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Rescue

Click. The bedside light is turned off. 
As I roll over and get comfortable, Lucky moves into position. He nestles in to the space behind the bend in my knees and rests his head on my leg. It doesn’t matter where he in in the house, when I turn off that light, within seconds, there he is…. snuggled in the crook of my knees for the night. Every night. Without fail.  It has always been that way since the day he came to live with us.
Quarantine changed the way we lived. I was home all the time and long walks several times a day became the norm.  Lucky was living his best life!
Now that I am back at school and not home every day, I realize that the separation anxiety does not just belong to my Lucky dog, but to me as well. I miss his company and annoying behaviors! 
We walk several miles before I go to work each day and several more when I arrive home. However, that time before we both fall asleep, snuggled together, is important to both of us. We both need it. 
They say we don’t rescue dogs…. they rescue us. I believe we rescue each other. 
Peace.
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Lilacs

I was out for a walk today….but chose a different direction. That made all the difference.
Spring has sprung! The sights, smells and colors are a feast for the senses. I love lilies of the valley, viburnum and lilacs. The scent takes my right back to my childhood.
Today I stopped near an alley at a large lavender lilac bush taller than me by at last 4 feet. As I closed my eyes to inhale the sweet aroma, I was startled by an older woman on the other side of the fence. I took a step back as I had no mask on.
“Its fine, honey…..I got my shots!” the woman said.
I laughed and said, “Me too! Your lilacs are so beautiful!”
“Thank you. I didn’t think they would ever grow. My children would always pick bunches for their teachers every spring.”
“And wrap them in wet paper towels and tin foil?”
This time it was the lady that laughed…. “Yes! How did you know?!”
“I did the same thing! I love lilacs and loved giving them to my teachers too! I am a teacher now and sometimes students give them to me! Do your kids live close by?”
“Oh no. They are long gone…..” She trailed off…
“Oh…..well do they visit often?”
“No sweetie….they are gone. I had 2 children and they both have passed away…..”
I felt like such an asshole in that moment. Talk about putting my foot in my mouth.
“I am so sorry. I didn’t mean….”
She stopped me….”Sweetie…I could not help them. I did my best. I was on my own….. and drugs were stronger than my love. Are you a mom?”
“Yes….I have 5 kids and am on my own too……”
There was an awkward silence as we just stood there looking at my panting dog beside me.
“Well, I should be going. My dog needs a drink! It was so nice to talk to you. Thank you for sharing your flowers!”
“Wait…..please pick some of the lilacs for yourself. A big bunch! Thank for stopping and talking to me. We mommas have to stick together! Hug your kids for me……you are so blessed and a blessing to me. Thank you.”
So I picked a bunch of lilacs, waved goodby to her and headed home.
The whole way I home I thought about what she said…..My kids make me crazy, giving me grey hair while they test my sanity but they are here. They are each a phone call away. I am blessed.
I never did ask her for her name but will now make it a point to walk past her house more often. We mommas have to stick together.
Peace.
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Award

6 years ago I attended a benefit event at the Drake Hotel for Girls on the Run. I would be presented with the Superstar Award for Outstanding Coach at the event. What I did not know is that it would be a night that would change my life forever….just as Girls on the Run has changed the lives of countless girls.
Several weeks prior I had bought a dress on sale. The dress was a total splurge….even on sale for $30! At that time, I never bought things for myself much less a fancy dress! I was not allowed to spend money of “frivolous” things. I felt so good in that dress, so beautiful and powerful. That dress still hangs in my closet waiting to be worn again.
I did my own hair and then my daughter and I drove into the city to Barney’s to visit one of my best friends. My friend is a makeup artist and had never done my makeup before, heck, I had never had anyone do my makeup before! When she was finished, I felt so beautiful!
She also did makeup for my 16 year old daughter, who was my date for the evening. My daughter, who was my first girl on the run and the reason I started coaching the program. My daughter who deserved a fancy night out with her momma.
We arrived at the Drake greeted by valet parking and cocktail hour. I felt so special….and out of place.
I felt like I didn’t belong. I was instantly transported back to the grade school girl who never fit in and was always teased. The girl in high school that struggled with her looks and never felt like an “insider.” The college girl that drank to forget feeling left out.
I took a deep breath and, like a gut punch, it hit me. I was everything I was teaching girls NOT to be…….. I was a woman married to an unfaithful, abusive man.
I went to the bathroom to catch my breath and fix my makeup. I put on my new lipstick, plastered a smile on my face and headed in the the event to join my daughter. I was going to make the best of this night, celebrate Girls on the Run and this accomplishment.
During the day and into the evening, my wasband was texting me. He anger and jealousy was palpable. I was not “effectively managing” my children by going out for the evening, leaving my oldest daughter (18 at the time)in charge. He had been invited but had refused to take the night off work. Seeing me get an award was just too much for him to handle. And, looking back, I am so grateful he was not there.
My daughter and I had a wonderful dinner and I was able to teach her how a live auction works! She tried mightily to get me to bid on things that were well out of our price range but a girl can dream, right?!
After the auction, it was time for the presentation of awards. When my name was called, I walked to the stage, feeling weak in the knees. I straightened my spine, smiled, and stepped up to accept the award, graciously thanking the presenter. As I walked back to my seat I made a decision. It was a decision that would change the course of my future and the future of my children. I made a choice to be done.
I wanted out but didn’t know how to get out. I wanted to leave my marriage but didn’t know how or when it would happen. I was sad and lonely and in pain. I really was done.
I wanted to find a way out and that night showed me that I needed to find a way. I could not preach self love and empowerment to others all while living a lie of abuse and self hate.
I went through the motions in my marriage for a few more months. Soon enough, the lie I was living exploded. I mustered the courage to confront my wasband. I asked him to make a choice….our family and marriage or his “other life.” He wanted both. I knew that would never work so after a few weeks, I secretly met with a lawyer and filed for divorce.
Don’t get me wrong, I did the “pick me” dance for weeks, begging him to give us a second chance. I waited up all night for him to come home night after night only for him to ignore me or fight with me when he finally arrived. His contempt and indifference was something I will never forget. He taunted me repeatedly with, “I will never agree to a divorce…”, “You will never go through with it….you don’t have the guts….”, “Shut up! You will wake the kids….” and “Think about others would you?! She has small kids! Keep your mouth shut….” Over and over…..night after night….until he was served.
For years, every week I taught my Girls on the Run teams lessons in empowerment and self-esteem. What I failed to realize was that I was the one that needed those messages. I was the one that needed to learn to love myself and have confidence in myself. I needed to find the woman I had stuffed down deep inside me. I needed to be my own outstanding coach.
We never know what will turn the tide in our life. We never know when we will be faced with a moment of truth. We never know what moment will be the defining tipping point. However, when that moment does arrive, we need to be brave enough to face an uncertain future and be prepared to ride the waves of change. We have it in us! We just need to dig deep and find it!
We need to be our own SuperStar…..Our Own Outstanding Coach!
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Love

I posted this photo and story last week but now it seems more important than ever.
*
This man was in front of me at the grocery store. I complimented his jacket and he told me he made it. I asked him if I could take a photo of it to share and he agreed. 
We stood, holding up the line, chatting for a bit. The front of the jacket had more words as well but the back is what tugged at my heart. 
The people behind us were getting a bit frustrated, so I turned and said, “Thank you for your patience. I appreciate the time to speak with someone about his art.”
They nodded…… and it was like a pressure valve was released. I think they expected me to get mean. 
I turned back to him and said, “Thank you again for chatting and letting me take a picture. God bless…. “
“No, bless you for taking time to get to know me….I love you”
And he walked away. And that was that. 
*
It is moments like this that again remind me of my privilege. It is moments like this I am reminded of the disconnect in society. It is moments like this I am reminded of the power of love.
This man took a chance by wearing his heart not only on his sleeve but on his body. He showed all those he met that there is strength and power in love.
I watched videos of reactions to the Chauvin verdict and what I noticed was a collective exhale. Visible and palpable relief. It was not justice. It was accountability. It was one man being held accountable for his actions. It does not solves the systemic issues of race inequities in this country. What this verdict does is begin to move the needle in the direction forward. We need to move forward towards creating a country where all people feel safe, loved and valued.
Moving forward happens one step at a time….one moment at a time. It all starts with love.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Forward

There are times in our life that require us to use every ounce of our energy, patience and endurance. It is so important in those times to use the energy that we DO have left to stay focused. It is so important to keep ourselves from thinking and obsessing about things that drain energy from us. That is often not easy to do.
We need to remain focused on the next step. We need to remember how far we’ve come. We need to remember that we can keep moving forward, often one baby step at a time.
It is in these times that new chapters of our life are being written. The chapters written before today and the chapters written in the future will make up the story that is your life. When all chapters of the story are together in one place, things will start to make sense. We will see that the part we’re going through right now could not be skipped. It is a critical part of the story! When we look at that complete story, we will see what an amazingly strong human we have become.
So, we take things one step at a time. We rest when we are tired. We do not linger in this space. We remember all the steps we took to get to this point. We know that if we keep moving forward, we make progress. All chapters must eventually end. So we take the next right step.
We move forward…one step at a time. A baby step or a giant leap…we just move forward.
Forward is a pace.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace