working at, and I had to question her thought process on how these shoes were appropriate. I mentioned this to my friend and the two of us had a great time giggling about some of the choices that were made that day. Now, 365 days later, my mother died. I was in the darkest, saddest place of my whole life, stuck in a car in traffic trying to make it down to say goodbye to her, before getting a call she had died. I was in shock. But then, a text came in. The text from my friend…letting me know she loved me, knew I was in a dark place…and that perhaps she could shed some light on my darkness by letting me know that 365 days later, those light up shoes had reappeared on the coworker’s feet that day in the office. I HOWLED with laughter. I had tears pouring down my face, for a moment not in sadness, but in glee that my friend had seen those shoes, on those toes, and had KNOWN I would want to know because it would make my day, at least for a moment, less painful. That’s friendship.

My daughter bemoaned the fact that many of her friends moved out of the school when they redistricted us. She went from loads of school friends to just one or two. I had a conversation with her the other day about quality vs quantity. I explained that having just a couple of true, honest and solid friends is so much more important than having lots of fair weather friends. We discussed how friends should be, and how sometimes, you need to clean your friendship closet, because not everyone is a good friend. I hope when she grows up, she will see that while I may not see all of my friends as often as I would like (lives get so busy at this age with work, relationships, kids, pets, commitments, etc) that true friends will always be there when you need them.

True friends we collect through our lifetime are those we can count on, and who trust in us enough to count on us. They may be old friends, newer friends, or family who became friends (or vice versa!). They are the ones who tell us how it really is. There is no fear of offense. There is no fear of being taken the wrong way. There is honesty, loyalty, trust, and most of all, lots and lots of laughter.

The Itch

It doesn’t take long for that itch to appear. You know the one, the travel bug bites and you get such an itch you just can’t wait to head somewhere different. Our trip to England in November was amazing. While I loved visiting family and being in the place that was my original home, I also got joy out of sharing that experience with my husband and kids. Seeing them have new experiences was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Aside from our visit to Chatsworth, the trip itself didn’t have any “outstanding” locations to visit. Instead, our trip was spent primarily with family members, visiting simple yet inspiring locations, and taking long treks through fields and trails. We spent more time in nature than usual, and the experience was relaxing and cathartic.

Coming home, heading back to the daily grind, has left me happy for the comfort of routine, yet desiring to recreate that feeling of more time in nature, less nonsense, and the urge to see new things.

I’m also itching to travel again.

I’ve always felt there is no better learning experience than to travel and be around folks different from yourself. Diversity, new viewpoints, new experiences make for a very different education, one you can’t learn in schools. I want my children to see new places, meet new people, and learn about viewpoints outside of what they see in their day to day. It will serve them well in the future.

While I always want to head back to England, as my family is there and I love the tightrope walk between the familiar and the different, I also want to see some new places. We’re kicking the idea around of spending time on a ranch this summer (new experience), seeing a football game (not new, but always fun) and maybe taking some local road trips for the occasional weekend away. Even a few towns over can be a new experience.

One of my goals this year was to keep moving. Not only in the exercise sense, mind you, but in the physical sense of traveling and soaking up whatever experiences I can. Time to keep that goal moving forward! The excitement is planning the new places we shall go.