The Original 26

The Original 26

Yes, we’ve all seen the meme posted on Facebook:  “Cousins are awesome.  Well, mine are.  I can’t speak for yours.”  I know I for one have posted, re-posted, and posted it again, because I really mean it!  I’ve also had to post, repost, and post again, because any time a new cousin joins social media, I feel like they also need to feel the love.  It also doesn’t help, that I have 26 first cousins.  Yes, you read that right: 26.  My maternal grandmother is still alive and mostly healthy and has not only grandchildren, but great-grandchildren AND great-great grandchildren.  In total, I think there are 56 of us.  Believe me, I know, it’s a lot to take in.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, “That is crazy!  I have ___ (that I haven’t seen in years) and that’s counting both sides!”  Well, if you think that’s crazy, consider this: we were all (minus 3 in CO) raised within an hour of each other.  That means most of the time we all spent the holidays, birthdays, etc together. All at one house.  Is your head spinning yet?? Haha! You also may have noticed that I never mention a ‘grandpa’, but that’s because I didn’t have one.  Both of my grandma’s were strong, kind, loving and SINGLE mothers.  They have both played major roles in my life and deserve their own stories, which I promise, I will eventually write. Today however, I’ve decided to dedicate this entry to “The Original 26”.

While some might think growing up with 26 cousins would be overwhelming, I wouldn’t want it any other way. The ages of us all span from apx 45-15 years old, so most of us have some cousins that we are closer to than others.  In 1981, there were actually 5 of us born within 4 months of each other.  When we graduated high school, we had a picture taken of all of us that matches the same one our parents took of us 18 years earlier.  I come from a small town south of Albuquerque, where people only seem to know you as “so and so’s” daughter, niece, etc.  Very seldom do they remember your given name.  Growing up,  I was always known as “J’s baby cousin”.  He’s only 5 days older than me, but he always acted like it was 5 years.  Not that I minded though… he always watched out for me and had the cutest cowboy friends.  

If you ask any of the cousins, they will tell you I was a total tomboy growing up.  I chased the girls with dead crawdads from the ditch, I rode (more like held on for dear life) stinky sheep in the corrals, made forts with the bales of dry alfalfa.  Funny, even as I type the word alfalfa, I take a deep breath and hold it in for a few seconds.  To me, it is still one of the most comforting smells around.  It’s hard to explain, but to me it smells simply like earth… a mixture of dirt, water, oxygen and sunshine.  It’s as organic as it gets and we had the privledge of building forts, mazes,  classrooms, jails, and  bakeries with it all summer long.

As we’ve gotten older, it’s true that most of us are not as close as we once were.  Most of us have kids, most all of us have or have had a spouse or partner.  We have school, careers and in laws to consider.  We will text once in awhile, Snapchat if we’re lucky and like each others posts on FB, if your still into that.  

BUT…

You get us all together, it’s like we’re still little kids getting to see our best cousins! Everyone tells stories and the laughter is contagious.  We talk about the time “Sunshine” got home and chased cows until 1am after drinking margaritas with me since 1pm.  I couldn’t help, because I was at my other aunties, sound asleep…. in a Lightning McQueen car bed.  Not my proudest moment, but it makes for a good cousin story.  Or the time we were “attacked by a huge pack of dogs”, only to realize (after about half of a mile “running for our lives”) that the only dog that actually got through the rusty chainlink fence was a single mutt chihuahua.  We remince about the 3 cousins we’ve lost much too young and wonder where they would be today.  I remind Amanda about her always perfectly white Keds… when she was mad, she would cross her arms, tap her right toe and give you the death stare until you gave in.  It used to drive me insane, but now it’s one of my very favorite memories.  She has 2 baby girls now…. I cannot wait to buy them their 1st pairs!! ūüíē 

Then finally, without fail, someone will bring up my 2nd grade school picture.  Somehow that one still takes the cake.  Hey, I was only 8 years old!! Who allowed me to get that ugly perm anyway?! I’m actually laughing out loud as I think about it.  Cousins, our time together is always too short, but in those rare moments when we are all together, it’s impossible not to feel blessed, loved, supported and remembered.  Always remember… cousins are not just cousins.  We are built in best friends for life.

****

“Alek (7), if you let me have that, I’ll be your best friend…  Dilly (7), I’m already your cousin, so that means you’ll always be my best friend.”  

The Cure for Cabin Fever

The Cure for Cabin Fever

It’s snowing… ugh, I hate the cold. My body hurts, my jaw hurts from clenching my teeth, my head hurts from listening to myself bitch about how much I hate the cold. Yet, here I am standing and smiling at the window, watching the snow fall. I’m mesmerized by the way the flakes shift and shape with the wind.¬† The patterns of the gusts are indescribable and are gone in literally the blink of an eye. I realize that in this moment, I am¬†being ‘mindful’. I wasn’t even “trying” to be! I feel like I should celebrate! I throw on my smelly Ugg boots (yes, every girl has them) and¬†burst out onto the patio wearing nothing besides yoga pants and an oversized jersey tee. My whole body freezes up… even my mind. My last thought is “WTF am¬†I¬†doing?!¬†¬†I AM NOT AN OREGONIAN!”¬† The freezing temperature of the air literally takes my breath away. It takes a moment to adjust. However, instead of hunkering down in the cold as I would usually do, slowly I open my arms wide and start to take deep breaths. They are the¬†deepest, cleanest breaths I’ve had in days. It’s dry, cold air.¬† It reminds me of home sweet home New Mexico and start to warm from the inside.¬† I feel like a child the way my body is tingling and rushing with sheer joy. It sounds cheesy I think to myself, but WTH, here I go… I turn my palms and face up to the sky and start to turn in circles.¬† I spin around and around in circles, until I get dizzy. I have to admit, it¬†took my body a moment to realize that these are actually the¬†good kind of spins…¬† No need to crawl to the bathroom or sleep with a trash can by the bed.¬† Whew…¬† ok, yes, this is actually fun!¬† You know, I think if I would have had more clothes on, I probably would have laid down on the concrete and made snow angels! Everything in me is humming with exhilaration at the way¬†my emotions and Mother Nature are coming together for a full body experience. When I finally stop and catch my breath, I’m laughing out loud, wondering what the neighbors must be thinking if they can see me. Oh well, I hope if they do see me in this moment, that instead of crazy (or drunk), they see joy, peace, happiness and healing.

A blog?? You’re kidding right…

A blog??  You’re kidding right…

2016 was a rough year, in more ways than I thought possible at the age of 35.¬† It was my first year as an “empty nester”.¬† Yes, I know I don’t look old enough to have a child in college…¬† but, I promise you, I was there and I’ve¬†got the stretch marks and a Columbia College Chicago sweatshirt to prove it!¬† It was my first year as a mother with 2 teenage boys.¬† Speaking of teenagers,¬†2016 was also¬†the first time since I was 18 that I had to move back home,¬†in order for my mom to take care of me. ¬†It was a year of¬†professional transition¬†(resigned my accounting position of 12 years to become a stay at home mom) and unimaginable heartbreak (Haley).¬†¬†However, as in every other year, 2016¬†offered me an abundance¬†of memories that will last a lifetime.¬† I would concede that it was in fact, “the most memorable year of my life.”¬† And honestly, I don’t remember most of it.¬† Between constant anxiety attacks, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and meds that would make most drug dealers jealous, I lost all sight of myself.¬† So, while 2016 is full of juicy, drama filled material, this is the story of 2017.¬† My “comeback year”.

An update for those of you who may or who probably do not know what really happened…

  • I had a nervous breakdown.¬†¬†A true Goldie Hawn,¬†having to be¬†thrown in the cold water barrel by Kurt Russell in Overboard, kind of breakdown.
    • Me (sobbing) to¬†my Dr. in April:¬†“I just don’t understand it…¬† gasp, gasp, gasp…¬† I used to have it all together.¬† I used to work¬†insane hours at a high level job that I was good at and respected for, I¬†raised 2 amazing boys as a single WORKING mother (all while maintaining a positive co-parenting relationship with their dad), paid all my own bills, exercised, traveled¬†and looked good while I did it!¬† What happened to me?!” ¬†My doctor: ¬†“Ummmm…¬† Well, that’s probably why you’re here talking with me and having¬†a nervous breakdown at the age of 35.”¬† Me:¬† “Oh ya (sniffle, sniffle), well I guess that kind of makes sense.”
  • I don’t remember most of that story, so it would be hard to retell.
    • I don’t want to.

Recent¬†update…

  • In September, I found a compassionate, empathic, brilliant psychologist who is helping me put me back together.¬†¬†Within our work, he has introduced me¬†to the very trendy term and idea that is Mindfulness.
  • I started writing to my psych as a kind of therapy.¬† My mind was constantly spinning and it felt like writing¬†was the only thing that could keep me focused.¬† It was also very important to me that my Dr. know the real me, not just the broken shell of a person that was sitting in front of him multiple times a week.
    • Basically, I wanted him to know me that way most of you do.¬†It’s been a few months now and I’m finally at a point where I am ready to open myself (back) up and thought this was easier way to stay connected with everyone at once.

Anyhow, I do hope you enjoy my writing and although I welcome your¬†honest feedback, please keep in mind that this is MY STORY.¬† It won’t be perfect, but as I’m slowly learning, neither am I.