As time goes by

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“So would I do it again?  Probably.”

That’s how I ended my post “How I spent my summer vacation” in August 2015.

If you didn’t read it or don’t remember it, I’ll summarize…. Our vacation at the beach was 30% good and 70% sucky. Like a lot of family vacations.

But AGMA was right. I did do it again. Last week.

Crazy right?

Miraculously, it was 90% good this year. And everybody knows that 10% is certainly within the acceptable limits for sucky.

AGMA meant to post last week while I was lounging by the pool with a Mai Tai (which actually didn’t happen…)  I was in a beach house basically by myself for the first 3 days. Plenty of time to cobble together a few words.

One would think…

But, as happens so often, time got away from AGMA. And was MIA. One minute it was Sunday evening and the next it was Wednesday morning. Then my kin all descended on me and there was no time to do anything “elective” for the rest of the week.

But AGMA was ready for them.  This year, I was ready for them.

The Pack n Play was all set up for Adorable Grandson. He’s nearly 2. His toy box was ready and waiting, as was his high chair. His stroller and wagon were in the garage as were all of the beach chairs and umbrellas.

Thank God for the trusty AGMA-mobile… My 2008 Prius with 110,000 miles.

After three trips to the grocery store (one in Altanta and two at the beach), the pantry and fridge were fully stocked.

There was really nothing that anybody could want for. And they didn’t.

It helped immensely that Adorable Grandson was a year older. He is walking and talking (“no” and “more” and “mama” and “dada” are some of his favorite words) and understanding well.

It also helped that we were a minute’s walk to my niece’s beach house instead of a car ride like last year. My brother and SIL were there for a week as were my two nieces, their husbands and their kids (5 of them, ages from 4 to 11)

The niece’s house was the house of insanity, activity and craziness. Unless the kids were on their iPads. Then you could hear a pin drop.

But Adorable Grandson loved, loved, loved his second cousins and joined in the fray as much as he could. Between running around with the older kids and running around on the beach, the little critter was exhausted every evening. He went to bed each night with nary a whimper.

My younger son, who can be a bit inflexible at times, was pretty mellow and loved being the “crazy uncle” to Adorable Grandson.

My husband spent the whole time grinning after Adorable Grandson christened him “Bump-pa”. AGMA still has no name other than “nana” but I think Adorable Grandson was referring to an actual banana and not me.

My stressed out, over worked older son and pregnant DIL got some much needed R&R, and were much nicer to all of us this year.

So, I did it.

I feel like Clark Griswold at the end of Christmas Vacation. After many dismal failures, AGMA finally orchestrated a family event that everybody enjoyed.

I’m still dizzy with the feeling of success. Or maybe just dizzy from my new meds – not sure which…

So the question is…will there be a repeat in 2017?  Probably not…  Families, like life, are always in a constant state of change and evolution.

There will be a new addition to our family. Adorable Grandson will be joined by Adorable Granddaugther in November. And my older niece told me her family was planning on going somewhere else next year on vacation to expand their kid’s horizons. So my brother and SIL, and my other niece and her family probably won’t come either.

My sister and BIL couldn’t make it this year because of illness. They probably won’t come next year if my brother isn’t there.

It’s like dominos falling.

But no matter what happens, or where people go or don’t go, AGMA will always have the memory of last week. The week when I saw everybody in my family actually smile and get along and enjoy each other’s company.

We will always have the Isle of Palms 2016.

Play it once Sam. For old times’ sake

Play it Sam.

The tale of the un-wicked step-mother

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Louise was a young, newly married woman. Despite her parents disapproval, she married into a rather well to do family in Ashland, KY. Her husband’s family owned a successful furniture store and she was to be one of their buyers.

The idea of buying trips to Chicago and New York thrilled her. Such a far cry from her upbringing. The oldest of 3 children, her family moved often to small towns in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Her father worked for the railroad and, in the early 1900’s, the railroad was king.

Her middle class upbringing was strict and uncomfortable for her. She longed to see the world and make her mark. She was able to go to college after graduating from high school, and in 1931, that was quite an accomplishment. First, because the country was in the midst of the Great Depression and second, because she was a woman. But Louise was quick, intelligent and curious, and did well in her studies to become a teacher. Turned out, she hated teaching. It happens…

I don’t know how she met her husband or when they were married, but by the 1940’s she was in full blown career mode as a furniture buyer. She was a beautiful woman with impeccable taste, cultured, well read and could have easily been mistaken for a woman who was born into a society family.

But somewhere along the line in the late 40’s or early 50’s, her marriage went terribly wrong. Details are sparse, but somehow her husband managed to obtain a divorce from her without her knowledge. Scumbag doesn’t even come close… She received word from him from some Caribbean Island – he was supposedly on a business trip – that not only were they divorced, but that he had married his secretary.

Talk about your bad, FML days.

Although she gave up her buying job, she kept their beautiful home surrounded by acres of trees in the exclusive Bellefonte neighborhood of Ashland. This is where I came to live in 1965 after my mother died.

Louise was my step-mother. She would have been 103 this week. Yikes!

My father, divorced from my mother a year earlier, married Louise in 1960 after my grandmother died. My father lived with his mother in Pittsburgh, where I lived, but within months of her death, married Louise, and moved to Kentucky.  And he was out of my life for the next five years.

I’m sure that, in 1965 at the age of 52, Louise never expected to have an 11 year old girl as a live-in step-daughter. It must have been an incredible shock. More like a huge, massive earthquake.

Now, when I think back, I thank God that she was such a kind, understanding woman. I was incredibly broken and confused at the sudden loss of my mother and my move to a new state to live with people I barely knew. She was patient and gentle with me, and over the years, I grew to love her. Not the wicked step-mother at all, you see.

And she grew to love me like the child she never had. It wasn’t the same sort of love that I have as a mother for my children, but it was as much a she could love me and still be loyal to my father.

He was always her first priority.

In many ways, Weezie, as I sometimes called her, protected me from my father’s emotional tantrums. He was not a happy man. To this day, it’s still a great mystery as to why she married him. She was much too good for him.

Sadly, my happiest memories of my home are when he traveled for work. Louise and I would just chill, eat pizza (which he hated) for dinner, and totally enjoy the lack of tension that was always present when he was home. It was blessed, temporary relief.

I was thrilled to go far away to college and escape his dark moods and temper. But I felt more than a few pangs of guilt leaving her alone with him. And it took it’s toll on her.

So I moved on with my life, got married, had children. We settled down in one city, and she and my father moved from city to city trying to find a place to make him happy.  I used to call them gypsies. Louise loved my kids, but, to appease my father, kept an emotional and physical distance. They rarely visited. We always had to go visit them.

In the late 1980’s, symptoms of dementia started rearing their horrible, ugly heads. Once a voracious reader and crossword puzzle enthusiast, Louise had trouble finding simple words. She couldn’t pay the bills anymore. She started night wandering.

My father, not surprisingly, could only complain about how she was disrupting his life. Seriously. He couldn’t understand why she couldn’t just “straighten up and fly right”.  I won’t go into details, but she used to call me, sobbing. It broke my heart.

And, as always happened with my father, we had to handle things in crisis mode when everything exploded in 1991. Again, no details, but he went to Chicago to recover with my sister and we moved Louise in with us in southern Ohio.

Eventually, she went to an assisted living facility for several years, then to an Alzheimer’s unit at a local nursing home when she started wandering outside at night. My father eventually moved to our city to be closer to her, but had no intention of letting his life be burdened with her condition. He lived in a lovely senior community.  And, as so often happens, in a strange twist of karmic fate, she outlived him.

Coming from a long line of long lived people, she was 88 when she died. By that time she could no longer recognize me or my family, was in a wheelchair, completely non-verbal and required total care. It was a great mercy when she passed. Yet I still grieved this beautiful woman who loved me second only to my own mother.

Happy birthday Weezie! Your beauty was so much more than skin deep… Thank you for teaching me how to be a woman of substance and for your love that helped heal my broken heart and spirit.

You were one bad ass lady!

Olga

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She was the second daughter born to Ukrainian immigrants. They came to the U.S. for who knows what reason. To escape persecution of some sort, for better employment opportunities, the sheer adventure of a new country.  I don’t know.

So much I don’t know.

Olga was my mother.  Her real name.  Really.

Her father was a glass worker employed in the glass factories of Western Pennsylvania.  An amateur actor in local Ukrainian theater, he was short and my one uncle looked just like him.  From the one and only picture I’ve ever seen of my grandfather that is.  I know his birthdate, where he was from in the Ukraine and what ship brought him to Ellis Island.  I know when he got married, what faith he followed and where he raised his four children.  He may have been an alcoholic.  I know the date he died and where he’s buried.  And that sums up my knowledge of my grandfather.

I know even less about my grandmother.

Again, birthdate and place, immigration date, wedding date, date of death, burial spot. The “stuff” you can find from doing some basic genealogy research.  I’ve never seen a picture of her.  I know that she died of TB when my mother was only 16.

Olga grew up with her three siblings in a small three room house (with an outhouse) on several acres of land.  Their huge garden and the plentiful Western Pennsylvania wild game got them through the depression.

She was a pretty smart cookie.  Olga graduated from high school at 16 then went off to the “big city”, Pittsburgh, to go to nursing school.  I love that she was ambitious and wanted a career. She wanted a better life for herself. Or maybe her mom’s illness inspired her to be a nurse.  I don’t know.

Again, so much I don’t know.

Olga died 50 years ago yesterday from cancer.  She was in her mid-40‘s.  Way too young to die. After years of dark skies, the clouds were clearing, the sun was peaking through and her life had just started moving forward again.  So unfair.

I was 11 years old.  Way too young to think of asking the questions I would love to have answers to now.  Way too young to realize how my entire life would be changed by her sudden, forced and total absence.  Way too young to know how much I would want her by my side when life threw me curve balls and my own children were born.  So unfair.

From the few pictures I have of her as a young lady, Olga was a real looker.  And evidently turned the heads of quite a few doctors in the hospital where she worked. Sounds as if she could have had her pick of the lot until that fateful night at the frozen pond.

That darned frozen pond.

One night in the early 1940’s, she went ice skating with her friends.  That was the night she met my father and her life went into a spiral.  Now I realize that I wouldn’t be here otherwise, but for her sake, I wish she would have just stayed home that night. For her sake, I wish they’d never met.

Terrible thing to say right?  I’d be like Marty McFly watching my image fade from the family pictures had they never met.  But my heart wants her to have another chance at happiness.

She was 22 years old and fell head over heels in love with the charming, outgoing, handsome young man at the ice skating pond.  They started dating and, as sometimes happens, one thing lead to another…

Their quickie marriage is recorded in another state with a date that is 6 months prior to the birth of my brother.  Oops.

As far as I can tell, at the beginning, she was happy and in love.  My sister has some letters Olga wrote to my father about how happy she was and how she was looking forward to having their baby and how much she missed him.  Again, I’m not sure why they were apart.  Again, I just don’t know.

But unwittingly, she had married a self-centered narcissist who was the only child of an authoritarian, judgmental, doting German mother who had been widowed 8 years before. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when my father told his mom he’d gotten his girlfriend “in trouble” and had to marry her.  That couldn’t have gone well.

Sadly, it was only a matter of time before everything started to unravel in a devastating way…

But that’s another story for another day.  Maybe in the middle of winter when it’s gray and cloudy and spitting snow outside.  It’s simply too glorious out today to tell that part of the story.  The sun is making too big of a fuss shining today.

From all accounts she was incredibly thoughtful, kind and generous. My one cousin remembers Olga for the gifts she used to always bring when she came to visit. And that she was a great cook.  My other cousin said that my mother was the only person, other than Santa, who gave her Christmas presents. He so adored her, my one uncle (her younger brother), used to hitch hike the 30 some miles to Pittsburgh just to visit and talk with her.  I remember his unconsolable weeping at her funeral.

So on this half century milestone, I’m choosing to picture her in my mind’s eye as that young, smart, ambitious woman with dreams of a better life.  The newly graduated young nurse in the crisp white starched uniform.  The beautiful, gentle soul, daughter of penniless immigrants, who saw life as nothing but possibility.  The sensitive and kind sister, aunt, friend and mother who loved fiercely.

I like to think, to fantasize, that, had we been contemporaries, I might have been her friend.  Maybe even a good friend.

It’s a terribly sweet thought…

How I spent my summer vacation

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There have been numerous requests, nay demands, that I provide a follow-up post to my last AGMA “I’m going to the beach” post.

The postmortem, as I call it.

To those of you who really couldn’t give a rat’s ass, stop now and tune into another fun, isn’t-a-world-with-Donald-Trump-in-it-strange post next week.  To those of you who asked, be careful what you wish for.  Here goes…

Overall, I will say that it was no worse than I expected.  This is actually kind of a sort of a lie because I believe in miracles.  I always hold out this Pollyanna hope somewhere in my cold, frozen heart that everybody in my family will realize how precious everybody else in our family is and change their cranky ways.  But it didn’t happen.

*sigh*

Did I mention that I had a 20 mile training run the morning I left?  Yup.  After the run, I had to hurry home, shower, finish packing and get all the baby crap together, get the house semi-together and get everything down to the garage to wait for my son to pick me up.  I live in a four story townhouse.  It’s two flights of stairs from our garage up to the master BR.  You can guess how I felt when finally I crawled into my son’s car after two hours of running up and down the stairs.

Ouch.

It’s a five hour drive to the beach.  For probably two hours, we listened to DeadMau5. Okay, maybe it was only for thirty minutes but it seemed like two hours.  It actually seemed like a lifetime.  If you aren’t familiar with DM5’s incredibly rich musical sounds (I’m literally choking as I write this…) check it out here.  It felt like somebody was driving hot rivets into my head.

My apologies to you DeadMau5 fans out there of which I’m sure AGMA has many…

My husband had left Atlanta early to pick up my son, DIL and the cutest grandson in the world from the airport near the beach.  I received the message that all went well with the pick-up.  1st hurdle successfully navigated.

1 down, 340 left.

My younger son and I arrived at the beach around 6 PM.  I was hungry, exhaused from my 2:30 AM wake-up and 20 mile run, with my head split open from the Mau5Man music.  And everybody was waiting for me to go shopping and cook dinner.  I went to the grocery store and bought a frozen pizza.

The 2nd hurdle didn’t go so well.  I got the stink eye.

Only 339 hurdles left.

Now that I think back on it, without going into detail, it’s amazing how there can be so much drama over nothing in only a three days.  And, sadly, as expected, the drama all originated from my son and DIL.  In all fairness, my DIL was sick.  But then it seems as if my DIL is always sick when we’re around.  Cause and effect perhaps?

Hmmmm…

My grandson didn’t sleep well at all the first night.  And he was up bright and early the next morning.  Both my son and DIL were dog tired for a good part of the trip.  But it didn’t help that they drank so much at night and stayed up late.  Duh.

I know nothing; I see nothing.

On the positive side, the rest of my family was great!  My younger son was fun and good company.  My nieces and their husbands were wonderful, and it was great to see and hang out with their kids.  My brother and I only had very superficial conversations so it was pleasant.  He was on his good behavior.  My SIL was as expected.  I asked her all of the “how have you been, what have you been doing, how’s your sister?” questions and she asked zero about my husband or myself.  But it worked for me.  She didn’t give me the stink eye once.  That I saw.

My sister was also on her good behavior too.  She drank, but evidently not so much that she got fall down drunk.  We usually left the “party” fairly early in the evening when she was still drinking, but it appears as if she maintained control.  Relief doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling.

And my family loved, loved, loved my grandson.  But seriously, what’s not to love? He’s cute and smiley and chubby and, gosh darn it, just all around adorable.  But I’m not biased…

All he had to do was smile at me when I walked into whatever room he was in and blinding sunshine instantly cut through the clouds generated by my son and DIL.  My heart melted and I was a babbling pool of mush for the next 15 minutes.

And for those of you wondering, I did drink.  The first night.  I had to because of the frozen pizza dinner fiasco and the stink eye.  I had a pomegranate vodka martini and two beers.  Guess I must have still been dehydrated from my 20 mile run – I had sweated like Jackie Gleason trying to keep up with the June Taylor Dancers. (That’s a reference only those of a certain age will “get”.)  I had a pounding headache in the morning and was not on top of the the AGMA game.  That was a tough day.

I didn’t drink again for the next two days.  My Australian nephew-in-law thought I was crazy that I opted out of adult beverages.  Gotta love the Aussies!

My husband and I spent two nights in Charleston, SC after my kids left and we checked out of the condo.  I’m sad to say that I only started to relax and felt like I could be myself when we checked into our hotel.  I didn’t realize how tense I was until I wasn’t tense anymore.  Does that make sense?

So would I do it again?  Probably.  If I weigh the pro’s and con’s, it was worth all of the hard work and money spent and headaches (literally!) and heartaches to spend time with my wonderful grandson, my younger son and my nieces and their families. Plus, as much as they are ambivalent about my family and myself, it was good to see my brother and SIL after 2 years.

I know – there is something seriously wrong with me.

But, for the love of God, please, please don’t make me listen to DeadMau5 again!  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t survive a second encounter.

Thump, thump, thump…

We put the FUN in dysFUNction

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Danger Will Robinson…this is an extra long post.  And it’s my second post this week.  What?  Has AGMA lost her mind?  Kind of…

Just think of it as a little extra to chew on because you’ll probably hear crickets from me next week.  I’m pretty sure I’ll need to go back into therapy.  And I’ll be busy trying to dry out, and jump back on the wagon after an anticipated hard fall off this weekend. Let me explain…

AGMA’s going to the beach tomorrow!

Most people would be really psyched for a trip to the beach .  Yeah – not so much.

It’s really my fault.  A few months ago I Sherlocked that my brother & family – kids and grandkids – were going to rent a house in August at a beach location only a five hour drive away from me.  Perfect!  Since it’s normally a semi-expensive flight and a rental car to go visit part of that crew, I seized the opportunity to see them so “close” to home.  So far so good.

But then I got the brilliant idea to invite my kids along.

And that’s when the trouble started…

I invited my son and DIL to join us and bring my adorable, cute, chubby, happy eight month old grandson along so the rest of the family could meet him.  It will probably be the only time they see him other than at his wedding maybe.  Maybe.  Or my funeral.

Yeah – we’re a wedding/funeral family (WFF).

You know – the kind that never gets together unless somebody get’s married.  Or dies.  Hopefully not simultaneously.

Maintaining relationships with my small, long-distance family has always been a priority for me.  I visited them as often as I could in years past.  I traveled to both of my niece’s graduations, weddings, and baby showers.  Saw each of their babies as soon as I could after they were born – there are five of them – and visit yearly.  I’m known to my great niece and great nephews as “crazy Auntie AGMA”!  I like that.

Sadly, this effort hasn’t reciprocated by that side of the family toward my sons.

*sigh*

So I figured if I wanted them to meet and fuss over my totally wonderful grandson, it would be up to me to bring them together.  And they say they can’t wait to meet him.  As long as they don’t have to make much of an effort that is…

Did I just say that out loud?

Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely adore my nieces and their families.  Really.  They are truly the most “normal” people who share genetic material with me.  I love spending time with them and they act like they enjoy spending time with me.  I don’t get the stink eye from them like I do from my sons and they don’t whisper into their cell phones when I’m in the same room like my DIL.  I honestly think they actually like me.

But a relationship with my family where one actually has to make an effort to connect wasn’t high on the priority list with my brother and SIL, so it just sort of transferred to them through osmosis.

*sigh*

Anyway, in what can only be deemed a miracle, my son (or rather my DIL who pretty much makes all the decisions) gave the thumbs up to joining us at the beach.  The Second Coming has to be close…  Our younger son managed to wrangle some time off of work so he’ll be there too.  And the plot thickens.

So I’ve spent to slew of $$, and invested lots and lots of time coordinating this for my relatively high-maintenance family.  I rented a condo (it’s a very high rent beach area!), bought gently used baby “stuff” for the little guy, and cleaned and disinfected it all.  I’ve also had to deal with my son and DIL, being tightly wound, first time parents, obsessing over every aspect of the trip to make sure the baby’s every need and desire is handled. It’ll be his very first airplane ride so there’s high drama afoot.  And of course there’s the stink eye and whispering to look forward to for the next three days.

This is going to be so much fun.  Like going to the dentist.

Then, the icing on the cake, my sister and my BIL decided they were going to join the party.  Literally.  The last two times (2007 & 2010) my sister has been around my brother and SIL with me present, she has gotten very, very drunk.  And it wasn’t pretty.  ‘Nuff said.

Oh my – the prospects for the weekend just keep getting better and better.

So here’s the skinny on what I’ve got to look forward to (and why I write an anonymous blog…)

My BIL doesn’t like my SIL.  My SIL doesn’t really like anybody in our family.  Or my BIL. My DIL doesn’t care for us very much.  She’d much rather be whispering on her cell.  My older son loves us in his own distant way, but doesn’t really like to spend time with us. My younger son is going through a difficult time and blaming us for part of it, so he’s being distant and judgmental.  My Libertarian brother doesn’t like anybody in my family because we’re all Progressives (although he’s not sure about the baby’s political leanings, so the little guy might get a pass for a few years.)  My nieces have a slightly troubled relationship with my emotionally distant brother – their dad – because he is so incredibly conservative and intolerant that he’s a bit crazy about it.  Their mom, my SIL, just flat out says crazy ass *hit sometimes and has serious control issues.

And my sister lives in a fantasy world where she thinks we’re all one big happy family. Duh.  But remember, she’s usually drinking when we’re all together.

Maybe the drinking thing isn’t such a bad idea and it’s time to fall off the wagon. Starting tomorrow.

OMG – shoot me now.

But as a friend of my said this week, you can “unfriend” friends, but you can’t “unfamily” family.  You only have one family.  There’s wisdom in that…  Somewhere.

So I’m rolling the dice and praying that, in some miraculous way, we might all be brought a little closer this weekend.  That maybe we won’t be a WFF in the future. That the good ju-ju of those of us who do get along and like each other will rub off on the rest.

Call me a crazy and idealistic kid.

But I only have one family.  And I really do kind of love them, warts and all.

Is there a diagnosis for that?

I guess I’ll find out when I get back…

Mama, it’s all about the energy

Clydesdale

Over the course of my life, I’ve tried journaling a few times.  I gave it up each time.  I could barely stay awake while I was writing.

ZZZzzzz.  So boring…

So now I’m blogging.

But a blog like AGMA is kinda, sorta like a journal.  Good, bad or ugly, I share life experiences and my reactions to them.  Except this time I’m staying awake trying really hard to make it funny and interesting because you’re reading it too.  Yikes!

Like a journal, my blog is highly personal.  And, just like Throwback Thursday, I can go back in the past and remind myself where my heart and head was at a specific moment in time.

But it’s also all very public.  This keeps me honest.  This is a good thing.

Yesterday, I was half-way through writing a pretty snarky post about how semi-miserable my Mother’s Days have turned out for the last 20 years.  Cheerful.  I thought I’d save it on my Mac – being the creative beast that I am – as MothersDay.pages.  But what?  I already have a file by that name?

Huh?  Oh yeah – last year’s Mother’s Day post.

So because I’m NOT aging very gracefully, and didn’t quite remember what I wrote a year ago, I reread it.

I was shocked.  It’s such a sweet and tender and warm and fuzzy-soft post.  So unlike what I was in the process of writing.  My 2015 MD post was full of briars and sandpaper and scratchy, ouchy, pinchy things.  A nails-down-a-chalkboard-type post.

Holy cow – what’s happened to me in this last year?  Have I lost my blogging innocence?  Am I no longer a blog virgin?  Or am I just getting crankier as I age?

Yes, yes and yes.

I abandoned my snarky post.

As a massage therapist, I know something about energy.  Healing – no matter what kind – begins by addressing whatever the issue is with the proper professional who can help us in the journey to wellness.  And a huge element of that journey is our attitude and “energy”.

What is it that The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, always says?  In training dogs, “It’s all about the energy.”  I think The Horse Whisperer said something like that too…

Dog training, horse training and crappy Mother’s Days…it’s all about the energy.

So instead of whining, on Sunday I’m going to focus my thoughts on higher ground.  On the incredible honor it is to be the mother of two healthy, amazing and successful men. And the indescribable joy they’ve brought into my life for the past 33 years.  And how they taught me to love unconditionally and deeper than I ever thought possible.  On the thrill I get when I see either of their names on caller ID or on a text message.  And the crazy, insane delight I feel Skyping with my four month old grandson.

You know – the good stuff.

We really are what we think.

I know it sounds trite, but I’ve seen it play out time and time again over the years, both negative and positive.  I’ve seen intelligent, gifted individuals emotionally cripple themselves through negative thoughts and self-talk.  And I’ve seen other folks who’ve had way more than their share of sorrow, tragedy and bad luck, rally and come back stronger than ever.

It’s like the story of the optimistic little child digging through the huge manure pile in the barn saying, “With all this horse poop, I just know there has to be a pony in here somewhere!”

FYI, I think it’s a Clydesdale.

Happy Mother’s Day!