Thursday, June 21, 2018

A heavy heart and the power of love

This week my heart is so heavy. As anyone that knows me well, knows and understands, my default mode is to find a silver lining. It is a gift and sometimes super annoying. I mean, sometimes you just need to be mad, annoyed, or sad. But my brain automatically find the joy, the happy, the good stuff. But this week, it just all seems too much. And my heart feels heavy. No easy-to-find silver linings.

There was some terrible, worrisome news about a dear one, some frustrations with health, a death in the family, some maybe not so great news at work, and the situation at our border. The news reports about children at the borders was the tipping point for me. It broke me. I cried. I do not do that when it comes to news that does not affect me directly. I care and I take action but rarely (if ever) do I take it on as mine. But this time is different. They are innocents. The problem is mine. It is all of ours. So I took the action steps I could take- made calls, wrote emails/letters, made some donations and signed up to volunteer. I feel I should do more, but it's what I can do for now.
Normally, those actions and steps should make me feel better and the heaviness in my heart should go away. But it's still there. I find I am carrying the weight of the issue on my shoulders and in my heart, along with all the other news (from my life) from this week. Sigh.

Now don't get me wrong, I have found moments of joy- laughing with my guy, hanging out with a hilarious mascot and creating new life goals, my silly pups and their innocence and cute/funny antics.

And then this...

Yesterday, I unexpectedly found myself in a waiting room with a million other patients waiting to get some blood work done. The waiting area was packed and I found myself in a little corner seated across from a couple. I didn't catch their names and actually didn't engage them in any conversation. I just listened to them- talking with one another and some ladies next to me. And I found tears coming to my eyes (not the heartbroken ones from earlier this week), happy tears. Tears that you get when something touches you deep in your heart. In those moments, I always feel like an imprint is made and that moment or feeling stays with you.
As they spoke, I learned they have been married for 33 years. He says it was love at first sight for him. For her, she says with a mischievous grin and a twinkle in her eye, it took her a date or two. Then she easily brushed his hand and held it. As their story continued and the ladies asked some questions, it was revealed that she has been battling ovarian cancer for more than 3 years. As I watched, I could see the tenderness and care with which he cares for her. There is kindness, love, and laughter in their interaction.
And then he says, "I am a humble man but the one thing I will always brag about are my girls- my beautiful wife and our two daughters. Each one is incredible because of their mother and her example." And with some tears in his voice and a softness of love, he moved to share the bench with her so she could rest her head on his shoulder.

This human kindness. This love. The seeming lack of it is what has made my heart so heavy. But this small interaction made my heart a little less heavy. Thank you for sharing you love and your story, whoever you are.

Friday, April 6, 2018

I am not new to losing someone I love. But I wouldn't ever tell you that I have known excessive loss in my life so far. I will be the first to tell anyone that I have lived a very charmed existence, including being lucky enough to not have suffered a significant amount of loss in my life.

Don't get me wrong, I have experienced the loss of loved ones. The loss of great-grandmas, a special neighbor/family friend, one set of grandparents and beloved aunts. I think of those losses, the most profound of the group was the death of my Aunt Christine. I think because she wasn't old, she wasn't sick. There was no time to "prepare" for the loss. And I think it was most profound because I was with her when she died. Her loving husband and children made the decision to take her off life support (a decision that was difficult but kind) and as a family we created a schedule so that she was never alone- there was always a family member by her side to offer comfort and love as her life on this earth came to an end. During that late afternoon more than ten years ago, while listening to her favorite songs, she took her last breath. I was there and it was one of the saddest and most profoundly beautiful moments of my life. One of the nuns found me at the funeral and took me aside and told me that a soul doesn't depart the body unless it feels safe. She went on to say what a gift I have to offer a safe space for a departing soul.  She went on to say that when a soul feels safe, it can leave this earth and go on to heaven. In that moment, it gave me great comfort and has stuck with me over the course of these years. Since that time, I have lost friends and loved ones and I always hope the dying had a "safe space" as they passed.

Fast forward to the last few weeks when our sweet Buck has been coming near the end of his life. Yes, he is a dog. Was he as important as the people I have lost before in my life? Perhaps on the surface and to some- no. But to me, to us, he was. He was part of every single day of the past three years. He made me a dog person. His cat-like ways almost disappeared with me (with Frank and a few very special select others too). He was so cute and so fluffy that any semi-dog person or small child automatically fell in love and just wanted to snuggle him. I mean, I get it. But after some time, he was over it and would hide behind us to protect him from too many pets. After a little while, instead of Frank, he made me his protector. His safe space. So when whistles or storms or squeaks occurred, I'd find myself with a dog breathing in my face. And in the middle of the night, I'd find my way to the bathroom and turn on the fan and the light so we could ride out the storms in a safe place. So, the other night when the first rainstorm came and I wasn't awoken by a nervous dog, I cried. And then I sincerely hoped wherever his next place was that he could be without that fear.

He was my walking buddy, my pal. Frank's Buschka. My Buddha. Ellie's lifelong partner in crime. Walter's favorite dog pal and guide in his new home. And we are each missing him in our own ways. Frank's habit of saying "Buck wants..." breaks his heart every time. When I get Ellie. Walter and Maria out the door in the mornings, I feel like I am forgetting him everyday and then I tear up a little. Same thing for when I feed them. Ellie is blatantly sad. Walter keeps looking for him in his spots. He was mostly a quiet dog, who didn't require much to feel loved. But he took up an immense amount of space in our hearts and in our home. And we are missing him.

I wonder how long we will feel the loss every day. I know we will always have moments when we miss him but I hope this empty spot in my heart starts to stop aching soon.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Red Kettle and me

Sometimes in life there are things that are just meant to be. Unbeknownst to me, I think I was destined to work for The Salvation Army. I was more than hesitant about working here for the first few days (maybe weeks), just based on some interviews and then my first few weeks. It was not the best start to any job. Thankfully, it has turned around and become a place I am really excited to go every day and am excited about the work I do and the people I do it with. But really what I am most excited about is the change that The Army makes in the world. They (rather, we) make a significant positive to the community we are in.

The reason I started this post by saying sometimes you are just destined to be part of something is that ever since I can remember, I put money into the red kettles. I am not sure where it started or how, but in high school I would save my change all year (in jars or more likely bowls) and then starting at Thanksgiving I would put handfuls of change in my pockets before I took a trip anywhere. When I was in high school, the mall was THE PLACE to go to socialize, hang with friends, eat- basically do anything. And we lived less than a mile from the mall. So if I wasn't at a school or church function, you'd likely find me at the mall with friends. And in my Letterman's jacket that jingled and jangled with its metals, so pockets full of change didn't really make a sound. I would just empty my pockets as we entered the mall. My friends would sometimes tease me and ask why. My response was always the same- it just seems like a good thing to do. What else should I do with all that change. Sometimes, they'd add more. And my less than good friends would roll their eyes and keep going (probably a reason we aren't lifelong pals!).

Well, fast forward, 20 plus years and according to my neice, I am in charge of all those red kettle pople (not true, but funny!). One of my tasks is taking care of our local celebrity ringers. Read: weather people (um, LOVE!), newscasters, mascots, firemen, and others at the Celebrity Corner downtown Chicago. While being out there, I have witnessed the beauty and goodness of humanity (and some craziness, too!). In particular, this last Friday as I was ringing by myself while I waited for the firemen to arrive, a man who was obviously down on his luck came up to the bucket and folded up a $5 bill and put it in the kettle. He told me that "The Salvation Army helps him everyday. That we make his life the best it can be and just give love". He wished me a Merry Christmas and went on his way. I was choking back tears and thanked him and wished him a Merry Christmas.
This. This is the best of humanity. The people that have the least amount to share, share the most. $5 has never seemed like so much. It's been a few days and I am still teary eyed when I see his face in my minds eye. He is the reason we stand at a kettle and ring a bell. He is the reason to give during the holiday season. He is the good in the world.

As I've gotten older and use less and less cash (much to Frank's dismay!), I don't have a years worth of change to share. But I do put what I have in the kettle- even before I really knew all the good that TSA does!
But now that I know and am much more aware of the options to give and the amazing ROI that comes from kettles (nearly 90 cents for every dollar is used for programs- meals, housing, emergency services), I decided to start an online kettle. My goal is to raise $1000. I set that goal because two of our kettles were stolen and it equated to about $1000 worth of loss. If you're inclined and don't always have cash but want to put money in a kettle- consider a gift here:

Thanks for helping me "Do the Most Good"

Love and Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A life of Happy Chaos

I have been meaning to write this for two weeks. 
Life. Events. Work. It all gets in the way. 
But here we go...

Two weeks ago, I married my person. We hosted 70 friends and family and celebrated our love for one another and for those we love. And it was perfect. 
I mean it. Everything was exactly as it should be. 

It was more than just a few hours, it was a whole weekend. I was very skeptical when Frank said he wanted to host Thanksgiving the day before the wedding. I mean, seriously. Who does that?! Well, apparently, we do. And it was THE BEST day! We hosted 25 adults, 7 kids and 5 dogs. It was literally happy chaos. I loved every single minute. I found myself looking around and just watching. Then I'd get choked up. It was our people, all together. I looked at my husband and he just twinkled- all day. It was loud and busy and so very happy. And we hadn't even gotten to the wedding day yet! 

By 10am on Friday the house was filled with people and chaos once again. And once again, I kept finding myself pausing, looking around and taking it all in. And it was so joyful. And again, I kept choking up. My heart was so full. It was all my favorite people in one place, all together. Joy. 

Instead of recapping the whole of everything, I am just going to list my very favorite moments:
  • Getting a manicure and pedicure with my mom and Papa
  • Enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee and conversation with my mama before we got busy building centerpieces and cooking turkey
  • seeing Frank's eyes twinkle with joy as our home was filled with so many we love
  • hearing conversation and laughter in every room of our house
  • watching our people make connections with one another and becoming friends
  • laughing with my brother about "losing control"
  • seeing C fall head over heals for Walter
  • enjoying a quiet cup of coffee, snuggles with my pups and writing my vows before the happy chaos began again
  • seeing Maria obviously feel so pretty after her hair was done
  • Hot Pink Sparkle shoes (both pair!)
  • sharing quiet moments with each of my munchkins
  • Steph helping the girlies do their nails and figure out what hairstyle they wanted
  • Gus telling Jenny she was the most beautiful momma in the world
  • helping get Gus and Jade ready (before mom and dad helped)
  • having a quiet moment getting ready with Jenny
  • laughing with my First Dude (again)
  • laughing with Erica (always)
  • the moment my mom saw me in my dress- she doesn't cry anymore and couldn't stop.
  • hugging my dad
  • seeing Frank in the kitchen when he didn't know I was watching. He was so handsome
  • learning that Walter is fiercely protective of his pack
  • walking into the venue- it was so beautiful (Papa, Uncle Tim and the crew did such a good job)
  • being able to hug and greet people when they arrived
  • the little shared moment with Erica before we all walked down the "aisle"
  • laughing with my dad and discussing whether or not he should carry the truck down the aisle
  • the dudes all carrying a beer (and walking a dog!)
  • the remarks
  • the vows
  • forgetting (and then remembering) the rings!
  • being with all of our people
Like I said, it was more perfect than anything I ever expected. It was truly the perfect way to begin a marriage. To begin a life of happy chaos. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It's the little things

Image result for love and care

As we get closer to our official wedding day and prepare for our ceremony (Thanks, Uncle Tim!), I have been giving a lot of thought to "us"- what makes us fit.

We've been together for three years now. In the scheme of life it's not that long. But looking back over the last three years, we've lived a lot of life. We've weathered job loss, moving in together, celebrating new nieces/nephews, meeting families, becoming part of those families. We've celebrated new lives, new jobs, new friends, new dogs (!) and so much more than I can recall as I type. We've also taken on being caregivers for F's aging mother. (the biggest challenge of all!).
So, all this to say- for practical purposes, we are already married. We are committed to one another through thick and thin, and without a piece of paper or a ring or an exchanging of vows, we are committed to one another through the ups and downs of this fabulous life. We support one another, and each help the other become who we want (and need) to be. Everyday is not perfect. Everyday is not joyful. But there are perfect moments in everyday. And there are joyful moments in everyday. And I, for one, can't imagine pairing my life with anyone else.

What I realize as I think about it- it's not grand gestures that make me want to stick around, it's the little things. It's the pat on the ass, the kiss on the top of my head, the reach across the bed to hold my hand, the hilarious text in the middle of the work day or the quick phone call just to check in. It's these little things that remind me I am loved and that I have a partner to traverse this life path with me.

I recently read this blog (I can't recall the name!), but came across this-
"Relationships aren't always a fairy tale. They're not always fireworks and sparks, at least, after the start. But they are a quiet rhythm and hum of love and care. It's not a fire in your soul, but one in your hearth, keeping you warm and comfortable, comforting you as you drift to sleep."

And I love that.

I'm looking forward to wedding and to the celebrating with those with we love. Let's be honest, it'll be a blast! We have amazing people!
But beyond that (and more importantly), I am looking forward to a lifetime of little things and to the rhythm and hum of love.

Monday, February 27, 2017

What moving means...

This morning, I chose to snuggle with dogs for a few extra minutes before getting up and facing the day (packing). As I lay there, my mind drifted to all of the things I needed to accomplish today. All of which revolve around the move (and packing!). From there, I started to lament the fact that I have moved every two years since I was 18. I am 36. That means since moving from my parents home after high school, I have moved 16 times.
- The dorms at MSU
- The sorority house
- The 504 house
- The Forest house
- back home to Mom/Papa's
- My Scottsdale apartment
- My downtown Phoenix apartment
- The Ahwatukee house with my roomies (and the pool!)
- The house next door to the homies and down the block from my HLP
- My precious Seattle garden cottage
- My darling DC English basement
- The Bedolla's playroom in Maryland
- Gabriella's room in Naperville
- The basement apartment at the Connell's in Glenview
- My charming apartment in Andersonville
- My apartment with Frank and the pups in Logan Square

DAMN. That is A LOT of moving. (My sincere apologies to those that keep an old school address book! I hope you've used pencil...)
While it's been an expensive and rather nomadic way to live, I would not change a thing! With each move, I have learned and grown. College moves are pretty self explanatory. Everyone moves during that time of their life. But the subsequent moves- the moves I have done since being a grown up, those are the ones that have really taught me about myself and about life.
My move to Scottsdale was a full on risk (and adventure!). I moved sight unseen to Phoenix for a new job. I made that one happen in 10 days. I got a little help from the Dude and I was on my way. The moves within Phoenix were all about finding my way and discovering the city that I called home for 7 years. My move to Seattle was me trying to find a place to settle, a place to call my home. And it was the loveliest place to call my home for the 2 years I lived there, but life had other plans and new adventures- so it was across the country to take on new work challenges and be nearer to my favorite little family in DC. Living with the families I did between my time in DC and in Chicago was a temporary fix for a transient time. I realized during that time just how lucky and how loved I am. How lucky am I to be invited to stay for an extended frame of time and share another family's home? Those months were truly some of my very favorite. Once I found my Andersonville place, I knew it would be home. It was cozy and so very 'Chicago'. I decorated with floral and it was ultra girlie! The perfect place to have ended my time as a single gal. Once F and I decided to move in together, this place was the very first that I wasn't fully moved into within a month. I was shocked when I realized that, but my smart mama pointed out that for the first time I had distractions-- a person whom I wanted to spend time with and enjoy a conversation and two dogs who need and deserve snuggles. Who wants to unpack when I could be spending time with the three beings I love so much?!
Well, now we've come to next big life adventure which means another move. I am now more than just me. I am a We. And when you become a We, you see the worries of your person and take them as your own. So, We have invited Frank's mom to come to Chicago to live with us. That means we needed to find a place with a first floor bedroom and a neighborhood for her to feel comfortable. We found a wonderful home with plenty of space for us, for her, for the dogs, and for our loved ones to come to Chicago for a visit. (Really, please come! We'd love to host you!)
This will be move #17 for me. And I think it will be one of the best yet. While I am completely over the process of moving and really do hope this is it for some time, I am wise enough to know that you never know what opportunity will arise and what move we will need to make. But I am crossing my fingers that whatever opportunity comes up, it is one that means we can stay in our new home. In the meantime, I am going to take full advantage of this chapter and be grateful for the stories and life that will be lived in this place to fill this chapter in the story of my life.
And seriously, this place has a pool. I mean, for real, I am going to be the happiest lady come warmer weather. ;)
Now, enough procrastinating, I need to get back to packing boxes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Life. It is said that life is what happens when you're making other plans. 
Well, there's been a whole lot of life happening!

We were on our way to buying a home- a cute bungalo in Berwyn. Making major life plans. 
I was plugging along at work and had been discovering all the glaring negatives about the job I took about a year ago. Things had been changing over time, but I kept holding out hope that things would get better (as I always do!). Then I got an email from my boss asking me to meet in a room on the other side of the office-- away from everyone. As soon as I got that email, I packed up my personal belongings and was ready to not go back. I knew. 
I walked into the room- where three others were seated and we got the news. There were layoffs due to a restructure and we, along with eight others, were being let go. I smirked and said okay. 
I move on. As soon as they said we were laid off, I was ready to move on. Let's close this chapter and move on to the next. The HR lady walked us through all the paperwork and my mind drifted. I thought about what I'll do in the next few months while I look for work, I thought about telling F, I thought about what that would mean for our house. For us. And instead of being nervous and scared, I felt hope. I felt like (and feel like), there is something else out there for me. I know everything will be okay. 

So, here I am- one week into being unemployed (a stay-at-home dog mom), and I know staying home full time with dogs is not for me. I love our dogs, but need more. I am applying for interesting jobs and thinking about what else there might be. My mind drifts to the possibility of something totally new-- something in the medical field. Obviously that involves a lot of commitment, time and money but who knows. 

In the meantime, I am going to organize our lives-- clean closets, organize the office, finally hang pictures, settle in. The dogs and I will take lots of walks, maybe discover new parts of the neighborhood. I'll become a regular at Starbucks for my "office hours", finally get caught up on sleep, take care of F, and just enjoy this life in the midst of making other plans.