Monday, December 31, 2012

Sooo, Whadja Learn this Year?

Ahhh, the End Of The Year! It comes every 365 (and a fourth) days but somehow always surprises me. Also, it has a built-in feature which causes me to look back and reflect and look forward with hope. I was talking with my yoga teacher recently about New Year's RESOLUTIONS. She and I dislike that word and its connotations- it seems to set us up for failure. I resolve to lose weight, do more yoga, eat less bread, eat more vegetables, meditate more, complain less, travel more, ...and the list goes on, ad infinitum.

So what my teacher and I discussed is her concept not of resolutions, but of evolutions! Brilliant, I say! This life I get to have is a journey, right? An evolutionary journey. We reflected on lessons learned in 2012 and also where we'd like to head in 2013. I've been thinking about this for a few days and decided I to review what I've learned in 2012. I should be journaling more meticulously so this would be easier to call forth, but as a dear friend and mentor often says to me, "Don't should on yourself." Journaling is going to be part of my 2013 evolution.

So, here are some things I learned in 2012, in no particular order.

1. I'm okay just the way I am.
2. I need to let you be free to be you.
3. Snapple Green Tea is really delicious and I'm happy that Snapple is cool again.
4. Everyone has some shit going on in their life at any moment.
5. Don't take everything so personally.
6. The Universe really will take care of things if I stay out of the way and do the next right thing.
7. The spicy dried mango from Trader Joe's tastes delicious when used in a marinade along with garlic, ginger, sesame oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce. Marinade some salmon in that and you will not be sorry.
8. It's none of my business what you think of me.
9. I'm allowed to have a bad day even though I have everything I could possibly need.
10. My mother is a treasure that I am so fortunate to have.
11. Building real friendships is fun, totally rewarding, and takes some work.
12. Fantasy Football is a lot of fun.
13. I need down time every day.
14. Eddie Bauer fleece is the warmest without being bulky.
15. I met a LOT of really cool people on Facebook this year and consider them friends even though I haven't met most of them in real life.
16. I can't stand the thought of my dog getting older.
17. Kayaking by the light of the full moon is magical.
18. After 5 years of sobriety, I'm getting used to not drinking alcohol at parties.
19. I am amazed at the change in my body from doing yoga regularly.
20. I need to better organize my garden.
21. Heated car seats rock.
22. Meditation and prayer are directly related to my outlook each day.
23. PMS after age 40 is a real mother f*cker.
24. Love and tolerance of others is not always easy but is an excellent mantra.
25. I enjoy a cup of tea in the evening.
26. I'm proud to be from New Jersey despite of what the rest of the country thinks of my home state. 
27. I can wear shorts and be comfortable doing so.
28. Communication really is the key to a successful relationship and can be very difficult for me.

And so the evolution continues. Where do I want to be mentally, physically, and spiritually during the next year? What do I want to learn? What is working in my life? What's not working? How can I change that in a positive manner?

What about you? What did you learn this year? Where ya heading?
Do tell! Please share your ideas! We're on this road together, people. :)

I really want to focus on compassion and love for the next year. So if I see you, I might just give you a hug and tell you that I love you. Because I do. Very much.

Happy 2013, my friends!

 Chris and I in Jamaica.

Beautiful birthday flowers!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Your Kids- and I Don't Mean Goats

I'm not a mom in the sense that I carried a baby in my uterus and gave birth to it. I guess it was a choice on my part, I just was never at the right place in my life to have children and then when I got there I was a little bit too old. For some reason, lately, this has been weighing on me. Maybe weighing is the wrong word. Lately it's been becoming more apparent to me? Lately it's been on my mind? Lately I oscillate between feelings of extreme gratitude that I'm not in charge of raising another human being and remorse for the same thing? I truly believe that there is a reason I don't have any children, that the universe has me placed exactly where I am supposed to be, but I still wonder about it- especially as I get older and wonder who will take care of me some day! Isn't that part of the reason we have children? So we can rely on them to help us in our old age? Trust me, I'm only half joking about that.

As you all know I have my dog, Sushi, and am most definitely a mom to her. I take care of her with all the love in my heart and tell her often about the first time I saw her and held her. I think people do that with their real children too, right? Anyway, Sushi is NOT going to be able to take care of me some day. First of all, she doesn't have thumbs- a necessity for care giving, secondly, I will most likely out-live her, and thirdly, she doesn't even have a job, therefore any money. Plus she sleeps a lot. I could fall and get hurt and she'd be snoozing away, oblivious!

However, I have these nephews, you see. Two amazing, kind, loving, funny, handsome, talented, athletic, artistic, smart and just plain fantastic human beings! They belong to my brother, Greg and his wife, Tammy, who are such great parents that I'm in awe watching them in action. When these boys were born, my brother and his wife made it perfectly clear that I was indeed part of this 'village' that exists to help raise these children. This message was also conveyed to my mother, sister, father, step-mother, and all of our extended family, actually.

I was fortunate, lucky, and honored to be present at the birth of my older nephew Austin. What an absolutely life-changing experience that was. Both my mother and I were the first to see his little face as it entered the world and took his first breath. I'm teary-eyed just writing this, as that moment has become more special to me through the years. I now watch this kid growing into such a good person and well-rounded soul who is a talented athlete and musician. He is, hands-down, one of the most clever and funny people I know, without being mean-spirited about it. He is cool without trying at all. When I see him now, at age 15, little moments of his life flash before me and it makes me smile. When he was little we spent a great deal of time together and  I called him my Stinky Monkey Boy- now I call him Stink, for short.

Austin getting the classic bath in the kitchen sink.

While I was not front and center for Anthony's birth, I held him just hours after he was born and can still remember looking at his perfect little face and whispering in his ear that he was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. It's true! Anthony is adorable and was truly one of the cutest babies ever born. People would stop us in public and say so, I swear! He is still so adorable, the spitting image of his father, a cuddle-bunny who will give me a kiss and a hug on demand ("Gimme a kiss, Ant!"). As a baby the poor little bugger had bad ears so he was almost constantly in pain and had to be held and rocked. It was the perfect opportunity to write and sing songs about him, one of which gave him the name Anftwon LaRue. Today we call him LaRue or LaRuesky. He's smart, also very funny, and quite a chef, an artist, an inventor and builder. He goes into the garage and invents, designs, and  builds things that work! He is a good boy and watching him grow up makes me all warm and fuzzy.

Anthony being the cutest baby in the world.

These boys are my boys. They are a huge part of my heart, soul and fabric. I was a hands-on part of their upbringing. I love them so much I can't stand it and when I see them I'm filled with joy. I love that they trust me, ask me questions, like to be with me, and love me back.

A few years ago, I posed a question to Austin, "Hey Stink- since I don't have any kids of my own, will you take care of me when I get old?"
His answer,"Sure, Aunt Aim."
Anthony chimed in an offer to take care of my sister, who also has no children of her own, so we're all set! I broke the news to them last weekend that I want this in writing, just to be sure.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I just kinda want to let the universe know that I'm here. Your kids? I'm looking out for them too. I'll do my best to be a good person and role model. I'll try to watch my cursing around them. I'll talk to them and play with them, and not in a creeper kind of way. I'll help them whenever I can. I'll share my experiences with them in an appropriate manner. I'll listen to them. 

It sounds like I'm trying to convince you that I'm a responsible adult, which for once in my life I am.

Your kids are also my kids. Except I don't want to babysit them.

The little monkeys.

Making friends at the airport in Jamaica.

LaRuesky and Aunt Amy

Stinky and Aunt Aim