I did a blog like this last year. It’s nice to look back at the ups and downs of the year. It also gives me the opportunity to take a look at the entire year-Things that made me laugh and things that made me cry.

My Mother

This year we laughed our way through a tough fall that put her in the hospital, a knee replacement and lots of rehab. Laughter changes everything. Everything seems a little better after a good laugh.

For example:

I told my 78 year old little Italian mother that if she wanted to impress that handsome waiter at the Mexican restaurant, when he brought her food to smile and say “Muchos Gracias.” When the dinner came, she gave him a big smile and said “Mucho grande!” The waiter seemed pleased.

Just after anesthesia, she confided in me that Jolene was actually a spy. Who knew?

She repeatedly complained about news coverage of all the women that had been sexually harassed. She said not a single man had harassed her. She decided to get her hair and nails done as soon as she was discharged from rehab.

When her church closed she tried several other Catholic parishes. She decided on the mostly Vietnamese parish a few miles away. I sat her down and broke the news. Mom, you are not Vietnamese. You don’t speak Vietnamese. Why a Vietnamese church? She told me the people are nice and their food is really good.

Makes sense.

She had a bout of renal failure this year. She tells everyone she is fine now, it was that Avocado medicine she was taking. ??? Huh? It took a few minutes to figure that one out. She meant Invokana. She was very disappointed because the people in the Invokana commercial were dancing and happy. She just got a trip to the nephrologists’.

When I asked her why she was drinking my Margarita instead of hers, she got serious and said she was trying to make her drink to last longer.

Things my Mother does not find amusing:

Telling people that yes, she would be in Rehab for a few weeks. We were so lucky Betty Ford had a bed open.

·       Telling her she was in the Barnum and Bailey Rehab and she could not come home until she could juggle and drive that little clown car.

·       Telling other patrons in the restaurant that she did not need the wheelchair, she was just really drunk.

·       Continuously pinching her butt to motivate her to walk faster.

·       Asking her loudly in public who my real father is.

·       Waiting in line at Boscovs, making a fart sound and saying “Oh Mom!!”

·       Attempting to get her down the aisle of the plane by wrapping her arms around my waist and doing the Bunny Hop song.

Good Times.

Its two years and I still miss my Dad a lot.

He took care of so many things I never thought about. He helped us all sort out our problems. He was the voice of logic and inner strength. When Mom had surgery this year, I really missed him. Tell the ones you love just how you feel whenever you can.  They will be gone in a blink of an eye.

We have are surrounded by an infinite amount of amazing, kind, fascinating people.

You just have to be open and let them in. I met so many people that touched my heart this year during my travels that my cup runneth over. I am always amazed at the kindness of strangers and with a little effort those strangers can become friends.  There is also a special beauty in what I call “Hit and Run Kindness.” Help someone and just move on. It makes me feel like we are all a little more connected. A little more like one family, here to take care of one another.

I deal with a lot of physical pain almost everyday.

It’s not pain you can see from across the room and that makes it harder. People want to see something, not just hear that you have pain today. Pain runs you down. It wears you out. It can feel hopeless. An unexpected kind word, a surprise hug or help given without asking…. that’s what gets me through. Put your heart out there and connect with people. You never know how it may help someone who is struggling that day.

Tip waitresses generously.

These people work HARD. Why don’t they just get a salary like the rest of the world?

Just sayin.

My book of the year was The Book of Joy.

It is a week interview with the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu. Wow. It’s not a long book and in paperback. It made me rethink everything. It was filled with love and appreciation for all the earth’s people. If you get a chance to read it do it. It will leave you more in love with life.

Family. Call your cousins. Arrange a pot luck dinner.

Talk about family memories. Bring your kids and let them listen. It’s their heritage. Those stories tell us where we came from and the price our ancestors paid for the lives we have now. If you find an especially good story- record it. We have stories from my Grandmother that have become a family treasure.


I had the chance to travel a lot this year. Check out the older blog entries. Most of my trips and a combination of unintentional laughter and disaster. Traveling really works for me. I free myself from all my “stuff”. I travel light. If I need something, I will figure out how to get it. It’s just more adventure. I try to focus less on taking pictures and more on being on the moment. I listen to the people, smell the air, really SEE what I am looking at. I try to feel the people who built that Cathedral or prayed there hundreds of years ago. Sometimes I feel like I get just the smallest whiff of their lives. Travel can be magical.

Politics. We are all Americans.

Politics are tearing our country apart. We rise and fall together. I try to respect everyone’s positions. I like to hear how they came to have the opinions they have. It may not change me but I like see how they got there. Having different opinions is what are nation is based on. And how cool is that?

Enough mushy stuff.

I had a lot of ups and downs this year. There’s nothing special about that. This is the good part: I laughed a lot. I made new friends. I tried to become a more compassionate person. I tried to be more present in my life. I tried not to sweat the small stuff. I meditated my way through the rough days. I allowed myself to cry through the hard days. I tried to really feel all the love around me. Sometimes it worked! Sometimes not so much.

I tried to remind myself that life is an amazing adventure. Getting to know new people is like finding a little treasure. Everyday is a new beginning.

Life is a wild ride. I don’t want to just hang on. I want to open my eyes and throw my arms up in the air. Wooooo!