10. Romance and roller coasters…thrill or churro?

We’ve all heard Rascal Flatt’s cover of the Tom Cochrane song,  Life is a Highway.  The song compares life to a road that we travel along.  When we share this road with someone special, life’s burdens and detours become manageable, motivating us to travel this road for as long as possible…or at least “all night long.”


If life is a highway, then romance is a roller coaster.  Whether it’s our first ride or fiftieth, we approach the line, ticket in hand, with the same excitement, apprehension, and fear each time.  As the ride operator pulls down our harness and checks that we are safely locked in place, doubt and fear flood the mind.

“Why am I doing this?  What if my harness fails and I wind up plunging to my death on the first inverted loop?  Maybe I should just call to the attendant to set me free and go get a churro instead.”

But then the thumbs up signal is given, and the car takes off before you have a chance to chicken out and run to the safety of the churro stand. Most coasters begin with a long and terrifying climb up a traditional ‘lift hill.’ This hill creates the potential energy that then turns to the kinetic energy necessary for the flips, turns, and exhilarating speed the car will experience.

During that climb, you say one last prayer as you approach the top, willing your harness and every nut and bolt holding your car on the tracks, to remain in place.  The view from above is breathtaking.   And in that last moment, suspended at the top, your heart beating out of your chest, you surrender to it and prepare for the ride of your life.


Like any high thrill coaster, online dating is not for the faint of heart. Most online profiles speak of loving the outdoors, fitness, music, and the beach. They boldly declare their mission of finding their best friend, partner in crime, or one true soul-mate…even though many are just looking for a “good times” friend, partner in the “sheets,” or one night “bed” mate. While some are upfront about their intentions, others falsely advertise who they are and what they are seeking.


In my profile, I mention that I am a roller coaster enthusiast, sharing that I love the thrill of all the emotions one feels as the car leaves the safety of the loading area and then screaming my head off as I enjoy every dip, twist, and loop.

Soon after writing my profile, I made the connection between romance and roller coaster rides while speaking to someone I had met on online.  After a few days of messages back and forth through the site, we had exchanged cell phone numbers and began texting.  The texting soon led to a phone conversation, which then led to a date.


In a week of texting and speaking over the phone, I had learned quite a lot about this man…his divorce, child, job, likes, dislikes.  Our conversation was easy, playful, and full of laughter. We already shared some private jokes that made our connection seem comfortable and genuine.  Each message or call was like the climb up the lift hill, building on possibilities for something more.

There are no set rules for online dating.  Some say don’t waste your time texting and talking but rather meet and see if the sparks fly as soon as possible.  Others feel the opposite, that ample communication should take place before a meeting is arranged.  I found myself somewhere in the middle and after some texts and a phone conversation that went really well, was ready to see what happened when our car “reached the top of the lift hill.”

Before entering the restaurant the afternoon of our meeting, I found myself very nervous.  I had high hopes for a great in-person connection since we had already hit it off so well over the phone.  In the moment outside the door I felt that fight or flight response…walk through the door or make a run for the safety of my car.  I had to make a decision…what was it going to be?  Thrill or churro?

Luckily, I chose thrill.  I took a deep breath and walked right up to my date already waiting for me with a glass of wine at the bar.  We greeted each other with a warm hug and quick peck on the cheek or was it the lips? I was too nervous to take aim properly.

The rest of the date went as well as our messages and calls.  We had made it past the lift hill and were zooming along the track of real in-person dating.  While it’s still early, I am excited to see where it leads.  So for now, I’m just holding on tight, laughing and enjoying every dip, twist, and loop that may come my way.  More importantly, I am just really proud of myself for being brave enough to stick around for that thumbs up signal!

Peace and love ☺♥

7. On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love…

I recently took my daughter to see the Jones Beach Holiday Light Show, something I try to do with her each year. One night (sometimes more) each holiday season, we jump in the car and head down the Ocean Parkway headed for the beautiful display of lights along the shoreline.


After paying the rather hefty car entrance fee, everyone turns off their headlights and enjoys the illuminated images of polar bears playing hockey, Santa fishing, musical instruments, angels, and so much more.

Halfway through the show, there is a turn-off where one can park and visit Holiday Village.  Here, families can enjoy hot chocolate, make s’mores on open fire pits, take a picture with Santa, or just relax and listen to music in the massive heated tent. Everyone is smiling, full of excitement for the upcoming holiday.  While under that tent, all the stresses of the holidays seem to melt away under the giant portable heaters.

On the night we visited, I experienced something else truly wonderful in the Holiday Village.  Upon entering the tent, hot cocoa in hand, we were met with smiles from perfect strangers. People actually stopped and allowed others to pass, saying “excuse me” if they happened to bump into you, and some even shared wishes for a Merry Christmas.  The warmth of the heaters was equally matched by the warmth of the people within that magical tent.

While sitting on one of the many comfy couches, my daughter and I enjoyed the holiday music playing.  As each song came on, those sitting nearby sang along and soon, we were all caroling together.  The last song that played while we were there was The 12 Days of Christmas.


I’ve always loved to sing this song but this year the words hit me a little differently than in the past.  The area we were in was filled mainly with families of children along with both their mothers AND fathers. Now, I’ve been a single parent for around three years, longer if you take into consideration the years I was married and may as well have been single! During the past three years, I’ve had my hands full and the last thing on my mind was the need or desire to get back into the dating scene.

But 2017 was a big year for me.  I made many life changes and began focusing on my health and happiness, both of which I had lost sight of for quite some time. As the year went on, I started to feel a shift in my attitude toward dating and soon signed up (hesitantly, mind you) for one of those online dating sites.

Now, who doesn’t know at least one person who met their husband or wife on Match or eHarmony?!?!  One of my best friends had met her husband online, so along with her help and the help of other close friends, I signed up, created my profile, uploaded some pictures, and was off. But I soon found that this process was really NOT for me.

I know what you’re thinking…I have to be patient OR my favorite comment, “Sometimes you have to kiss many frogs before you find your prince.”  Well, what if I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to the depressing process of swiping through people’s faces?!?!  What if I don’t want to kiss any frogs, especially those that are strange frogs that could have ‘warts’ or some other scary disposition?!?!

Needless to say, I have not enjoyed my time in the online dating scene.  If there is something positive that has come out of it, I have realized that I would much rather meet someone, as a friend called it, in a more “organic” way. This way does not include online surveys, cyberspace winks, or awkward photos of shirtless men in bed with their rottweiler.

So, getting back to The 12 Days of Christmas…have you ever listened to the lyrics??  “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree…two turtle doves…three french hens…” and so on.  Even though the song was written in the 1700’s, it makes you wonder what kind of true love would give you such terrible gifts!

As I sat in that tent singing along, I wondered about my true love and the gifts he would give me…once I finally found him, of course. So, in the spirit of the holiday I decided to write my own version of the song to my future mystery man.

Here goes, starting from 12 and working my way down:

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love should give to me…

12 jokes for laughing,

11 spontaneous moments,

10 simple gestures,

9 bedroom breakfasts,

8 warm embraces,

7 passionate kisses,

6 words of encouragement,

5 hugs for my kid,

4 vows of honesty,

3 love letters,

2 hands to hold,

and a lifetime of loving me.


Whether you are surrounded by your true love or a tent full of caroling strangers, I wish you all a holiday season and upcoming new year filled with love, kindness, and peace.

Love and Peace ♥☺

5. Year without a Santa Claus…am I doing it wrong?


Okay, so who remembers the movie, Mr. Mom?  Classic 1980’s John Hughes’ comedy starring Michael Keaton and Teri Garr, where a father who loses his job, must switch roles with his wife and become a stay-at-home dad.  I know this movie is not a Christmas movie so you must be confused right now.

There are many great scenes in Mr. Mom but the one that has always made an impression on me is the scene where Keaton is learning the daily drop-off routine when taking the kids to school.  As he approaches the drop-off circle, his kids plea with him that he is “doing it wrong” which is confirmed soon after by several parents echoing the same sentiment…”Hi, Jack.  I’m Annette.  You’re doing it wrong.”

*Click the picture below for the video link for this scene!

mrmomThis phrase is one that haunts parents often as they deal with the challenging task of raising a child who will hopefully become an adult who is happy, kind, independent, responsible, empathetic, brave, loving, loyal, generous, and a whole slew of other important character traits. There’s no manual to follow and when it comes to your first (and for me, my only) child, you really are in uncharted territory.

As I just mentioned, my daughter is an only child.  The past five years have been especially rough on her as life has forced her to mature faster than most kids her age. In 2012, at the age of 8, she and I became co-caregivers for my sister who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the blood cancer, multiple myeloma.  The next two years were spent in and out of hospitals in Long Island, New York City, and eventually a last-resort hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I tried to keep life as normal as possible for my daughter during this time but anyone who has had any experience with cancer knows there is nothing “normal” about life with cancer.

During my sister’s illness and leading up to her death, I constantly second-guessed my decisions about what to expose my daughter to or hide from her. Death is a part of life and I knew this early exposure would not only frighten her but also make her stronger.  It had done the same for me when I lost my mother at age 15.

It was also during this time that my ex-husband and I were in the process of a divorce and soon she had to deal with him leaving the state and moving across the country.

Luckily, with the help of friends, family, support groups, and our love for each other, we survived these difficult years and are still standing today stronger than ever.  I’m proud of my decisions and though I do allow regret to creep in every once in awhile, I am at peace with the past and hopeful for the future.

So how does this all tie into Santa Claus, you might ask??? Well, as I said, my daughter has had to mature quite rapidly. Yet in many ways, she is tightly clutching onto the remaining aspects of childhood she has left.

Quickly approaching 13 and dealing with the changes that go along with that age, she still believes in Santa, the magical elves, and all the other mythical figures we share with our children.  Or at least she did, until this past summer.

As we prepared for another start of our school years, me as a 6th grade teacher and my daughter as a 7th grade student, we chatted about what she may need for school.

“I really need a laptop computer but don’t worry, I’m going to ask Santa to bring that for me for Christmas,” she told me with the sweetest, most innocent look on her face.


Now, to be clear and before I go any further, my daughter had posed many questions in the previous year about the logistics of Santa but never point-blank asked me if he was real or not.  She had even spoken in great length about how she could not understand why many of her classmates thought their parents were Santa.  This is mainly because the Santa gifts I had given her in the past were ones that I had told her I wasn’t really thrilled about (video systems, video games, and the over-priced fad of the year). Each time she would bring Santa up, I debated whether that was the moment to finally tell her.

Many have opinions about the right age and best way to break “the news.” I listened to the advice given by friends and “experts” on the internet that shared special letters and excursions to go on that would gently deliver the truth.  But because I knew the news would crush her, especially because Santa would lead to the truth about her elves, Smiley and Holly, I put off choosing a time and method…right up until that moment when she mentioned the laptop from Santa.  In that moment, it was as if my body became possessed with the Grinch or the Heat Miser, and I blurted out, “We have to talk.” She took one look at my face and she knew.

grinch               heatmeiser2

As the words spilled from my mouth, there was no eloquence, no sweet story about how Santa is in all of us and no one can ever take away the magic of Christmas…all of the things I had read I should do.  The more I talked, the more upset she became and soon we were both crying.  She then asked to be left alone and each of us retired to our bedrooms and had a good cry.  All I could think about was the scene from Mr. Mom and I kept telling myself, “You are doing it wrong.  You have done it ALL wrong!!”

When she emerged from her room, we hugged and I did the only thing I could think of to make the situation better…I took her down to Best Buy and bought her a shiny new laptop for school!  Since then there have been a few negative incidents…one involving her scrawling the word “lies” in the Target Christmas catalog.  But there have also been some positive effects too…the best one being that SHE now moves the elves around the house daily and has quite the creative flair for it!

img_2697                    img_2698

So what have I learned from this experience??? Well, I guess it’s that we all make mistakes and sometimes we “do it wrong.”  But sometimes, we have to just go with the moment and let our maternal (or paternal) instincts kick in.  Some moments require the special touch, the letter or eloquence of a poem to soften the blow.  While other moments call for that parental “ripping off of the band aid” when it’s just time to tell them that this is life.  In those moments, we prepare them for future losses and heartbreaks because life doesn’t always deliver news gently. And the most important thing we can do after we  dry their tears, is remind them of the many blessings they still have in their lives.

Peace 😊 and love ❤️