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Who Moved Gilligan’s Island?

Space and time didn’t seem to really matter much until the last 11 months brought a lot of time but not much space, into our lives. Space from those in your household, that is. It is now February 2021, and our world has collectively battled COVID-19, but in our own separate ways. However, we are bound by the commonality that until we get through it, we are together. Difference of opinion doesn’t matter. Mask beliefs do not matter. The pandemic is still here. It is currently winning. So how do we get through this long and even an longer haul than perhaps some of us thought we would have to endure?

I was on the phone with a college friend today. It was my “mommy time out”. It doesn’t seem to happen much these days which seems odd if you think back to my opening time and space comment. After a day working in front of the computer the last thing I often want to do is get on the phone. One moment we were crying and the next, laughing. The human connection is so profound, I have realized through all of this. Confinement raises fear. Fear raises uncertainty and uncertainty breeds doubt. Doubt that we will navigate through the next months to year of this pandemic. When will we be safe to freely “move about the cabin” and be amongst one another without the fear of the other being a carrier? Or, go back to reading mouths vs. eyes (has anyone else asked people to repeat themselves more these days?).

Knowing we are feeling the same undercurrent of longing for any part of “normal” I tried to explain how I felt, to sum up the load so many are carrying on our backs. Aiming to help, she offered this. “When I was pregnant with my 4th child I heard a comparison made by a comedian and I think he summed it up perfectly. Having a 4th child is like drowning in water and someone tosses you a baby!” Not a scene we ever want to actually have come to fruition but a brilliant depiction to sum of all feelings of being overwhelmed without the option to stop and take a day trip, to attend a family function or hang with your friends, above all else, decompress. Our conversation led me to the thought of treading water. Getting through the past 11 months has been like treading water and being pushed in 1 direction only to have someone constantly change the destination and the duration to get there. Pepper in the heaviness you have all faced; job loss, illness, separation from friends and family, losing loved ones. Then, toss in a sudden rainstorm or squall coming along, while you are treading water. The heaviness of it all can be felt by the wet clothes on your back and the inability to touch the bottom of the ocean. But still. You keep treading. You keep your head above the water. You keep going. Even if the destination changed.

Recently, a few highlights and changes signaling a creeping, crawling entry back to normal, have come up. A child starts back to in person schooling and has outdoor recess for the first time in almost a year(pure joy). You watch your two sons learn and grow together, something they’ve never done before as they attend different schools. You share an office with your husband and you realize a different way to spend time together as husband and wife, sharing office humor and your own version of water cooler chats. Even still, without the complete freeness we were used to just a year ago, that heaviness comes back, the permeating feeling, what do we look forward to?

We agreed on the fact that “back to normal” is a backwards direction. I am not headed that way. The forward direction for me is going to be to take the observations I had while being forced to socially isolate. What’s important? My family. I have A LOT of it and have not seen them as much as I have wanted. Being one of 5 kids gives you an insta-family of 20+ people. On average, there are 1.66  birthdays per month. So if I missed yours, please understand. My Mom. She is the #1 person I cannot wait to hug, take to dinner, travel with and laugh over silly things with. My faith. Without a belief in something larger than myself, I exist thinking that I am in charge. My freedom. When you have to think about the impact of where you go from a health perspective, it rings the bell of how sweet freedom and privilege simply is.

As many struggle with opening up about the difficulty they are having in getting through this pandemic, I ask a favor. The next time you are with someone, whether it be the grocery store check out or picking up your child at school, ask the person next to you, “How are you doing?”. Note that it feels hard getting through this right now. Do it. They are feeling what you are feeling but not everyone admits it. One question could make a difference. 

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Shout Out to World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day: this is a really hard side by side for me to share. And no, this is not a skincare post…..Going to go ahead and do it in the hopes it raises awareness, patience, and understanding amongst or within ourselves. I think of cancer as “rear view mirror.” Every day is a mile between me and that awful disease. I’m fortunate. Many friends are still living in the presence of cancer or didn’t win their race.

I created this comparison not as a way to make myself feel badly but as a marker to show myself how far I’ve come. Cancer is not always what we think it looks like. I was walking around with it, unbeknownst to me, feeling exhausted, unheard, bloated and physically spent. I lost hair, time with my babies, and honestly(and thankfully, temporarily) some hope. I gained damaged teeth, new aches and a set of fears and damn it I can’t eat a cracker without drinking lots of water anymore.51169477_10157052268489886_3084563688565243904_n

Yet, for all I lost I gained a ton more. I gained respect for my fellow cancer warriors, thankfulness that I’ll always choose my fight over anyone’s else’s(so many brave warriors out there I so admire), self respect for the determined and strong person I found in myself, the ability to immerse myself and find pure joy, a renewed belief in God after being so angry that I questioned his existence, the ability to go thru experiences and walk away knowing what really is important, the appreciation of my tribe-the people I know that age 42, will sing my praises yet grow with me and not always tell me what I want to hear.

I thought that cancer was my next biggest fight in life but I had no idea it was preparing me for all that came next. The challenges don’t stop but my perspective is sure as heck in check. There is no attributing happiness to cancer -it’s quite the oxymoron. But I do attribute cancer to reminding me what it’s like to live.  PS A special shout out to Rodan + Fields…without that Lash Boost serum I would not have my eyebrows and eyelashes back!

Self-Care, Uncategorized

One.More.Day.One.More.Hug.

Recently there was an instance where I had to be exceptionally strong. Back up, bite the lip,  fight through the emotions so that I would make a sound decision based on the knowledge and information combined with my gut, versus emotion. When I was going through this I was actually recalling an instance back in my 20s when I was gearing up for this client presentation and it was so nerve-racking. My manager who was more seasoned than I seem to be fidgeting a bit next to me and it was so unlike her. I didn’t want to pry but at the same time it was so unnerving that I felt like I needed to know why she was on edge.

As it turned out she was suffering from severe morning sickness and she didn’t want to say anything because as I understand it now it would have distracted her from this client meeting  that was about to happen in the room. While I understood to some degree why she was trying to shut it off it was so funny because she actually turned to me and said please stop being nice to me! I remember in that moment I did not take offense because some part of me understood exactly where she was coming from. She didn’t want to open the book the floodgates. Instead, she needed to get through this presentation and kind of fight mind over matter. In this case it was her mind combating her actual physical feeling of being sick.

This turned out to be a lesson that I learned and subconsciously started to carry through my life and apply it to different circumstances. I’ll give an example. Recently, I started  a different schedule and it was going to be a big change in my household where daddy was kind of stepping up and mommy was not going to be around at the same time she normally was for the past year and a half. When kids are young, or year and a half might as well be six years to them. I like to think I am a seasoned mom therefore I of course am in charge of all the prep work leading up to this point of hiring sitters and writing down schedules and preferences and names of the baseball field‘s and all the things that go into helping someone grasp, even temporarily, the reins on your household. But it also involves setting the emotional stage for what was going to be for my kids a very significant change. Now, I made sure not to delve too far into it because we didn’t want to start creating a scene over something that may not have been anything at all.

But it was in those moments where I was emailing teachers and giving them a heads up just asking them to keep an open line of communication if they happen to notice something different in my kids. For instance, I knew that my husband dropping off my just turned five-year-old at preschool was going to very much rattle him but if I could let all the interested parties know that, then they would be able to help us with the transition to make it go smoothly. I knew my eight-year-old would be impacted, I just wasn’t exactly sure how and I realized one morning that I grossly underestimated him. He was being so brave, so grown-up, and so courageous that I realized I had not allowed him the time to be upset about it. It is not something I possibly could’ve learned before I was in the moment. He was very upset about going to school suddenly and when I finally got it out of him his response was, “I don’t see you as much anymore.’ GASP! Arrow directly into my heart.

The lesson that I learned in that moment was that it was my job to just be a little more brave than he felt he could be or even lots more brave than he felt like he could be. I held him in my arms and he was tearing up and holding on to me very, very tightly. The bus had rolled up and I knew I had to pick the perfect or most perfect words possible in order to be able to calm him down enough to get through the day. But I decided to tell him was exactly what I was thinking and that was me simply asking him if that I could be just a little more brave today than he was yesterday… could he do the same?

I think sometimes in life when we are in these moments it’s just requiring us to be just a tiny bit more brave but it doesn’t mean we have to be brave forever. It’s just that moment that will take us through to the next event or meeting or errand or drop off. We can still  break down and cry at the end of the day. We are allowed to. WE are human. The mountain of to do’s can be at times this endless  list. It’s daunting. My to do list right now for the next two weeks – just responsibilities at home – runs a total of 58 items. If I tackled everything at once like I was asking my son to, you would find me running down the highway towards the next exit with an endless happy hour followed by checking myself into an endless stay at a hotel. ALL. BY. MYSELF. It’s insurmountable. So why would we ask ourselves to accomplish anything different than what we could do in just that one more moment? It’s unfair and unreasonable. But what IS reasonable is being real and honest. Take note of how you calm your friend, child, etc down. Are you abiding by the same advice you give others? So easy to give others advice, right? But remember. Be brave. Just for that single moment. Let the next moment worry about the one after that.

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Boot Camp + Survival 101 = Parenting

39C61B18-8904-42B1-A115-A4C597076837Let me explain the joy of having kids…It’s someone telling that you that you won the lotto but then they flushed the ticket down the toilet.

It’s getting all comfy on the couch and then someone keeps ringing your doorbell and doesn’t stop.

It’s getting all dressed up in that awesome white linen sundress to head out on an adults only adventure and your son runs around the corner, hands out, covered in chocolate pudding. Right. Onto. Your. Dress.

It’s thinking that you own your life and then you get autocorrected (by your 8 year old).

It’s assurance that you won’t ever sleep again. Not in the way that you did before kids. Go on, tell yourself you will but you won’t. My mom jokes she stills stays up but instead of waiting, she’s thinking of us and worrying.

It’s thinking you have it all figured out one second and then you get handed the flu diagnosis, your calendar reminder pops up for those 30 goody bags youhave to make, and your car just ran out of gas. Oh and there are no snacks left for lunch because the kids ate them all while you were trying to book that appointment.

It’s chugging to the top of a mountain, anxiously awaiting that beautiful, easy ride on the way down and then the brakes gets stuck.

It’s all the most challenging, gut wrenching highs and lows in your life you could ever possibly imagine with the sweetest, “I love you’s” meeting you at the end of every day. Those are what I live for.

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Skincare tips for subzero temps!

The polar vortex is upon us in New England and elsewhere you could also be feeling a chill! So what does this mean for your skin and how can you better protect it this winter?

❄️ Lay OFF the intense exfoliating schedule. Yes, exfoliating is still necessary but limit it to 1x/week and if your skin is dry you may need moisture first.
💦 Hydrate. Just like our bodies, your skin (your largest organ) needs hydration during these winter months. Running a humidifier at night in addition to adding a Hydration Serum to your skincare routine will make a difference.
⏳Head to bed a bit greasy. At nighttime, apply your moisturizer to your hands and feet. I like to layer on a bit of coconut oil as well to lock in the moisture!
👉🏻Your skin changes. Personally, I need a few weeks of Soothe this time of year. This is normal to have changes in your skincare routine. The nice thing about RF is that I am here to tailor your routine, for you!
🌞 Sunscreen is STILL important! Just because the air is cold, doesn’t mean the sun isn’t still giving off rays!

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The Magical Year of 4…

I smiled when I came home last night at the sight of my 4-year-old, sleeping soundly with a slight snore going on. (Why is it that 4-year-olds snoring is cute whilst a 40-year-old snoring makes us want to haul off and kick a wall? Or is this just me? Oops!) He had his Spiderman sunglasses on, something he has recently taken to wearing to bed. We aren’t sure why as this is the one kid that actually will put HIMSELF to bed. Perhaps it’s of comfort to him or a phase but we know that sometimes kids just do these things!

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Liam was our “easier baby”…if I had him as my first, there may be a slew of kids running around our house right now instead of just 2. I was prepared for my first to arrive as much as a new mom could be and expected the typical baby activities and lack of sleep for myself and no longer putting my needs first. What I was not prepared for was the colic up through age 6 months and not sleeping (uninterrupted) more than 2 hours in a row until December 1st when he was 6 months old and finally slept 6 hours straight. Hallelujah! I recall dancing in the hallway (VERY quietly) with my husband Juan and sharing that perhaps, we may be at a turning point. I honestly felt downright crazy by that point. I was back at work full-time, working 60 hours a week and commuting an hour each way. A blur. Heck, I didn’t recall driving my actual commute at times!!

Many(even fellow moms) told me he is “just being a baby” and so I didn’t think it was abnormal. To complain would be accepting defeat that I wasn’t cut out to be a mom. To complain was often met with the well-intended, “yes, me too” but now it’s “not me” instead of an embracing word or two of encouragement. My pregnancy wasn’t normal so this part well, it HAD to be normal, right? But it wasn’t. Interrupted sleep? Yes. The routine of sleep, feed, change the diaper? Yes. Sure enough, I soon had friends experience my new baby who could not be put down for a second, screaming and crying at any motion other than a car ride or resting on my husband’s shoulder. But still, these types of newborns come into the world and I am not the only one. Of course, I certainly know more now than I did back then.

That baby is now 8 years old, still loves the comfort of being right next to someone versus being alone and it makes me chuckle to look back and realize how I can associate his personality now, to his personality as a baby. He’s adventurous like his mom, loves all things sports related just like his dad and will devour a book just like both his parents.  He loves to travel, sweet and sensitive to others feelings and a straight-A student(that doesn’t come from me!) He loves his brother, watches out for him and counts the minutes until he hops off the bus. I have secretly videotaped the two of them together to playback someday at their weddings. The scene is Liam watching over his big brother Caellum’s shoulder while they pour over a book….I couldn’t imagine one without the other.

From the early days following Liam’s birth, it was clear Caellum loved his brother and couldn’t wait to show him the ropes. Of course, at first, there was only so much that Liam might understand.  But it’s Caellum that has become so much a part of helping his brother deal with his frustrations. It’s like life reciprocated itself.

When I look at my 4-year-old, I see the ease of his early years and how he is deciding to handle the world now. When Liam turned 3, I noticed something was not quite right. Intuitively, I thought perhaps I was comparing my children unfairly but my gut was telling me otherwise. He seemed to be having tantrums more than perhaps a typical 3-year old would have and, more extreme. But he was still so brilliant, well spoken, and loving all at the same time. I dreaded preschool dropoff because if something upset him, we may not have been able to make the transition. I equally dreaded pickup, wondering if it had been a good day or a bad one and how many times he might have been walked out of the classroom to take his deep breaths. Would I show up to the playground to see Liam singing along with the others at the end of the day or would he be off in his own world? We all know too well, how kids can be bullied and I was already anxiety-ridden that his uniqueness would cause him to be ostracized. But then I realized. I realized it was Liam who was magical.

It is now interesting, after having gone through this process with my son to see other children even older than he is, struggling and I can see how these struggles now, may increase. I am thankful that his teacher had the professionalism and courage to talk to me about what ended up being one of the best conversations I could have had, for my son.

Thankfully, with the help of an amazing preschool teacher who wasn’t afraid to ask me if maybe, just maybe Liam needed a little extra help, we sought it out. As a parent who has been through it, we have two choices. We can either get angry at professionals or turn a blind eye or seek out help and advocate for our children. It’s my duty as his mom to reach down and enclose him with all my love and support, no matter how hard it is to hear as a mom. It is not defeat. It is the beauty of finding out so early on in life how awesome your kids potential is and begin to guide them towards how to live and use their skills to reach their highest potential.

Was it hard to hear that he needed some extra help? Are the stares that I feel when I have to pull him aside and the wandering eyes of others burning in my back hard to shove off? When people don’t know what to say because they just don’t know? The comments that he seems to be handful or questions about why he is “overreacting” hard? Sure. But you don’t know, truly know, how it can become a blessing to start to understand and have insight into how your child’s brain works at such a young age. My son’s disabilities haven’t become a burden or a roadblock but rather a journey to find out exactly how he is going to be one super magical human being.

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We are…. an American Girl….

My mood today is swinging like one of those twisted amusement park rides. This morning so many of us Americans woke to hear of the senseless tragedy in Las Vegas. People were outside doing what they love. Listening to a concert.

Are you a concert-goer? If you are, you understand what I mean when I say that live music can lift your feet off the ground, bring joy to spots in your heart you didn’t know existed, even bond you to strangers whom you may have passed on the freeway just seconds before the concert. It connects the human spirit.  I think that’s why today hit me. It made me scared and made me fearful like I have never been before.

Our stream of disasters has been many these past few months and as humans, our capacity to cope and comprehend becomes overwhelmed at a certain point. My own family has ties to Puerto Rico and the humanitarian aid trickling in there will be needed for longer than we know. We think we know, but we don’t. Each tragedy our nation has seen has been different in its own way.

While going about my normal routine today, I was trying to think of why this tradgedy dug to that final place where it just sat. I can’t move it, can’t make any sense of it. Each one of us will try and put into words why it just doesn’t make sense. Kind of ironic since the whole point of something being senseless is that it doesn’t make sense. To me, it hits hard because people were doing something they LOVED. It was carefree. It was VEGAS. I mean, hit the slots, ring the bell, go to that club at 3am and act like Monday won’t ever come. Even if you are 41!

No one drives to a concert thinking they will worry about anything but if their seat will give them the experience they anticipate. Tom Petty was a bucket list performer for me. I had the chance to see him with my husband and friends Bridget and John this summer. He reminds me of cutting 1st period(sorry mom, I still turned out ok, right?) with my bestie Sarah, drinking coffee, windows down, not a care in the world as we whizzed by the bucolic beaches in Connecticut. He reminds me of decades of rock n’ roll that I was too young to first be a part of but even to this day when I queue up his music, I still can feel the warmth on my face and the smile in my heart, the mischief and promise of knowing if I replay that song, it’ll bring me right back.

I don’t know why and I don’t have the proper words but if anything, those concert-goers were there because they loved to experience life sung through music. Just another reason I need to keep focusing on living mine to the fullest. You do that and no one can ever take that away from you.

Short Verse, Uncategorized

A Mother’s Walk

I wasn’t prepared to love you more than the day you showed up in your own skin.

I wasn’t prepared to love you even after you made my patience wear thin.

I wasn’t prepared to have your smiles and your cries melt my heart and simultaneously make me weep.

I wasn’t prepared to want to kiss your sweet face, wipe your tears, and ease your pain.

I wasn’t prepared to feel the deep ache of sorrow when you experienced sadness deeper than my own.

I wasn’t prepared to put your needs in front of mine so simple and humane.

I wasn’t prepared to love any human so much that it kept me up at night and woke me before the morning light.

I wasn’t prepared for the shift in perspective, changing my plan ahead to think about the here and now.

I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of second guessing and the autonomy of knowing I was right. In my own world.

I wasn’t prepared for listening to the mere sound of your voices calling me mom while making me feel the sunshine, a warm blanket, and smell the scent of fresh baked cookies all at the same time.

I wasn’t prepared but it made me whole.