Loving Birthday wishes to my wonderful son Zach!

Baby Z.jpgLife isn’t always perfect, but every day I thank God to have been blessed with three days that were so perfect nothing, no joy or achievement can ever surpass them. The days of which I speak are the ones when my three sons were born. Today, July 15th, I celebrate, though geographical apart, the twenty-fourth birthday of my wonderful, beautiful, amazing middle son Zachary William. His first name was chosen by his older (by almost 5 years) brother who was a huge fan of Power Rangers, specifically the black ranger. His middle name is in honor of my father, who sadly never met any of his grandsons, but I know looks down from afar with love and pride.

Zach was a long time in the making, not by choice. As the years passed after my first son was born, I often wondered sadly if I’d ever be blessed again. I was an only child, it wasn’t awful, in fact growing up I didn’t pay much attention to be a “lonely only”, but later, now, I regret not having someone to share history and memories with. I hoped my oldest wouldn’t someday know that feeling and happily in late September of 1993 little Zach took hold and started cooking.

Jand baby z.jpg

Big brother John meeting Zach for the first time and wearing the Power Ranger watch Zach brought with him at birth. 🙂

Zach was born in the middle and didn’t have the chance to be the oldest or the youngest. In some ways, he missed out by that unavoidable fact of life. He’s been in many ways the most beguiling since birth. Born with a full head of thick dark hair that would soon turn to fluffy blond curls and an adorable dimple in his chin. He was strong and independent from the get-go; even while birthing him, he did not leave my body until he was ready. Zach didn’t enjoy being snuggled for long periods of time, but he always wanted me nearby. As he grew, he was the most physically active and quick as a blink. Perhaps it’s all those attributes that created his personal profile, in the middle.

Before he could speak, he’s the one that always made me laugh. That didn’t change as he grew and continues to this day. A flippant comment and a grin can get me fits of hysterical laughter. And his smile, oh that smile; he’s always won the hearts of everyone he met, with the flash of bright eyes and ever-present smile. More than his brothers, his appearance, and personality, his bit of stubborn, his firm independence to always find his way to be, always reminds me of my mom.

I wish we could go back to the days of his curly blond hair and fast as lightening little legs. To the soccer games and the paintball fields he not only loved but excelled at. To his favorite blanket “Mekay” and the silly voices I used to make his stuffed pal Teddy Bear James, speak.:)

Zach

Zach loved being a big brother when his little brother Doug came along. Look at that smile! 🙂

Z and baby D.JPGI wish he’d been less independent so I would have given more, or perhaps that I’d been savvy enough to see that perhaps his independence was his way of finding his place in the in-between. I wish our life transitions hadn’t been in the middle of his most delicate teen years. I wish there’d been more times of just him and me. Like the night so many years ago, when a panic attack sent me to the ER and he’d stayed up until the wee hours, dozing on the living room couch, to make sure I came home ok. I did, and we stayed up watching whatever TV show happened to be on, just the two of us.

I wish most of all that when he was a teen struggling to adapt to life in California I’d fought to keep him with me, instead of giving into his want to move back to the mid-west to live with his dad, in the place he was familiar. Of any regret in life, that is my biggest. I have to believe it was best for him because thankfully he turned out great. But, selfishly I’m saddened by how much of his life I missed parenting long-distance. All the years between his being a searching child in the middle to being a steady man with an individual path, a career, a home and goals of his own, at an age when the family logistics of first, middle or last no longer matter.

My Zwooch (my nickname for him), now two dozen years into this world, into our lives, into my heart. I hope he always knows how much I love him; always have, always will and how many wonderful things I wish for him today and for all his tomorrows. I hope he knows the wonder, purpose, and beauty of my life are because of those three perfect days in my life. The day he was born is one of them. I hope he knows that middle meant nothing to me, because the only order each of my children take in my heart are first and always.❤️

 

 

 

Advertisements

A forever hopeful romantic!

My Barnes & Noble indulgence today!

B&N Books

 

I love reading and do it as often as time permits. I enjoy self-help literature, along with motivational, bios, professionally instructional and books about writing books. But, my favorite books are mush-gush tales of love. I’m not a fan of decadent lust or guys on white horses. I prefer a bit of reality that includes some difficulty and unlikeliness for the possibility of a happy ending.

When it does turn out beautifully, and all the sappy goose-bumpy feels happen, I’m all sorts of giddy, again believing true love wins in the end, what’s meant to be, will be and once in a life-time serendipitous meetings, that make your heart pound and spine tingle, are never without purpose.

All those motivational books have made me leave doubt aside to simply focus on the outcome as I want it to be. And that keeps me happy and hopeful and believing in real life magic.

Until it happens, I can read about it and eventually write about it and never stop hoping for it. 

Saying Goodbye to Toys R Us!

IMG-0380As everyone knows Toys R Us closed the last of their doors in the US on Friday. And damn that fact made me sad! Yes, I know it’s just a store. What sort of normal human being is sad – truth be known cries – because a store chain shuts down. A store chain that in current years I rarely frequented because my kids and kids I know are past the stage of wanting what they carry.

The reality is, I’m not sad the stores closed – except for the thousands of people who lost their jobs, I’m sad for them.

What I’m sad about is based on the nostalgic memories the store holds and another in-my-face realization that I can never return to the sweet, wonderful days of my now young adult children’s childhoods. Though logically I know those days are gone, Toys R Us closing is one more reminder and each reminder tugs at my empty nesting heart. Another reason for sadness is that the chains closing represents the end of innocent imagination that is childhood. Toys R Us was the place “where a kid could be a kid”; honestly aren’t we all kids at heart who ruefully are forced to accept adulting?

 

So on Friday, I joined tons of other folks for one last visit to the store. Some were there in search of bargains, some gathered goodies to donate to underprivileged children, others were there with no intent beyond saying goodbye. To my surprise, I was not the only one misty-eyed, in fact, I witnessed one tearful mom with her kids taking photos outside the store; it was nice to share those emotions with someone of like mind.

IMG-0385.JPG

I roamed the empty aisles not really seeing what is, but journeying back to visualize what was. Overhead muzak played two songs that always, always bring my emotions to surface, one was Once Upon A Dream, the other A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes. I was in a full-blown sappy mode as the mental movie of my three sons childhoods played.  Moments from before their births when pregnant me searched for the things my precious newborns would need as they began their journey into living. Then there were the birthdays when they carefully scanned each toy so to choose exactly what they wanted (this tradition came to life because as a child my parents took me to Newberry’s to do the same thing).  The many versions of letters to Santa, their selections carefully, lovingly jotted down by me. The Christmas catalogs arriving just after Thanksgiving that my kids spent hopeful hours scanning. Choosing and then selectively changing their minds knowing Santa was limited in how much he could bring. Goodies for Easter baskets, the special end of school year treats, the start of summer outdoor stuff and the times just wandering about was a wonderful fun break from East Coast mid-winter boredom.

There were hot days, cold days and simple nothing special days, just spent being with my children watching their imagination blossom as their taste evolved from a teddy bear to cuddle to the elaborate sets for intricate building with K’Nex, Legos, Lincoln Logs and train and car tracks. There were action figures (Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles and WWF characters), and forts, and hot wheels and puzzles and board games… oh how I loved playing board games with my kids! Soon there were video game systems and games to play. Coming across a dirt cheap random game, we all could play at once was always a huge moment of joy!

In a nod to one of those video games, I snagged a little figure of Tom Nook, the store owner in Animal Crossing. It was a favorite game I loved playing with my kids. It seems an appropriate tie-in to the memories and one last time treat from the store we loved.

TRU 5.JPG

Just to clarify, my kids were NOT spoiled rotten with stuff… not by a long shot. Not only is that not something I could justify, it’s also not something we were in a financial position to allow. Most of the time spent in the store was spent dreaming, planning and imagining. Which as the sign in the photo below states was one of the things the store was about.

IMG-0387 (1)

And learning, yes, there was learning. Not in the sense of whats garnered from a textbook, but in life skills, that still and will always serve them well.

TRU 4.JPG

My kids learned:

  • How not to be greedy, just because you want everything does not mean you can have it.
  • How to differentiate between need and want, wishes and necessities.
  • How to negotiate, if they took two lesser priced things off their list, perhaps they could get the more costly item.
  • How to share; with rare exception no toy was ever “all mine”, it belonged to them all, especially game systems and cartridges.
  • Math and the value of money, if they spent an entire $20.00 gift card, there was nothing left for later.
  • Patience, their wish list was for birthdays and Christmas, not to be had in the immediate moment.
  • Tolerance, because of their differences in age, they had to take turns roaming about age-appropriate merchandise so their brothers could have fun too.

Toys R Us was for my family far more than just a consumer location to spend and gather goods. It was a destination, a place where dreams were created and some were fulfilled. It was a place to bond and block out the real world chores if only for a little while. It was a place where I could quietly savor the love I have for my children as I watched them interact and develop into the men they are now. It was a place where I hope they felt my love and joy just for their very existence.

Toys will always be a part of childhood and they will always be available in retail chains and online, but for me, there will never be another magical place like Toys R Us, because those days of magic are now just a memory, and because of that I’m wistfully sad.

Bye Bye Geoffrey, and the “greatest toy store there…” was, we’ll always love you.

tru 6.JPG

 

Politics aside, why do Catholics support Donald Trump the man?

For just a few minutes I’m setting his politics aside to ask the question that’s bothered me for quite some time… why do Catholics support Donald Trump the man?

Going back many years, long after President John F. Kennedy’s election and horrific assassination, I remember my devout Roman Catholic parents sharing why they voted for JFK. His political stance wasn’t part of the conversation (at least I don’t remember that part), however, what I do vividly remember is that their support was based on only one thing… he was Catholic. That fact automatically made him as darn near perfect as is possible (I know roll your eyes, I do too, but it was a long, long time ago) thus his morals were intact (I’m grateful they’re not around to learn about his alleged moral misdeeds) and that was that!

So that brings me back to my question. If you too are of the mindset that stellar morals are the overriding or even partial reason to choose an elected official, how, better still why does Donald Trump measure up? It’s not a secret he’s been married a few times, which to many Catholics is an automatic reason to diss an otherwise wonderful human being. He’s had alleged affairs and been accused of sexual misconduct. He’s a flirty, lustful womanizer who has shown little respect to women just by way of how he treats female journalists. He’s publicly mocked people with disabilities – all of who are God’s children. He uses crude language. And, his treatment of immigrants and their innocent children is obviously deplorable. He lives an opulent lifestyle filled with greed and gluttony. It’s pretty clear humility is not his strong suit and he lies. All of these actions are huge no-no’s in Catholicism.

As an intelligent, open-minded, person I know the above is perhaps not the reason to support a president but based on how many people (many of whom are DT supporters) think when evaluating and hatefully judging their fellow humans, how are they supporting Trump? With the many commandments he’s broken, how do my fellow Catholics go on cheering for him, the leader of our nation, while they simultaneously condemn their divorced friend, their LGBTQ neighbor, the unwed pregnant girl contemplating an abortion, and the gluttonous acquaintance living in the lap of luxury?

As a devout Catholic myself, I try very hard to NOT pass judgment on anyone (even DT the man) – love thy neighbor. I try to treat people equally and if for some reason I don’t especially like someone it won’t be because of how they’ve chosen to live life. If I fear someone is off the path of redemption I’ll pray to God for them, I won’t self-righteously play God and condemn them.

It makes me sad and mortifies me how otherwise intelligent, seemingly decent people, who call themselves Catholic Christians can be so blindly biased and disconnected in how they view things. If they justify passing judgment, how do they compartmentalize who gets which of their judgments? Which brings me back to my question… what is it about Donald Trump, the man, that makes you want him as your president?

How to relax? It’s a personal choice!

img_6170

Today was the first summer-like weather Sunday of the season. Because of that, I decided to force myself to chill out by the pool of my apartment complex. I say force myself because sitting still for a long period of time doing nothing, in a rather rural setting is extremely foreign to me. In fact it’s downright nerve wracking. But I was determined. So sunscreen, bottle of water, earphones and phone in hand, I headed out to give sunbathing a shot!

The first few minutes were enjoyable. It all felt so very Californian and I took a moment to be grateful that I live in a place that affords me this opportunity. I settled in, blaring some Childish Gabino into my ears and attempted to clear my mind. That exercise in chill lasted for maybe sixty seconds. Soon I started dissecting the explicit lyrics of the songs. While some of the words are crude and profane, in and of themselves, when put together, they have a valuable purpose and a message. That set my brain to thinking how often music of this genre is overlooked, undervalued, and too often criticized, by those who refuse to accept any good can come from it.

Four songs in I switched to silence, ah ha, that might be the trick to this chill outness. Nope, nope not at all, there are far too many tabs open in my brain. That thought brought me round to thinking about how cool it would be if we could metaphorically train ourselves to visualize closing brain tabs, like those on a computer.

Next up was closing my eyes to focus purposefully on nothing but the sun. How its warm rays are spreading healthy vitamins to our often starved from being indoors body’s. As I absorbed the rays and all its benefits, but, without consciously trying, doing that led me to outline an adorable children’s book about the sun working hard to make us healthy.

Finally, after what felt like 10 hours – it was really like thirty minutes – of me trying to relax, I gave up and accepted reality. What relaxes other people, does not relax me, because I am not and never have been like other people. I am uniquely me and I’m perfectly ok with that! I’m not better. I’m not worse. I am just me!

With that peaceful acceptance firmly in place, I settled in and relaxed my way; drafting this blog and then going back inside to my laptop to edit a couple of chapters of the books I’m working on. At last, I was relaxed. I felt my muscles loosen and brain return to its normal way of processing. Tabs open, thoughts running amock in a giddy little frenzy.

The point is. We all need time to relax. It’s vital for our mind, body, soul, but how you do it only needs to be done in a way that works for you individually. Not in the way anyone tells you it should be done. Not in a way that an expert determines is absolute to work.

Bliss is personal… find yours in whatever way works for you. And if you end up looking a little pale in the middle of summer, because your bliss involves sitting at a computer, there’s always tan in a can. 🙂

Memorial Day 2018

silhouette of people beside usa flag

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

As we enjoy Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, hopefully, we’ll take time to remember our brave men and woman who serve, served and in too many cases lost their lives to ensure our freedom in this great country of ours.

But… let us also diligently remember and acknowledge those freedoms, that our military fought and die for, that is often taken for granted by us, as we go about our day to day life is not enjoyed by all!

It’s especially sad and mortifying how taken for granted that freedom is by those of us who fit society’s acceptable image, somehow perceived by someone in a way that is detrimental to far too many. So many of us go about our life in a privileged fashion with little empathy or understanding about those who do not have that luxury; those who must still constantly fight for their safe freedom and inclusion, those who live and work beside us in our city’s, neighborhoods and our country!

I am all for honoring and respecting my country and my flag. I stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and for the National Anthem because I am among the lucky ones who enjoy the privileges those things stand for.  However, I understand, and respectfully support those who do not choose to honor those symbols, those who choose to “take a knee”, to shed light on those who live among us in fear and hardship because of their own or their friends  race, creed, sexual orientation, or national origin, those do not fall within the pledge’s promise of  “liberty and justice for all”.* Those who live in the United States but because of ignorant hatred and bigotry do not have the privilege of living a life that equates to the anthem’s lyrics of being in “… the land of the free”!*

There are still, in spite of education, and knowledge, those who believe because they are white, or straight, or Christian, or were born in the US of A and English is their native tongue, that they are in fact not only superior but are justified in destroying, physically and mentally those who are different!

There are those, hypocritical at best, who jump to their feet, place a hand over heart and recite memorized words like robots, with no actual contemplation to what the words they’re saying mean, how for some the words may not be true, and to that end, why some might not be feeling it! Those are the people, with the words still fresh on their lips, use the freedom they’re blessed with to hatefully demoralize and staunchly criticize the people who courageously “take a knee”. For some reason they’ve forgotten, because of our freedom, the people on a knee, have an equal right to be on a knee.

The only way we can make a change; find and secure peace for us all, is by reevaluating our own own minds, hearts, and teachings in our homes. Yes, let us honor our country and our flag, let’s remember our soldiers who secure our freedom, but let us also take time to remember those among us who need our love, protection, and support. Let us remember that our soldiers do not and did not fight and do not die for the freedom to be enjoyed only by a select fortunate few. Rather they did and do it for us all, sans barriers of any kind on behalf of “liberty and justice for all”!*

Wishing you all a safe, fun, loving and mindful Memorial Day!

*verse from the Pledge of Aligence

*lyrics from the National Anthem

Barry Manilow’s new Las Vegas show… one of the few things in life that is perfect!

 

In a world with so much uncertainty, hate, fear, injustice, I’m grateful for the joy and pure good feelings Barry Manilow shows provide!  My after show Tweet.

Arriving at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton) on Thursday unlocked my memory bank of sweet welcoming memories from happy days at the start of my now eleven-year “new” journey into life. The sign at the entrance made me giddy… it’s the reason I was there and the catalyst behind how the above-mentioned journey began; the music of Barry Manilow!

IMG_0020

The hotel and casino were awash with all things Manilow. Posters, signs, employees wearing buttons, his music filtering through speakers on to the casino floor and the larger than life marquee on the side of the building. It was opening night of Barry’s preview weekend kicking off his new residency at the Westgate and I, for one, could not have been happier.

IMG_0027.JPG

Yes, I had to have a pic with the poster… thank you, guy, I didn’t know for snapping it.

Lines into the International theater, where the Manilow show will take place on various weekends at least until October (fingers crossed that date will be extended), formed long before the doors were to open at seven. I’m not a first one in, first one out sort of person, heck I have an assigned seat, as long as I’m in it at an appropriate time prior to the shows start, I’m good. Instead, I wandered off to grab a yummy sandwich at Fontana and people watch.

Lines

At seven-forty-five-ish, I giddily took my seat (yes, I was giddy for much of the twenty-four hours I spent at the Westgate). I’d known it was a good seat, but until I saw where a third row, aisle, stage left put me, I’d not realized how amazing the seat actually was (wonder if I can reserve this seat forever). A lovely lady who shared she’s a publicist sat next to me. We chatted about what Barry Manilow means to us. I skimmed my details, finally telling her about the book I wrote, ‘It Could Be Magic’, which tells the whole story of how his music changed my life. She told me for her his music brings back sweet memories of happy times she spent with her mom prior to her passing.

The theater is steadily filling, by the look of things, it appears the show might be sold out. For me, that’s not a surprise.

IMG_0039

The stage is teasing us in preparation for the show.

Stage

Several minutes passed, the house lights dim, there’s a momentary hush followed by applause and the music swells, intensifying the already palpable audience anticipation. Here I need to add a quick disclaimer, since this show was opening night of preview week, I won’t give an exact song list or any spoilers, (to me, to do so, is like describing the details of a great book to someone who’s not read it yet or offering up the finale of a movie), however, I will say the breathtaking new opening; the stage lights and production keep artfully in line with the elaborate awesomeness associated with a Las Vegas show!

And then, at last, the moment arrives…  we glance stage left to see the man of the hour entering… we collectively jump to our feet … to thunderous applause, joyous shouts and foot stomping excitement, wearing a gorgeous sparkly evening jacket and a genuine smile that’s brighter than all the lights in Vegas, Barry Manilow, stands front and center, arms outstretched and everything we’ve waited for begins now! He is not a huge figure of a man by any means, but suddenly, like the image on the side of the building, he’s larger than life, filling the entire stage, obliterating everything and everyone around him. It’s then I’m aware of a quick second when his body turns with a slight gesture, like a key that seems to lock in ownership of what’s to come. We’re under his captivating spell and will remain there for the next ninety plus minutes. He did, does and always will hold his audience in the palm of his hand. It’s a rare attribute my oldest son noticed at the first show he attended a decade ago.

Barry

 

I feel myself exhale with a sigh… it’s a miracle, the stress and tension of day to day life, that grips me so often it’s become natural, slowly melts away, I feel comfortable, safe, happy. At least, for now, the struggles of the world are far away, in another world; Barry Manilow’s got this, and everything is going to be all right! And the man, he’s already on fire, bursting with joy-filled exuberance, singing, waving, hopping, running from one side of the stage to the other, … it’s a new show, we don’t know what’s coming, we do know it will be fantastic!

Let’s now take a moment to address a fact. Barry Manilow is less than a month shy of being 75 years old! Let that sink in, 75 YEARS OLD! It’s something he jokingly gives a nod to by saying “what are your 75-year-old grandfathers doing tonight?” He’s been in the business for five decades, actively performing for over four of them.  But still, even now, he’s as fresh, energetic and hungry to please as a performer who’s just starting out; he takes nothing for granted and it shows!  And his energy, oh my goodness, that is, alone, astounding at any age, but at 75! Really!!!

He never NEVER dials in a performance, I know that for a fact, I’ve seen more of them than I can count, and he never takes it easy. Sure, he might relax his lower extremities on a stool or the piano bench, but trust me, he’s not resting. The entire time he’s not physically moving about, he’s singing and playing the piano, which takes as much stamina as going for a brisk walk. There’s no stack of towels at the ready for a dramatic brow wipe to prove the effort he’s affording us; not even a glass of water is in view.

Barry at piano

At a Manilow concert, you won’t witness a short set followed by a length of time when another performer, dancers or a flying trapeze fill time. There aren’t ten-minute costume changes. When he swaps out a jacket, the task is usually completed at the side of the stage, in mere seconds. There is no twenty-minute intermission. Nope… at a Manilow concert, you get at least ninety minutes (often more) of all Barry, all the time. He sings, dances, hops, bops, scoots, all while making it look as effortless as reading a book.

Then there’s his voice; oh, that voice, the range, and the power. We all hear singers who while still talented have morphed in their golden years to a shadowy nuance of their former selves, struggling to be what they once were. Not Barry Manilow! If anything, I dare to say his voice, like fine wine, has grown richer, purer and more magnificent through the years. His vocal clarity, stamina, and purity are second to none… don’t believe me, attend a show and watch/hear him sing Even Now. One of his classics that when he performs it, is mind-blowing. The final note will give you goosebumps as you hold your own breath. As it ends, you will want an instant replay, it is that amazing!

Watching Barry Manilow on stage it’s obvious to see that he is the consummate performer; a gifted musician, singer, songwriter. But most of all, perhaps most importantly, he is the epitome of a gentleman. He exudes natural charm, grace, gentility along with genuine humility and gratitude which stays ever present, on stage and off. His persona in the spotlight is the same as the persona you witness if you meet him on the street. He doesn’t change like a chameleon dependent on his environment. He is authentically who he is on stage and off. A characteristic many in all walks of life would profit by learning.

Oh, by the way… At a Manilow show, you won’t be smacked with vulgarity, suggestiveness or rudeness. It’s a show you can enjoy alone, with the love of your life, with friends or anyone from your five-year-old son, to your ninety-eight-year-old grandma! It’s excellent music and we all know music is universally appealing to the masses!

Throughout the show, the lighting and special features continue to be gorgeous. Ascetically, perfectly enhancing each set, while not creating a distraction; just a beautiful backdrop to engage each of your senses. The New York segment is one of my favorites. As Barry is a native New Yorker, so am I; my heart remains planted there, no matter where else I might live. To see the scenes I love, while hearing the voice I adore, singing lyrics that touch my soul… it’s for sure a moment that causes a few wistful but happy tears.

As the show heads toward its finale, waving glow sticks light the room.

Glow stickes

Let me say here, even if you’re not a fan, what comes next to close the show is worth the price of admission… a true OMG Vegas extravaganza. Sadly all good things must end, great things end far too quickly, in spite of time span. From start to finish, the excitement never dwindled, not his, not the audience. There have been moments, oh so many moments… funny, happy, poignant, a few we’ve seen before, some are new, all are wonderful because they’re him. By shows end, there have been roughly fourteen songs, not including about a dozen lengthy samples showcasing many of Barry’s greatest hits. Some are heart touching ballads, others are upbeat, but all of them are bound by one common thread… the way they make you feel. Let me rephrase that, it’s NOT the songs that make you feel (I’ve heard covers of some, that do nothing for me), rather it’s Barry’s unique, incredibly genuine delivery that makes you feel!

Finale

I can only speak for myself, but when I say, “how they make me feel”, I do NOT mean how I feel about Barry himself, yes, I have deep admiration and respect for him, I love him as I would any extraordinary human being, but it’s not some goofy fantasy akin to a schoolgirl crush, that’s never been nor will it ever be me. What I do mean about feeling is how his innate ability to bring the lyrics alive with his own genuine emotion, conjures my personal memories of living life with all its ups, downs and in-betweenness. It brings back thoughts of sweetness and sorrow, love lost and found, bittersweet changes, new journeys, and past adventures. As I mentioned early on, it was Barry’s music that on April 14, 2007, serendipitously became the catalyst to starting my life over, Since then, aside from the encouragement and support from my three wonderful sons, the music of Manilow is my life-line to inspiration, to creativity, to making dreams come true, to letting go of the past and finding the courage to begin again, to forget barriers that society attempts to deter us with, to never say can’t, to never give up, to believe with every ounce of my being that true, unconditional love does exist, and to always work toward being the best possible version of me! Pretty darn amazing that one person, one incredible voice, can do that much for another human being.

To circle back to the start. In a world filled with so much chaos and uncertainty, much of which we can’t control, it’s vital for our mental and physical health to find what offers personal peaceful bliss and happiness. When you do find it, grasp it tightly and incorporate it into your life as often as you can, no matter what others may say. If they laugh, criticize or judge, ignore them! For some bliss might be found in Yoga, a spa or a trip to a faraway island. I know it’s odd, but those things actually cause me more stress, so for me that bliss is found via the music and performances of Barry Manilow.

Another take on how he affects us comes from Janet Fauret, my dear friend and fellow Barry admirer who resides in France. After I excitedly regaled every nuance of the show via phone, in a way that made her feel like she too was there, she stated she felt like she was 16 again and even the mundane chores her day would include didn’t seem so dull.

To that end, I am giddy all over again, as I will be attending the official opening of Barry’s show at the Westgate on June 14th. After that, by the grace of God, for as long as Barry graces the stage, I plan to attend as many shows as time and financially are possible. I hope (I don’t mean to be sacrilegious but also offer a prayer) that Barry and the Westgate powers that be, will mutually agree to extend his contract into the distant future, so that for as long as he chooses to, for as long as he’s able to he may keep doing what he obviously loves and does so well and I’ll have the honor, joy, and privilege to bask in and be rejuvenated by that which makes me so very, very happy.

In conclusion, as the curtain drops and we each go back to life, though it doesn’t seem enough all I can say is, Barry, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so very much for being you, for sharing what you do, and for giving me the renewed energy to jump back into life… see you soon.

THe end

Me

Happy Me!

For Barry Manilow’s show schedule and ticket information at the Westgate click here.

 

Next up as I live life one word at a time:

The Manilow store at the Westgate.

Why Barry Manilow’s return to Las Vegas, especially the Westgate, means so much to me personally.

Another magical day at DisneyLand!

You might already be aware, that Disneyland (Disney parks in general) is my second favorite place on earth with New York City remaining always, forever, in the number one spot.

Because we couldn’t visit over the Christmas holidays – the day we tried, Disney had reached max capacity – my NYC son flew in last week to spend a couple days with me, his youngest brother and our favorite mouse. As many times as we’ve visited, knowing we’re heading to DL still fills me with childlike, giddy anticipation. Once there, the world feels happy, peaceful, perfect… all are feelings I hope to never outgrow.

In spite of dark clouds over head, which eventually led to a not too common Southern California downpour and some areas undergoing construction, we had a fantastic, magical time… as we always do. Crowds were light, by Disney Park standards, which made going on everything and watching Fantastic, easily doable.

The usual entry view up Main Street toward the Castle is a bit obscured by a wooden wall which lines the street from end to end. Even with just a peek of the Castle in view, the magic is not lost; the gorgeous flowers added a bit of unexpected beauty.

Perhaps because it was a slower day, many beloved characters were visible for their meet and greets. We didn’t get in line for actual photo ops, but I did snap a pic of my favorites.

Right place at the right time… we just happened to be where a short Mickey and friends parade, complete with band, was passing by. I think I was giddier than most of the kids, as Mickey danced by, as only Mickey can, with those adorable white gloves waving.:)

Rain finally did arrive, which dampened our clothes but not our spirits. And Disney Ducks were extremely happy.

My kids are not huge fans of having their photos taken. Probably my fault since I took pics of them non-stop until they were old enough to say stop, lol. However once in awhile I sneak a quick candid shot in when they aren’t aware, which then joins its place among my favorites.

Happily the storm passed in time for Fantasmic to go on as scheduled, No matter how many times we see it, hear the music, it never stops being jaw dropping awesome.

Of any and all things Disney, my absolute all time favorite is Beauty and The Beast. I wish Disney would build a ride and devote some space to this lovely classic. The fact I am a hopeless romantic who swoons over anything to do with love and romance makes the story a no brainer for me to adore. But, what I also appreciate are the two profound underlying messages… love, to be real, is unconditional and one must look below the surface of everyone they meet; hidden beneath a beasts appearance may be a sweet, kind, scarred heart, looking for healing love and a gentle touch.

The only thing I don’t like about a day – a thirteen hour day to be exact – at Disney, is when it’s time to leave. As the ropes go up closing attractions and the crowd thins, and we make our way along Main Street to the exit, a sense of sadness invariably creeps over me. I love spending time with my kids. Now that they’re busy young men with schedules and lives of their own, I hold tight to every lovely moment we spend together; willing the time to slow down. At Disneyland it’s just us, my job, their jobs, all of our to do lists, appointments and obligations, don’t exist. For those hours, for that time, I’m in my happy place, being a mom spending time with my babies, even if those babies are taller than me.

I know we’ll be back, odds are, sooner than later… so until then, see you soon Mickey… may your land be forever a magical place where all who enter can still believe dreams and wishes really can come true.

Wayfair.com happily exceeds my expectations!

Even before I moved into my new apartment, I had an image in my mind of the exact couch I wanted. It had to be gray, modern, comfortable and large enough for a visiting guest to sleep on, but preferably not an armless futon and most importantly within my budget – under $250.00 please!

I scoured every store, including the high end ones, just to get some ideas. I’m certainly not above a good thrift store find, but I will admit, second had stuff with stuffing kind of makes me wary about inviting creepy crawlers into my home.

But nothing, any where, fit my taste within my price point… Normally, I’m not an on-line shopper. Going to a store, searching, trying and ultimately purchasing is all part of the experience for me, when or if I buy something; but, in spite of that I checked some sites. Like the stores, everything was out of reach without a guilt trip over the cost.

One day an ad for Wayfair appeared on my Facebook newsfeed… what the heck thought I, I’d looked every place else… within seconds of opening, voila, there was the couch that had been living in my imagination! Best of all, it was within my budget! I favorited the listing and visited daily for over a week to be sure it was indeed what I wanted. Then to make the deal sweeter, I received a “welcome to the neighborhood” packet of coupons in the mail. There was one for Wayfair that would save me an additional percentage. That plus the free shipping over $49.00 the company offers, sealed the deal!

Wayfair makes searching, ordering and paying, quick, easy and seamless. In seconds my couch was starting its journey and I was starting to worry; for the price could it possibly live up to it’s picture, ’cause let’s face it, pictures can lie!

image

Within a couple days, sooner than expected, a FedEx guy was knocking at my door. With ease he carried in the gigantic box that was my couch.

image

Little disclaimer here, when ordering I’d been so engrossed in the find, I paid no heed to the fine print stating some assembly required. Exhausted from a nasty cold I’d picked up on a flight home from New York City (details about the trip in a future blog), I carefully (print on the box clearly states a warning to NOT haphazardly open with a knife) slit the cardboard and groaned in defeat at the sight of the gigantic addition to my living space, that would someday be my couch, if and when I had help putting it together.

Over the next few days I’d peek inside, thinking maybe I really can do this myself, after all I am a strong independent woman – with the strength of a wimp! My just out of teens son offered help when time permitted from his heavy work, school load, but alas, I’d not purposely shared my germs, and he was down for the count.

A week had passed. I knew I felt better when the sight of cardboard was no longer an option. I wanted to relax on my couch, and come hell or high water or a few sore muscles, a couch I would have.

Instead of lifting the pieces from the box, I carefully slit each of the sides to make it lay flat. Then, I actually read the directions – a rarity for me lol. The pieces, I learned, were all self contained, like those Russian stacking dolls, it was adorable, quite clever and pretty darn convenient for when I move again – for me, it’s never an if because I swear there is nomad in my blood!

image

 

Over the course of an hour, piece by piece, my couch came to life. Honestly, easy as it was alone, for two people or one person with a lot of strength, start to finish would take no more than fifteen minutes.

image

To my giddy, grateful surprise, there sat my modern couch in all its glory. A gorgeous shade of gray brushed velourish material, firm yet exceedingly comfortable, for sitting, lounging or sleeping. It checked every wish-list box of the couch that had lived in my imagination!

i lived with my couch for a few weeks now and every day I seem to grow fonder of it. Beside the fact it is exactly what I wanted, there’s an element of pride in having chosen, purchased and built it all on my own. Alone is not something I’m used to, but as a single, empty nester, it’s a lifestyle I have no choice but to adapt to, at least for now!

Addotional happiness is that Wayfairl lived up to – even exceeded – expectations. It delivered what it promised, and though I’m still not an on-line shopper for all things, if I need more furniture, I’ll still do the in-person hunt, but when I’m ready to buy, Wayfair will be my destination.

My beautiful couch in its happy new home.:)  Pillows purchased separately from another retailer.

image

 

Their ad authentically says it all “Wayfair is just what I need”!

 

 

 

 

It’s World Mental Health Day!

World Mental Health Day!

I hope in commemoration we all take a moment to remember “mental health” is a lot of different things that varies for each individual!

image

 

It’s also something that needs to be talked about, taught about and focused on with as much diligence as visiting a dentist or watching what you eat!

Having mental health issues, from mild to devastating is NOT something to be ignored, ashamed of, hidden or ridiculed for. It does NOT make you weak, unintelligent, less masculine, too feminine or undeserving of love!

It’s also not something those who suffer can will or wish away. It’s not something they can simply “get over” or not “think about”. It is an illness, just like any other. Deserving of support, empathy and available, affordable treatment by professionals.

In addition, mental illness can cause and make worse physical illness. Untreated it can lead to addictions, horrific life choices and needless death.

Be aware and open about mental health issues, starting with young children, all the way through the twilight years.

Take care of the mind as much, if not more, than the body!