Tuesday, March 21, 2017 – A New Perspective via Wave Runner!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 – A New Perspective via Wave Runner!

Sometimes it takes a Barefoot Billy’s 2 hour Jet Ski Tour around Key West to force you to reconsider your perspectives.  When you intentionally choose to see something from a very different angle, you have to think about the perspectives you have been complacent with and the lessons you think about that may actually apply to a new situation. Here are a few examples:

First, the guide  who was with us said, “Hang tight, Don’t let up on the gas, It’s going to be rough, but then it will get better”. I tried to remember this as we flew and bounced around next to a cruise ship parked at Mallory Square, but all I could think of was, “HOLY CRAP!” I tried to keep my eyes off the black base of that massive ship only 15 feet away, but I felt like a firefly drawn to a light. I tried to keep my eyes straight ahead and my hand on the throttle, but I kept flinching with every bounce….. “hang tight, don’t let up on the gas, it’s going to be rough, but then it will get better”….there it was! That little voice in my head starting to drown out the words from my mouth; a lower-case “holy crap!”  Once we got through it, we killed the engines and he said, “GREAT JOB! You handled that part beautifully!” That 30 year old, who I had only met 30 minutes ago, made me feel proud.  The first lesson was not lost on me. I will have to remember that when life gets a little tough….”hang tight, don’t let up on the gas, it’s going to be rough, but it will get better!” Then, once the rough part is over, if no one else is there to say it, it is OK to say to yourself “Great job. You handled that part beautifully!

Second, sometimes we can start to think (or maybe it is just me??) that life revolves around us. We sometimes see our problems or challenges as bigger than they really are. They become our universe! However, when you are on a wave runner out in the ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, you are reminded how vast the ocean and universe really are. In fact we are tiny and our problems are even smaller than us! We are really in control many things in our life, but only a very tiny part of our world. You also realize that the ocean and all the creatures take care of themselves. They instinctively know what is right for them, where they should go and be, what their basic needs are, and how to keep themselves safe. We, or maybe it is just me again, don’t always trust our instincts when we are faced with challenges in the world. We were meant to be a small, but very important part of this vast universe! The second lesson is to trust that there is plan for each of us and each of us is an important piece of another’s plan. We are all connected.

Third, when I asked him “Is it possible that I could flip this thing?”, the guide’s answer was….”YES, if you go too slow and both of you lean over too far in the same direction. SO, go fast, stay above the waves, and balance each other out!” That sure is a lesson for life! If things get stagnant and you go too slow, and the individuals lean over too far as you go nowhere, I can imagine the collapse will be inevitable! We all need people who will balance us out and keep us going at a pace that will help up stay above the waves! It is important to find these people and take the ride in life with them.

The fourth lesson was one of calmness. When the view becomes breathtaking, step off the wave runner and step onto the sandbars to enjoy the sights! To get to the sandbars you may have to stay flexible, stay determined, and look forward to see where you are going. But, when you get there, stop the ride of life, enjoy the success and the views around you, and then take the time to re-assess your plan. Then get back on the ride and continue on.

Fifth, when we were riding through the Mangrove trees, I couldn’t help but think about the roots that stabilize the entire tree and yet still filter the waters to create the outcome of beautiful green/blue waters. It was so peaceful and calm going through the Mangrove trees…simply breath-taking. I could only hope that as a mother, I have created the same stabilizing roots for my family while still allowing each of my children to become the beautiful individuals they were meant to be! And as a mother, who laid the roots, my breath is often taken away when I see the talented adults they are becoming!

And finally, the sixth lesson here was one of going full circle. When we started the ski jet tour, I knew we would go in a circle and end up where we started. What I didn’t realize at first was that I would come back and hook up to the same buoy we left from, but I would be a little bit different. I returned to that sandy white beach with a new perspective; a clearer mind. Yes, a little saltier too! I was “seasoned” (and humbled) by this new experience!


Friday, March 17, 2017 – St. Patty’s Day Parade! YAY!

Friday, March 17, 2017 – St. Patty’s Day Parade! YAY!

Two years ago on St. Patty’s Day, I was parasailing with Vinnie in Key West. Last year, I was at work dreaming of being somewhere else…anywhere else!!

If you had told me last year on St. Patty’s Day that this St. Patty’s Day I would be retired from Darien, working in Bridgeport, walking in a parade with 100 8th graders, being cheered on by 200 4th through 7th graders, and carrying my grandson, I would have told you you were crazy! But there I was with a Shamrock sticker and an Irish sweater…in the parade on a school day!! Life is good!

I have never been in a St. Patty’s Day parade. Actually, I have only been to two St. Patty’s Day parades in my life! One was NYC in 1981. The other was in Stamford in 1990. In NYC, we watched a little and bar hopped a lot! In Stamford, we bar hopped a little and Vinnie had to wipe 9-month-old Stephanie’s baby-puke off the back of my brand new leather jacket!

This year was different; almost surreal. It was like playing hooky with the full support of everyone! My Superintendent was in the car in front of us waving to the crowd and feeling the love right along side of us all!

Coming around the corner, there was Stephanie, 27 years later, handing off her 10-month-old Baby Anthony to me. I took him in my arms for his first parade! Just he and I were sharing a FIRST in my year of living intentionally, alone in a crowd of hundreds! He didn’t know what the heck was going on….moving crowds, yelling people, strangers saying “HI Baby!”, bands playing, bagpipes whining, and the Kolbe HS Drill Team stomping their feet and singing right behind us. For Anthony, it was chaotic and bizarre. If only he had words to put to it! For me it was an amazing moment in time. A moment I would like to freeze and relive again and again. For me it was another snapshot in my life experiences that have woven together to create who I am, inside and out.  A special moment that is almost impossible to attach the right words to, even though I have so many words to choose from.

In that one hour span of my life, I felt honored to be a part of a very cool school community that is tucked inside the middle of Bridgeport and proud to be a grandma showing off “my baby”. But most importantly,  I felt very proud to be Irish!

P.S. It was my first St. Patty’s Day parade ever that I wasn’t cheering with a full pint of beer to all the Irish folks I have known and loved!  Truth be told, I did catch myself getting a bit emotional as I felt their presence with me as we walked through the streets of downtown Bridgeport!

Saturday, March 4 – Tuesday, March 7, 2017 – DRINK and LEAD!

Saturday, March 4 – Tuesday, March 7, 2017 – DRINK and LEAD!

Saturday, March 4th Vinnie and I were up at Lake Plymouth. I wanted to do something new….so I looked in the paper.  What do you know, there was a Maple Sugar Festival going on less than 3 miles away, however, it was about 12 degrees! Freezing!

Vinnie was a good sport and said “YES” so off we went.  NO ONE was there! It was freezing!

So we went and watched two beautiful black horses pull a cart with a couple of kids bundled up. And one man stood with a pot of boiling sap over a fire, then we found  a few people inside eating hot dogs and waiting for the fiddle band to start. Obviously we did not stay.
We picked up some vodka at a nearby liquor store and then stopped into the Terryville library to pick up a library card and an audiobook for me to listen to as I prepared for a ride on Sunday to Newport, RI for a conference.

Trying to figure out something new to do and after conferring with Siri, I learned of a brewery only 3.8 miles away! HELLO TO FIREFLY HOLLOW BREWING COMPANY!  Off we were to Bristol.  We turned left into a driveway that ran alongside a brick factory building. We passed the scrap metal piles and bumped our way over the potholes. Then there was the sign! FIREFLY HOLLOW! We found it!

We bought a flight of 5 samples…..#1,2,3,6,8. #1 and #2 were kind of nice…sort of like a Killian’s Red. Then I liked #3 – Moonrise Amber!! Vinnie liked #6 – Lizard Breath…and we both hated #8!. As we sipped our samplers, then drank our favorite pint, we booked our rides to and from the airport for our upcoming Key West trip in only two weeks! In that moment….life felt right and good!

On Sunday I put in the audiotape and drove North for 3 hours. I found my hotel room in Newport, Rhode Island for a conference for Catholic leaders from New England. I got here on Sunday and it was a lovely evening that ended way too late in the bar! So now it is Monday evening. I had a full day of listening to a wonderful speaker, Fr. Joe,  who talked all day about being open to MERCY…..and being open to the notion that it is in the stories we share with each other and with strangers that we find God….in little ways and in big ways. This definition and discussion of MERCY, also fit right in with my LIVING INTENTIONALLY and truly paying attention to life! At dinner, I got weepy as a local school choir sang Breath of Heaven……..It was beautiful!

So, in these past few days, I have done so many firsts….the Maple Syrup Festival Flop, a new library card, a new brewery with a delicious Moonrise Amber, and a conference to learn to be a Catholic leader! All these years I have been a leader who was Catholic! Will wonders ever cease?

I am amazed that I continue to learn about new beers I love and I learn how to lead as a Catholic.

For all these experiences I say “THANK GOD, Let Us Pray, and DRINK UP!”

Sunday, February 26, 2017 – “10,000 Meals in 2 Hours”

Sunday, February 26, 2017 – “10,000 Meals in 2 Hours”

This weekend I participated in the 14th 30 Hour Famine at St. Philip Church in Norwalk. It was the 4th year in a row that we all participated in the meal packing service project. This year, however, was the first time I had a grandson join us! Of course he did not pack a meal, he is way too young, AND it was the first time I thought about it from his perspective.

The STOP HUNGER NOW truck arrived and we unloaded it. Bruce directed the volunteers and in less than a half hour we had the gym set up and ready to accept 100 volunteers to pack 10, 000 meals. As we waited for the kids to arrive to start the process, my grandson was passed from one friend to another. I thought to myself, what a lucky little boy to be so loved by so many and likely never to face a day of true hunger in his life! He was born in this great country called America to a middle class family who has a grocery story less than a mile away from their front door. He was born to a family who has always had plenty of material items surrounding them and plenty of food on the table at every meal. We all have never known an “empty fridge”. We have all actually paid money in the past to learn how to eat LESS food!! Kind of bizarre, but nevertheless, a very fortunate and lucky place for this well loved baby boy to be born into!

On this side of the world, Baby Anthony would be able to slurp down the sweet potatoes or spit out the green beans. His parents will run back and forth to the store to get the perfect combinations of foods he likes and I, as Grandma,  will continue to ask, “Does he like the apple sauce or bananas better?”, “Does he want Cheerios or the snacks you brought?”, “Does he want milk or juice?” The choices we have at our fingertips, in our cabinets, and in the refrigerator are endless.

I thought about how many children, in a land-locked West African country called Bacino Faso, would only know food that comes in a plastic bag labeled with cooking directions printed on it and comes with an enclosed packet of nutrients. These packs of food will be cooked over an open fire and will feed a family of six in one sitting. This nutrient-enhanced rice and soy mixture will become the daily staple in their lives. On the other side of the world, in that country and in so many others, the choice is limited. Rice or no rice? Add the herbs and nutritional packets or not? Those are the choices that so many other mothers and grandmothers will have as they spoon feed their own 10 month old babies the rice that was packed by the 100 volunteers in Norwalk, CT on Feb. 26, 2017 at the 14th Annual 30 Hour Famine to raise money and awareness of world hunger.

I truly felt blessed when I looked at that baby, our baby, knowing he was born into so much love, luck, and food. And I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer for each of those other babies who will receive the work of our hands and hearts this day.