Day 10 – Like coming home

I spend a lot of time reflecting on my college days, partly because I spend my days working with college students and partly because I tend to start feeling a little sentimental every time Stevie and I have been away from New York too long and I start itching to spend time with the people I miss every moment of every single day since we left the east coast ten-and-a-half years ago.

It’s hard to explain the connection I feel to this place without sounding overly nostalgic, but I always feel the need to try. I guess that’s just the writer in me–unable to deny that urge to try and put the giant surge of emotions down on paper and arrange the words in a way that might explain the way this place calls to me and why I remain so firmly tethered to the people we met and the connections I made there.

Going to college was my first step (a giant 1,500-mile step) away from my family and out on my own, and with that heady rush of newfound freedom and adventure came an almost paralyzing sense of self-doubt and isolation. Yet the first time I ever stepped foot on Concordia’s campus, I got the distinct feeling that I was coming home.

The families we come from are our default. They teach us how to love, how to fight, how to forgive. They give us our first sense of the world–its beauty and its chaos. The families we leave when we set out on our own will always be with us. They will always be part of us. But it’s the families we create for ourselves that truly reflect who we are and give shape to who we will become. The people we connect with, the people we return to and invest our time in are the people who reflect the very best of who we are, the very best of who we hope to be.

People matter. Connections matter. Kindness matters. Honesty matters. Love matters.

Everything else is just noise.

All it takes

Sometimes, all it takes to make everything right with the world is a delicious meal, some good friends, and a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

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Out With the Girls

Even in the darkest days of my life–the days when I questioned my life, my faith, my purpose, my very existence–I always managed to hold onto a thin thread of belief that the things that happen in our lives happen for a reason. The situations and circumstances we experience teach us important lessons, and the people we encounter along the way help our souls grow and evolve, either from the hard lessons they teach us or from the love and support they bring to our lives.

Every day, at least once a day, I stop in my tracks and marvel at how blessed I am. I’ve got some amazing people in my life.

I mean, some seriously amazing people.

And it makes me chuckle sometimes to think that a whole group of these folks came from what may have, quite possibly, been the most dysfunctional and hellish work experience of my entire life. No joke, folks, this place was like some twisted real-life mash-up of the movies Office Space, Glengarry Glen Ross, and the factory where Tom Hanks’ character Joe works at the beginning of Joe vs. the Volcano.

But that is another story (or rather, a whole series of stories) for another time.

I’m pretty sure the only reason I stayed sane the year I worked there was because the Universe somehow managed to pull a group of seriously fabulous people together under that leaky roof. We all may have walked in alone, but what we’ve been able to take with us has been worth every ounce of frustration we endured.

And nights like tonight, when Sam Bates and Beebe and Katiana and Ashley and Cayla and Morgan and Steven take my daughter out on a special birthday dinner date, treating her to pizza and ice cream and a trip to the bookstore for a few new books and an impromptu performance with a local musician, my heart swells so big with love for these beautiful women that I think for a moment it just might explode. Cadence came home with her belly full and her eyes shining and she couldn’t wait to tell me and her daddy about her amazing night “out with the girls” (and Steven). And I sit here now in my quiet house with Cadence and Henry tucked into their beds and I thank God again for blessing me with these friends who fill our lives with so much joy.

Thank you all for another great night and another great memory. We love you!

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Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s

“Ok, you’re gonna think I’m a total lunatic, and if that’s the case, I’ll understand if you say no, but I’ve got a game that I think we should play…”

Anytime my hubby leads into a conversation with “Okay, you’re gonna think I’m a total lunatic” I know I’m in for something good because, odds are, I’m gonna be game (and I’m probably going to think it’s just as crazy/funny/awesome as my hubby does because, well, we both have a very similar and very warped sense of humor).

The game is called Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s. Stevie found out about it listening to Episode 20 of the What Say You? podcast with Brian Quinn (Q) and Sal Vulcano, whom you may recognize from the hilarious TV show Impractical Jokers (and if you haven’t watched it yet, do so immediately).

Ok, so here’s the premise, you have to get someone to say the word “Who?” You have to bait someone. You have to pick your moment carefully. If a person knows about the game, they are automatically playing the game. So you scheme and you plot and you pick your moment and you get your friend to ask, “Who?” and then you fire back at them “Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s!”

Bam! You get a point.

And the game continues.

The game is going on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. January 1, the slate is wiped clean and the games starts over and you play for sheer joy and that gotcha moment where you are victorious and your opponents are kicking themselves and vowing revenge.

Six months might pass, but Stevie could turn to me randomly while we’re cooking dinner and say, “Oh, I almost forgot to tell you who I saw today…” If I say, “Who?” He will suddenly yell, “Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s!” and then proceed to dance around the kitchen and rile the kids up into a tizzy.

But, sometimes I just might be on my game, and instead of falling into his carefully laid trap, I can fire back with a “Dave Thomas, the Founder of Wendy’s! Booyah!”, and then I get a point.

It’s simple and stupid and so freakin’ satisfying.

When we first started playing, Stevie was routinely kicking my ass. He Dave Thomased me every day for almost a week. I got a little smarter and managed to get a few points here and there. Then we branched out and introduced the game to a few of our friends. Looking through some old iPhone picks from 2014, I happened across this little gem:

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Inspired by my cleverness (and the fact that Beebe and I haven’t Dave Thomased each other in more than a year, I decided to try and catch her tonight while working on my blog post. It took her awhile to answer, and I was afraid I may have tipped her off, but then this happened…

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And now my night is complete.

2016 scorecard
Lori = 1
Beebe = 0

Until next time…

Better Late Than Never

So our holiday cards are finally done, stamped, and ready to be mailed. Better late than never, right?

Come on, you gotta cut us a little slack. We were totally on the ball with Thanksgiving, getting our Christmas tree up and decorated, buying all of our Christmas gifts and getting them mailed out so people would actually have them to open on Christmas. Hell, we even managed to make it through all 25 days without forgetting to move the Elf on the Shelf. Considering we have an infant in the house and I’m running on an average of less than 5 hours of sleep a night, the fact that we’re getting cards out this year at all is a freakin’ miracle.

Plus, we like to think that we’re being fashionably late.

So brace yourselves friends and family. These little beauties are headed to a mailbox near you.

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New Year. New Start. New Project

Right now, millions of people are hugging and kissing and popping bottles of champagne as they ring in yet another new year. I’m sitting in my living room, my hubby and hound dog beside me, my babies sleeping soundly upstairs as I listen to fireworks popping off in the distance.

And I’ll tell you the truth, folks, there is no place I would rather be.

I mean, I get why people get so crazy as they count down the seconds and watch that big ol’ ball dropping in Times Square. It’s a new year, a brand new beginning…even if it is really just another day, another tick tocking past midnight, another series of moments that might pass as quickly and unceremoniously as the rest. It’s really nothing more than a symbol, a man made tradition to mark the passing of time and the turning of another calendar page. But what it gives us is hope, and hope is really the most important thing we have to hold onto.

I’ve never gotten really crazy about celebrating on New Year’s Eve. When I was a kid, it was an excuse to stay up past midnight. In my teens, I often spent the night babysitting kids in my neighborhood while their parents went out to party. During my years in college and living in New York, I hung out with friends and rang in the New Year cheering on my hubby (then boyfriend/fiance) as he tried to bring home the coveted beer pong championship belt and drinking champagne on the roof of Romoser Hall.

And as for resolutions…I’m not really a big believer in them. Most people don’t even manage to make it out of January with their resolutions in place because, let’s face it, anything you think you’re resolute about when the clock strikes midnight and you’re shit-faced and singing and feeling rather invincible tends to get quickly forgotten or modified when you wake up the next morning with a wicked hangover and a whole long list of the same old responsibilities. So no, I don’t really go for New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I tend to start each year with a couple challenges for myself, or a few goals I’d like to reach in the next year, and as long as I keep making strides in the right direction, I consider it a personal victory.

A year ago, I challenged myself to reach two goals: 1) Figure out how to make NY-style pizza and 2) Finish my memoir. I crossed the NY-style pizza off my list a couple months ago (and I have to admit, I’m pretty damn proud of myself for that one). As for the memoir…well, that’s still a work in progress, so I’ll roll that one right over to 2016.

So, here’s what I’ll be working on in 2016:

1. My memoir – I’m still in draft stage, and need to dive back in and really commit to the project. With so many other things happening in my life (my job, my family, a new baby, travel, housework, sleep), it has gotten way too easy for me to just put the project aside. So my goal this year is to work on two chapters a month, and to post at least once a week on the project’s Facebook page. If you’d like to follow along on Facebook, you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/InASeaOfStrangers

2. My writing – Outside of the memoir work, I really need to start writing regularly again, whether it is just journaling, freelancing, writing letters to friends/family, or blogging. To help keep myself motivated (and keep writing, keep writing, keep writing), I’m committing to another 365 Project here on my blog in 2016. I’m going to post something every day. It might not always be the most interesting read or the best photo, but it will be something that captured my attention and that I want to share, even if it’s just one word or one photo. And it starts right now.

3. My body – After two babies and a whole lot of slacking on even the most basic fitness, I’m seriously out of shape and hating it. Finding balance when it comes to my body image and self-esteem has always been a huge challenge for me, and I know I need to be mindful about making healthy choices to achieve my weight loss and fitness goals. So, to help ease myself into it, I’m jumping on the fitness tracker craze. I’m sure there will be more to come, so stay tuned.

4. My connections – There is really nothing more important to me than the people I love, but sometimes with all the other plans and obligations and distractions of daily life, I feel like I fall short in showing these people just how much they mean to me. So, this year, I’m also challenging myself to be a better wife, a better mother, a better sister, a better friend…hell, I’m challenging myself to be a better person. I’m challenging myself to be more present, to connect and reconnect whether it is through a face-to-face conversation, a text, an email, a handwritten note, or even a smile and a quick hello to the people I pass on the street.

It’s been one helluva year. All in all, I’d have to rank 2015 as one of the best so far. It certainly wasn’t without its hardships. There were plenty of those, believe me. But maybe I’m a little older, a little wiser, a little less concerned with the penny ante bullshit and a lot more focused on the things that really matter, because all those difficult things just sort of faded away and made all the really great things that much more amazing. And as I sit here in my cozy living room, listening to the fireworks, surrounded by the people I love the most in the whole, wide world, I am so very thankful and excited to see what 2016 has in store for me.

Bring it.

And here’s a little hound dog selfie to help ring in the new year…

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