June 2018, check.

June is always the end of something. No matter how much we try to make it about summer kickoff and the start of something fun, it always feel melancholy to me. Melancholy and sunny. We saw the end of lots of things in June: dance class and softball and school. School year commitments eventually fizzled and we are back in the summer groove. It’s a little different this year with our oldest daughter away at overnight camp for the first time.

Making progress in June:

  • Exercise (make room for one non-WIP workout per week): 16 bootcamp workouts this month! Had a few strange injuries but working through them and ready to keep pushing through the summer.
  • Allowance for the kids: Crickets.
  • Read 30 books this year: Read 2 books this month so that means I’ve finished 11 books this year. Will have to push a little harder over the summer. It’s been a great goal to pursue.
    • Beautiful Ruins by Jesse Walter
    • All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen
  • Write regularly: You see, it was a busy month. So there were no new blog posts.
  • 1 hike per month, preferably with the kids: Lots of outdoors time but no official hikes.
  • 1 date night: Squeezed in two group date nights, including a concert at the casino!
  • Donate blood 6 times: Next donation in mid-July.
  • Volunteer once a month: We fit in a volunteer day at the end of the month. It was a scorcher but we got to play with puppies, helping them to get adopted!
  • Self care (once per quarter): No progress here. I received a birthday gift that will help–three months of massages. Planning to get this taken care of as quickly as possible.
  • Experiment with podcasting: Yup, nothing to report
  • Find new opportunities to speak in front of an audience: I appeared in a storytelling show during the first week of the month in Holyoke. I was the last to tell my story in a competitive storytelling show–this is a favorable spot in the lineup. I am so super proud of the story I told AND how I told it (specifically without crying). Alas, one of the storytellers filled the audience with supportive listeners and thus I didn’t make it into the top three. It was an exhilarating night nonetheless.
  • Capture my “best thing all week” every week all year long (52 total): Going strong.
  • Financial planning for the household: Nothing happening.
  • Get our unfinished rooms completed: Work to begin in July.
  • Crochet regularly: A quiet month for crocheting again but this month there will be more sitting.

Other June highlights:

  • Dance recital day for our girls
  • Watching my husband chair an event at our JCC
  • All of the end of the year stuff for my daughters at school
  • Watching my girls finish out the softball season
  • Dropping off my oldest at overnight camp for an entire month
  • First lobster rolls of the summer
  • Pool time
  • Moving offices at work (and being around the corner from husband’s office)

Summer is squarely here. It feels like it is slipping through my fingers but I am gripping it with all of my strength. Staying in the moment, not wishing it away, even if we’re in the middle of a heat wave.

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May 2018, check.

May was longer than long. May was like three months packed into one month. My husband and I turned 40. We’re hanging on for dear life through the obstacle course of the end of the school year.

I was able to get a few things done:

  • Exercise (make room for one non-WIP workout per week): 21 bootcamp workouts this month! Supremely proud that i can still climb the rope and now I’m deadlifting over 100 pounds!
  • Allowance for the kids: Crickets.
  • Read 30 books this year: Read 1 book this month so that means I’ve finished 9 books. Will have to push a little harder over the summer. It’s been a great goal to pursue.
    • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • Write regularly: Published one blog post about my birthday.
  • 1 hike per month, preferably with the kids: We did not hike anywhere this month. We were outdoors and we did get to visit our pool for the first time this summer. I did finally invest in proper hiking shoes so I’m excited to hit the trails this summer!
  • 1 date night: We had an amazing birthday dinner to celebrate 40! Plus we had a fun night out with some friends to do an escape room and dinner.
  • Donate blood 6 times: 3rd donation completed on May 22nd. Next donation due in mid-July!
  • Volunteer once a month: Volunteering with the dog rescue was not in the cards this month. The schedule for the children was packed. So in June we’ll be dedicating more time to this.
  • Self care (once per quarter): Big haircut on this last day of the month but beyond that, three months running with no dedicated self-care. It’s a pattern developing. What can I do to fix this?
  • Experiment with podcasting: Haven’t yet acquired the equipment but working on the idea. Both are necessary pieces of the equation.
  • Find new opportunities to speak in front of an audience: Huzzah! I “auditioned” for a storytelling show in Holyoke by leaving the first line of my story on their voicemail and my story was picked for a night of competitive storytelling!
  • Capture my “best thing all week” every week all year long (52 total): Going strong–been capturing something every week and just looked to see some incredible highlights so far.
  • Financial planning for the household: Crickets.
  • Get our unfinished rooms completed: Have the estimate for porch work and hopefully getting started in June. Started to scope out furniture for the porch.
  • Crochet regularly: A quiet month for crocheting but that’s because I did lots of driving and we didn’t do a lot of sitting.

Other May highlights:

  • Celebrating my 40th birthday
  • Celebrating my husband’s 40th birthday
  • Special grown up dinner date out for our birthdays
  • Good health news for friends and family
  • Sadie’s first guitar recital
  • A visit from NJ friends on their way home from Boston
  • So much softball!

June, June, June. You’re already hugging me with your activities and milestones. Just warm it up a little around here, please.

Summer is calling.

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Being 40: 40 things I know

  1. I turned 40 this week and the day was supreme.
  2. All day, though, I had thoughts running circles around my brain. I needed a place to put them so I could return to them some time in the future. Looking back on my 35th, 36th, and 38th birthdays, I’m glad I took the time to write things down.
  3. In my 39th year of life I admitted out loud that I was I’m Type A, so a list seemed like the best place for these thoughts.
  4. I love a list because I love ticking things off that list. What can I say? I am goal-oriented. I’m not even a little bashful about being goal-oriented. (I think it’s what people love and loathe most about me).
  5. I don’t always need a list. Some days, I can let the universe decide what happens.
  6. I’m likely one of the few people on the planet that is stoked to turn 40.
  7. Someone once told me that big birthdays aren’t earth shattering when you’re happy with where you are in life.
  8. For this reason, I haven’t worried for a moment about turning 40.
  9. Turning 40, I feel like the best version of myself.
  10. And I don’t know if I buy into the idea that 40 is the new 30 or that 40 is “so young” as those pushing 50 have told me. I never cared about how aging will show up as wrinkles on my face or gray hairs. I am not starting now.
  11. 40 feels substantial to me, like I’ve accumulated enough time on the planet to know something but I still have so much to learn and explore. I hope I never stop feeling that way as the decades tick by.
  12. I hope that my girls have a clear memory of me on this birthday.
  13. My girls don’t know it yet but I cannot find the words to thank whatever higher power delivered them to me.
  14. I don’t have enough good memories of my own parents being forty but I hope they felt this happy.
  15. Even though I think everyone deserves a parade on their birthday, I am pretty happy to be 8 days older than my husband.
  16. Marriage is about as weird as I thought it would be, but we’re doing pretty well twelve years in.
  17. I am the luckiest person alive to be married to someone who has grown into life with me, sharing the same passage of time in lockstep.
  18. But after twelve years of marriage and 17 years of togetherness, your husband will still surprise you by baking you a cheesecake on your 40th birthday. And the cheesecake will remind you of your mom who also baked cheesecake. And you might feel sad about her missing your birthday for the 11th time. But this new husband-baked cheesecake fills that space for now.
  19. Even though your husband is an expert baker, the fire department may have to visit your house twice to help with some baking mishaps. The story of the cheesecake will keep your entertained for a long time (at least until you turn 50).
  20. And eating that cheesecake, I didn’t even sweat it. I work out, I take care of myself, and I can eat cheesecake if I want. And I will eat it for breakfast if I feel like it.
  21. I feel more together than I ever have–like I’m really living my personal philosophy:
  22. You have to be able to carry your own (physical and emotional) baggage in life. (I’m doing this)
  23. Life is not fair. (I know this to be true)
  24. Things happen the way they should and for a reason. (I know it doesn’t explain all of life’s injustices but it works for me)
  25. No one is immune from feeling fear or experiencing trauma. (No one)
  26. If you keep your eyes up and your heart open, you can stay an optimist. (Truth)
  27. There is so much to be optimistic about, too. It’s important to remind myself of this because it is so hard to unsee the universe when you start to see it with sociological lenses.
  28. It can be difficult to sustain my personal optimism but I fear the alternative so I just smile.
  29. I care so much about being good at what I do that my max effort is out of range with normal humans.
  30. Sometimes, I do like time alone.
  31. I am my most calm when standing over the stove, stirring something that will feed my family.
  32. But most of the time, I prefer the company of people (or voices).
  33. I am so proud of the friendships I have and the relationships I’ve fostered.
  34. There is no shortage of time and attention I want to give every single person who crosses my path.
  35. I don’t see turning 40 as passage into some new club or confirmation that now I have to change my worldview. I just hope that I’ll continue to feel this sense of confidence and fulfillment.
  36. I hope this year will be the start of many more years of planning and doing, like writing that play, writing that book, learning to draw, learning French or starting that podcast.
  37. There is no time to waste because there is a slim margin between life is great and life is chaos.
  38. I fear that slim line tremendously, but don’t know how to plan for falling over or stepping on it. I don’t think you can plan, so I don’t think about it. More simply, today is all we have.
  39. So this year (as in most years), I’ll hope (for good things) and I’ll pray (for patience) and I’ll smile.
  40. And I’ll remind myself (continuously) to be easy on myself, to move slowly and to enjoy the view.


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April 2018, check.

Spring is here–except you’d almost never know it given the wacky New England weather. It rained this month. It snowed this month. The sun shone strong and it broke 70 degrees more than once. I wore rain boots and snow boots.

The world has not made up its mind about which way we’re headed. So we wait patienyl for winter to settle down and for spring to emerge.

I was able to get a few things done:

  • Exercise (make room for one non-WIP workout per week): 14 bootcamps plus 2 workouts on our cruise.
  • Allowance for the kids: Totally off the wagon. Have to figure out how to regroup and recover in May.
  • Read 30 books this year: Read 3 books this month! All three were incredible!
    • Euphoria by Lily King
    • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
    • You Will Know My by Megan Abbott
  • Write regularly: Published one blog post I’d been working on for month.
  • 1 hike per month, preferably with the kids: Yes! On the first nice weekend of the year, Emily and I hit the trails with a friend and our cousins.
  • 1 date night: Crickets. But I feel like we will be getting some good time in together next month.
  • Donate blood 6 times: Due to donate for the third time next month.
  • Volunteer once a month: Volunteered at our second dog rescue event and our dog was adopted. So many good vibes from helping and snuggling with dogs.
  • Self care (once per quarter): Two months running with no dedicated self-care. It’s a pattern developing.
  • Experiment with podcasting: Picked out the equipment I need (and want) and planning to acquire the equipment this month. New experiment is coming.
  • Find new opportunities to speak in front of an audience: Found a new storytelling opportunity and pitched a story to them.
  • Capture my “best thing all week” every week all year long (52 total): Going strong–been capturing something every week and just looked to see some incredible highlights so far.
  • Financial planning for the household: Crickets.
  • Get our unfinished rooms completed: Brought in the contractor to talk about finishing off the porch. Started to scope out furniture for the porch, too. Waiting on an estimate and looking forward to having the work done early summer.
  • Crochet regularly: Made a baby hat while on vacation and still finishing Sadie’s scarf which is now for next year.

Other April highlights:

  • First family cruise
  • Jewish cooking club is finally off the ground–helped coordinate the first session: kugel!
  • Our friend is home from the hospital and feeling better
  • Softball is starting
  • We saw Chelsea Clinton speak

April showers had better quit in here in the northeast. We’re over tons of rain and ready for May flowers, being outside, seeing friends and family and kicking off summer!

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Push/Pull: On parenting through

I’m 50 feet off the ground and I’m coaxing my six-year-old to take a step off the first platform in an aerial ropes course. We’re harnessed into a writhing metal feat of engineering and the risk to her safety is minimal. And yet, she will not budge.
The catch: she’s done this before. Months ago, we took our girls to an indoor aerial ropes course twice the size of this one. She rode a zip line 200 feet long. She only balked as she started to get tired when we were at the highest and furthest point from where we began 60 feet up in the air. It was much higher and far riskier than the lovely attraction we stood atop.
She refuses to listen to reason. I remind her of the last ropes course earlier in the year and she insists that this ropes course is different. We start blocking traffic and I am figuratively flailing, but as I start to give up, the attendant swoops in and helps her across the first bridge. Rather than get to climbing, she announces she’s done and would like to get down.
So she does and I feel deflated.
The day before I am four stories off the ground, reasoning with my eight year old to go down a water slide. She has convinced herself she can do it and has climbed up four giant flights of stairs. It’s humid and loud and the color drains from her face as she realizes what she has to do to get back to the bottom.
As the line winds down and she is finally the next one to take the plunge, she refuses to do it. I urge her to accompany me but she will not move, her eyes filled with tears. I coax quietly and then loudly insist she come with me.
The catch: she’s done this before. During the last month of the summer, we took the girls to a local water park and both girls tried out water slides. They were super brave and they had a great time. I know she will love this slide–it’s just the right level of thrill for her.
But instead I walk down the stairs with her. She knows I am angry and I am also a little embarrassed at how hard I pushed her.
Weeks later we’re riding in the car and for the umpteenth time, my oldest belts out her favorite song on the radio, her voice clear and strong. And for the umpteenth time I tell her how much I love hearing her voice. And then I pause and gently suggest she consider singing in a choir. And she politely tells me no.
The catch: she’s done this before. She was in a dance class of two and her recital was essentially one big solo. And at the end of the summer, she joined the neighborhood kids in a backyard musical where she sang solo, too. She’s no shrinking violet and yet faced with the prospect of showing her stuff, she panics.
My girls are strong, except when they’re scared. They’re bold, except when they’re nervous. And when I know they can handle something, I am never quite sure if I should push or pull. I resist pushing until I can no longer stand it and then I try to push and they resist.
And then I worry that it will always feel like this. I’ll feel on the edge of how far to go, how much to support, when the take the brakes off, when to perch them on the edge of the nest, and when to walk away. We know that we’re coddling a generation of children and yet we fire up the helicopter blades because hovering feels safer. They are the most precious things, except they are stronger than we think.
And then I remind myself that it will always be like this. And they will grow and change and so will I. And I’ll worry less and worry more simultaneously. And I’ll lament every choice I made and stand by those choices. Because there is no playbook, no rules, no right way. But in these discrete moments where it feels so black and white, I constantly wonder whether we’ve mucked it all up.
I’m standing at the base of the mountain, craning my neck to see people as they reach to final crest of this slope. I’m looking for a pink jacket and blue pants and no matter how hard I try, distinguishing one child from the next is pretty much impossible. Everyone looks the same from far away. I have been waiting for about ten minutes or so and with every passing second, my heart beats faster. It is both breathtaking and horrifying watching people fly past me as they end their run.
Eventually I think I find their little figures mixed in with the throng of people pouring over the ridge and there they are: two girls with their father huddle together before coming down the last stretch, ending their descent. My heart races as I see my kiddos on skis glide down the side of the mountain, picking up speed and sliding faster and faster towards the lift line. My eyes lock on one girl and then the other, and as their figures grow into view I am amazed.
I am breathless. I watch them expertly maneuver the last stretch of their run. I can hardly believe how quickly their little bodies move. Skiing is one thing I can’t do, so I am determined that they will. Here they are, two strong little girls. No pushing necessary.
I am smiling. My smile covers my entire face. As they slow down to meet me, I gush over how amazing they looked and how strong they are and how proud I am and I ask if they’re ready to come in. They’ve been out far longer than I expected with their father. And they offer the only reply two strong little girls give when their mother tries to pull them in,
“One more run, mommy. One more run.”
No catch. Just release.
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March 2018, check.

March was supposed to be redemption month. It came in like a lion indeed with a bout of stomach sickness for me just after I recovered from the flu. And then life felt like a sprint until it didn’t, as March eased out, like a lamb, as promised.

I was able to get a few things done:

  • Exercise (make room for one non-WIP workout per week): 17 WIP workouts so even though I was sick, that’s not bad.
  • Allowance for the kids: We fell off the wagon a little but were saved by birthday money and tooth fairy visits.
  • Read 30 books this year: Read 3 books this month! All three were incredible!
    • Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
    • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Write regularly: Cranked out a blog post that helped ease some sadness for me.
  • 1 hike per month, preferably with the kids: It was cold. No hiking for us yet.
  • 1 date night: We did have two nights out with friends. I’d like to count that since nights out are hard to come by.
  • Donate blood 6 times: 2nd donation of the year logged on March 24th!
  • Volunteer once a month: We volunteered at our first rescue event early in the month. It was amazing!
  • Self care (once per quarter): Crickets.
  • Experiment with podcasting: Still in a holding pattern on new and experimental but we did get some new content recorded.
  • Find new opportunities to speak in front of an audience: Crickets. I have some ideas for next speaking opportunities so I’m hoping April will be my month.
  • Capture my “best thing all week” every week all year long (52 total): Twlve week, 11 best things recorded.
  • Financial planning for the household: Crickets.
  • Get our unfinished rooms completed: Finally finally picked up the yogibo and got the furniture assembled. The basement room is done! Next up: the porch.
  • Crochet regularly: Working on a scarf for Sadie and it might be done before the winter is over.

Other March highlights:

  • Getting over the stomach nonsense
  • Throwing birthday bash for my now 9 year old, including a party full of girl AND a trip to the aerial ropes course
  • Bought some incredible flowers at the annual Elizabeth Park Greenhouse Sale
  • Got lots of family time with my sister and her family and with my married family
  • Attended the Girl Scout VIP Dance as a family where we cut many a rug
  • Hosted old friends and met their new baby
  • Testified expertly at a public hearing for work
  • Celebrated Passover with family on both sides


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Facing facts

There are facts in life. Irrefutable facts that no amount of argument or debate will ever change. Sometimes facts can be comforting when there is a dispute to settle or uncertainty in the future. I am certainly a dreamer, but I am also a realist. Realists prefer facts most of the time. Except when we don’t. Some facts gut me every time.

Exhibit A: 

People die.

When they’re gone, they are never coming back. 

They may find ways to intervene in your universe, but when people die, you keep living.


In the living part, though, there are still times, little slivers of existence where the facts feel inconceivable. And it won’t matter if the facts were just established five minutes ago or five years ago or five centuries ago. It feels unreal to think that certain facts are true. And in the moment when I remind myself about their truth, I am sometimes crushed by the weight of those facts.

My mom died. It has been eleven years and she is still gone. Her birthday just passed and she would have been 71, but she’s not here.


I don’t dwell in the bargaining phase of grief, wondering what could have been, wishing it would have been different. I might have a moment here or there where I see friends with their parents and wonder what life would be like if she was alive. But I rarely beg the universe for consideration of facts. It hurts too much. There is no alternate universe, only this one. Wishing is like suffering. So I don’t typically choose wishing. I choose facts.

But periodically, and when I am least expecting it, I rattle the facts. I tip them on their side and consider them from another angle. I think about that alternate universe where things may have been different. And in those moments, I feel completely lost.

This weekend, one of those moments popped up. It was a wildly, unremarkable Saturday. We had a litany of little things to accomplish: donate blood, pick up a birthday present, trip to the public library, pick up things for a trip we’re taking, birthday party, visit from family, meals. We tackled the list together as we tend to do, rolling from one spot to another. There was no space to think, really. So I didn’t.

We didn’t stop to take a breath until mid-afternoon when we got home. We were unloading and straightening and puttering around the house since we have been out of the house all day. I brought oodles of flowers into the house last week knowing spring was on its way. And here they had all bloomed in force. They needed water and as I drenched their little pots, suddenly the afternoon weighed down on me. 

It was any other Saturday, sure, but it was also my mother’s birthday. 

I knew it from the start of the day but kept it to myself. Running around, I’d hardly considered the date. But seeing the flowers all in bloom, listening to my girls in the next room, settling into the couch next to them as they colored and read books, I wanted to cry.

I looked at them and surveyed the room and thought to myself, “You will never get to see this.”


I didn’t think, “I wish you could have known them.” It hurts too much to think that sentence. Even as I type it, I hate it.

And then, close behind, another thought cropped up, “You never get to see me be their mother. You never get to meet my family.”


I change rooms. Being near the girls makes the pain of the moment more palpable. I find my husband in the sunniest spot and I rest my head on his shoulder and explain what’s happening. I don’t normally think this way. I feel like I have a good handle on where I stand with my mother. I feel lucky to feel settled with our relationship. My husband listened and mmm-hmmed in response.

Giving voice to those thoughts scares me. If I question those facts, I feel like I have to go back over lots of other facts. And maybe do some hoping and wishing. Wishing makes me feel like I have to question everything.

But there’s no time to think these thoughts out loud because the girls are upon us in an instant. I wipe away the tears welled in my eyes and start reading the first chapter of a new book to my youngest as she climbs over my body and rests her head on my collarbone. Her sister sits beside me. I am in the nook of the couch nearest to the three people who matter more than everything. Nothing can make me worry in this moment.


So I don’t worry or wish. I concentrate on where I am. I read the new story and out of the corner of my eye I watch my husband work the Sunday crossword and I exhale.

She can’t see me now. She can’t know me now. 

But I know me. 

That has to be enough.

No, it is enough.


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