Beach Pet Peeves

My sanctuary is the beach. I find myself living through the frigid, wintry months begrudgingly and only lighten up when summer rears her head from the cold, darkness.

Everything is better at the beach. If I’m feeling down, the warmth of the sun beaming down on my face enveloping me with her sunshine brightens up my day both literally and figuratively. It’s a place I seek peace, solace and quiet….or one might think.

That all sounds very Hallmark-ish but it’s far from what I experience when my toes hit the sand. Stick with me for a few minutes and I’ll point out my biggest pet peeves at the beach. If you find yourself guilty of anything listed hereafter know you suck so bad!

  1. The close sitter – There are miles and miles of open space, not a soul in sight but you are going to plant your chair within arm’s reach of where I have tethered myself. MOVE SOMEWHERE ELSE.
  2. Table for one please – If you see me at the beach by myself, why oh why oh why, are you and your children sitting, kicking, playing or screaming anywhere near me. I am alone for a reason. I didn’t come to the beach to inherit a family.
  3. Please STFU – When you’re talking on your cell phone, guess what? I can hear you and so can everyone else! How cute that you think you are having a private conversation at the beach. Well newsflash, your voice carries on the beach and your conversation is now between you, the caller and everyone within two stones throw. Also, if you see me sitting alone, you and your best girlfriend who plan on talking the ENTIRE time shouldn’t be anywhere near me. I can hear every friggin word you say. SHUT UP and leave me alone!
  4. Keep the bread to yourself – Oh here’s a fan favorite. I’m lying peacefully on my blanket, earbuds blasting music in my head when suddenly it’s Alfred Hitchock’s The Bird’s movie in reality. I open my eyes to find seagulls swarming over my head and near my blanket because you thought it was a good idea not to waste your sandwich and/or chips and to put them to good use feeding the birds. Try this…DON’T FEED THE F’G BIRDS because they never, ever go away. We have now put a bullseye on our beach space.
  5. Run Faster – Mother Nature sometimes puts a little twist on our somewhat perfect beach day. She may grace us on scorching hot days with a welcomed breeze. Sure granules of sand may get in our eyes, blinding us. We may end up with sand in some unwanted areas but we accept our fate on days like this. What I can’t accept is someone’s umbrella hurling across the open sandlot with the umbrella owner barely moving. Suddenly beach goers are grabbing their children to safety and we are dodging umbrellas because you can’t move fast enough to grab it. Fine, I accept the fact that you lost control of your shade piece, however run faster and get your God damn umbrella. I’m all for helping someone out but I shouldn’t have to put my Flo Jo on just to grab your shit. You should be keeping pace with me.
  6. Parking for dummies – We’ve all done it. We drive up and down each aisle of the parking lot looking for a good spot. We find one, only to see a car has parked out of bounds of the white designated lines. Now you have fucked up a legitimate, coveted spot at the beach because (1) you’re too lazy to fix your half-assed parking job (2) you’re in a rush (3) you’re a douche.
  7. Head’s up – It’ s ok to walk past my blanket just don’t be a jerkoff. Here’s where the problem lies. You see me lying, perhaps even sleeping on my blanket. Yet, this doesn’t deter you or your offspring from walking, jogging or running within a few inches of my blanket kicking sand on me, my blanket and all my shit.
  8. Everyone out of the water – Rules are the rules. If you hear the whistle blow, get out of the water. Simple, no? Apparently not. Why must the lifeguard blow the whistle ten times for you to know to get out of the water? People are flocking to get out of the water. The lifeguard is frantically waving his arms to come in and there you are bobbing in the waters oblivious to all. Wake the f up!
  9. Diaper Patrol – The summer is hot. The beach is hot. When you change your baby’s poop diaper and you throw it in the metal mesh garbage can know that we ALL smell it on the down wind. OMG throw the dirty, poopy baby diapers in the bathroom. Whyyyyyy don’t people know to do this? Mind blown once again.

The list could go on and on for those that practice bad beach etiquette. The point is, why don’t some people know about this etiquette? I thought it was universal but I’m learning with each beach visit that it’s not. I mean I love kids. I love people. I love talking. But know that when you see a singleton at the beach, they are there by themselves for a reason. Try and be respectful of other’s and have a little self-awareness.

If you read this list and you’re guilty of even one transgression, STOP that shit! It’s not too late to be a friendly, silent, non-written rule follower. On behalf of all the leave me alone, I hate the world, I want silence beach goers…thank you.

Can You Handle the Truth?

Truth – the body of real things, events, and facts : actuality

Would you want the truth? At some point, we have all been posed with this question. Undoubtedly, each of us answers yes. Here’s the realty, no one wants the truth.

The truth can be harsh and hurtful. Truth exposes shortfalls. Truth warrants areas of improvement. Truth is enlightening. Truth is a time for self-reflection. Truth is hopeful. Truth can push us toward growth. Truth ultimately wins. While avoidable truth prevails and can’t be hidden. One can’t be mad at the truth because truth is fact. Truth can be uncomfortable.

Are you really willing to receive the truth? Can you handle the truth?

To me, the truth is factual just as defined in the dictionary. It’s not necessarily my perspective but rather actions that concrete the factuality of truth. Opinions and perspective are subjective. Facts are not.

When broaching this subject with friends, it was pointed out that truth needs a certain finesse and delivery. Interesting! Hmmm. Truth needs to be coddled?

Let’s insert an example here with a certain subject in mind, ME. A few years back at a Halloween party, I was approached by my son’s friend’s parent (got that?). They asked me if they had heard anything about their son or if I knew anything they should know. Well, they asked and I told them. I didn’t contemplate my delivery and told them I heard of a certain instance where their son had possession of pot and smoked. Whew Lordy, Lordy, Lordy. THAT did not go over well!

I was met with criticism of my own parenting and a severe tongue lashing. It’s ok though because I took it but did think WTF!? They just asked for the truth. I delivered their request. What’s the problem here?

The problem is they were unprepared for that answer. Why ask for the truth if you are going to use those darts as a boomerang at the person willing to tell you?  Did I need to coddle that truth? You have a great kid (who I do sincerely adore) but um, he’s a pothead. The truth is uncomfortable not only to the person you are delivering the news to but to the carrier as well. Don’t ever ask a question, if you don’t know or might not like the answer.

Since it’s a slow day at work and I have time, I’ll move on to example number two. A colleague of mine was in a leadership position and clearly was struggling. There was chatter behind the scenes and concerns. I put on my body armor and decided they should hear the truth. THAT did not go well either!

Should I have taken on that mantle? Was it my place to volunteer the truth unsolicited? I certainly would want to know the truth but is my assumption that they would want to know as well incorrect?

Here’s what forty-five years has taught me. No one really wants the truth. Highlighting the truth means the person is infallible and human….aren’t we all though? I’m sure you can list my short comings or failures on a toilet paper roll (that’s a lot, like 1000 sheets lol…self-deprecation needed to lighten the mood)

Consider this though the next time truth arrives on your doorstep. Why shoot the messenger? Ever consider how much courage it takes to actually stand up and speak the truth? Ever consider how incredibly uncomfortable it is to the person delivering the message? Why do we shun those willing to stand up and not talk shit behind your back yet kiss the faces of those that stab you in the back repetitively for the truths we know? That one person may actually be the only true friend you have.

Ask yourself, can you handle the truth?

Be the Ringleader of Your Life – my commencement speech to an elementary school 

It is an honor to have the opportunity to speak to our graduating class today as you complete an important step in your educational  journey that will continue your entire life. I thought about where one might learn life lessons outside of the classroom but can easily be applied to your journey in school, and the circus came to mind. 

When I think of the circus, I think of the lions in the cage, twinkling lights, the big top, the clowns and trapeze artists.

Beyond the wonderment of the sights and sounds, a lot of things happen under the big top. In many ways, the circus is a metaphor for life. We experience a range of emotions as we take in what’s before us. One minute we are laughing, and the next we are holding our breath in fear and anticipation. Let’s pull back the curtain and see what life lessons we can find amongst the stardust:

Be the Ringmaster of your life. It’s your life. The ringmaster controls the show at center stage. While you can’t control everything in your life, there are certainly times you have the power to direct it. You can choose to study for a test. You can choose the people you do or don’t want in your life.  And just as importantly, you can choose the type of person or friend you want to be. Choose wisely.

You’re on a tightrope. Keep your balance. Just as an acrobat walks across the tightrope and tries to balance successfully across it, you must find the balance in your life. Find a place for everything in your life, school work, friends and extracurricular activities. While school work will increase in the next phase of your journey, so will the chance to meet new people and join in more after school activities.

Toss your hat in the ring. Get involved. The circus is wonderful to watch, but even more fun to participate in. Don’t sit on the sidelines as a spectator. Challenge yourself to push your limits. Take the risk. Perhaps you want to try a sport you never tried before. Perhaps there is a club that interests you. Middle school is filled with resources. This is an ideal time to tap into these opportunities.

Like the trapeze artists, you’ll need a sturdy net. You will need back-up. No matter how much you try to be balanced, there will be times you make mistakes, slip and fall. This is part of life. You need to acquire a network of people who will help dust you off and put you on the right path. Your new team of teachers and guidance counselors will be there to prepare you and support you at MAMS during your time there. But the strongest net you will have will be your parents and family because they will catch you each and every time.

Like the clowns in the circus, it’s important to take a moment and laugh about things. Seriousness has its place, but it’s good to take the time to laugh with your friends and enjoy every experience that comes your way in middle school.

The lion tamer faces his fears each time he steps foot in the enclosed cage. So must you face your fears and take risks, knowing that you can learn to tame a lion, too When new challenges and unfamiliar circumstances are in front of you, don’t run but rather face your fears. Feel empowered to initiate a conversation with a teacher or a coach, or to ask a question. Be confident in who you are. It’s ok to speak up for yourself and even better, for those that won’t or can’t for themselves. Take all the lessons you learned at Camp Avenue and apply them in middle school. Be kind, be caring, be inclusive, and most importantly work up to your full potential.

Life is very much like the circus. It’s filled with the unexpected, the exciting and sometimes anticipation of the unknown. It’s a lot to take in but if you look closely beyond the glitter, you will see wisdom and magic that awaits you at every new milestone. You will continue to learn and grow throughout your educational journey. The spectators of your life, your family, friends and teachers, will celebrate with you each step of the way. After today, you will have your ticket, walk into the arena, head held high and embrace all the great things that away you in middle school.

On behalf of the North Merrick Board of Education we sadly and proudly say goodbye and on behalf of the central high school board of education we welcome you, congratulations to our class of 2015

Out With the Old, In With the New

It’s so cliché to reflect back on the passing year as there are only hours left of it. Having said that, it’s exactly what I’m going to do now. Pull up a chair, a glass of wine and lean in closer to listen to this year’s life lessons.

My mantra for this coming New Year is, out with the old and in with the new. New Year’s can be likened to the closet. There are clothes we keep for years even though they haven’t fit in just as long. We hang onto them because we once loved that exact piece of clothing. Or there are clothes that we hang onto because we bought and absolutely loved but they are ill fitting and we never wear. Then there are the garments we cling onto because they were an expensive purchase yet we really have no place out to wear them.

Much can be said of the relationships in our own lives.

We hang onto friends simply because we have known them for years despite having nothing in common with them. We hang onto them for nostalgia regardless of the fact that our mindsets are no longer parallel. Out with the old, in with the new.

We are all guilty of quickly engaging with a person over a commonality, perhaps it was a current event, or a mutual friend. As quickly as the friendship started, it has fizzled out. If you aren’t reminiscing about that one thread that binds you together, conversation is surface and labored. Out with the old, in with the new.

There comes a point in our lives when we are enamored by someone simply over their lifestyle, their clothes, their fame or their connections. Suddenly we feel we are part of the “it” crowd. While we might not be in their league, it becomes clear that the person who seems to have it all really isn’t in align with the person we are and we are no longer impressed. We keep them around as a way to hob knob. Out with the old, in with the new.

For those of us who invest in our friendships and work on them daily yet have little return on investment. Time reveals who our real friends are, who are willing to have our back and who will show the same loyalty we show them. Someone once told me, friends are easy to come by when things are going bad because it’s easy to share in misery. It’s a true friend, who can share in your accomplishments and your happiness without being tainted by jealousy. Out with the old, in with the new.

For the relationships which have plagued us with doubt, and chiseled away at our own self worth may they be replaced with ones of confidence, mutual respect and love. Out with the old, in with the new.

2014 has giving me clarity on what and who I need in my life. I have let go of anything and anyone who doesn’t support me or contribute to my happiness. Out with the old, in with the new. I am grateful for the lessons learned in 2014 and I’m excited at the prospect of what 2015 brings along with it. Perhaps you too should consider cleaning out your closet. Cheers and happy New Years!

I Want To Like Football, I Really Do

I want to like football. I really do. Each year, I set a goal to like football and each year it’s an epic fail.

I feel forced to like football because, well, that’s mostly what’s on TV from September to February. As I flip through the stations, football clogs the airways. So like a good American, I succumb and land myself on a football game, like today for insistence.

As I type, the Jet’s vs. Steelers game is on. Here’s a peek inside my mind. (I convince myself you’re interested). First thing I notice are the uniforms. My likeability of a team depends on how pretty their uniforms are. I’ve decided I’m partial to the Vikings and the Saints because of their colors, logos and uniforms. Seems like a reasonable way to pick a favorite team, for me at least. I also notice cute guys in uniform and I’m not mad about that. (My list isn’t necessarily in order lol).

Here’s where things fall apart for me. I’m watching and watching and watching. Guy gets the ball. He runs as hard and fast as he can into a crowd of big guys, (correction, not big guys but abnormally large, strong, Adonis men) that want to pummel him, jump on him, land on him, tackle him and hurt him. Me personally, I’d run and stop just a foot short of the gathered crowd, throwing my hands up in surrender to sacrifice myself avoiding my imminent doggie pile tackle. Each play is only seconds long, and then repeat. Complete snooze fest over here for me. My only moment of reprise is when a player scores a touchdown and does a little dance. Not even the biggest football hater can deny that’s fun to watch.

When my youngest boy started playing football last year, I thought things would surely change for me. After all, I was watching my son play and what’s better than that? Well, I tried. I did. I tried being interested. I watched play after play never peeling my eyes away from #95, my little guy.

While I watched his every play and endured almost two hours of watching a sport I clearly didn’t understand nor liked, I still couldn’t tell you one thing that happened in that time frame. What I can tell you is that it made me happy to watch him play despite not knowing fully what was going on. In the end though, who cares? I was there to watch my son play, have a good time and succeed. All which were accomplished.

So while my love of football may not fully evolve, I’ll still appreciate those that play the game, love the game and are committed to the game. I might have to admit that I’m the girl that will always be the fair weathered football fan who simply tunes in once a year during Super Bowl tethered to the TV to finally watch the much hyped about commercials and half time show. Maybe next year I’ll like football. Bring on baseball season.

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The “C” Word

Cancer. The scariest six letter word I know.

Each of us easily associates a person with this disease. Hearing this word conjures up an image in our head of a beloved family member or friend. Even if this disease hasn’t directly affected our own family, we know someone where it has devastated their entire family.

What happens when you’re on the receiving end of a doctor telling you, “I’m sorry. The biopsy came back and it’s Cancerous”?

God Forbid.

But what happens when this becomes your reality?

Four months had passed with what I thought was a cut on my nose. It bled often when I came out of the shower. Some days it looked better than others. It was noticeable because there was a strange indentation. The details are necessary so you can do a quick mental assessment while reading this to determine if this describes anything on your own body.

At the urging of my daughter and a friend, I finally visited the doctor. I had blown off going for so long because I thought it was nothing. Scratch that. Truth be told, I blew it off because deep down I knew it was something. I didn’t want to hear those words. I didn’t want it to be me.

Basal Cell Carcinoma. In laymen terms, Skin Cancer. Cancer lives inside my body.

When sharing this news, most people told me “oh, that’s not a big deal. Tons of people get that”.

While that should ease my mind, it doesn’t. Cancer exists where there was none before. 40% chance of it coming back.

I have Googled the shit out of this and have learned there is a 98% cure rate through Mohs surgery.

In light of this good news, I count my blessings. I suppose this is the “best” kind of cancer to get or so others have told me. To me, it’s a ridiculous statement. Cancer is the fucking devil! I don’t want any kind. I appreciate the fact that my Cancer (scary that I now have to call it my own) is probably one of the mildest versions while others have suffered incredibly from this body eating disease. I am grateful.

The surgeon will chisel away a portion of my beautiful Italian nose. (I’ve never loved my nose so much before or been so keenly aware of its existence). I’m told I will be stitched closed with at least fifty stitches and a skin graft.

Why oh fucking why, does this have to be on my face? Please indulge me and let me be vain for a brief moment. After all, I have Cancer. It’s a free pass to bitch (says me). I pride myself on three things: my face, my hair and my legs. Now I’m going to have a mangled Elephant Man face. OMG!!! I am a woman. Looks matter. May my legs and hair forever look good. Say it with me, “amen”. Meltdown over.

Lastly, I offer one piece of advice to those who have endured reading my killjoy blog thus far. When someone has Cancer of any kind, no matter how minimal you may perceive it to be, please don’t say “it’s not a big deal”. The most comforting words I can hear is “that sucks”. Empathy is like comfort food in this situation.

So in closing, I’d like to channel my girl, Gloria Gaynor, and tell you, I will survive. I’ll add this experience to my arsenal of stories and triumphs. Fuck Cancer!

  

Commencement Speech Delivered to Elementary School Graduates Today – Take a Chance

When I sat down at the computer to write this speech, I thought of the game Monopoly and the lessons tied to it. I bet everyone in this room has played this game at some point in their life.

At the start of the game, each player chooses a token to travel around the board. This game piece represents you throughout the game. Like Monopoly, each of you chooses how you want to be viewed. When you’re making new friends or you’re meeting a teacher for the first time, be sure that who you portray is a real representation of yourself. The lesson is everyone else is taken. Just be yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you come from Baltic Avenue that’s $40 or Broadway that’s $500. Someone will always have more than you or less than you. It’s about accepting who are you are and where you come from. When you can do that, others will accept the same. Don’t compare yourselves to others.

There are a few times in Monopoly that you can land on Chance. The good news is life is full of chances. It’s up to you to make the most of these opportunities. Try out for that sports team. Join a club. Believe you will ace that music solo. Know that many times things will go your way. And if occasionally they don’t, know there will be another chance right around the corner for your taking. Don’t ever give up.

Passing go always comes with a sigh of relief. You collect your $200 and it’s a fresh start. As you head into middle school, you carry with you all that you learned here at Camp/Fayette/Old Mill Road School. We have proudly taught you how to read and write along with character education. You will be challenged academically and school work will get more difficult. You got this! Do your best each and every day. If you find yourself having a bad day, maybe a bad test score or some concept you couldn’t grasp, don’t sweat it. Each day is a fresh start for you to do better and expand your learning capability.

Monopoly can’t be played alone. It must be played with others. As you enter middle school, you will continue many of your friendships from elementary school but be open to new friendships. Change your game up occasionally. New people will enter your life as you head into MAMS. Be open to it.

Sometimes as you make your way around the board, you can land in jail. This isn’t always a bad thing. Being taken out of the game, gives an opportunity for perspective. It’s good to take a step back once in a while to make sure you are heading down the right path and you are happy with your decisions. If you find that you’ve taken a wrong turn along the way, dust yourself off and put yourself back in the game and head in the right direction.

As players make their way around the board, they will land on your property. We are all playing the same game. We are all linked. So be kind in all of the decisions you make. If you see someone that is always alone, offer to be their friend. You could make a difference in that child’s life. If you see someone being bullied, speak up. Be kind in everything you do. We all want to play a fair game.

Cheaters ruin the game. If you find the people you are surrounded by are ruining your game, find better players. Choose your friends wisely and surround yourself with others that exemplify the traits you admire.

You never know what to expect each time you take out that board and begin the game. I’m sure some of you may feel excited about middle school or perhaps even a little scared. You won’t know how you really feel until you get there. Just as you have been guided and cared for at Camp/Fayette/Old Mill Road, you will be handled with the same caring hands at MAMS. Enjoy the experience that middle school brings to you.

Monopoly is a game and the point is to have fun. Make the most of your time at MAMS. Take advantage of everything that comes your way there. When you hear of a try out or audition that may interest you, Go for it. Don’t second guess yourself if you’re good enough or worse yet, that someone else may be better than you. Here’s the secret. You are good enough. Try, just try, and maybe you will succeed and If you don’t. You will do better next year. The point is making the most of your time there. This opportunity will come but once for you. Now is the time to make the memories that one day you will look back on fondly.

When the game is over, the only thing you have left are the relationships with the people you played with. You may continue some of your friendships that you made in elementary school. You may make new friends in middle school and even more in high school. As you continue your education, many of the same people that join in your celebration today will be there to celebrate with you as you continue your educational milestones. Each chapter of your educational journey is like opening that box and taking the monopoly board out for the first time again. Apply these lessons throughout your journey.