7.31.2011

From the Plane to the Party

My husband is home!  I am no longer reduced to communicating with him by E mail and Facebook.  After a 14 hour international flight from a country with a 17 hour time difference, a two hour flight delay and a two hour drive from LA he finally made it home around 5:45pm.  Just in time to hop in the shower and put on the clothes I'd picked out for him so we could go to a friend's B Day party downtown.  He literally went from the plane to the party which is insane if you asked me.  I get jet lagged and worn out just traveling on a 1 hour flight where I don't switch time zones.  
Reunited and it feels so good
We met his friends at Red Pearl Kitchen downtown and had a good time.   I was a little skeptical because it's a Pan Asian restaurant and I'm so picky but there were things I liked.  Everything was served family style so we got to try a lot of different dishes.  If I had to rely on chop sticks I would have starved.  I'm the only one at the table who had to ask for a real fork so I could actually eat.  It was Anne's 30th Birthday and she celebrated it in style.  After dinner we walked to their hotel room at the Hard Rock Hotel and had a few drinks there.  It had a great wrap around balcony with a nice view of the city.  Mj was too tired to get too much of his drink on so he had announced himself designated driver and I took full advantage.  As the night went on he was still hanging in there....but just barely.  When everyone headed down to the club we headed for home.  By the time we walked into the house he was practically sleep walking, I was tipsy drunk and we both slept like rocks. 
A Gift from Mj.  Hand made jewelry box
It's so good to have him back home.  Australia was his last long work trip of the year.  His family reunion is this weekend in Delaware so there is one more out of state trip but I won't miss him.  'Cause this time I get to go too.

7.26.2011

Tomatoes & Exercise

Home Grown
The tomato plant we planted in April is thriving.  The leaves have started to wilt a bit but it's gotten so big and the tomatoes started to grow in earlier this month.  Still no oranges on the orange tree but we expected that and the herbs are doing well too.  Mj put me on plant patrol and I'm in charge of the watering since he's been gone.  I'd be in big trouble if anything dies on my watch.  I don't really eat tomatoes although these are so bright and pretty it almost makes me want to!! I plucked all the red ones off and took them to my mom's house for her to enjoy.  There are plenty of little green ones that haven't quite matured yet that will be ready for Mj to have when he gets home. 


My little nephew is walking now!  He'll be 1 years old next month, has five teeth and is still just the cutest thing ever.  I had him to myself at my parent's house for a couple hours on Sunday and took him outside and watched him go.  We had lunch at a friends house then my sister and I went and got our favorite yogurt from Golden Spoon.  It's all Non Fat and Fat Free soft serve and I got my three favorite flavors Coffee, Peanut Butter and Peanut Butter Cup.  Next time, I'll try do something different and get the Red Velvet.  I had a great time with my family.  There was lots of fun, wine (what else is new) and lots of eating. 

Which led me to this sudden and quite unusual desire to go out running on Sunday night when I got home.  I don't do this very often ever and I know my endurance is pretty low so I started out doing 5 minutes running then 5 minutes walking and so on.  By the end I ran 8 minutes straight which is pretty good for me.  After 40 minutes I ended up doing 24 minutes of running and 16 minutes of walking.  Even though it kinda sucked when my legs felt like lead and it seemed like I was running so slooooow it kinda felt good to do it.  I'm basically an Elliptical junkie so it was good for me to do something different and with a higher impact.  I should probably keep my running on the treadmill though.  The next day I was painfully reminded of why I don't run on the unforgiving concrete too often.  My left hip felt like it was going to snap off!!   I'm definitely not in running shape.  My hip got better as the day went on but my legs were so sore I could barely walk myself into the gym.  I am proud of myself for slogging my way through my 1 hour Elliptical work out anyways.  I have successfully managed to work out twice a week (or more if I'm feelin' it) all year so far which is a huge victory coming from someone who refused to go for well over a year.  I'm even going again today after work.  Le Sigh. Burning 500 calories in one shot gives me this huge sense of accomplishment, which is part of the reason that I stick to the Elliptical and haven't done Pilates or anything else in a while.  Building muscle helps speed up metabolism so I'm trying to get myself to branch out into using the weight machines.  Plus, it's probably a good idea to mix things up so I don't get too bored.  I'm such a creature of habit.

Since Mj has been in Australia we've only gotten to talk here and there for about five minutes at a time.  There is a 17 hour time difference and he's usually asleep while I'm in the middle of my work day.  He FINALLY comes back Saturday and I'm really looking forward to having him home again.  The week is almost half way over and I'm glad!  Hope everyone is having a good week so far. 

7.23.2011

2011 Cover Girl Classic

Chelsie during podium training
[Photo Source:  Universal Sports]


Gymnastics doesn't get too much TV time.  I'm lucky if I get to watch it twice a year so I was thrilled to be able to watch the Cover Girl Classic live online on Universal Sports.  It's the first big competition of the Elite gymnastics season and there are three comebacks that should make the line up between now and next year's Olympics in London very interesting.  Chelsea Memmel and Alicia Sacramone put the word Women's back in Women's Gymnastics.  They are so strong at the ripe old age of early 20's and it's just great seeing these ladies in action.  Alica's comeback isn't really and truly a comeback because just a year ago she was at this meet after not competing since the 2008 Olympics.  She ended the year by making the World Team and has been off the radar since then after the season ended.  She's just that good that whenever she decides she wants to go to an Olympic or World Championship, she just trains and makes the team like it's nothing.  I'm most impressed with Chelsea.  She made an aborted comeback attempt in 2009 that didn't quite pan out but I think she's really going for it this time.  She did all four events and could use a little bit of clean up in form but looked so solid in all of them.  She has always been such a strong competitor and injuries are the only thing that has ever held her back.  I was at the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim where I saw her win her first World gold medal on bars.   She was on the 2008 Olympic team in Beijing along with Sean and Alicia but due to an injury was limited to only one event-uneven bars.  She has the bad luck of always getting hurt before the Worlds or Olympics and has battled back from so many injuries that I can't believe her body is still letting her do this.  I really hope she can hang in there injury free and make it to 2012.  If anyone deserves to be on that team she does.  Non gymnastics fans might remember Sean Johnson most from Dancing With The Stars which she won in 2009 but her much bigger accomplishment is winning Gold on Beam and the Silver in the All Around, Floor and at the 2008 Olympics.  She only did two events (beam and bars) at Cover Girl and fell on both.  She was admittedly very nervous and scared but I think she'll get better at Nationals next month.  I can't even imagine the pressure she must feel.  I takes a lot of guts for a high profile gymnast like her to make a comeback after three years off of gymnastics with so many eyes watching her every move.  Aly Raisman won the All Around, Chelsie placed 2nd and new comer Sabrina Vega was 3rd.  Very few actually competed all around so this competition seemed to be less about winning and more about warming up for Nationals.
Alicia Sacramone and Sean Johnson during podium training [Photo Source:  Gymnastike]
Missing from the lineup was the 2010 All Around National Champion Rebecca Bross.   She is coming back from an injury (ankle) like so many and couldn't get it together in time.  She was there but scratched at the last minute.  It will also be interesting to see what reigning All around Olympic Champion Nastia Liukin decides to do.  She's been on the fence for a while about if she will go for 2012.  I really like it that a lot of NCAA Collegiate gymnasts are doing Elite during and/or after their Collegiate careers.  They bring so much competition experience with them and it's good to show that "older" girls can still be competitive and that Elite gymnastics isn't just for teenagers.  In addition to the comeback ladies there are many established gymnasts (like Bross) and new up and comers who want their shot at the Olympics too.  The saddest thing is that there are only five spots available down from six.  There just isn't too much Olympics to go around.  There will be many highs, lows and heartbreaks along this journey and I'll be watching glued to the TV screen or internet as might be the case for any coverage I can get.

See full competition results here at InternationalGymnast.com.

7.18.2011

Hostess with the Mostess?

I've never been the hostess type.  Homebody type maybe, but never hostess.  I think years of tiny living spaces and my aversion to cooking made it something I've just never been into.  Mj is out of town again so I figured it would be a perfect time to invite some ladies over for a little get together.  It's amazing how much prep was required just for my small group.  I did my grocery shopping Saturday.  I woke up Sunday morning and cleaned, got into the kitchen, then ended up running to the store again because I was afraid I didn't buy enough tortilla chips.  It's so hard to tell how much people are going to end up eating or drinking.  I was ready by 2pm.  It was a pretty last minute decision and a very small group but it turned out well if I do say so myself.

So what does a non hostess serve to her guests when her much better at hosting husband who cooks is out of town?  Surprise, surprise, but not EVERYTHING came from the frozen foods aisle.  Only some of it.  One of my girlfriends didn't even think I'd have any actual food but she totally underestimated me.  Ok, so it wasn't anything nearly as fancy as Mj would have come up with but I think I did a pretty good job.  It was actually nice being in control of the food because I got to make it so that everything was pretty healthy.  I put out tortilla chips and put together a cheese and crackers spread for starters.  I bought some Jose Ole Chicken Taquitos and Garlic Parmesan Flat Bread that I was able to pop in the oven for 10 minutes.  I made two side dishes.  Baked red potatoes in the oven and whole grain pasta salad with light Italian dressing.  For dessert I bought two kinds of pound cake (one in a Sugar Free version) and light Vanilla ice cream and we had plenty of wine flowing from start to finish.  Easy and simple works for me.

We listened to music and got caught up on what everyone has been up to.  We are all so busy with work and life that we often go a long time without getting together and when we finally do it's usually happy hour so it was really nice to have them over hanging out at my house.  We've been in our house a year and some of them hadn't even seen it.  Oops, I just realized I forgot to put out the salsa!  Oh well.  Everyone had a good time and enjoyed my offerings despite my novice hostessing abilities.  I would never be mistaken for the hostess with the mostess but I work with what I got and it's good enough for me. 

7.16.2011

Be The Match

July is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month and it made me think about what led me to the bone marrow registry in the first place.  Just after college an old high school friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer.  I hadn't spoken to him in a long time but I think being struck with a potentially deadly illness propelled him to reach out. We were friends, but like many do after high school we had lost touch.  I remember visiting him in the hospital.  He'd had surgery and was so drugged up and in so much pain he couldn't say more than a couple words to me.  Fortunately, I'd never had much cause to visit a hospital but I didn't think it would affect me the way it did.  That "hospital smell," the shiny white washed floors and the presence of suffering and illness made me weak in the knees.  For a moment I actually thought I might pass out as I stood there and did what I could to be of comfort to him.  He battled this illness for well over a year and even towards the end when I could visibly see the cancer snaking its way up his neck he was always hopeful that he could beat it.  At some point in his illness he required a bone marrow transplant and my family got tested to see if any of us were a match. Nobody wants their life disrupted by surgery and having never even had an overnight stay in the hospital even as I was giving blood I was scared of what might happen if I matched.  But my fears were not important.  My friend is someone's son.  He is an older brother.  That is what was important. His life matters and seeing him in need and fighting for his life meant that I needed to do what I could to help even if it required anesthesia and a needle.  No one in his family was a match and neither were any of us.  Nobody was.  Though he put up a valiant fight he succumbed to his illness.  I will never ever forget him.  He was so young and had so much left to do in this world.  I am saddened to think about all that he and his family have missed out on.

Would I feel the same way if it was a stranger?  I may not have that physical connection that comes with knowing the person in need but the circumstances are the same.  The bone marrow donor must be a close match.  When even family members may not be suitable donors it makes you realize that it’s really like searching for a needle in a haystack.   If I am that one match that someone needs I'd have no choice but to help.  When we got tested, our information was sent to the National Marrow Donor Program® Registry, as it was called then (now Be The Match Registry®).  That meant that technically, I could get a call at any time regarding donation for someone in need.  According to Be The Match Registry "On average, one in every 540 members of Be The Match Registry in the United states will go on to donate marrow to a patient."  There are two ways to donate.  One way is to extract bone marrow through a needle in the back of the donor’s pelvis.  This is always done under anesthesia. The other more common method is called Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC).   For five days the donor receives daily injections of a drug called filgrastim to increase the number of blood forming cells in their bloodstream prior to donation.  Then, a needle is used to remove the blood and separate out the blood-forming cells.  It is very similar to giving blood.  You can read more information about the steps of donation here.  Could I  do it?  Would I have the courage to undergo that procedure for someone that I've never met? The answer is yes. Getting that call means there is someone that might die without my help.  I am living my life just fine; why not give someone else the same chance to do that too?  The amount of discomfort and fear that I might go through is minimal in comparison to what a person facing a serious illness and possible death is dealing with.  I also think about if the roles were reversed.  I would want someone to step up and be willing to do the same for me.

It's especially important for ethnic minorities to be on the registry as a volunteer donor.  Race is a factor in determining if a donor is suitable or not.  Patients are more likely to be a match to someone of their own race and ethnicity. Many African Americans and others of diverse backgrounds have trouble finding a match, so racially and ethnically diverse donors are urgently needed.  The pool of diverse potential donors needs to go up in order to increase the chance that patients will find the life-saving match they so desperately need.  

I am just a regular woman who goes to work in an office every day.  I am not in the military, a doctor, or a firefighter but I could still save a life and that is huge in my book.  I’ve seen what a bone marrow transplant can do.  Over 10 years ago my younger sister had a close childhood friend that was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Not too long ago I stumbled upon her Facebook page which led me to her blog.  That sick little girl I saw in a hospital bed is now a beautiful young woman who has gone to college and has a real talent for photography.  The average time it takes for the bone marrow donor to resume normal activities is 1 to 7 days and in return she and her family have the chance to experience a lifetime of memories.  While the idea of donating scares me, if I can make that possible for someone else and give them that second chance I will.

You can get more information at BeTheMatch.org.


7.11.2011

1 Year Wedding Anniversary

Husband and wife

Enjoying the festivities



July 10th, 2010 was one of the happiest days of my life. We booked the date about seven months out and from that moment on everything leading up to and including our wedding day was a whirlwind of fun, excitement and adventure.  We'd fallen in love and eight months after meeting we had to spend eleven months apart while he was out of the country.  He came back and we immediately threw ourselves into house hunting and wedding planning.   Sure, there were stressful times and I had more then a few mini nervous breakdowns along the way but it was all worth it and I loved having this big special day to look forward to.  The only thing I loved more then the planning process was the day itself.  Our reward for all that we had gone through was this magical fun day where we had a blast and got to celebrate our love with family and friends.  Yes, it just so happens to have cost more then any one day ever will but you can't really put a price tag on the joy we got out of it.  I felt more beautiful then I've ever felt in my life.  I was the star of my own fairytale.  I was a princess being escorted to the ball that would forever change my life by my handsome prince all the while surrounded by people who love us.  There will never ever be another day like that one special day.  The groom forgot his tux, there were a few uninvited guests, our cake was the wrong color and it went by way too fast but I will always remember it as a perfect day that I enjoyed from the moment I woke up until I went to bed that night.  I danced, I ate and drank, I mingled and totally lost myself in the wonder of the day.  I feel so lucky and fortunate that I got to experience that.

It's no surprise that I felt a tremendous sense of loss when it was over.  I gained a handsome wonderful man that I could now call my husband but I lost the whole wedding planning spectacle I had so enjoyed.  We were properly installed in our house and my wedding was now behind me so I didn't know what to do with myself.  I relived that day over and over in blog recap after blog recap, photo sharing, conversations and in my mind.  I just wanted to do it all over again!  Funny as it sounds I really mourned the passing of my wedding day.  I became envious of brides who were still in the planning phase and it actually took a good few months...or four but I finally got over it and moved on.  I've since settled happily into married life, look fondly back at our gorgeous wedding pictures and still well up with happy tears when I hear our recessional song.  It was truly a day that I will never, ever, EVER forget and will live on for all eternity as one of the best and happiest days of my life.
There was plenty of kissing that night!!

Sheer Joy
We had a nice fancy dinner out Saturday night where I got buzzed on wine and we both left with very full satisfied stomachs.  Sunday, on the afternoon of our 1 year wedding anniversary he took off for Australia.  I couldn't take my eyes off of him.  He showered, did his last minute packing and ate all the while my eyes followed him wherever he went.  I'm often guilty of staring at him like some deranged stalker but it's just 'cause I think he's the cutest thing ever and I'm his wife.  It's my right!  He's come and gone many times already this year but this is the 3rd (and last) long trip.  The first time I said, "OK see ya later" but this time around I cried.  I probably won't even be able to talk to him while he's gone.  It's just not the same when he's not here.  Time apart has only strengthened us in the past and reunions are the best so there is always that to look forward to.  In the meantime, I'll just get on with my day to day routine, get out and do something fun with friends to pass the time.  Then when he gets back we can continue on our merry way to celebrating our next anniversary.


7.08.2011

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding


A bride with her bridesmaids on her wedding day
[Photo Source:  TLC]
I've been watching My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding on TLC.  At first I wasn't interested in watching it at all because I'm kind over wedding reality shows but this one is different.  I caught one episode and I was intrigued.  The show is about the traditions and lifestyle of Roma Gypsies and Irish Travellers in the UK.  It's not just about the wedding day it's about a lifestyle very different then anything I've ever seen.  Weddings are a huge part of that lifestyle so it actually makes sense that a show about this community would center around that.  Little girls dream about their wedding day practically from birth.  That's not totally unusual to me but the type of wedding that they dream about and the implications of that wedding on their life is.

The lifestyle
  • They marry young.  Usually around 16 and by the time you are 19 you are considered an old bride. 
  • Travellers usually only marry Travellers and then once they get married they move from their parents house into a tiny caravan together in a communal living land site.  They usually prefer caravans to houses and ideally, one without a toilet because it's considered disgusting to use a toilet inside a caravan.  They use sheds outside instead.
  • A lot of them do travel around but some of them stay put in their caravans especially if there are younger children going to school.
  • The men go to work and the women stay home.  Men typically do odd job and manual labor type work.  In fact, women usually drop out of school by the age of 16 to help take care of younger siblings and help mom with household duties.  They aren't planning to have a career so why bother?  Their responsibility in life is to tend to their husband, the home and to have children.
  • Women aren't allowed to go anywhere without their husband once they are married and before that not without siblings or someone else to accompany them.  Boys can pretty much come and go whenever they choose and never have any responsibilities around the house.
  • Brides absolutely DO NOT live with their fiance or have sex with their fiance for that matter prior to being married. 
  • Young girls wear tons of make up.  They run around in tight, bright, sparkly, revealing clothing at parties and weddings with the intention of attracting a husband.  Their going out attire looks like stripper costumes.  This seems to be in great contrast to their devout catholic religion and strict upbringing. 
  • It's a male dominated culture.  Women basically belong to their parents until they get married and then they belong to their husband.
  • This community is often discriminated against and marginalized because of their lifestyle.
A Traveller bride with her massive cake at her wedding
[Photo Source:  TLC]
The Wedding
  • Their weddings are really over the top.  The decor often includes things like balloons, butterfly's, hearts, and all kinds of other whimsical fairy tale sparkly things.  And lots of it.
  • There are no invitations.  The news of a wedding is spread by word of mouth.  Anyone who wants to come shows up and weddings are often used as a place young men to look for a wife.
  • The wedding location and even the date is a closely guarded secret.  Sometimes even the cake and dress vendor will not know the location up to the very last minute.  Guests find out about the wedding location at the ceremony which is always held in a catholic church.  Gypsies have a rowdy reputation so they have to keep their Gypsy identity secret .  It's typical for brides to be cancelled upon or refused multiple times by venues before securing a location and date.
  • The bride's mode of transportation on the wedding day ranges anywhere from a horse drawn carriage a la Cinderella to a hot pink hummer. 
  • The dresses are BIG and considered the most important part of the wedding.  As they walk they have to kick the skirt ahead of them in order not to trip and they barely fit inside doorways and into cars. The bride usually designs her own dress then has it custom made.  No store sells the type of dress that these girls want.  They can weigh twice the bride and are so heavy that they often end up with scars on their hips from wearing them all day.  Think Cinderella on steroids and that is your gypsy bride wedding dress.  Their accessories often include elbow length gloves, massive tiaras, large quantities of make up and heavy spray tans.
  • The bridesmaids dresses are almost as big and twice as bright.  The bride is responsible for getting them custom made along with her own dress.  Color combination such as hot pink and neon yellow are not uncommon.  The bride's little sisters are dressed as the "mini bride" and wears and exact replica of the bride's dress.
  • The only thing bigger then the dresses is the cake.  There will often be one very large cake and then a bunch of other surrounding smaller cakes.  They are usually done up in fairly tale themes in the shape of a castle or carriage and adorned by barbie dolls.
  • Cost is never discussed by the gypsies or their vendors but I can only imagine.
I could not live that kind of a life dedicated to finding a man, getting married and then keeping house as a second class citizen.  Sounds awfully limiting and sad.  Aside from that those caravans are tiny!  It's like camping out 24/7.  As for the weddings I'm wondering things like how can they give numbers to the hotel if there are no invitations and RSVP's?  How on earth can they afford such elaborate weddings and what happens if you can't?  On the show they say you haven't really been to a wedding until you've been to a Traveller wedding and I believe it.

7.05.2011

Fun Fourth

The fair is a big deal for me.  It's a tradition in our family.  One I really enjoyed sharing with Mj when we went together for the first time 3 years ago.  I've been going every year for as long as I can remember and don't ever miss it.  Ever.  We were going to go on Sunday but due to budget cuts I decided that we should skip the fair this year.  He insisted we could still go (at least one of us isn't in the poor house) but I'm stubborn and broke so I said no.  Having a rental property is ruining my life!  By the time Mj got back from biking that morning I was laying in bed feeling sorry for myself.  If I couldn't go to the fair then all I wanted to do is lay in bed all day.  And that's that.  Mj had to work a little bit harder then usual to pep me up but he got the job done.  No one can cheer me up like he can.  He's only home for a week before he jets off to Brisbane, Australia (yes, I'm very jealous).  There is no point in wasting our precious time together being a Debbie Downer when we could be having fun instead so I got up and got it together and we went to see Transformers, Dark of the Moon in 3D and IMAX.  We bought our snacks at the gas station, used our free popcorn coupon once we got there and settled down in a very crowded theater to enjoy the movie.  The storyline was confusing at times but really good...and long.  The glasses are totally unflattering and felt funny sitting on my nose but 3D is super cool.  The images are so clear and really in your face.  It makes movie going a whole new experience seeing  everything come to life life so realistically.  I could definitely get used to that.

My sexy grill master doing his thing
Our spread

Me & my mini burger.
Minutes after this was taken it actually started sprinkling a little
For the 4th we did our own little BBQ at home.  Just the two of us.   I don't think we've ever done that before.  After watching a movie we Mj made sliders, roasted potatoes, and baked beans.  We ate it outside along with some wine.  Then we lounged around some more before going over to his co workers house for dessert, drinks and fireworks.  About 10 seconds after I shut my door we realized that Mj had dropped his keys...inside the car.  After the tow truck came to get them out, I continued chugging the best Moscato I've ever had in my life, ate a bunch of brownies and enjoyed a pretty good view of the fireworks from their house.  We didn't leave until about 10:15pm and that probably explains why I'm sitting here at work barely able to keep my eyes open.  Ugg...how will I ever make it to the gym?  I had a great long weekend but it was way too short as always.  It's so wonderful to have Mj home again.  My problems just don't feel as big when he's around and that's just ONE of the many reasons I love him so much. 

In case anybody is wondering, that bug I trapped under a cup because I was too chicken to kill it while Mj was gone was still alive and well a week later.  Mj lifted the cup and scooped the bug up with a tissue while I ran for the closet because I already knew he was going go try to freak me out by coming after me with it.  The icky bug is gone!  Mj really is my hero in more ways then one.

7.01.2011

Weight of the World

When I was a kid my best friend and I were gymnasts.  Her mom was a stay at home mom to three and most of the other parents had to work so she always ended up being the carpool go to person.  She picked us up, and dropped us off at daily practice and hosted many a slumber parties and camping trips.  We seemed to spend a lot of time in the car.  I'm not sure why I remember the things that I do but I still have this image of her driving with one hand on the wheel and the other hand holding up her head while her arm rested on the door with her elbow just slightly sticking out of the window.   She sighed a lot and often looked sad and tired.  Just looking at her like that you got the sense that the weight of the world was on her shoulders.  I remember clearly thinking to myself with the innocence of a child that I would never be that way.  As a kid sitting in the back seat chatting with my gym buddies I had no comprehension of the menagerie of worries she could possibly be struggling with and simply could not understand what could make someone appear so beaten down.  How could I?  Childhood is such a wonderful little bubble of joy.  I was young, full of energy and had no responsibilities beyond household chores and going to school.  My biggest worry was if I would get my back handspring on beam or if my dad would let me go to Disneyland with the other girls. 

As an official adult for the last sixteen years I know better now.  I can think of a million things that could have caused the sadness in her eyes and the weariness in her face.  I often times find myself assuming that same pose with my head in my hand on my way home from a long day of work.  A worried head racing with thoughts of this or that.  Funny how that is.  I know now what I couldn't begin to know back then.  As we grow older our world broadens and along with that comes a million other things that make us grow up and make us grown ups.  Some things we like, and some we don't but we don't get to pick and choose.   I remember the excitement of going off to college, the thrill of ordering my first drink in a bar and the pride of moving out into my first apartment on my own after college.  I remember how excited and responsible I felt when I got my first "big girl" job with salary and benefits.  Along with each step comes things that need resolving, bills that need to be paid and obligations that need to be tended to.  It goes on and on with each new milestone.

Life can be as hard as it is rewarding.  I know that I've not seen the worst it has to offer and can't complain too much but there are days when I just can't see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and my inner demons threaten to knock me down.  Moments where I feel tired and worn out by the day to day struggle of making it and figuring out where I fit in.  Times that I wonder where I went wrong and what, oh what can I do to fix it now. 

So what do we do?  We keep going because as grown ups that's what we are supposed to do.  We hold on tight to the good things and do our best to fend off the bad.  We gather strength and joy from the ones we love.  We keep working, growing, and learning.  We bask in delight wherever it finds us, because surely and thankfully it will.  We do this because life can be hard but it is still good.