Have you ever shed a tear to a Judas Priest song?

I wake up in the morning; the beat is going off in my head.  I drive to work and think I hear the song on the radio, no; it’s still just in my head.  Cooking dinner, there it is again, only this time it’s real, being practiced over and over again. For two months there has been nonstop guitar practice – Living after Midnight.  His concert was coming; he needed to get every strum, every beat, and every rest perfect without even a millisecond of hesitation. He’s only twelve and he’s barely been playing for six months, of course he’s nervous.  I’m his mother, when he’s filled with worry, so am I.  His school work can wait, he hasn’t played in the yard in days, but still he practices.  Here comes the solo.  Ewwww, timing’s a little off.  Who am I to judge?  I couldn’t play a note if my life depended on it.  Try it again, one more time.  Whoa, I think he got it.  He stops cold, dead in his tracks.  The music continues on in the background without him.

“Did you hear that Mom?  I got it!”  He’s beaming from ear to ear, braces glimmering from the sunlight shining through the open window.  The presence of his prominent left dimple let me know that he was going to be okay.  It let me know that I had raised a confident, determined child.  He hadn’t given up; he had given it his all.  He felt that he was a success and that was all that mattered.

Do you think he knows that I will always be his biggest fan?  Does he realize that I will be cheering him on every step of the way, no matter what song he decides to play?

As he walked on stage, I could see a smirk.  He looked out in to the crowd of close to sixty people, never playing for a group so large.  For a split second he went expressionless then the most serious look I had ever seen came across his face.  He didn’t look like my frightened baby with the round cheeks and wide eyes; he looked like a young man who was ready to show the world his true talent.

The music began to play from the gigantic speakers behind him.  Booming, swallowing the room with every note.  Right on cue the gorgeous mahogany flame Jay Turser that he had wanted so desperately hit every note under my son’s command.  I sat breathless, listening to every strum as if I had never heard it played before.  He was phenomenal.  When I finally caught my breath, it was time for the solo.  Looking around the room, I could tell I was not the only person amazed by my son’s talent.  Other musicians were head bobbing, nodding in agreement.  Parents were nudging each other and nodding their approval.  My husband, with that same adorable dimple handed down to my son, was staring in disbelief.  When you ask people to tell you about their greatest accomplishments, they talk about earning advanced degrees, making lots of money, or perhaps completing some fitness feat but my greatest accomplishments are lived through my children.

As a tear streamed down my cheek, I giggled.  I can’t believe I just shed a tear over a Judas Priest song.


Written in 2007 for a Memoir Writing course.

The Quiet Really Isn’t Eerie

More times than I can count this week, I have walked into a silent house. More times than I can count this week, I’ve been alone in this house that I’m deciding is too big for two people.

There hasn’t been a single noise, a single tv blaring in the background, a single footstep bounding up the stairs. But guess what? For the first time, it didn’t make me sad. Instead, there was a sense of peace. Moments where I’ve looked around and reflected. Looked around and thought what next? Looked around and smiled.

Sometimes the quiet can be eerie but lately, it sounds like success. No chaos, no drama, just peace. The dots are connecting; my path is falling into place. Career-focus; relationship-focus; future fun.

Silent Lucidity

Our latest adventure took us about 300 miles west to a small venue that let us relive the late 80s/early 90s. A place that gave us the opportunity to be up close and personal with an old favorite – Queensryche.

Like most “Class of 80-something” teenagers, hairbands were a key to life. A staple in our daily music choices. Recently my husband and I began going to see these old favorites any time they come within driving, or sometimes, quick flight distance. We were lucky enough to see Queensryche open for the Scorpions a couple of years ago and it reminded both of us how much we had loved them. When we found out they were going to be in upstate New York, why wouldn’t we jump in the car and go? New York was as close as they were coming and we weren’t going to miss it.

As Silent Lucidity rang out – my all time favorite Queensryche song – I truly listened to the words and finally understood Silent Lucidity. An unspoken clarity.

Ripped right from the lyrics, “Visualize your dream. Record it in the present tense. Put it into a permanent form.” The life of an empty nester…the time in your life when the dream is being lived to the fullest. The time when you can clearly see where you are going and where you have been. There’s a sense of calm and peace – moments of lucidity that come more and more often.

Well worth the 600 mile road trip to acknowledge what we have come to understand – clarity for our future; a future beyond parenthood.


I want to create a buzz, a revelation, an a-ha moment that can change someone’s day; maybe even their life. It’s going to be called – “Put down your phone.”

Right now each and everyone one of us is holding a device, me included, focusing intently on what’s going on, who’s doing what, and what our extended network of “friends” are doing but – WHY? Why are their lives so much more interesting, fun, or important than what you could be doing?

I will never disown my device or stop scrolling my feed or checking my email from the road but, I am go to look up more without a device in my hand or within arm’s reach. I want to reconnect with those that I can touch and feel and not those that don’t even know I’ve been watching their lives unfold. I want to continue my journey of self discovery through my own adventures and interactions.

Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc have created a false sense of connectedness. Ask yourself this question – when you see someone post to social media and think “wow, that’s cool” or “hmmm, I’m a little worried about them” – if you saw them out in public, would you go out of your way to let them know? If you answered yes, then good for you. If not, it’s time to reconnect. Live your own experiences, care about what’s going on around you, and enjoy.

I hope your buzz, your new year’s “revelation” is all about disconnecting, unplugging, and having true social interactions. It’s going to be mine.

I’m Not From Around Here

Have you ever played I’m not from around here? My guess is you haven’t because I think I made it up. But now, it’s your turn to play!

Next time you’re up for an adventure or searching for something to do, pick any town or city close by, even your own, and pull out that phone that is probably already in your hand.

Search “best things to do in ________”.

Typically on the top of the search, Trip Advisor pops up. Of course, some of the things you already know will pop up if you are searching local but not all the time.

Search for whatever you’re into – show me the top five restaurants; show me the top ten historical sites; show me the best hiking trail. You get the picture…type in your want and presto – a new adventure, a new special spot, a hidden gem. We’ve been steered to some of the best places to hike or take a walk, to have lunch, or even just to explore.

Trust me, they’re all not gems but what do you have to lose? Life is about the adventure! Find it, run with it. You only go around once, make the most of this new found time. The life of the empty nester!

Do You Ever Sit Still?

When the kids are little you are either at home or en route. On the way to a friend’s house, a practice, an appointment, or a birthday party – nothing adult-related. As they are able to drive themselves, you stay home, not so patiently waiting, pacing the floors awaiting their safe return. Now that they’re grown, there’s no need to pace at home. You’ve done your job, you’ve done the best you could and now it’s time.

Time for what you ask? Time to explore, time to find and rediscover you. It’s not time to sit around the house and watch Pretty Woman or Sixteen Candles for the 100th time. How will you remember who you are by staring at those same four walls you’ve admired for 20 or so years?

So, to answer the question that I hear from my friends on a regular basis of “Do you ever sit still?”, the answer is, “No, I never sit still.” What’s the point of sitting around? I need to find me and she’s definitely not locked in this house.

The Real Journey Started in 1990

I loved him and I knew I was doing the right thing or at least that was what my naïve, twenty year old mind was telling me.  I made a rash decision to move eleven hundred miles away from home.  I withdrew from college with just three semesters left.  I quit a decent, full time job that could have been a career.  I deserted a loving family who were always caring and supportive.  I did all of these foolish things just two weeks before Christmas, Christmas the biggest family day of the year, with just a promise to come back and visit some time.  Was it the right thing?  Who knew, but I was sure as hell going to find out.

As my parents stood in the driveway wiping away tears, all I could think about was myself.  As I drove away, I ripped their hearts out, dragging them, slowly beating like the U-Haul I was towing.  Selfishly, I didn’t care who I hurt as I ran to him, it was all about me. Me, me, me and whatever I wanted to do.  Was I making a good decision?  Did I consider the feelings of my family who urged me not to go because I really didn’t know him?  No, I was a twenty year old college drop out who’s only future plans rode on the pipe dreams of a wanna-be whom I’d only been dating for three months.

They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, that couldn’t be any truer!  Had I known what I know now, would I have made a different decision?  Probably, but what happened in my life over the next two years was meant to be.  It was the most eye-opening time of my life.  Fate, destiny that is determined before you take your first breath, had carved out a scenic route for me.  On this part of my life’s journey, there were so many twists and turns that I thought I may have lost my way while spiraling out of control.  Today I am thankful that I landed face up in familiar territory.

My eleven hundred mile trek dropped me in South Carolina with him.  This part of my journey I like to refer to as “driving through the storm”.  This storm lowered my self-esteem and made me unsure of every move I made.  I worked two jobs to pay all of our bills and he claimed to have a job.  As far as I knew, with a job came a paycheck, this never happened.  His lack of a real job led to drinking and drinking to excess.  Drinking to excess led to hostility and anger.  Anger led to huge arguments and mean, nasty words.  Arguments led to him storming out of the apartment to the local bar.  And finally, more drinking led to cheating.  I won’t even dignify his presence in my life by writing or speaking his name but I do owe him one thing.  Thank you.  Thank you for opening my eyes to a world outside of Massachusetts.  Thank you for showing me what kind of relationship is never worth having.    But most importantly, thank you for leaving.  The mind games in which I had been the pawn finally stopped.

The next part of my journey is referred to as “the accident”.  He was a guy from the golf course, he was married, and he had kids.  I was drowning my low self esteem in Crown and water.  We hit it off right away.  He told me that he was married but he and his wife were treading on thin ice.  I wonder if she knew that but of course I believed him because I was a starry-eyed twenty-one year old.  He shared that he still lived at home but it was only because of the kids.  None of that seemed to matter to me.  I was on the rebound and needed someone to treat me like a girl was supposed to be treated.  What a twist in the road.  I was the one being cheated on last time around but this time I was the accomplice in the cheating.  What a terrible irony.  Unfortunately the only thing wrong with this relationship was that he was married.  Oh, did I mention he was seventeen years older than me?  Alright, so there were two things wrong with that picture.  Enough said.  The fun was short lived but well worth it.  I regained my self-esteem, grew a conscience and vowed to always be treated as I should in a good relationship.

I was having the time of my life, feeling good about myself, living on my own, working hard, attending classes at University of South Carolina and visiting my family whenever I could.  On a visit home during the spring of 1992, I caught back up with Mark.  Mark grew up a mile from me and I had known him since grade school.  He was “a friend of a friend” and when his eyes met mine while I was spending my last night in town out with a group of friends, I felt like he was the only one in the room.  His smile made me melt from the inside out.  The way he laughed with such innocence took my breath away.  Why did I have to run eleven hundred miles in the other direction only to find the love of my life living in my hometown?  Was it my destiny?  Was it for personal growth?  It was fate that took me on this scenic journey.  In the blink of eye my life had changed.  In less than one year from the day we re-connected, I married the man who had become my best friend.  This final part of my journey I like to call “reaching my destination”.

Sunday Funday

What’s Sunday Funday you ask? Sunday Funday is whatever you make it! Sunday Fundays for us all started when both the kids started working and would be gone all day long on Sunday.  With one working at a grocery store and one working at a restaurant, there was no chance Sundays would be family days. Sundays used to be a day of sauces simmering or roasts cooking but as the kids got older and older, there were less “sit down” dinners and more thinking about getting out and grabbing a bite to eat.

My husband is a pizza fanatic but, not just any kind of pizza…bar pizza.  The kind of pizza that has very little crust and the cheese and sauce reach all the way to the edges of the pan.  Our first Sunday Funday found us checking out the little bar on the way home from my mother-in-law’s house. Since our first delicious bite, what I came to find out was that the best pizza always was at the biggest dive bars. Don’t ask me why, I don’t have a clue. What I do know is that for at least 6 months, I tried every bar pizza within a 50 mile radius. It became our adventure…watching Phantom Gourmet, scouring the internet, asking friends – where should we go?

Whatever your Sunday Funday includes remember, it’s all about the adventure. Getting to know one another again. Chatting over a cheap beer and a slice of pizza. Just like the good old days, long before kids and long before an acquired taste for fancy dinners and speciality cocktails.

Living Your Dash

This time of year is perfect to reflect on where you’ve been, how you feel about the present, and what your future holds.

I must admit, I have been doing this a lot over the last 2 or 3 years – reflecting, evaluating, and re-aligning. When I’m deep in thought about my “what’s next”, I’m often reminded of the poem by Linda Ellis entitled The Dash.

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that they spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before. 

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash…would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent YOUR dash?

As we usher in the new year, make a point to be proud of your dash. If you’re not, it’s time to do something to change it.

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