Friday, April 03, 2020

The Brothers Cuomo

Recently Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that New York state is a microcosm of America. They’ve got the big city of New York, but also rural upstate New York where ‘we’ve got more cows than people’.

If New York is a microcosm of America, we are in for a steep ride my friends, one that at this point, none of us personally can do anything to stop. That just sucks, doesn’t it?

But if New York is a representative of the rest of the country, the Cuomo brothers are too. For my Canadian friends, Andrew Cuomo is the Governor of embattled New York state. His brother, Chris Cuomo is a television journalist for CNN and if you didn’t catch the press conference from yesterday, here is the link from NBC:


If that doesn’t work try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaTljxQBDr0 or search YOUTUBE for ‘Andrew and Chris Cuomo Argue’.

Chris confirmed he had COVID-19 three days ago, and they talk about what it’s like mid-sickness.

At times funny, sad, loving, anxious, clearly worried about each other, yet resolved to get through this. It was so nice to see a leader being honest, vulnerable, and humble. The main take away was… ‘Don’t kick a brother when he’s down’, and we’re all having weird dreams.

My heart goes out to all of us, really. Each person locked inside alone, every family with young kids, all of our older people risking their health and life to get groceries.

I have young kids at home, and I’m trying to settle into the role of ‘crises-teaching’.  I can’t call this ‘home-school’ because I didn’t spend months researching and planning for it, laying out and debating lesson plans and deciding which home school group I wanted to join. I don’t have group trips with other home schooled children planned and competitions between our kids like spelling bees and math games.

Thankfully our pre-school is offering online support and sends me the lesson plans already made up with sheets to print off for the week. We’re muddling through, but it isn’t pretty. I’m ‘crises teaching’ – filling in the gaps the best I can, and having compassion for them and me in our weird new world.

I am worried about our teachers – are they healthy, are they able to pay their bills?

I’m worried about our community doctors and nurses who are on the front lines.

If it hasn’t hit you yet, it will, and hopefully not to the extent Yew York is currently experiencing. 

It isn’t what anyone signed up for but our doctors and nurses are there, pushing through – putting their lives on the line – risking their own families – for strangers. We’re horrified, and grateful. Not to mention the thousands of truckers on the highways making sure our food supply stays up, and our grocery clerks who certainly didn't sign up to risk their lives to bag bread. Our hearts, everywhere, globally, are hurting.

Here in Texas the recent data has suggested our peak is still up to three weeks away. I feel like we’re on one of those old-timey wooden roller coasters with the frayed seat belts and we’re clicking our way inexorably up a steep mountain. 

And when we finally come down on the other side, who will we be? Who will we be as individual human beings sharing this planet and who will we be as countries, as nations?

I think we decide here, now, who we want to be.

We take one crises at a time. First this, the health crises, making sure the hardest hit areas are getting the most help. They need staff, PPE, ventilators and beds. Then we move to the next crises and the next state. And it is as simple and as daunting as that. One crises at a time. One step at a time. It’s all any of us can do. Like Anna sings, ‘Do the next right thing.’

For me it means staying at home, it means washing my hands frequently and disinfecting the most used surfaces of the house daily. It means not watching the news in front of the kids. It means not hoarding supplies and it means taking this seriously.

It means remembering where my eyes follow, there too my heart. I’m watching the news, it makes me feel anxious now when I don’t, but I’m choosing my news carefully. I am making sure what I’m watching is credible, fair, and transparent.

I’ve been watching Andrew Cuomo every day. Maybe it’s nice to see a leader who isn’t bumbling, ranty, self absorbed and misinformed. (Tell me how you really feel Angela) Maybe it’s nice to see a leader getting things done, and doing it with integrity, honesty, and humbleness.

It’s nice to see a leader with real human feelings, who doesn’t get personally offended by tough questions from reporters. 

I didn't realize I, as mentally strong as I think I am, needed to see a leader...leading. But I did. And I know this because I felt so much better after watching the brothers banter, one with COVID-19, one running the sickest state so far. For the first time in a long time I thought, if these two guys can get through this, and still have a sense of humor, maybe we can too.

You don’t need to ‘chin-up’ America, or any of that macho garbage. You just need to ask for help when you need it. Then do what you always do when it matters – you step up and take care of your neighbor.

Stay home, stay safe, wash your hands, and stay together by staying apart.

Much love,
Ange

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Gift Of Nowhere To Go

Hiya my friends – look – I don’t know if anyone other than mom and some uncles and aunts back home read this but, in case you’re out there too, I wanna talk about butterflies.

Just kidding, I want to talk about what we’re all going to do now that our lives have been disrupted by Corona.

Listen. Do. Not. Panic. Freak out, okay. Cry on the phone to your mom, cool. But panic? No. We do not panic here in this blog.

All of these closures are scary – it’s unprecedented, so, yes, scary.

But let me tell you why I am relieved.

I am relieved because the people in the position to make wise, intelligent decisions…are making them.

This social distancing will slow the spread of the virus and hopefully allow our medical infrastructure (ie the physical stuff like enough beds and ventilators to the nurses and doctors available and healthy enough to work them) are not overloaded. They will be able to handle the cases they do get and we will all be better off. I don’t want one ventilator and two aunts with breathing problems to choose from, you know?

So, now is the time to stay home (but not stuck inside) and rest. Bake. Weed the garden. Dance. Meditate. Do art. Heal. Pray. Learn how to make soap with the kids. Catch up on laundry. Do some online classes.

Seriously you guys I have not been caught up on laundry since…well since I had kids let me be honest.

Let’s take this historically unique opportunity in time to put away the panic (it will be there if you need it, trust me) and take your coffee on the patio. The news can wait until you’re awake, you know?

Listen to the birds. Sip it slow. Revel in the new dawn because there are things you can count on – like the sun rising and setting, like your kids being bored after two minutes, like that we humans are resourceful and wicked smart, and we can take this time to do things we don’t usually get to do.

This can be a time of transformation, of taking stock of the important things, of staying in our pajamas for days on end. This isn’t all terrible people, really.

Not to get all Martin Luther King on you but, if there’s one thing this can teach us, it’s that we are all connected. ‘Tied in a single garment of destiny.’

From Wuhan, China to Moncton, NB, from Italy to Texas to Vancouver to Iran, we share our future together, all of us, and although we are social distancing we are never alone. We are important parts of this grand ocean called humanity and our actions although they seem small to us, have global consequences.

When the danger has passed we will grieve our losses and go back into the world and help each other heal. So stay strong my friends, and enjoy this strange stepping-off from regular life.

Cuddle your kids. Write a poem. Wash the dog. Now is the time to clean your closet, heck, everyone’s closet.

And for God’s sake leave the toilet paper alone. We’re going to have enough, I promise. In fact, stop buying it and start investing in the toilet paper companies – their stocks are doing just fine.

Oh, and here’s some practical stuff – links to youtube workouts I like, etc.

Pamela Reif – I love her so much – she doesn’t start the video chatting etc and wasting my time and each segment is 30 seconds and she has a timer counting down which appeals to the lazy in me. Also I like the music. Anyway she’s got tons of awesome (short) work-outs for everyone from beginner to 20-mins AB work-outs for those of us who are already ripped. (I know, I literally don’t know anyone with abs anymore but apparently they’re out there)

Pamela Reif – 20 minute full body work-out – Beginner Edition

Here is a Kundalini one I like – great for older people or if you’ve got injuries or if you just want a nice relaxing 20 min mat-work-out.

Short and Sweet Kriya to Get Your Energy Moving by Kristen MacPherson


That’s it – that should get you started – thanks for reading and don’t forget to pet your dog. Or cat. It reduces blood pressure, eh? Maybe don’t try to pet the fish I don’t think that will lower anything but your goldfishes’ opinion of you.

 **Picture courtesy of kellyrunsforfood.com**

Sunday, February 09, 2020

The Merry Mammogram for Me


It was a clear, sunny morning in The Woodlands, Texas. The air was cold enough to warrant a hoodie, jeans, and my favorite faux-leather boots, not enough for a jacket too.

The hospital was fine as most hospitals go. It was square and colorless, with wide, clean windows and smooth tan walls.

“Hullo!” I say cheerily to the woman behind the desk. She smiles and looks me up in the system as she’s helping another patient sign in. She was professional, pleasant, able to multitask with ease. ‘Where am I?’ I think as I sit down in the posh waiting room at the MD Anderson Breast Center Care offices with Memorial Hermann.

I fill out my form, hand it back and wait. After three songs and five pages pages of my book (American Eden by Victoria Johnson) they call me to the intake area.

The woman behind the desk was friendly and efficient, and I gamely fill out more forms.

When I go back to the last waiting room, the one where we all sit in robes and pretend we’re at a spa, I drink coffee they’ve provided and look around me. I can see effort has been made to make it feel spa-like. I’m sitting in a large open area with soft, comfy chairs. My white bathrobe was in a warmer until I put it on. There’s free coffee and tea. I’m impressed until I go over and there’s no tea but English breakfast, and of the 12 drawers of coffee, they’re all empty but one, dark roast. Bah.

When I sit down in the soft comfy spa chair I notice there’s a rip in the cushion, on the right where it meets the right armrest. It seems effort was made initially, but follow-up has been lax at best? The paintings on the wall are nice. It’s a marsh, could have been Amherst, a small town not far from where I grew up.

Of the seven women here I’m probably the youngest. Forty is the base-line year, the time to get your first so we have something to compare it to. Breast cancer rates drop after 50, usually around menopause. I’m not too worried here, if you know me well you know I went through premature menopause at 18 and with my low levels of estrogen I’m not likely to have to worry about this kind of cancer, at least.

I digress. Most of the women are older, a few my age. One lady about ten years older than me, bald head wrapped in a stylish head band smiles at me on her way out. I almost chase her down, wait, no, I should be the one smiling at YOU in encouragement! But she’s gone.

I am called quickly into the scanning area. It’s a younger woman with a few small tattoos peeking out of her long sleeves and under her neckline. I can’t tell what they are, a heart around a sword, maybe. I admit it’s my first one, she tells me what to expect. A pressure-pain but not sharp needle-pain. One picture about 5-6 seconds on each breast, two different angles.

“Hold your breath,” she calls out. As if I needed the reminder. She’s got my right boob squished in a vise. I’m not breathing until this thing lets up.

I’m thinking about Angelina Jolie, about how she went through this very thing, probably in a much fancier hospital in LA, and then she went through everything after including total removal and breast reconstruction. I’m amazed again at her chutzpah, her bravery. Thank you Angelina!

I’m also thinking of a friend who I just found out had breast cancer in her late forties. I will not name names, obv.

Anyway, she had gone through the diagnosis, chemo, breast removal and reconstruction and is now doing well. She’d gone in for a routine mammogram, and it literally saved her life. She’s got two youngish kids – under 12 – and she is the reason I agreed to do this myself.

I know if you’re my age, 35-45, you think…no. I don’t wanna. And I would be the first person to say…I get it. But listen to me now…if you love anyone in your life, a mom, a dad, a daughter, an aunt, you need to get this done. People are counting on you. It’s just a baseline. You won’t need to do this again for two, maybe even three years.

Does it hurt? I mean, squishing your boob one at a time between two plexiglass plates isn’t awesome but, it’s better than the alternative.

The tech who did my mammogram was efficient and funny. She was like…’Do you want to see your boobs?’ and I was like…’Yeah!’ I got to see what they look like in 3-D- which was pretty cool. At the end of the day, I can be a woman without my breasts, but I can’t be anything if I’m dead.

On my way out there was a woman sitting in one of these comfy chairs with no hair and a black hat. I used to wear a black hat too on my bald-head when I was 17 and I was struck by memories – she could have been me, twenty years ago. She was crying a little, into the phone. I wanted to reach out to her but, of course, I didn’t. I wanted to hug her and tell her everything was going to be okay.

I didn’t because, she was on the phone and she didn’t meet my eyes but I’m telling you, whoever you are that’s reading this…everything’s going to be okay. And knowing is always better than not knowing…trust me.

That’s it – this was pretty heavy but I know you can handle it…because you’re a woman, and you’ve handled plenty of harder things before this.

If you’re a man…I’m confused but stoked. Drop me a line and tell me how you found this post. Love you guys, eh!?



Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Grand Experiment

A storm rolled through my town last night, around midnight. The tall Texas pine trees surrounding my house thrashed their tops, the lightening pulsed and the thunder barreled around like an oil drum caught in an empty swimming pool.

The rain running down the outside of the window made the back yard look warped, like I was looking at the world through a bent funhouse mirror.

The thought occurred to me, this is amazing. And then my next thought was, oh, but I should be sleeping. I checked on the kids – as usual they slept through the whole thing completely unaware of the chaos around them. Isn’t there something beautiful about checking on your kids while they sleep? They’re like angels, their soft round cheeks and delicate black eyelashes, their tiny chests rising and falling in rhythm. I can’t look at them sleeping and not feel my heart lift about ten feet out of my body.

I’m just so grateful for them. It’s easier to be grateful, isn’t it?  When they’re not whining, screaming, crying, and demanding you to ‘Pass me my water? Fast forward the commercial? Where are my apple slices I asked FIVE SECONDS AGO MOM!’ while you’re cooking a healthy three course dinner and doing the lesson plan for your next gardening/yoga class?

I digress.

The combination of an impressive storm last night, the solitude to enjoy it, no distractions or demands, filled my soul in a surprising way. It was a loud and crazy storm, after all.

Every once in awhile when I encounter something beautiful or captivating or serene I think, I’ll never forget this, ever. This is a miracle; this is what I came to earth to experience. This was on my pre-physical-human-being mind when I was out there in the womb of the universe, before I was even a spec in my own mother’s womb.

I’ve got two part time jobs I love, about 5-6 hours a week for both and I’m gunning for a third.

These jobs, unimpressive though they may seem to some, allow me to participate in the world and in the local economy and still have lots of time to enjoy my kids while they’re young, and to write when the muse bonks me over the head. It works for me.

I always assumed this was a temporary situation but, what if I can live my whole life this way? Only working those rare jobs that I am uniquely qualified for? Not worrying about how much money I’m making, just paying attention to how I feel while I’m working them.

What if I can feel exhilarated, connected, learning, growing, and loving what I’m doing...forever!? What if that means it's never just that one dream job or career but a combination of them that each pulls from me different ways of experiencing my own personal growth?

To sum up, because you’ve only got a few minutes to yourself, whoever you are, what if I trusted myself, and trusted financial security always follows those who are engaged and enjoying it?

What if you don’t ‘find’ a happy life, you make it? Deliberately, joyfully, expecting miracles? If money comes, great, if not, it would be hard to argue a happy, fulfilled person out of a life they’ve created around their core values and desires, wouldn’t it?

I want to be that person! Doesn't that sound amazing? Wish me luck, eh?

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw.



Saturday, November 30, 2019

Don't Let the Muggles Get You Down


I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...or at least a red Lexus in green Texas am I right!?

You guys, it’s the CHRISTMAS season! You know what that means! Hallmark movies in my pj’s while I sip cocoa and a fire crackles merrily in the fireplace and the tree sparkles with magic and Santa is gathering my favorite things!

You know, like a cherry-red Lexus, and diamond earrings, and that yoga trip to Hawaii I’ve been wanting. I’ve been a good girl all year Santa, come on!


Maybe things have changed a little since I was a kid, but I barely feel the years when I’m trimming the tree and baking apple pies and melting moments, listening to Ashanti’s Christmas, then Michael Buble’s Christmas, then Martina McBride’s Christmas.


BUT….this isn’t a blog entry about the real meaning of Christmas or the stress that comes from trying to pick the perfect gift for everyone from your mom to the kids soccer coach.

This…is a VACATION from real life.

Yessssssss.

I just finished the final tweaks on my fantasy manuscript and let me tell you…actually I’m pretty sure I remember finishing ‘final tweaks’ for the last three Christmas’ at least. Alright, alright, in all honesty, the last ten Christmas’. BUT, the eleventh year is the charm, isn’t that what they say? Yes, I believe it is.

Anyway I’m so jazzed up from writing about magic and elves and dreams coming true and crazy but beautiful villains that I’m going to just stay there in that warm and cozy place for a bit longer okay?

Cool.

So this year we’re staying in Texas for Christmas which means I get to roll down the windows on my new Lexus while wearing a rhinestone A&M T-shirt and sporting my sparkly diamond earrings on the way to the Woodlands Mall to pick out my new bikini to wear in Hawaii!

Okay just kidding - I’ve worn a bikini exactly once and that was on a trip to Mexico with Sarah and I was twenty…four? I’m not saying that was a loooong time ago because…this is my fantasy blog post vacationing from real life but lets just say…I need a new bikini. I’m not saying a BIGGER bikini, for afore-mentioned reasons.

Anyhoo…there’s lots of sad and serious things happening in the world, some I can do something about and a fair amount I can’t so…thanks for sharing in my fantasy blog-post, and don’t let the muggles get ya down, eh!?

After all, dreams can’t come true if you’re not dreaming them, and Christmas is MAGIC people, MAGIC…so now’s the time.


Saturday, October 05, 2019

THINGS I DO NOW


Welcome to my third installment of...Things I Do Now...

...checking for frogs in my bathroom before I go potty.

On three separate occasions I rushed into the bathroom to ah..powder my nose…before leaving to drop the kids at school and there was a tiny frog on the toilet lid.

Yes.

What they were doing there and why not to mention how…remains a mystery.

One was white and the size of my thumb. One was dark green and speckled like a snake and the size of my pointer knuckle. One was light green and also the size of my thumb. In each case they let me catch them quickly and carry them gently to the backyard where I let them go. Twice they got one tiny webbed hand free and rested it, damp and sticky, on my hand as I carried them. Sweet. I mean, gross, yeah, I washed my hands so so much after…but also sweet. 

Two weeks later and I’ve got two frogs in my garden, too. There they were, hopping right in front of me, one of them jumping into the side of my raised garden bed four times before he accepted he couldn’t jump over it. I like to think it’s the guys I rescued.

Luckily for me I’m a tom-boy through and through and have had years of practice catching and releasing frogs back into the mud where they’re happiest.

Other THINGS I DO NOW

Working. Turns out…its work. Crazy, right?

I am still ‘working’ on being compassionate with myself, that I’ve made a lot of changes in the last couple months and I need to give myself time to settle in, in my own way. 

From being at home full time to working three jobs, I’ve had a lot of changes to assimilate. Focusing on ensuring the kids feel secure and safe and settled has distracted me but now that they’re settling in, I’m trying to find my own path to secure, safe, and settled. Not to mention sleep.

I’ve had to say ‘no’ a few times so I can leave space for my family.

I’ve had to admit that I don’t agree with people instead of just pretending I do for the sake of getting along. I still don’t know if that’s the right path, I remember clearly every instance I took a deep breath and actually said my mind to someone I knew wasn’t going to like it. Maybe three times in my life. Yeah. It's a problem.

So...in the interest of self development, I’m trying to be authentic. 

I’m trying to be honest. I’m not trying to change minds or hearts. I’m just trying to make sure my own voice is heard, because it’s the only one I’ve got, and I want to use it, and it’s what I want Ellie and Benji to do too. Even if that means some people don’t like me.

In the end what matters is that I want to live with my heart wide open, I want to be vulnerable and authentic because I want deeper connections in my life. I want more truth and less polite deference. Because if you miss a chance to be really open and honest with someone you care about or work with everyday, you miss a chance to be fully human. And I want all in.

So, anyway, that’s Things I Do Now.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Brene Brown – ‘Daring Greatly’

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Dennis the Menace, High Fever Season and #Gardengeeking


First, for those of my buddies in Atlantic Canada - stay safe - don't take chances, Dorian is nothing to mess around with. Ping us to keep us updated on facebook if you can.

For those of you not in it's path and who want to help, you can donate to help those in the Bahamas by searching for 'Bahamas-help' and sticking to websites ending in .org or .gov. (Like https://donate.unicefusa.org)

And...on to my regularly scheduled blog...

I heard a quiet sort of gnawing sound coming from the leg of my kitchen table that’s been in the family for about a hundred years. I look past my salmon and rice and broccoli and see Duke, AKA Dennis the Menace, CHEWING my table leg.

I have no words.

Why is he doing this now? Why the table leg? What could he possibly get out of chewing varnished wood? Why is he staring at me while he chews? Does he WANT me to scream at him? WHAT IS THIS DOG’S PROBLEM!?!?

I have mostly resolved his other favorite game, you know, that complicated ‘Terrorize Toby’ game where he chases my poor old man around the house and nips at his back legs. So, thank you water bottle. I don’t even have to spray him anymore, I just wave it in front of him and he backs off.

Anyway, we’re all managing and Toby’s done his cold laser therapy so, there’s that silver lining.

My two and a half year old was sick this week, and I got to call in sick to my second day of work at my new job, which I was reluctant to do. He had a mild fever, around 100 when I picked him up from school on Thursday and it stayed around a 100 in the morning. I scheduled a doctor appointment just in case and it’s good I did because the doctor confirmed an ear infection and that night he spiked a fever of 105. I kid you not.

One. Hundred. And. Five. My five year old was crying because I wasn’t staying with her until she fell asleep and my two year old is burning up with a fever so high I have concerns, valid concerns, about his brain overheating.

I stripped the sheets from him to cool him down, Tylenol, Advil, cold compresses and prayers and 45 minutes later he was down to 101. Scariest 45 minutes of my life, at least since the last time he had a high fever/ran into a parking lot/banged his head on the window/tripped over a toy and bumped his head/stuck his fingers in a strange dog’s mouth…I digress. 

Little guy is down to a 98.6 all day today and acting like his normal self. He bounces back so quick it could give you whiplash, thank goodness.

And now to the point of this whole blog…getting the garden ready for fall!

In Texas our seasons are reversed and NOW is the time to clean out what has died during our drought of a summer and plan for the new year!

Oh the wonderful feeling of a fresh, clean garden with new topsoil mixed lovingly with compost, all my drip lines arranged and buried, ahhh what satisfaction! #gardengeek. 

Weirdly my Basil is propagating and loving the heat - way past their expiration date - other than that and some roses and blueberry bushes and of course my old-man Oregano patch that's been there since we moved here, the garden is bare and waiting to be filled! We’re planting radishes and beets in a week, then lima beans and peas. It. Is. Going. To. Be. Awesome!



My daughter and I planted pumpkin seeds today, and she asked me, “Am I gardening!?”

And I laughed and said, “Yes!”

She grinned, and I grinned, and I realized another wonderful plus to being a gardener, your kids get to play in the dirt with you. How fun is that?

Hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. Alfred Austin 



The Brothers Cuomo

Recently Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that New York state is a microcosm of America. They’ve got the big city of New York, but also rur...