I Don’t Want to Say Goodbye — So, I Will Say Hello


I am going on a trip to Wyoming without my husband and son.  I am going to visit my mom and spend time with her. She is in a nursing home.  Last May I got a call on a Thursday from the nursing home that she was very sick and that I should get out there to see her.  I got the call on a Thursday night and I was on a plane Saturday.  I thought that she was going to die.  In fact, I have thought she is going to die since she was diagnosed in 2000 with brain tumors. It’s a pretty heavy burden to carry.

My beautiful mother, Betty.

Unfortunately, my son and husband cannot make the trip with me.  I am very nervous about leaving my son for a week.  We are very attached to each other.  Our family practices Attachment Parenting.  It’s not even something you practice, it’s just something you do. And I think a lot of families are practicing Attachment Parenting without even knowing it, but that is a topic for another time.

My son is still nursing, and now I am worried about that.  I plan on pumping while I am out there.

I decided to spend eight days out in Wyoming (two days are travel days) since my 20th high school reunion is happening, as well.

There is nothing more beautifully blue than a Wyoming sky!

My sister has warned me that my mom has declined even more.  She was pretty much bed ridden and could not move from the waist down last May.  Now, she can hardly move her hands and has to be spoon fed her meals.

For most people, I assume you think this would be the most difficult thing in the world to experience.  I am a little callous about the whole death thing to be honest.  I have been expecting her to die for so long, that I have failed at times to see she is still living.  It is hard to accept this could be the last time I see her.  OK, now I am feeling sad and am not so callused.  I think that is why I feel so anxious.  I just don’t want to see her so helpless.  If you want to read an essay I wrote about her and the impact she made on me as a mother myself, read this: Magic Mama.  Here are some past posts about my trip to Wyoming last May if you would like to read them.  You can also read the archives by using the archive tab on the sidebar.

My mom, Redhead Betty

I don’t want to say goodbye — so I will say hello.

Anyway,  I am going to be offline for a week.  I am not going to log on to a computer. Anywhere. Anytime. Period. I do not have a smart phone, so I will only be able to text my friends and call people.  I think it will be good for me.  The fact that I will in Wyoming will magnify this sense of disconnecting with technology.  I am burnt out from social media (I am trying to build a platform as a writer and I really have no idea what I am doing.  I am just putting myself and my work out there).  I have also started to focus more on the great relationships I have built. I have met so many wonderful cyber friends.  I am evolving and learning more and more about myself as writer everyday.

I am not totalling going off the creative grid.  I will be taking photographs and writing by hand in my notebook and journal.

I have also been working really hard on my Attachment Parenting motherhood memoir.  It is in the editing stage and I am about 85% done until I feel it is as good as it can possibly be.  Then I will begin the submission process with various agents.  An agent in New York (I love saying that — it sounds so important and distinguished) is reading the manuscript now, as well as the book proposal.  I have been working on putting the book together so it is a complete manuscript.

Writing a book is a long process.  Right now I am excited about the future of my writing career as I have evolved in the past six months and I no longer look for outside validation to acknowledge I am a “real” writer.

I am also working on finishing up this memoir so I can get started on my next book project: The Evanston Community Kitchen.  This book is about my mother’s side of the family.  I’d tell you more about it, but it is all on the website.  If you enjoy history and food, I pretty much can guarantee you’ll enjoy the story.  And that story is still growing; in fact, I have merely only planted the seeds.  It is very exciting.  I am bringing my video camera and tape recorder so I can interview my mother.  She is still mentally “with it.”

I will leave you with a slideshow of some photos of Wyoming. It truly is like no place on earth.

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PS – I dyed my hair red.  My mother is a red head.  I was pretty nervous about it, but I have received feedback that it looks great.

I’m Beautiful (or so they say)


Beauty. What is it?  How do we define it?  What will we do to obtain it?

I think beauty is something you can not hold in your hand. It is silent and ethereal.  It is the soft whisper of a child sleeping.  It is the bright red lips of a beautiful woman.  It is the elbow of your husband.  It is the dog’s bad breath.  It is familiar, it is far. It is unusual. It is aloof and kind.  It cuddles with you as you read an awesome book. It is everywhere. It is within you.

You are beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong.

When I taught 4th grade in California, ten plus years ago, I encouraged my students to say this everyday aloud (“I am beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong.” )  They would chant it.  It was my first year teaching and it was a magical year.  I wonder if those students remember me and if they still say that.  I hope so.  Children are powerful teachers.  I learned so much from that group of students.

I recently was nominated for this award: The Beautiful Blogger.  Thank you Blazing Trail.

This award comes with some rules… (oh rules — you know how I feel about those, but I will play nicely)

1. Thank the person who nominated you and Link to that person

Thank you Blazing Trail.

2. Post the award on your blog.

Check

3. Nominate 7 (or less) blogs and link to them:

  • http://debrasblogpureandsimple.blogspot.com/ I love this lady.  She and I met at a party. We shared a love of literature, wine, and The Sun magazine.  When I was in graduate school and whining about my thesis, she said, “Put your big girl writer panties on.”  She is hilarious and always gives me a dose of honest writing advice when needed.
  • http://cbwentworth.wordpress.com/  I have come to know this writer through the blogosphere.  She is a dedicated teacher, as well as a free spirit, journaler, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction writer. She is a huge fan of Wreck This Journal.  She is highly organized and dedicated with her posts and someday I’d love to meet her.  She is a passionate teacher who goes against the grain.  Public education is lucky to have her, and so are we.
  • http://mezclados.wordpress.com/ This is a good friend of mine.  She is an Aries like me and a bit of a scatter-brain with all her creative projects.  She writes, paints, mothers, works, and appreciates art.  She also has two toddlers she adopted and a teenager she adopted.  She is amazing.  Her blog is about mixed families. Her husband is white, she is black.  Check her blog out.  Her heart is the color of a rainbow.
  • http://peacesofgreen.wordpress.com/  This is another good friend of mine.  I adore her.  We met when I lived in California.  She is one of my best friends on this planet.  She is a nature lover.  She recently moved to Oregon — to a town she had never been to.  She just felt in her heart that is where she belongs.  She followed her dream and wrote extensively about her trip cross-country, as she moved to a new town without a job.
  • http://quinncreative.wordpress.com/  Can you say creative?  Well, this woman is creativity personified. She has several books on mixed media journaling and creating.  She is lovely.
  • http://judesphotography.wordpress.com/  This is one of my cyber buddies. She is delightful.  She is a British woman living in France, who is a writer, photographer, small airplane enthusiast (I love it when she posts photos taken from her airplane) and someone I adore.
  • http://kindnessgirl.com/  This is Kindness Girl.  She is a mom and kindness activist.  Yes, she is an activist and has all kinds of projects designed to pass it forward.  Check out her latest project, The Magic Wand Project, where she leaves little magic wands around Richmond, Virginia encouraging children to do acts of kindness.  Ellen Degeneres follows her blog.  I hope someday to see her on Ellen talking about her contagious kindness campaign.  Her tagline is “Kindness changes everything.”  Indeed, that is true.
  • http://deborahbatterman.com/  This woman is so charming.  I discovered her blog and amazing writing talent through a writer facebook community.
  • http://www.thejadedlens.com/  This blog is amazing!  This woman is a photographer, kind spirit, and a good friend of mine, who I have had the pleasure of meeting through a writer facebook community.  Her photos are beautiful and the prose she writes is gorgeous.  Meeting her and developing a cyber friendship with her has restored my faith in humanity.  I am a big believer in big hearts and I do think everyone has kindness in them and beauty, but she truly shines —  genuine, honest, inspiring, and whimsical.

4. Tell you 7 things about myself that you do not already know.

1.  I tend to break the rules a lot.  I was supposed to post 7 blogs; I posted 9.
2.  I met Michael Jordan when I was 15 at the Michael Jordan Flight School.  He put his arm around my waist when he refereed a basketball game when I lost my balance at the free throw line.  When I lined up to get ready to sink my two free throws, he handed the basketball to me on my right, and I twisted and lost my balance thinking he was going to hand it to me on the left side. In the confusion and enormity of standing next to my idol (and I should mention how breathtaking beautiful he is), I lost my balance.  He caught me in his arms, with his long left arm around my waist and said, “Sorry doll.”  I sunk the two free throws to win the game, but he gave the cute Canadian girl a ride to the mess hall in his Corvette. I cried after the game, alone on the basketball court, from shock and awe.
3.  I could not talk until I was 4.  I had a severe speech disability and had to go to a special pre-school for children with disabilities (I literally rode the short bus and a mean girl on the bus used to pull my pig tails until my older sister and her friend stormed on the bus and told her to stop.  That bully never touched my pigtails again.  Now I won’t shut up.

I think I was destined to be a writer. I’m related to Agatha Christie on my father’s side. (So he says)

4.  I know the exact moment I chose to be a writer.  I was on a bus for a collegiate soccer trip my senior year.  I played Division I soccer.  On the bus, traveling through New York City, I wrote down everything I saw.  It was at that moment I knew something had exploded in me.  I have been writing ever since.
5.  I love pomegranates and it was the one food I craved when I was pregnant.
6.  I went to Catholic school for 5th and 6th grade.  I gave my teacher so much grief that I had to be moved to the back of the room.  I remember thinking, how did you figure out how to silence me?  At the end of the school year, she had two dozen on my pencil top toys in her desk, including my most prized, Odie pencil top.
7.  My father bought a car that had 5 different colored doors.  My sister and I called it the Green Machine.  I was so ashamed of the car; I insisted he drop me off blocks away from my tweenager destinations.  Now that I am older, I know it was a classic car and would be considered cool in my book.  Back then, it was just strange-looking.  What I wouldn’t give to hop in that car and go cruising with my father.

My parents were very eccentric. Both of them were artists in their own way and they were soulmates. My mother claims he visits her often in the nursing home. She has extensive conversations with him. They truly helped each other heal on this planet and I am lucky to be their daughter.

I have another blog where I ask people to sign my journal.  I have been doing this since I started writing on the bus in New York City.  Check it out and submit your original thought.  I’d love for you to be a part of The Original Journal Project.  I also have a tab at the top of this blog titled, “The Original Journal.”  You can read about this project there too.  There is a video link that has some of the journal signatures I have collected over the last ten plus years.  I have my heart set on Chronicle Books to publish this.
Thanks for being beautiful and remember, “You are beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, and strong.”
What do you think is beautiful?

Morning Light


morning light

birds chirping

spring in North Carolina

nestles in my palm quietly

gentle breeze

tells me to just be

quiet is how I am today

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"Bird" (c) Megan Oteri- You can share this just credit my name and website please.

I woke this morning to the comfort of Saturday.  My son called out, “Daddy! Daddy!”

The gorgeous attentive voice of my husband responds rhythmically, “Benjamin.”  There is talk of making pancakes and breakfast.  “Oh no, there is no milk. We have to go to the store. Benjamin, do you want to be my helper and go get milk with me?”

I laid in bed, reached over to Ben’s toddler bed that is filled with stuffed animals, clothes, books, debris from the fact Ben sleeps in our bed, right next to his.  I reached for Natalie Goldberg, and the crisp white glossy cover of Writing Down the Bones.  I read three short chapters that filled me with peace, with recognition — I am an artist, a writer, a human.  Her words percolated and dripped into my mind, as the coffee pot hiccuped its brew.  The birds chirped outside the navy blue curtains, light peeked through, dancing a tango with the world outside.

I am filled with peace today.  The church bells chime in the distance.  Saturday’s calm greets me with open arms as I sit on the porch this morning and write.

As I walked through the house after making a choice to read first thing this morning, I realized I am hungry for detail.  I have always been hungry, and just as Natalie Godlberg says, writers stalk their prey, they observe the world around them and eat up every detail, I gobbled up morning light and shadows as they danced on the bathroom wall. I saw the light peeking through my artroom/writing studio/office I share with my husband that is destroyed according to Martha Stewart cleaning standards (really anyone’s standards), and accepted this is my ordinary extraordinary detail Goldberg talks about.

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"Porch Detail" (c) Megan Oteri- You can share this just credit my name and website please.

The extraordinary, a red cardinal peeks at me in the now petal-less Dogwood.  And then takes off in flight at an angle so close to my front porch.

A female cardinal calls to him, like the words call to me.  And the cardinal is gone. A squirrel hippety hops across the telephone lines, horizontal on the thin cable. Now I look up and the squirrel in on top of the telephone pole, looking right at me. Eye contact if I had a zoom lens. The blue Carolina sky is a backdrop behind us.  The squirrel’s bushy tail swishing, twirling.  A bird flies across this natural plane, splitting the angle perpendicular.

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Photo by Megan Oteri (c) (A photo on my cell phone camera – share it if you want it)

Beauty is everywhere today, but most importantly, it calls to me and I listen.

 “Every moment is enormous and it is all we have.”
― Natalie GoldbergLong Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America