LASTING VACATION MEMORIES

MAKING VACATION MEMORIES LAST                by Barbi Walker~Walsh

Summer is coming to a close and as school ramps up those sweet, fun memories of your hard earned family vacation start to fade. They get lost in the shuffle of Meet the Teacher nights, buying books and new clothes for those always growing kids and just all around RL.

Trying to juggle the real world becomes paramount and your kids are on to the next new thing and you start to wonder if they even remember all the fun times or appreciate every sacrifice you made to make their summer vacation rock!!

Hell, you wonder if you can recall those great memories yourself.

But, preserving those memories and reliving them aren’t as difficult as you think.

Studies show that visual, verbal, smell and taste help recall memories. Ever hear a song, or have the smell of honeysuckle that transports you back to a magical moment in your childhood? You can use these same cues to create everlasting, great memories of your family vacations for your kids (and yourself, bonus!!) for years to come. 

PHOTOS

Sure, photos, we all know that photos are memory builders. But with smart phones and social media we have thousands of images socked away on our phones and Facebook, Instagram etc., but are we using these pictures to the best of their use?

Seriously?

Who really looks at them again? And no, very few of us are going to print them out and put them in photo albums circa 1980? Not me, and I was a verified photo album geek!! However, what you can do is load up some of your faves as screen savers for your wide screen TV, laptops, tablets and smart phones. 

I suggest the TV because then everyone gets to see the revolving photo album which can spark conversation, thus leading to solidifying the memories even more. 

Story is a powerful component of making memories stick, says Carol Peterson, Ph.D, in her article for NPR on kids and memory. When a child creates a good chronological story, these memories will last, she said in the article. Seeing your vacation photos help create the story. 

So when we return from a vacation (okay, when I say we, I mean my techie husband), loads up some of the best shots from the trip to our screen saver for the TV. Now when we turn off our TV, photos scroll through and even on busy days we can see our happy vacationing faces in high-def. 

Of course, I also recommend printing out just a few pics and putting into frames, or blowing up into a canvas for your kids’ room. Maybe even buy a souvenir picture frame to create a more tactile memory. It’s a twofer!!

MUSIC

Make a vacation playlist! We are a very music friendly family. My husband codes to music, I write to music, our son plays his from his iPhone in his cruiser cupholder like a mod version of the 80s ghetto blaster.  Spotify is on much of the day in our house. Plus, I like to make playlists (a throw back to my mixtape days of yore), so this last vacation I got the idea of making one for our trip to Italy. It’s been on loop for both me and my son since we got home. While we were out I used Shazam to capture songs in restaurants, gelato shops, cafes and even some museums, then created a playlist on Spotify from there. You can link Shazam and Spotify making it easy to create a playlist from the songs you hear. Watching my son’s face with his lips curled in a little smile, bobbing his head to the beat of his Italy playlist, I can only hope that when he hears these songs years later they will transport him back in time.

Extra points for making a slideshow of pictures to the playlist or better yet a mini movie with the soundtrack. If you make it a family project, even better!

Plus, scientists have found that the brain “…links music, memories, and emotions” through a “hub” known as the medial prefrontal cortex, according to Dr. Petr Janata and his team. In fact, a multitude of research shows the positive effects of music on the brain, from helping with everything from ADD to Alzheimer’s patients, so let it play I say, get connected and dance around the living room or cruise the neighborhood blasting your iPhone. 🙂

TASTE AND SMELL

Basil, honeysuckle, lavender, dried up pine needles, were on our trip. Tastes and connect with the brain too and maybe recreating these aren’t as easy as the two above, but if you like to cook or garden then add these elements to your repertoire. Try making a dish or dessert you had on vacation together and see what conversations these stir up.

I’ll try something simple like this gem my good friend and photographer, Emily Carroll, taught me; basil leaves wrapped around mozzarella balls, drizzled with olive oil and stabbed with a toothpick, à la Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I’ll buy the live basil plant and until I kill it with my brown thumb, its fragrant leaves will permeate our kitchen, creating one more link to our vacation in Italy.

ENJOY

These tips aren’t just for exotic vacations, they are for all vacations! From summer fun with the family at the lake, to camping trips or road trips to Disneyland, okay, I’m dating myself here, but you get the idea. 

You took the time, energy and money to plan a summer vacation, now it’s time to get your ROI. So take just a little more time when you get home to put together a little family vacation montage for lasting memories and some family bonding.

I’d love to hear and see what you come up with, so share the love!

Love the life you live,

BjW

NON~REV TRAVEL BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS

Leg one of Phoenix to Rome (PHX-DFW).

Let’s see, seltzer water, for hydration; orange juice, vitamin C for my immune system; vodka for, you know, “yoga” in a bottle; and a biscoff cookie, just because it’s freakin yummy!
;)~

Non~Rev travel is always an adventure, its like a crap shoot. You go to bed late (after ninety repacks and two last minute runs to Target and a packed mall), and the flights look good. But the next morning, the one rainstorm of the season has wrecked havoc on your yard, your trees AND your flights. 

Canceled flights from the night before and cautious, savvy travelers have decided to get out of Dodge earlier, just in case shit hits the fan again. 
Okay, we’re airline people, we get it, we start researching other options, maybe take the 8:30 to Dallas, maybe divide and conquer ~ two of us on one flight, me riding the jumpseat, Chris taking the less full flight with Henry… options, options, options. Quick thinking and even faster decision making. 

No worries, (after a Zanax full of worries!) there enough seats, well all get on, then WHOA!!! Her comes two more people also traveling on our, limited but awesome, Vacation Passes, which include an automatic upgrade. We’re traveling on same said passes, but, crap where’d the come from and how’d they get ahead of us?

Ooooh… they’re day is harder than ours. They’re going to Narita, Japan by way of Dallas. UGHH!!! Their LAX flight was full because of said canceled flights due to the one rainstorm of the year. One more adventurous, wanderlust airline peep’s gotta think fast and move faster. 
After some swearing, blood, sweat and tears (okay can’t back that all up!) plus a little praying to the NonRevenue gods, things smooth over and our Rock Star gate agents all get us all on without any drama (other than our own internal drama!). We’re separated from our traveling companions, but we’re on!!! Woo hoo!!
So, yeah, this is the breakfast of fly-by-the-seat of your pants, champions travelers. The people who can run the gauntlet of world travel on a “maybe” seat. 

I admire my colleagues like no others!! The tenacity, the bravery, the determination to “Go. See. & Do.” as Gwyneth Paltrow’s moniker goes on her fabulous goop website, is pure inspiration!!

Dale Churchill, my longtime college and AWA pilot, has been saying for as long as I can remember,”Sleep when you’re dead.” I’ve been following this sage advice since my early 20s snd it’s paid off. I’ve seen and done more than most people my age. It’s been worth every exhausted day. Thank you Dale! 
So, yeah, I’ll sleep when I’m dead so I can Go. See. & Do. 😀 but for now, I’ll sleep cause this a.m. was freakin’ exhausting and we’ve got a long day ahead of us, and for now, there’s nothing else to do. 

Ciao ~ 

BjW

The New Year in Observance: 2016 Starts Now

**LONDON AND THE NEW YEAR 2016**

I was tired when we arrived at the hotel today. I’ve been off work for the last three weeks and it’s been wonderful and not, all at the same time. Besides adjusting to Chris’ dad moving in with us while he “finds” himself (k- that’s what I call it), I’ve struggled to find myself as well. From a groove for my diet and fitness to a semi-routine for my international flying this last year, or three rather, has been an interesting challenge and study of myself.

Today or tonight (depending on where you as I write this), I sit in the beautiful restaurant of the Olympia Hilton hotel in London eating my grilled salmon and crisp salad watching the cars and the double-decker busses drive by and lament not getting out of the hotel at all today. Yet, listening to the voices and laughter and catch the spasmodic behavior of the woman just in my periphery, I feel very content. The South African fuller bodied white wine went down fast, as my first glass of wine usually does, I find myself happy and easing into observer rather than navel gazer.

Sitting in my layover “uniform” of Athleta fleece lined tights and body-adjusting thermal top, my not quite black not quite green Doc Martins and yes, my Burberry cashmere coat, I can’t help but be a tad envious of the chicly dressed patrons in the bar/restaurant. Even one of my crew members, sitting alone at her table FaceTiming with a loved one I assume, looks lovely in her creamy scarf and dark top. Her red wine doesn’t hurt either, lol. Only her extreme blonde hair gives away that she “isn’t from around here.”

***TOTAL SIDE NOTE*** the fish and chips just delivered to the elderly woman on my left LOOKS DEVINE!!! Fuck I wish I could eat THAT!! But this damn ketogenic diet has me eschewing my normal carb battered English delight.

Three silver haired men join the crowd, alone and not together. One sexy, one twitchy but very hiply dressed and groovy for an ‘old guy’ (certainly better than nearly any American man his age, I mean he has a slim fitting shirt on for god’s sake!). Oh, then he speaks, and it isn’t English, ‘nuff said. The other one, who in his white tee, yet again not an extra large, I cannot figure out. The two of them often look over their shoulder, glancing around the room. Hip and Groovy looks my way, we’re closer than Tee-Man. Tee-Man has engaged the two single females just to his right. Neither of them picking up on the convo or him for that matter. As for Sexy, well he’s slumped in his high-backed leather chair, one seat over from my single crew member, checking his phone from time-to-time and occasionally leaning forward to read something on his table. From my spot he almost looks like he’s asleep, which from my experience lately, doesn’t seem that far off of a speculation of anyone that age, I’ve seen it from Chris’ dad on numerous occasions.

If I were to engage in a conversation with any of them I’d pick Hip and Groovy. He’s more energetic when he looks around the bar, a wee bit expectantly, but still active. He is also the only eating. He eats his fries with a fork, again, clearly not American, cleaning his knife against his fork, which he holds in his left hand, also a very European thing. He’s finished half of his red wine. Watching him closer, I think he’s even eating his burger with a fork. K, that’s definably not American… lol!!

Tee-Man looks like he got soup. Not a bad choice for this freakin’ crazy cold London weather – it SNOWED here today! But as for conversation, I’d put my money on Hip and Groovy. He’s not as sexy as well, Sexy, but for conversation he’s probably a lot more interesting. And now he just swiped the edge of his plate with his finger which he noisily sucks clean. How can that not be an interesting person? He suddenly trumps Sexy on sexy in the general sense.

Seriously???

He appears to be someone who is alive, engaged and interesting. This is what I think as I watch him. I think to me, it’s important in life. To be alive and looking at life instead of waiting for life. As I approached 50 this year, I thought a lot of what it meant to get ‘older’ to be on the back half of life so-to-speak. I was tasked by Christoper to write a blog post about turning 50 on my birthday, which I failed to meet (as is often the case with writers!). None-the-less, I did continue to think about it; what it means to be changing decades, especially this one! And from my observations of those my age or older the jury is still out, but I think I’m different in a lot of ways. And completely the same in others. Maybe that’s what it’s like to be 50. To refuse to let go and give up. To refuse to slow down, to stop playing my loud, heart racing, nerve jangling, techno music at the highest my Carmon and Hardon stern will allow in my Porsche Cayenne. Yes, I just name dropped my stereo and my car, but it’s still an SUV, cause, you know I have a child and I’m successful enough to pay for both. To drink more wine than I ever have, but to also have a very Helen Mirren attitude, of ‘fuck off” kind of principle, also because I’m old enough to pay for both.

I think 50 is an interesting age. You’re old enough to seriously not give a rat’s ass but still vibrant enough to know that and flaunt it if you wish.

Sure, the body doesn’t cooperate like it did when you were 30, hell let alone 47! but from my limited observations of older people, it’s less body and more brain.

I think the reason older people stop connecting with their kids or any one from the younger generation (if they ever did), is because they have become stifled, stagnant, smile less, and have less fun.

Yes fun. And although I may be the original excuse maker I am also the first one to say “who cares what the past is, it’s the future that you make. So make it what you want. Let it go.” And yes you can throw in the Disney tune for your pure enjoyment here! Wait, never mind, I’m more a Tay Tay kinda gal, I say Shake it Off! But you pick whichever motivates you to get up and shimmy around the room like no one is watching. 😉

See that’s my total point!!

Let something move you!! Bring you back to life, inspire you shoulder roll, head bob, and lip-sync in your car, shower, or bedroom. Better even if you do it in your underwear. Don’t let THAT part of you go, I say go with it!

My ex-husband, whom I adore, signed my 50th birthday card with this: To the wildest 50 year old I know! Yeah, THAT’S what I want to be every year. To me THAT’S a huge compliment that something I’m doing is right for me. And that the beauty of 50. What is that’s right for you?? You have the rest of your lifetime ahead of you. Think back, the first 50 years took a while to get here, so who’s to say the same won’t be the same for the next. Yeah, we’re older and we’re closer to dying than we were maybe 10 years ago, but that should be the reason you really reach for the ring. Cause what if? What if you catch it? Could this not be the best decade yet? And if not, either by choice or failure, what the fuck do you care, cause “… honey you’re older. wiser and have more insurance.” Boooya!! And what a memory you’ll leave for your kids, grandkids, family and friends. 🙂

The younger generation by definition is all about change and learning the new stuff of the world. As the older generation we have a lot to teach them and an obligation to do so, but if we get too bogged down in the “Woe is me” mentality, the “World is a tough and bettering place and it’s no use fighting,” then we make ourselves obsolete. A dusty piece of art or object to just to be observed or discarded. Not relevant really, except to the past.

Yes, half the time I wake up and do not have half the energy, or care for that matter, to bust ass at the gym or aggressively pound the pavement for a lede on a story that I think will make headlines, shit, I’m lucky if I get up and trot my sorry ass to the Roman Colosseum, um  for fuck sake, and you know it’s less than 15 minutes from my hotel. Yeah, I’m a sorry. lazy son-of-a bitch sometimes, but I still like to make a mark in my day. To meet people, to experience some of the most amazing things this lie has to offers, to take a few moments in my day to say I WANT FCUKING DESSERT!!! like a spoiled baby. Some days my mark is the deep impression in the sheets and pillows i’ve left while I get up to take a pee and a sip of some stale wine. And you know what? I say “who the fuck cares!” It’s a passionate moment, in my passionate life. Winston Churchill napped every single day while at war, Earnest Hemingway drank his way through multiple highly, over prosed novels and Anis Nin played with one of our most famous writer’s heart and emotions, and what I get when I read them is a sense of life. And “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” as David Glasgow Farragut, the first rear admiral, vice admiral and admiral of the United States Navy says at his order at the Battle of of Mobile Bay, in which he won victoriously .

Yes a life of Damn the Torpedoes or Running With the Bulls, or toying with one of our greatest poet’s heart, could be life changing. And I totally support it. In fact I relish in it. It’s not an act of defiance, it’s an act of live, of showing the strength we have no matter our age. That it’s a whole lotta more fun on this side of 50!! That is should be life changing. We have the knowledge, we have the connection. we have the confidence and most of we should be lacking the fear that has kept use frozen for so long. And that’s exactly how it should be: life changing. Take risks. And if you’e like me you take calculated risks. Clause you know what?? It should be way more fun getting older, no parents or teachers to threaten you with “permanent grades” or expulsions.

To be relevant you have to make yourself relevant. And that’s entirely up to you of what that looks like. Who cares if your idea and strength of relevance is about the top 10 places to eat in London. People. Dig. That!! Or if your is about a certain mascara!! Women love feeling good about themselves and do you know what people who feel good about themselves do? They make others do the same. You know what that doesn’t do? Make other harm each other. It’s collaborative. It’s sharing and giving and helping. There is no bad thing in that!

~Anyhwho, take my observation and see it for what it is: People connecting to other people. AT then end of the day thats the one thing we long for; to feel connected, to feel loved, to feel heard, to be respected. It’s what I bring to my job every single day. It connect with each of my passengers. It’s small but it’s my gift. I want everyone on ,y flight that I’ve come in contact with to know they mattered to me. That I say you. I heard you. I felt your joy, your pain, you happiness. I want to be able to share all of that with you for the time that you are on my flight. I’m excited for you!! What an amazing adventure you’re one, you’re brave, you scared and you’re doing it anyway. Godspeed to my passengers! I hope my crew and I have given you any last bit of needed push to help you feel amazing on your adventure!

At the end of the day, I find humans to be quite interesting, I mean a) I am a 30+ year flight attendant, b) a journalist and c) a writer. I’ve made lifetime careers out of interacting with people. Humans are the most interesting species I’ve ever come across. We are simple yet complicated. We are boring yet exciting. We are stupid yet smart. All with the same functioning parts. We have so much in common, we long for the same things, we have so many opportunities, regardless of our locale, and yet we make such a muck up of our lives it’s insane and completely compelling to me. And to quote a journalist’s creed, we all have a story to tell. Yes, yes we do. Even the ones who on the surface are lame, boring and a big yawner, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find something of interest. It just takes time, patience and curiosity focused on someone other than yourself to get to it. I guess I’d say that’s what makes great journalists and writers good at what they do. They watch, look and listen. Becoming 50 has helped me a lot at getting better at the above three verbs. Having been on my journalist sabbatical theses last three years I’ve lost some of my skills and it’s challenging to get them back, but just thinking of getting back into the frey has me chomping at the bit to get started. So yeah, we’ve had a new ‘roommate’ that brings new challenges, but it also brings an opportunity to ask observe him which beg the tough questions of myself that I sort of cringe at the answer. This is what I call growth and if we don’t grow at 50, we are seriously dead on the vine and  we are no longer vintage and when we loose that, we cease to be relevant. We’ve become something to dust and wonder at from time to time and to replace upon a shelf. Yea, that ’s not me, never has been, never will be. So here you go Christoper, my dissertation on turning 50.

The Flawed Writer

Nearly a year ago, with fresh and renewed enthusiasm I started back into the world as a journalist, as a blogger as a writer, the deepest of my passions. I had an entirely new life. From my job, to my partner, my zip code, my life, everything was new, different, exciting and scary all at once and I was feeling fierce. Feeling alive and ready to get back into the most challenging part of my life: writing.

When my life turned completely around (by my own doing) I took a sabbatical from my freelance journalism career. But in the end of summer of ’14 I was ready to dive in again. My new job posting with its four hour commutes to Philly gave me time and space to think, create and write again.

So late one summer day I posted here about my experiences as a “flawed mother” something that had resonated with me in a lovely book I’d read. I posted my angst about being a working mother, a mother who chose life for myself versus a life living through my darling, adored child. I felt selfish, yet my beliefs about living for yourself while giving your loved ones time and attention is the best lived life. I exposed myself, my fears, my flaws. I felt brave in doing so, despite knowing that some would vehemently disagree with me. But a writer knows that being true to oneself and putting it out there and hoping to get at least one person to consider a different point of view IS being a writer, and damn the torpedoes!

That’s me, in a nutshell. Me, The Writer.

Yet what happened to that one vulnerable post took the wind out of my pages. More than anything I’d expected to ever encounter.

The timing of my “Flawed Mother” post came just days before a very personal, difficult death in my “family”‘and unfortunately for me one of the people also affected by this tragic moment is a bully. She did not like the role I played during this most emotional and personal time. She felt “ousted” so she did what bullies always do when they are most insecure; lash out and aim to hurt. She made things personal. She  attacked me and my “Flawed Mother” post on a very, very personal and inappropriate level. She attacked me publicly, but worse she attacked my family and loved ones through this public post.

That was the last time I wrote.

Until now.

As insecure writers, this would be difficult enough to handle, but she made it about my family. I don’t take that lightly and rather than attack back, I circled the wagons and put up the armor to protect them. And yes at the same time I shielded myself.

Nearly a year later I was bullied again, this time at work and as I sat in my jumpseat, tears falling into my lap wondering how to deal with this face to face bully I knew to I couldn’t confront her like I did in junior high school with a knock out punch that earned me the knickname Muhammad. But I HAD to confront it. I thought about what I’d tell my son if he was bullied, if it happened to him. And that’s when it actually occurred to me that I’d been bullied publicly too and that I hadn’t written since the attack on me almost a year ago.

See the one thing I hate the most is fear.

I’ve never lived my life in fear, except now. Now I was afraid to write, to confront my bullies head on. To keep doing what I love, writing and flying, to face my bullies. To live fearlessly in ALL aspects.

Well I thought a lot about what I’d say to my work bully, and you know what? I never got the chance to say what was on my mind. She treated me VERY differently from the moment we got out of our jumpseats, and it’s continued that way ever since. But I was prepared. I was not afraid of her anymore.

And the same goes here. My fearlessness is back. I’ve found my thick journalist’s skin I wore so well not that long ago. And I feel at home in my skin and in the pages once again.

So yes, I am truly a flawed mother, but who isn’t? I deeply love my son and would die for him, but I also have a life and spirit that is all my own. And what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t get back into the fray and fight to be true to myself? What kind of journalist, what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t lay bare my soul for all to see? I wouldn’t be ME that’s who I’d be, and for me that’s no way to live, scary fear and all, cause honestly that’s half the fun. 😉

As the anniversary of this tragic life changing death in our family approaches I am grateful to the one adult person it affected the most as I watch her grab a new life, leading HER family through the fray, more beautiful and strong as ever. I dedicate this post to you Emily Carroll. Thank you for being fearless and spreading love everywhere you go.

So I’ll leave you, my dear readers, with my favorite quote so you can trust I will be true to me the writer for YOU my reader:

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open,” Natalie Goldberg

~Barbi

The Flawed Mother

On a whim I picked up a book today, “How to be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits” by the quad  Parisiennes ~ Berest, Diwan, de Miaret, and Mas.

It was the “Bad Habits” that hooked me, cause let’s face it, if you know me at all you know I am a keeper of bad habits (and an enthusiastic one at that!).

So I thought, hey, if the iconic Parisian women also have bad habits then well,  je bascule! I don’t consider myself anything as classic, fashionable or even remotely a woman with that, ummm… je ne sais quoi. You know, in short, nothing like a Parisian woman. Yet, I deeply admire them (at least our stereo typical view of them, because that’s really all I know of them) and I find them fascinating.

But then I read something that made me feel somewhat akin to these amazing women. The section titled “A Mother with Flaws.” Now this is something that resonates with me!

I eagerly devoured every word on the page. It’s a short section but filled with truths for me. As I read, these four mothers, these four authors who put their feelings, emotions and realities on the page for us all to see, admit to being selfish women. In the first line no doubt!!

Yes, I am selfish as well. I’ve struggle with my needs versus my duties as a mother. I feel guilty when I do put mine first and I frequently fall victim to feeling that I am not as good of a mother as I should be (no surprise if you’re a mom, or parent for that matter!). That I should give more to my son, or that I’m not creative enough or entertaining enough for him. That a lot of the times what I chose to do with him is what I like or know. I often feel a lack of parental creativity so I fall back on what I know, which tends to be more adult like or things I would do.

And then in comes the guilt.

Let’s face it, all parents struggle with balancing our needs with those of our children’s, and often to the detriment of ourselves. I know countless women (and men) who put their own needs so far at the bottom of the list that they never get to their needs and that isn’t good for anybody. But neither is putting our needs ahead of theirs at all costs.

So what’s a parent to do?

Be yourself. Revel in who you are and what you have to offer.

So as I read on I noticed something: I am more Parisienne-like than I thought, at least in motherhood and maybe this isn’t a bad thing.

“Let’s be honest: the Parisienne is a selfish woman. A loving mother, yes, but nonetheless incapable of forgetting herself completely…. The Parisienne does not stop existing after she has a child. She does not give up her somewhat adolescent lifestyle…” the section goes on to explain. I can soooo relate to this. I’m feeling better about my own selfishness to some degree at this point.

“She wants to be there to educate her child, to watch him grow up, to pass on her values, her culture, her philosophy… Her child is not king, because he is a satelite to her own life. At the same time, her child is omnipresent because this satelite follows his mother everywhere and together they share valuable moments. He might join her at a lunch, accompany her to a boutiqiue, end up at a concert or cocktail party, where he will fall asleep on a sofa where she watches over him with equal parts guilt and tenderness.”

Yes. Yes I have done that. On more than one occasion. And yes I have felt the guilt but also felt the excitement of him living in the moment and being a part of the “real” world around him. And it is here that I fully connect with these Parisiennes. That these moments that detour off the schedule, where he sleeps in a pub in Hong Kong or a football game that goes past his bedtime, will show him moments of what lies ahead for him in the adult world. Together we share memories and experiences of life beyond childhood. These are the parts of life we dream about as children! It is also here, the authors point out, that what he sees as these joyful moments are also his future, or this joie de vivre, according to the Parisienne. And also “…the best way of inspiring children to grow up. And the best way for mothers to never miss the lives they led before they had children.” I love this because as I’ve stated before I believe in living life to its fullest, to experience life and loving what it has to offer.

And what better way than to than to share your life with your child, to show him that being a grown up is just as fun as being a child.

Asleep at the pub Honk Kong nights.
Asleep at the pub Hong Kong nights.

The Mother of a Guilt Trip I’m Taking

 

Yeah, I made the decision to change bases from Phoenix, AZ where I’ve lived and worked for the former America West Airlines for almost 30 years as a flight attendant, to Philadelphia, PA. But decisions are hard, especially for me – let’s clear here – I really hate to make them, especially the last minute ones. I agonize over them!! The, “well if I do this, A could happen and do I want that?, What if I do and B happens? Or not…”

Strangely tho the best and easiest decisions for me to make are the kind I don’t think too much about, the ones I just dive right into, the “by the seat of your pants” kinds my mom always said I lived by. Sure, that creates its own set of problems but I’m usually in it and can adapt and see the silver lining. A blessing or a curse, I don’t know which. Either way, every good parent in the world will tell you they struggle, feel guilt, experience anxiety, stress and fear over making big and small decisions that affect their kids. It’s called “Parenthood.”

But also in the big scheme of things, a) life goes on, b) don’t sweat the small stuff, and probably the biggest one of all, c) the kids are gonna be alright.

Which was NOT my mantra yesterday when I’d turned down/missed my opportunity to move my Paris trip up a day earlier so I would be home all day for Halloween instead of getting home right at candy collecting time (yes, please play the violins for me here… immmm, what? Crickets? 🙂 Yeah, yeah, I get it, but to finish my point it’s still work and I could’ve finagled things to have my crepe and eat it too. But I didn’t. Why? The aforementioned fear of change, fear of decisions, fear that I’d mess up everyone else’s schedules I’d already committed too. Sorta solid reasons, but in short, thinking too much about it.

So when I looked at the flights for yesterday’s four-hour commute to Philly (should I have done the trip) they were wide opened, stress free! (No I do not get paid to get from my home base to my work base – that’s all me baby!). But today’s flight, ugggh!!! FULL, full, and fuller. Oy, and to top it off my position on the standby list was falling, fast! Hmmmm.three seats, and now instead of being no. 1 on the list I was no. 8. and there were a few other flight attendants commuting so it would be fingers crossed at how many jumpseats were available to get us all there on time.

Crap no 1! Shoullda taken the damn earlier Paris trip!

Flights wide open both ways, getting home on Thursday evening instead of Friday… BONUS!

However, my Friday night commute home flight looks good seat wise, and all good until I learned there is only ONE afternoon flight home from Philly Friday!!! HOLY SHIT!! How’d I miss that nugget?1?

Crap no. 2! Again!! Shoulda taken the damn earlier Paris trip!! (Now to be honest, I had a slim chance of getting it but I should’ve been more proactive in securing it, and yes, this is where parent decision fear of missing Halloween comes in). Followed by the inevitable guilt that I may screw up being with my son on Halloween comes in. Followed by the anxiety and stress of any crazy shit happening with my last chance commute home for Halloween.

Great!! LOVE being a working parent with limited controls over my schedule!!

But then I hear my mom’s soothing voice in my  head, “honey don’t sweat the small stuff.”

So what is the small stuff exactly here??

One small stuff: You can’t control everything so just let it go. When you’re sweating the small stuff you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the great big stuff right in front of you, HELLO?!? Umm, Im going to PARIS!!

Two small stuff: One Halloween missed does not make me a bad parent, just a lonely albeit thinner one. (Bonus on the laterlol!)

Three small stuff: And major blessing at the same time: My SON will not miss the amazing Halloween I and his Modern Family and friends have set up for him. He will still get to Trick-or-Treat with his friends in his own cool costume as Jeff Corwin (the animal biologist on the Discovery Channel). His “people” aka dad, dad’s girlfriend, my boyfriend and his friend’s moms and dads will make sure he gets his costume set, a candy bag, his friends to and from the State Fair  for the ultimate Halloween (thank you Kristi Meyer Walsh for that!!) and then back to our house for the Halloween sleepover. I am at peace knowing he will have the Halloween we planned for him. And grandma is always at the ready should anything fall through the cracks!

I hate when I second guess my decisions, especially when I find out that decision A would’ve, in hindsight, been better than the decision I’ve made (or not, by default) and currently living.

Yes, these are the small stuffs we parents sweat every day. But we also have to make a living, we have to do our jobs and when I think about all the parents I know that are working their butts off providing for, succeeding at and yes even loving their jobs while missing some events throughout our kids’ lives, I realize, in the Big Picture it is just the small stuff.

But the one thing I want to teach and instill in my son more than anything else in the world is that life is full of choices, ups and downs, fun and not so fun stuff, but I want him to learn to LIVE LIFE FULLY. To enjoy the moment he is in, because if he’s not then he’s missing the great stuff that’s happening RIGHT NOW. I want him to live a little like I do, looking for fun, enjoying life at it’s fullest even if the day or moment isn’t exactly what you expected it to be, because life is great if you let it be. And not to put too small a point on it, I will always be his mom, I will always love him and he is always in my heart even when I’m not with him while he’s living his life. And that’s the most important thing I can instill in him, to be confident he is loved, cause this isn’t about me, it’s about him.

May all your frights stay at bay this Halloween and your pumpkin filled to the brim with treats!

The Quiet Observer

There are times in my life as a mother where I get to quietly observe my son and his experience of life. Although these moments are rare they are my most cherished memories. It’s in these moments I am fully engaged, everything exaggerated. I can remember the smells, the temperature of the air, when the breeze blew and ruffled my hair and when it did not.

Recently there have been three that stand out, where I truly allowed myself the luxury of being what I call the Quiet Observer.

The first was when we were in Hong Kong. The second was the day he road his bike all by himself. The third was the day we went for a bike ride, just the two of us, to the park.

I let him lead the way and make all the decisions on where we went and as beautiful as that was, what I remember most, was swinging with him on the swings in the park.

Henry has never learned how to swing properly. It’s been starts and stops and fits of frustrations with lectures and examples of how to “Pump your legs! Do it like this! Watch me, watch your friends! “which usually ended in tears or more often in a silent giving up by both parties culminating with tummy swinging and spinning in circles, feet dragging in the dirt creating whirlwinds of dust clouds.

Today was different.

Today, in my reverie, my Quiet Observer moment, I was asked by my son if I would hold his hand while we swung next to each other. This was the first time he’d asked me this and I said yes, of course, very aware of the moment, the freedom of being without expectations of what I needed or wanted him to do.

I will never forget when he streched his little hand out to mine, smiling up at me, the warmth of his palm, his little fingers clasped tightly around my hand, as we pushed away from the ground together, hand-in-hand, little swirls of dust kicking up under us as we glided over our starting point.

And we swung. HE swung, small legs pumping in rhythm to my much longer strides, but he was doing it! He was swinging for the first time ever, on his own he was doing the movements that every kid, this big one included, takes for granted when you get on a swing. I watched as he’d lean back and pull forward, the wind blowing his hair away from his forehead. His eyes closed and a smile on his face. I couldn’t have been in a more blissful state. I was so at peace watching him float through the air that I too decided to let go and just swing. Leaning back, floating forward, air running along my arms and face, through my hair, his hand in mine. It wasn’t easy this tandem swing but we did it, the two of us. When I opened my eyes I turned to look at him and he was looking at me, his beautiful smile on his face and his blue-green eyes twinkling in the dusk light. His checks, flush and rosy from the cool evening air, forever captured in my memory. In my internal flash drive, I still remember it all.

As often as I try (and wish) to capture these moments on film, I realize that sometimes being IN THE MOMENT, REALLY, being in the moment is better than any picture. The feelings, the tactile experience, the emotions cannot be captured on film and it’s these moments that will be with me a lifetime.

So you want to be a writer? by Charles Bukowski

Yes. Dreadful. Painful. Personally malicious. Yes. Yes I want to be a writer. No, I AM a writer. I can’t stop myself. I find myself these days staying up late at night, into the early hours of the morning writing, rewriting, thinking, plotting, smoking cigars drinking too much wine but yet I am and doing it all over again because, yes it is bursting out of me for the first time in years. With red, blurry, puffy eyes I sit in front of my glowing screen to write what’s been locked away, screaming to get out because I can no longer contain it. And thank you Charles Bukowski for giving me permission to lose hours of sleep for something I’ll never make millions of dollars for but doing something that I absolutely love. Something I can’t stop myself from doing anymore, happily I will never be one of the 40,000 (male or not) you so eloquently and indelibly etched upon me many years ago.

~BjW

WHY CENPHO ROCKS

Enjoying Joyride Taco House on Central.
Enjoying Joyride Taco House on Central.

I’ve been tasked to explain why I like Phoenix better than Tempe, why to me that it makes me feel more alive than being in Tempe does. I’ve tried many times to verbally explain it, but well, I’m a writer and not so good with the spoken word. So here I will attempt to put into written words the things Phoenix makes me feel.

To that end I was fortunate to find Upwards Projects blog post about Federal Pizza featuring Old Bisbee Brewing Co. beers. It gave me the platform and foundation for what it is that I find invigorating about Phoenix.

First, I am an energetic, passionate, outgoing, social butterfly who loves old brick buildings and busy bustling hot spots. I love texture, wether it’s in the fabric of a wall paper or the people around me. The sounds of their voices and the energy of their collective souls is like my heartbeat. This makes me feel alive and I come by it, well, historically and a bit naturally I presume.

See I’m from the funkiest place in Arizona. I was born and raised in Bisbee, AZ.  A small, quirky, eclectic and friendly little town about 200 miles southeast of Phoenix. My dad and step mom still live in the same 100 year old rock house where I spent many summers. Bisbee has charm. Bisbee is bucolic. Bisbee is where copper miners, hippies, bikers, Daughters Of The American Revolution (DAR), church folk, CEOs and politicos all lived, socialized and played bridge together. People in Bisbee were friendly and neighborly when I was growing up. We knew everyone and visa versa. Sometimes a blessing, sometimes not so much. Anyway, I loved the ‘feel’ of Bisbee. The old buildings, the musty library, the creaky floors of my house. Going to Mrs. Browders’ candy shop and spending the two cents I had just found under my bed on candy, or putting some plastic horse on “layaway.” Going to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream after my sister’s softball team won a game.

I know you’re probably wondering, “What the hell does that have to do with Phoenix? Good lord it’s huge in comparison, and well, most developers have been quick to tear down just about any building over 10 years old just to put something new in it’s place!” And yes, in many ways you are right. But here’s what Phoenix is to me.

It’s the same place I’ve lived for the last 30 years, and for the most recent 17 I’ve lived in the same zip code, despite moving three times. It’s the place where I fought and beat breast cancer at the age of 23. It’s the place where my mom and I made a new start when Phelps Dodge moved the corporate headquarters from Douglas, AZ. It’s where I graduated from high school, met, fell in love with and married my son’s amazing dad. It’s where I had my adorable son, in the same hospital his dad was born in. It’s where I lived when I made it through journalism school while having said child.

But it isn’t just all the “living” that makes me like Phoenix better, although, one could argue, that’s enough. It’s because I’ve watched it grow and change. I’ve watched as Phoenix and local businesses and elected officials and neighbors all worked to create a very unique space in such a large area. Creating special places to eat, meet, drink, have coffee, shop and workout. Places like Windsor, Churn and Postino. Places like St. Frances, Chestnut and SideBar. Places like Hissy Fits, Paris Envy and Smeeks.

For the last 20 plus years I’ve watched as Phoenix somehow became a tight knit community of like-minded, yet very diverse people. People actually walk and ride their bikes now to these places. There isn’t the same cookie-cutter-ness (yes, not really a word, I am aware), that you find in many other parts of the Valley. You can sit in Lux Coffeebar and feel like you are in San Francisco or New York while you listen to light rail wiz along Central Ave. Visit Carmel’s Breakfast House on Camelback and sure enough you can almost hear the ocean as if you were in Newport Beach.

And in this joint venture that many have embarked on in making Phoenix different than the other ‘burbs here, the people have continue to be friendly, outgoing and helpful. At least that’s what I see every time I visit “home.” Somehow Phoenix has managed to create a huge, connected neighborhood out of some 40 or more square blocks.

What I see, and feel for that matter, is people want to be out, they want to be alive, and most importantly they WANT to connect with those around them. I don’t see or feel that in Tempe, at least not yet. But it’s harder to do that here. Like it used to be in Phoenix.

Phoenix is still where you’ll find 90 year old houses sitting next to more ‘modern’ Haver-like homes in little pockets of irrigated lots. Where kids can run and splash and slip in slide in the flooded yards like I did when I was a kid in my grandparents’ lot. (Yes, don’t remind me of the pollutants in the water, not my point here.) My point is that somehow Phoenix has managed to become this huge version of my childhood town. I don’t know if it really has or if I’m just seeing it how I want to see Phoenix, but I don’t think so.

It’s how I want my son to grow up. In this bigger version of my own childhood.  I waited a long time for Phoenix to become what I always dreamed it would be, and now it has, and for that I will always return to my “home” even if it’s just for an evening or a night supporting my home town through local venues like Federal Pizza, and for that I am grateful that Urban Phoenicians “get it.” They understand that it’s local involvement and community that really matters in the long run. Connecting with those around us, regardless of age, size, color, income etc. that makes life grand. Phoenicians want to get off the sofa and out in their front yard and meet their neighbors, and it doesn’t matter the size of city, they want to be neighborly. Urban Phoenicians KNOW it’s the Villiage that feed our collective souls and hearts, mine included.