I Carry Your Heart With Me

I suppose that I developed some peculiar habits after my father’s recent passing. Like not being able to leave the house without one of his possessions.

A familiar ring on a chain around my neck. A tie clip secured to a small notepad. An extra mass card tucked into my wallet.

Just as I promised myself that I would shortly wean of this newfound urgency, life surreptitiously presented a solution (as it often does).  A gifted locket from Monica Rich Kosann arrived in the mail with incredibly uncanny timing. I’m still wrapping my head around the synchronicities of that day.

beautiful-designer-locket

The whole family took interested in my new keepsake, with input on how best to carry my father’s memory.

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A favorite quote from a poem read at my wedding took on new meaning, and a spot close to my heart, on the locket’s left side.  While an image of my dad, just as he always was, in a sharp suit, Borsalino fedora, and one of his many cameras around his neck, filled the other.

beautiful-quote-after-loss-of-a-loved-one-E.E. Cummings

i carry you heart with me (i carry it in my heart) – E.E. Cummings

I think with hope about the day that I may want to swap out the locket’s images to that of my children (and even grandchildren).  Unlike some of the pieces that I regularly wear, this timeless locket is one that I can see myself wearing many decades later.  I’m grateful to carry my father so close to my heart – and I know that someday when I give this locket to my daughter, it will bear the significance of familial memories and a legacy wrapped in hope and love.

Special thank you to Monica Rich Kosann Jewelry.  Shop her collection this Mother’s Day online, at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and other Fine Jewelers.

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On Combating Stress

I’ve had more than my share of the sort of moments of clarity that tell me to get a better grip of life’s stressors. I know what it’s like to suppress stress, or vent it inappropriately.  And I’ve learned that how I choose to deal with stress is crucial to my wellbeing and that of my loved ones – as it bleeds into other areas of my life.

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The funny thing about stress is that it may drive us batty, but it isn’t always a bad thing.  And if we can find ways to turn stress into fuel – then we are all the better for it.

each day brings a new beginning New York sunrise sunset

In addition to working out, eating well, getting sufficient sleep and practicing daily gratitude, I’ve found help in essential oils and other natural/homeopathic products.  RESCUE Remedy was first introduced to me about 15 years ago when I was living in Hawaii.  I tried it. It worked!  And since that time, little bottles of RESCUE Remedy Natural Stress Relief Spray can be found in corners of my home.  I’ve also tucked RESCUE Remedy Pastilles into care packages for friends facing hard times.  Want to test it out?  Grab your RESCUE Remedy coupon here.

natural ways to reduce stress Rescue Remedy

I’ll forever be a work in progress and am fully aware of the importance of proper self-care.  When I’m equipped to handle stress well, I’m able to see the incredible memories built past the sink full of dirty dishes.  Amidst the blurry heaps of toys, I hope to always find beauty in the evidence of a vibrant family life with kids.

tips on managing stress

When I manage my stress well, I’m able to view that overflowing inbox as freshly brimming with opportunities, and as a true testament to my own hard work and perseverance.  When I greet every single morning with gratitude, I’m able to appreciate the abundance of goodness that I have and model that perspective for my children.

And on days when I’m frazzled and less-forgiving of myself – I have simple steps in place to help bring me back.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. Please feel free to share how your combat stress in the comments below!

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Motherhood and Migraines {Target Giveaway}

This post is sponsored by Target.

The birth of my first child, six-years ago, opened up a new-found sense of immense overwhelming love – a love that mere words will forever fail to accurately describe.  A love for little ones who continually prove to be passion and purpose personified.

Motherhood also brought something unexpected: severely debilitating and life disrupting migraines.  Migraines that force me to retreat into a dark bedroom for days, with severe nausea and extreme sensitivity to the slightest noise, scent, light or movement.  It’s not something that I’m thrilled to broadcast – but is a condition that has colored my world and affected my family for the past six years.  It is also something that has given me profound appreciation and gratitude for my numerous healthy days.

I was reluctant to take prescription drugs for the first few years.  I nursed both babies well into toddler-hood, and I suppose I believed that my migraines would begin to disappear or would resolve with natural remedies.  I’ll never forget the first time I tried prescription migraine medication.  It was the morning of my daughter’s Pre-K Christmas performance – an event that I would be devastated to miss.  Upon taking the medication, I actually felt the migraine melt away.  Although I wasn’t myself, I was able to be present at that incredibly important preschool milestone.

I’m happy to share that my migraine frequency has decreased considerably during the colder months for the past two years.  A victory that I’m incredibly grateful for! When needed, and if taken at the correct time, specific medicine (albeit not so great side effects) has proven to be my saving grace.

When I was invited to work with Target Pharmacy, I realized that filling a prescription outside a local drug store never even occurred to me.  My kiddos strongly dislike waiting in line at our small, congested drug store pharmacy.

However they LOVE going to Target.

target 1Target geeky glasses obtained at this fun Target event!

We make our way to Target about once a month, to stock up on household essentials and other supplies.  It’s an outing that the whole family enjoys.

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Stopping at the pharmacy isn’t so bad when the promise of scoping out the latest toys awaits.  And it’s incredibly convenient to receive a pharmacy text-message notifying me that my prescription has filled.

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Switching to Target pharmacy has actually streamlined our routine and made our monthly trip an efficient one-stop stock up.  I can’t wait to enjoy 5% of an entire day of Target shopping after my fifth prescription fills.

I’m continuing to celebrate the numerous healthy days with these two love-sponges!

target pharmacy

Win It:  I’ve teamed up with Target to giveaway a $50 Target Giftcard to one lucky winner.  To enter visit the rafflecopter below. US only and all entries are verified.  Best of luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by Target.  As always, all opinions are my own.

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Living With Autoimmunity – #Lifescript {Sponsored}

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This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of Lifescript.com.
Shortly after moving into my first Manhattan apartment, I was stopped on the street by a reporter, inquiring about my favorite body part, for a story about female body image.   Without hesitation, I said, “My hands,  because in them, I see my mother“.  I found comfort in seeing a piece of my mother in myself, despite the fact that her hands cause her considerable pain as a suffer of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Although I was previously diagnosed with two other autoimmune disorders, and genetically predisposed, I never imagined that I would receive the same diagnosis in my thirties.

 

Lifescript.com, (a health resource for women) was recently introduced to me during a time when I was searching for supporting Holistic Research to help control and slow the progression of my Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I’m doing well and consider myself to be healthy.  I also often remind myself that my situation could always be much worse.  Always.  But as I’ve had a bit of consistent pain in a few fingers, I’m well aware of the fact that I need to get serious about an anti-inflammatory diet as I believe in the connections between food, environment, and chronic systemic inflammation.

To be honest, there are times when I’ve wondered what I did to make my body create antibodies that attack my own healthy cells.  But in some strange ways, living with autoimmune disorders, including RA, has empowered me to be more conscious of my choices on a daily basis.  I regularly get acupuncture, take supplements and tend to my health in other ways.  I have to be mindful of my sleep, create time for exercise and connect with supportive friends.  Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet is my next step.  And perhaps now I’ve created a way to hold myself accountable.    

I’ve found the below articles relating to Rheumatoid Arthritis to be helpfulAnd please feel free to pass on any information in the comment section if you are so inclined:

A Chef’s Solution For Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips
Top Lifestyle Tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lifescript’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Health Center features tips, quizzes, recipes and articles – all by professional health writers, experts and physicians – covering common RA symptoms, foods that compose an anti-inflammatory diet, new RA therapies and more. Please visit www.lifescript.com for useful information on Rheumatoid Arthritis and other prevalent medical conditions related to women’s health.  Also visit the Lifescript Health Center on Rheumatoid Arthritis for more information.  And to check out this free website, click here!

This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of Lifescript.com.  

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The Vault

It is incredible what our children retain.  Their capacity for reiterating stories back to us at the most unexpected times is extraordinary.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that my children are literally tiny vaults of encapsulated memories, constantly conjuring up elements from days past.

“We’re going to SESAME PLACE!!!!” Adrian screams every time we drive through a certain spot on the BQE.  “Remember when you made me wings, bought me a cookie, blew bubbles in the park, talked to the old lady with the doggie, and read me the story about the glittery mermaids?!”.  How can she possible recall the sequential order of a day that took place years ago? A day that felt rather random to me, yet clearly significant to her.  

I have a handfuls of memories I vividly remember from when I was Lucia’s exact age.  Like when I’d image in Kindergarten that my cubbie had the pretty rainbow painted on it and not the caged Lion that was assigned to me.  I remember that my friend A frequently peed in her pants and didn’t understand why F‘s tush was always peeking out of the top of his jeans.  I remember visiting my mother’s family in Colombia for the first time and begging my Tias to take me to see the movie Annie in English.  But mostly, I think of my mother and her ability to guide me and my brother with steadfast grace and compassion.  Traits I hope to emulate in my own motherhood.

School vacations always have a way of making me reevaluate my role as mama. Free of schedules, our days are fluid, filled with outdoor play, messy crafting and family-time.  I’m reminded of how Lucia and Adrian simply need to be kids and small gestures can make their days feel magical. 

My husband and I are a solid team, but recently, life’s challenges have been getting the best of us.  It feels impossible to practice “calm begets calm” when I honestly just want to scream, and the big girl still doesn’t have her shoes on after asking several times.   It’s been hard for my husband not to be short and stern when external stressors are no longer few and far between.

Then I observe my Lucia mimicking my frustration, and I watch them both be little bosses to one another.  Soon they retreat back to their biggest influence, seeking comfort found in mama’s arms. 

Sometime we need to step back and reassess the roots.  We need to reflect on our collective intentions and the foundation upon which we built our little family. Our future actions will continue to bear flaws, but accountability, and perseverance to amend can be part of our legacy.

We somehow always return to spontaneity and fun, and Marino-style family dance parties.  And we do our best to reflect what we want them to emulate, with remembrance that each new day carries memories in the making.

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The Migraine

I write from my heart.  I share glimpses of our lives that I want to encapsulate.  Memories that I hope to recall through photos and words when my mind fails in the accuracy of precious details.  I imagine that some may perceive my perspective as comparable to my heart birthing a procession of baby unicorns, releasing magical balloons, rainbows and buckets of glitter onto the earth – as baby cherubs join in song.

The thing is, in every single day, there are moments of  stark beauty and  joy.  Those visions are what I am compelled to write about. Each blessing worthy of documenting moment by moment.  I attend my daily mistakes, olympic level bambino meltdowns and struggles of motherhood in other ways.  I consult a steadfast friend and move on.  I don’t usually care to spend my time penning them here. The joys I see are what get me through the days, and are just as much a component of my journey as are the heaver aspects of life and mothering.  But those blissful, star-filled, simple moments- well those are what I choose to hang on to. I am finally comfortable enough to say, that is just who I am.

Recently, something has been stopping me in my tracks. 

I am a migraine sufferer.  In between the stories I share I am frequently bedridden for two days, violently vomiting and struggling to put myself back together piece by piece.  My migraines (first triggered in pregnancy) are not something that I can just plow through as they leave me completely incapacitated, and lately I have been struggling with managing them more than ever.  Every month I look at the calendar afraid of what I am going to miss; fearful of the business that I will mess up for my husband and the burden of him having to do it all; terrified of not being there for my children.  The avenues that used to help wax and wane now.  The drugs aren’t always effective, and my monthly IV magnesium infusions don’t seem to offer what they once did.

Thankfully, I was present for Lucia’s first day of Kindergarten. I did miss her second, her first full day of school.  Her first day of lining up in the school yard with all the other grades in the morning.  Her visible disappointment masked in bravery for her mama was heartbreaking to witness as a mother. It was hard not to succumb to feeling of ” I let her down”, when I was still ill the following day and couldn’t attend her friends rainbow birthday party as promised. 

I am not sharing this struggle to cue the violins or inspire a collective pity party.  I am fortunate and lessons gleaned from my struggles are worthy of documenting and remembering.

Upon recovering from a migraine and its hangover,  I always experience a profound level of gratitude- rooted in the very core of my being, vibrating through ever inch of my soul.  A depth of gratitude that moves me to tears as I walk down the street, push a stroller, or simply am present with my family because I am well enough to do so.  I always tell my daughter, “mama will get better” and the thing is, I do.   I am cognizant of the fact that for some, however, that is not the case.  I always have the opportunity to get better, and I have learned to be so thankful for that.  The heavy roads that many families must endure, continually make me think: it was just a migraine.  

I am digging deep to experience that true sense of gratitude without being first knocked down.  I want to live each day in absolute appreciation for all that I have.  I don’t want these moments of extreme clarity to appear only after being debilitated.

My four year old daughter helped me to realize recently that our lives are an aggregate of trillions of moments.  I am not defined by worst days, my less than stellar parenting moments, nor my migraines.  My family is not only hanging onto my days missed and I choose to believe in the opportunity that each new day brings.  I am thankful for the total summation of the many moments that comprise our lives. The hardships that are counteracted by glimmering moments of living room dance performances, blanket forts, braiding hair, tucking love notes into lunch boxes, sewing projects, wild imaginations, baking cookies, family dance time, saying yes, messy art, singing in the car, fierce creativity, partnership in marriage, giggles, early morning family snuggles, wallowing in silly, taking chances, the I love you’s, and I’m sorry’s.   Ferocious love.

The whole enchilada. 

My daughter asked me questions about my sickness last week, but she spoke more of the magnificent rainbow party that she attended.

I am determined to fight as hard as I can to manage my migraines and live in the level of gratitude that they have given me.  I am also going to follow my babies perspective because they speak of the rainbows. 

They remember the rainbows- and I try my damnedest to capture them here. 

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