My Brothers

I have a chat group with my brothers. So we are always texting each other and keeping in touch. Sharing photos. Even if I am in India.

Hate it when they veer off into statistics of a sport on the chat group.  But that’s life.

We are special.

No, mentally, we are sort of okay. At the moment.

We are special because we can get same reactions via text that we would get in person.

Had interactions tonight.

One brother says, “I have guests and they probably think I’m nuts.”

Because he was laughing so loud. He said his stomach hurt.

The other brother said his family heard him and wondered if he was okay.

That’s always how it’s been with us. We feed off each other. Until we can’t breathe.

Everyone in the family just lets us be. Because they know. The ones that marry into the family are keepers because they get it. And love it.

I just want to say I’m incredibly grateful for my brothers.

 

Advertisements

Pay It Forward

Yesterday, I spent a fun day with a friend.

Lunch was so good. Then we hit a bunch of charming shops in the historical waterfront village of Warren, Rhode Island.

We went into an artists’ cooperative to check out the work of local artisans.

They knew we arrived because as soon as we shut the door a clock fell to the ground and totally shattered. Glass everywhere. Not sure why that happened.

“Honey, I’m home!” is what I usually like to shout out if I walk into a place all commotion like.

Anyway.

Some lovely creations throughout the co-op.

Noticed a sign next to a bowl as I was waiting for my friend to finish at the cash register.

payitforwardbowl1bowl2

Everyone could probably identify with one or two.

The person who is in mourning.

Or heartbroken.

A depressed Democrat. I know plenty of those!

The misanthrope.

Overwhelming anxiety.

Controlled by dog’s schedule.

Owl lover.

Just engaged!

Seeking peace.

Lost my sense of humor today.

Ever lasting activist.

I love the concept of paying it forward. It could lift someone’s spirit if they are feeling blue. Or share their joy if they are already up.

So many ways to be creative and make someone’s day.  Or even their moment.

I mean, we are a co-op , right? Well, we are certainly supposed to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look Twice

As I walked through the park in Delhi a few months ago I kept my eyes and ears open. I was soaking up the sights. You’ve seen my photos so you know there’s a lot going on in India.

Ran into this guy. I now know it’s an Ibis. I had heard the word but never actually saw one.

ibis

I then spied what appeared to be common stepping stones. I look closer because I see writing on some of them.

stone1

stone2

It’s a white man’s world. I wonder who wrote that.

I kept moving.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw this little guy peeking out of a tree.

bird1

bird2bird3

Too cute.

I then strolled around the herb garden. Pat myself on the back when I recognize the herbs without reading the signs. But I see this sign.

mint1

Oh, I know this. I know mint. Yep, that looked quite familiar. I had, at one time, thought that mint would be a welcome addition to our first garden. Many years ago. I was wrong. It is totally invasive with its little runners.

Helpful hint. If you want to plant mint in your garden make sure it is in the pot when you put it in the soil. The roots will be contained and not creeping into your neighbor’s yard.

I look closer because I still like mint. I’m not holding the invasiveness against it.

mint2

But it doesn’t look like mint. It looks an awful lot like another herb I may or may not have been familiar with back in the day. I showed my friend this photo and asked her what she thought it looked like. She, without blinking an eye, said, “Marijuana.”

Hmmmm. That’s interesting.

Anyway, sometimes you just have to look twice.

 

Rippling

We just moved into a new home in New England. Still dividing our time between India and the U.S. but wanted a place here to hang our hats.

Loving it. Even though it’s the middle of winter.

Our next door neighbor hosted a dinner party for us last Saturday. They invited three other couples. So a total of ten.

It was so nice. We never would have met these people during this wintery season. Most people are hunkering down indoors.

Now we know a bunch of nice folks.

One of the neighbors told me that when she moved here in October another one of the neighbors also hosted a dinner party to welcome them.

How very thoughtful. How very kind.

I thought to myself, “This is fabulous. I will do this for the next person who moves into the neighborhood!”

Kindness begets kindness.

We sometimes forget the rippling effects of kindness.

Have a great day and go create some ripples.

I am on my way to my new neighbor’s. She’s hosting a ladies’ coffee for me.

Resolutions

I was reading the newspaper this morning. There was an article about a couple of prisoners and their resolutions for the new year.

Hmmmm. News does tend to get stale and I suppose something a bit different is needed to catch the reader’s eye.

After reading the piece I thought a little more about resolutions.

This new year tradition is not really about keeping the promise we make to ourselves late in the evening of December 31st. It’s not about commitment or will power. Or the disappointment when we fail to follow through on our declaration.

It is about hope. Pure and simple.

We make resolutions, year after year, because it represents hope. To be a better person. A healthier person. A kinder person. Whether we even realize it or not. It’s the hope for improvement.

Renewable hope.

Those two guys are in prison but they can still make resolutions. Hoping to be better in the new year. In some way.

We all can.

I wish you a new year filled with health and happiness. And that you carry hope in your heart all year long.

 

 

1000 Hours

Mark Twain once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”

Yesterday I received a notification on my phone. From an app I’ve installed.

“Congratulations! 1000 Hours Smoke Free.”

The app “Smoke Free” isn’t responsible for me quitting. But it does reinforce that I made the right decision and I think it prevents me from sliding back into the habit. It charts how much time spent not smoking, money saved, physical changes, goals, cravings, triggers, etc.

All positives.

Quitting a decades old habit is not easy. Even if a person smoked one cigarette a day it’s still a habit. And kicking it can be difficult.

My husband told me he was quitting and I said, “I’ll stop also.”

I was just being a supportive friend to him. He didn’t ask me to quit.

I figured, “Why not? Let’s see how it goes. Maybe we will last the day.”

And we stopped.

Times have certainly changed when it comes to smoking.

Used to be everyone smoked. Everywhere!

At the kitchen table. In the bedroom. Watching television.

I remember men and women lighting up the second Mass was finished. The teacher’s lunch room in the parochial school I attended allowed smoking. When I got my first office with a door at the phone company I smoked while I worked. As did my friends who came and sat with me. At my high school lots of kids smoked on the property.  Alongside the teachers who were also smoking.

People smoked in cars, busses and trains.

I remember smoking on a plane to Ireland in 1983. Looking back I can’t imagine how the non-smokers two seats down felt.

That’s how different things were.

When the tides of change swept in it was sort of funny. You’d go into a restaurant and they’d ask, “Smoking or non-smoking?” If you chose non-smoking you were seated directly across the aisle from the smoking section.

It took years for the U.S. to create a non-smoking environment. But they did. Office workers are clustered so many feet from the entrance to their building. Airplanes have messages all over them. Campuses are smoke free. Even college campuses. Young kids are taught about the dangers of smoking at school.

My friend Mary Ann once said that smoking in some places would be akin to blowing your nose on a curtain in a restaurant. It really is that frowned upon.

I remember once having a cigarette after dining in a KL restaurant last year. You know the deal. Huddled up against the building hoping you don’t see anyone you know. Like I was smoking dope or something.

In the distance I saw one of my daughter’s teachers. I panicked and dropped it. Like I was smoking dope or something.

My daughter said, “Mom. Own it.”

I guess that’s the thing. I didn’t really own it. Because of society and its stance on smoking. I was embarrassed by it. But that did not prevent me from doing it.

I did not smoke in my car. Or in the house. But I still did it.

Even though it was a legal activity for someone my age it was verboten at just about every place I frequented.

Today I am smoke free. I do not consider myself a non-smoker yet. Maybe I feel that I  need more time to earn that moniker.

Not smoking is absolutely freeing.

I did not have to rush outside in freezing cold Boston once I got off the plane.

I did not have to go into the “smoking room” at the international airport. Which is the grossest place on earth. I felt that way even when I smoked. But I still entered.

I do not have to leave the dinner table when finished and go grab a quick cigarette.

You get the drift. It was inconvenient.

Just have to be conscious of “triggers.”

So I guess my message in this posting today is this. If you smoke and want to quit I’m here to tell you it is doable. I’m doing it.

It can be hard. We all know there are people who have/had scary health issues and they continue to smoke. It’s a terrible addiction. I know. I did it for nearly forty years. That’s a long time.

I also know loads of folks who were heavy, heavy smokers and are now happily smoke free.

It’s totally doable. And only positives will come out of the decision to quit. I promise.

One month, thirteen days and one hour……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Is Real

Many times we read an obituary and we wonder about the cause of death. Sometimes the family will request donations to a particular organization. In lieu of flowers. That helps one suss out the cause of death. Well, not always. My father did not die because of food even though we requested donations to the Rhode Island Food Bank. Laugh out loud.

Other times it is just spelled right out for you. There was a recent obituary here in New England. There was absolutely no guessing about why this young fifteen year old died.

His family wrote an obituary that was just heart breaking.

Connor Francis Tronerud, 15, took his own life on Monday, December 4th, after struggling with bullying from peers. 

That was the beginning of an obituary for a child who was loved. This was an obituary that never should have been written. Never.

At home, Connor could most commonly be found “chillaxing” in his room with his iPad, Nintendo, and peanut butter cookies. He enjoyed going on hikes with his father; he looked to his mother for support as a confidant. He didn’t hesitate to ask his brother to borrow his credit card for online shopping. 

There is more, of course. Hard to sum up a person’s life in an obituary. So most folks usually stick to the facts rather than descriptions of personality and accomplishments.

He was an altar boy, had the highest GPA ever earned at his school and was a member of the National Junior Honor Society.

See Connor’s full obituary here.

This obituary captured the essence of Connor. For us. His family was sharing him with us. So we know that he was loved. That he was smart. That he was involved.

That this could happen to anyone. That bullying is real.

It’s not new. Behaviors are never really new. Ask a psychiatrist or a priest and they will tell you that they’ve heard it all. Nothing about human behavior is new.

But social media has opened the floodgates. And made it worse. Because there is no safe place. In order to recover or get assistance.

I read one comment from a man named Matt on the family’s fundraising page.

This saddens and frustrates me. I really don’t get the benefit of social media for teenagers. Most adults can’t even handle it responsibly. Kids like this, who probably already get picked on all day long during school hours, get sucked in to getting slammed on social media instead of discovering who and what in life motivates and fulfills them. No sure what the answer is.

I’m with that guy. I do not know the answer. But Connor’s family is raising money to fund bullying prevention. I sincerely hope that their efforts will assist young people and prevent another death. Maybe find an answer.

I honestly cannot imagine the family’s pain. Cannot. A nightmare of the worst kind.

This is their intro on the fund raising page.

Connor was a dynamic, witty, unforgettable young man. He was also an intensely private person. As he transitioned into adolescence, he struggled with peers invading that privacy in order to provoke a response . He had many spaces in which he felt safe and nurtured; others – including social media – proved overwhelming and harmful.   

No child should suffer marginalization; at the same time, the complexities of a “connected” world and its pathways to poor decisions can be difficult for adults and teens to navigate. As a result, the Tronerud family is committed to directing memorial resources towards funding for bullying prevention and self-harm awareness education in their area. The more we can equip peers, coaches, teachers, mentors, and friends to bolster those who are isolated, the more lives can be saved, and the sooner healing can begin. 

Thank you for offering your support to this worthy cause.

I wish you and your families a safe and secure place. Always continue to encourage kindness, compassion and caring in our children.