Author Archive: Life With The Top Down

Innocence In Motion

We headed over to the beach on Sunday. I was on the fence about going since the heat index was over 100, and lord knows we wouldn’t be alone. In the end, I packed up and headed out.

The next decision was which beach would be worthy of our chairs. We decided on the McBride Beach Bath House in Cape Henlopen State Park. This was named after Senator David McBride, who served in the General Assembly for 42 years. I don’t know; maybe that warrants his name on a beach.

Anyway, this area was beautiful and occupied by families. Young, old, and, in between, enjoying their vacation. Making memories.

I’m not going to lie. I was not jealous when I saw them schlepping all that gear across the sand. I served my time in the beach schlepping department. Now it’s just me and my chair.

To date, we’ve visited The Point and Gordons Pond beaches, where dogs definitely outnumbered children. Both of these areas have a different vibe. More of a just let me sit and enjoy the beach crowd. I’m grateful to have these options.

After 5 minutes and a toddler showing me his sand-covered spiderman, I knew we had made the right decision. I’ve been missing my adult children recently; this was just what my heart needed. Being in the presence of children brings joy to my soul.

We sat and watched sandcastles and motes constructed by the young fathers. At the same time, the mothers organized sandwiches and applied sunscreen to the children, who were excitedly running back and forth at the water’s edge. It was like being transported back in time.

My little spiderman buddy was busy being busy. I was getting tired just watching him running back and forth. His grandparents brought him to the beach to celebrate his 3rd birthday, and celebrate he did in a total 3-year-old fashion. Dinosaur bathing trunks, bucket hat, and more energy than all of us.

No doubt his grandparents slept well that night!

We moved our chairs closer to the water, which turned into a stage for two little beach angels. Out of nowhere, two little girls, tiny, with diapers peaking out of their bottoms, started dancing on the wet sand. One with wild curly hair and big blue eyes, the other in a leopard bathing suit, a white sun hat, and white hair to match, were dancing in circles like they were at Woodstock. Innocence in motion.

Watching the innocence of children forces you to take a step back from yourself and Enjoy the Ride.

Can I Get A Pound Of Love?

Love

I’m finally settled in at the new abode. Learning how to navigate traffic patterns, grocery stores, finding new medical providers, and a job has been, shall we say, an experience, but being near the beach has made all of this more tolerable. Salt air works wonders.

One thing I’ve learned for sure is this place is a vortex. Not the hellish whirlpool kind. This area is loaded with people that bring it to life with their energy. There’s a vibe.

I’m not sure if it’s a recipe of transplanted people mixed with the locals and a dash of vacationers for flavor or something else, but there is something extraordinary in the air.

Recently I met a woman who opened her hand to reveal a fist full of glass hearts. I was instructed to pick one, which I did with a smile. She is spreading love, literally.

Cupid and I got to talking, and she explained that since 2003 she has given out approximately 80,000 of these hearts worldwide. That’s a lot of love.

My face must have been saying, “Damn! That’s a lot of hearts/money.” Because without a word, Cupid explained that she purchases the hearts by the pound, and like everything else, the price has escalated. Come on! Gas is one thing, but love?

There was something about this exchange that I couldn’t shake. Over the next few days, the experience kept playing over and over in my head. I would pick up the heart several times daily, hoping for enlightenment. It was nagging.

Well, once again, the universe came through. This time in the form of a website. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, this extraordinary woman has a website that came to my attention in a way that genuinely confirms there are no coincidences. Well done, universe, well done.

I couldn’t get to Google fast enough to check out her site. To my surprise, but not really, the first thing to hit my eyes was the statement, “Kindness is the Foundation of Peace.” It sure is.

At this moment, I was overcome with emotion. As some of you know, my mother passed in 2020, but she left this world with an exceptional last sentiment. “Be kind to everyone no matter what; this world needs kindness.” https://life-with-the-topdown.com/2020/12/17/be-kind-to-everyone-1926-2020/

Now, here I sit 7 days later, writing this essay, wondering what my next step will be in this world that desperately needs more kindness. Hmmm …

You can check out her story and more about her mission at https://www.radicalkindness.com. It’s proof that it doesn’t take much effort to impact the world positively.

Enjoy the Ride, with Kindness!

There Goes That News Van

6abc Action News – WPVI Philadelphia

Well, it has finally happened. The moving blues might be settling in over here. I must confess that I miss my Local Newscasters, Meteorologists, and network. A LOT!

I have been watching WPVI, Channel 6 ABC, my entire life, so it’s a big deal to start watching other anchor people at this stage of the game. I feel like I’m cheating.

This isn’t a new feeling, but unfortunately, it’s a permanent one this time around. While on vacation, I was often left with that UGH feeling while watching local news channels. But then I got to go home, where my cool newscasters lived!

Maybe it’s just culture shock. Just thinking out loud.

I’m accustomed to the daily morning banter between the news desk, weather, and traffic reporters. They were the perfect four to send me off into the day. Not to mention easy on the eyes and fashionable.

Not that I want to be judgy Judy over here, but dear lord, stop giving me so much ammunition. All I’m going to say is I may never watch another weather report in my life. Dramatic? Well, a little.

Now, I’m not yearning for negative news, but there needs to be a gentle transition from overnight shootings directly to hampster rescues being “Big Stories.” A robbery? An accident? Throw me a bone.

If I heard this story once, I heard it 20 times in the course of the morning news. Along with the other “big” story regarding the opening of a Lavender Farm. This was day one.

Honestly, though, I can’t imagine the words “murder” or “shooting” coming out of the 16-year-old news anchor’s mouth. She was definitely hampster rescue appropriate and cute as a button.

After scanning around the other channels, which is another challenge that frankly requires a YouTube tutorial, I located a group that I might, just might, be able to tolerate. How is ABC not ABC just two hours down the road?

One thing that is holding me back from a true commitment is the anchorman’s name. I know it must sound petty, but is it? His name, you ask, is Jimmy Hoppa. See!

How often has he been asked, “did you say, Hoffa?” I don’t know whether to laugh or be impressed. So far, laughter is winning.

The silver lining is I have no idea what is going on in the world. Not a damn thing! But I know where to take unwanted hampsters and find lavender soap if anyone is interested. Hit me up.

I’ll be depending on my fellow bloggers to fill me in on important news like a meteor heading to earth, a mass awakening in D.C., empty seats on a UFO, or if something other than a hampster rescue needs my attention. Please write about it before the WiFi goes out.

Enjoy the Ride!

Small World

Photo by NOHK on Pexels.com

“It’s a small world.” How many times have you heard this in your lifetime? I remember my parents saying it and thinking, “What are you talking about?” Now, here I am saying it at least twice a week! It’s official, I’m my parents.

The community had a huge yard sale on Friday and Saturday at the new abode. According to the neighbors, this is a twice-a-year function that is heavily advertised and equally as popular. Perfect timing for this professional box unpacker.

The weather was damp and rainy, but that did not stop the crowds. Yes, crowds. I made a good chunk of change selling crap left by the previous owners and some of my own crap. I’m very close to getting a “less is more” tattoo or t-shirt.

This lovely couple, Frank and Joanne, stopped by to browse yesterday. There was an instant connection. They had a good sense of humor, especially Frank’s quick wit. People could have been shoplifting, and I wouldn’t have noticed.

As we were exchanging backstories of how the hell we wound up in Lewes, DE, Joanne was surprised to learn that I had never vacationed in this area. I explained I’m a Jersey Shore girl, Ocean City. NJ, to be exact. Her parents lived in Ocean City, NJ.

I explained that my husband was familiar with this area through his job, and my only introduction was when we looked at this house. Now she is intrigued.

Joanne, “How do you just move to a place you’ve never been to?”

Me, “I don’t know, but here I am.”

Frank, “Wow, there’s more than one!”

Me, “You know someone else who just packed up to Lewes?”

Joanne, “Yes, our dear friend from college. She just called me one day and told me her boys were all out of the house; they sold their home in Villanova and bought a place in Lewes.”

Frank, “I asked her if she bought it on Amazon because she never asked us to check it out or inquired about the area.”

Joanne, “We couldn’t believe they made such a big purchase without a second thought.”

Me, “I looked at Frank’s Mount St. Mary College sweatshirt while Villanova and boys ran through my mind when I asked, wait a minute, what is your friend’s name?”

Joanne, “Marie _______ _______.”

Me, “WHAT!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”

Frank, “You know Marie?”

Me, “Yes, we were paralegals together back in the day and work besties.”

All of us, “OMG! It’s such a small world!” Along with laughter.

Frank takes out his phone, captures a photo of the three of us, and sends it to Marie.

We are all meeting for Happy Hour on Friday!

Enjoy the Ride!

What’s Your Back Story?

Things are coming together nicely here at the new abode. Setting things up to make it our own. Incorporating some memories of the past with our new upcycled purchases. Facebook Marketplace is my new bestie.

I love the idea that our decor has a back story. Our Ethan Allen dining room set was formally residing in a “home” with a regulation-sized basketball court INSIDE next to the movie theatre. Oh, yeah, that was an, let’s just say, interesting transaction.

Susan, the woman selling this piece, interrogated me online like an FBI agent. I finally had to tell her that we are a middle-aged couple who are too tired to commit a crime, clean it up or run from it. Seriously, Susan!

When we arrived, she answered the door with her phone in her hand, air pods in her ears, and more than once, let us know that her husband was listening to the conversation. If fear were a person …

Once we passed her test, she started pushing other items for sale on us. Bye, Susan, bye-bye.

Needless to say, that experience left a mark, but humanity was restored when I hit the jackpot on a gorgeous 2-year-old retractable canvas awning to shade our enormous deck. I need to enjoy the deck, not fry eggs on it.

Anna had the most beautiful beachfront home in North Jersey and a heart to match. She was handing over this $14,000 plus awning, in mint condition, for a mere $700.00, and she threw in the custom-made cover to boot. She was no Susan, that’s for sure.

Maybe the salt air, her Italian heritage, or both made her so generous. All I know is Anna’s house was right out of Architectural Digest, and it was warm, welcoming, and filled with love. Her only request was a photo of us relaxing under the awning.

Next up, we needed some headboards. One, because we upgraded to a King mattress and handed the sleigh bed over to our son, and two, we now have extra bedrooms for when the kiddies visit. They better visit!

Once again, the Marketplace came through like a genie granting wishes. For $150 bucks, we landed two, like new, Ethan Allen twin headboards that match our existing dresser perfectly. The owner had them stored at Sprinkles, their ice cream shop, and gave us a cone of our choice on the house with the purchase. What more could we ask for at this point?

Well, I’m gonna tell ya. We still needed the king-sized headboard. The challenge was getting one that matched our cherry wood set without looking too Ralph Laurenish at our new beach location. Are you with me?

Just when I thought this would be an issue, Lauren, a young woman with a great sense of humor, posted the PERFECT piece for $100. She was posting for her mom Lisa, who we concluded was a fantastic person based on her name. Yes, my name is Lisa, so I know this to be true.

Today we are on our way to pick up yet another Ethan Allen piece. It is a beautiful cabinet, with a hidden desk for all our electronic devices/crap that we don’t want to expose. Amen!

This beauty has been for sale for four weeks. It is the last piece standing in a sold home that must be gone by tomorrow. Can you say deal of a lifetime?

I love the idea of second chances, backstories, and new beginnings, whether furniture or lifestyles; we can all Enjoy the Ride more than once.

Sunny Skies

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

Back in January, when we decided to move to another state, after 58 years of living not only in one state but one zip code, I knew things would be challenging. Correction, I did live in another zip code for the first 15 months of my life.

In October, we purchased a home to use as a second residence while renting our apartment at the complex I like to call “The Resort,” but the universe always has bigger plans. A heads up would be nice.

We landed at The Resort after selling our home of 30 years to our son and surrendering to the inflated, dog-eat-dog real estate market in our area. Sorry, you’re not getting my soul for a house.

A CURVEBALL ARRIVED just when I was getting used to the thought of weekend getaways and vacations at our home. BAM! A colleague of my husband’s announced his retirement in the same area where we purchased our home. He saw this as an opportunity served on a silver platter, while I saw more of a Taco Bell drive-thru moment. Yup, fear, and doubt were playing center stage.

I had more to think about in my defense, like leaving my job of 18 years. Oh, and let’s not forget MY CHILDREN. I compiled a list of excuses a mile long. I presented my case without a single dramatic courtroom moment and concluded that the jury had spoken; it’s time to pack your bags. Maybe it was just the thought of packing for the second time in a year.

Financially it was a no-brainer to make a move. Sentimentally, in my mind, it was just not happening. Meanwhile, I am the first to tell anyone, “why are you holding on to that?”

As the months and days went on, reality sank in that this was actually happening. But I just couldn’t trust that this huge life change was happening for me and not to me. Even though examples were in my face clear as glass every day, without fail. At this point, even the universe had its hands in the air.

What does a girl do when she just can’t seem to get a handle on trusting what’s best for her? Oh, she consults a Psychic. That’s right, folks, if Abraham Lincoln could do it, so could I. Google it; it’s a fact.

How did that go, you ask? Well, I’m currently sitting in my new home writing this post. We moved in over the weekend during a freak Nor’eatser storm. Drowned Rat Moving Company may be a new business venture.

All week I watched the weather report showing a Nor’easter with flooding rains and 50/60 mile an hour wind would be hitting the area. There couldn’t be a better metaphor for what I was leaving behind. Well played, Mother Nature, well played.

Typically I would have looked at this storm as “a sign” that we shouldn’t move. I’ve spent too much time and energy playing victim. Those days are over. Guess what else storms bring? SUNNY SKIES.

I’m entering this new adventure with an open mind, heart, and growth. This chapter is called: Knowing my Worth and Acting Accordingly.

It’s never too late to Enjoy the Ride!

Got Thorns?

Photo by Livilla Latini on Pexels.com

We hired a new girl at work. She’s the same age as my daughter and very sweet. This week I was training her on the dynamics of the office. Considering her age, I knew I didn’t have to say too much about the computer system beyond a password. I was right; she’s a wizard.

As we talked and got to know each other, I noticed a common thread in her language. Fear. Not just your common fear of, let’s say, spiders, I’m talking fear of life. What in the world?

I was drained by this negative energy by Tuesday, which was a new reaction for me. Typically, the mother in me takes over, but I stopped noting she has a mother. Who I now know is 11 years younger than me. Next up would be my inner Therapist, who I had to tackle before she started to take on another non-paying patient. Boundaries baby.

On my ride home, I could not shake the thought of our conversations. There was almost a sadness about them, and usually, I’m very understanding. So why the hell was I so annoyed? What is it about myself that I don’t like in this girl? Ding, ding, ding!!!

Then I remembered a chapter from a book I listened to recently, The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer titled Removing Your Inner Thorn.

I highly recommend reading or listening to this book for a broader explanation.

This is a complex subject, so I’ll do my best to explain it in the simplest form, and even that is complicated. I think I listened to this chapter 1,000 before it started to sink in.

Let’s say you have a thorn in your arm, and the pain is excruciating because it’s touching a nerve. Of course, you’re not going to let anyone near it because it will cause too much pain. This makes your life very difficult. The thorn now becomes a constant source of disruption in your life. Protecting and hiding is a job.

To solve the issue, you have two choices: One, you continue to protect the thorn, or two, you take it out. As simple as this sounds, it’s actually the most complicated thing a person can do to heal and grow.

Where am I going with this? Well, let me tell you. I’ve had thorns stuck in me for decades! You could say I was a professional thorn protector, or so I thought. I didn’t realize everything I was missing while my energy was focused on creating airbags to keep my thorns at bay. The thorns ran/run my life.

No matter what solution you choose, the thorn will continue to run your life until you remove all the layers, dig deep down to the root and give a good long hug and a quick yank. Free at last.

Through growth and higher consciousness, I’ve learned that my thorns are nothing more than stored energy from the past that sits in my heart. The good part is I noticed my thorn was being poked, but I didn’t have a reactive response; it shows my growth. It’s about time!

When I look at this girl, I see my twenty-something self looking back at me full of thorns. Talk about being tested; she’s my teacher.

The low self-esteem, lack of self-worth, an unhealthy relationship, people-pleasing, and fears out the wazoo were front and center, staring me in the face. Taunting me. Forcing me to feel my own thorns. Oh, not today, Mother F@$#ers, not today.

I thought if I had to sit three feet from my twenty-something self four days a week, I’m going to need a plan that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol. This was not in the job description.

I asked myself, “what did I need in my twenties?” “what would have helped that wounded girl?”

I had to really dig for an answer without getting too complicated. The answer, drum roll please, I needed someone to see me, the me I didn’t see. In 2022 terms, someone to give an actual f**k.

Now, I’ll have to be subtle. My challenge will be controlling my inner cheerleader to quietly assist this young, intelligent, beautiful soul on her path. Pom-poms in the face could be scary.

Of course, I know I can not heal her thorns, but I can have compassion and not judge her journey. We’re all human. We all have pain.

Recognize the teachers; they seem to show up in the strangest circumstances.

Enjoy the Ride!

Ratty Robe of Worry

Recently, a friend was going through a medical issue and gave what I like to call “the runaround,” having to go from one doctor to the next and shelling out co-pays all along the way. Without thought, I told her Peace of mind is costly.

Later, when the dust settled, she asked me how I came up with that response. This really made me pause since, well, I had no idea. It just came out of my mouth without an ounce of thought. That’s usually where the truth lies.

The truth is I don’t think I’ve ever had Peace of mind, in the true sense. Being born into a household with an older parent, a lot of my childhood was spent worrying about death.

I was 10 years old when I realized my dad was older than my best friend’s grandmom, and in that instant, my carefree childhood began worrying about the future. Fear is so much cheaper than Peace.

If you were wondering, my dad died when I was THIRTY-ONE.

This pattern of worry or fear of the future has been with me for a long time. It didn’t get buried with my dad; it followed me into each phase of my journey. I’ve mastered this behavior.

Now, here I sit at the point in my life where my kids are productive members of society and my parents are ironically resting in Peace. This is supposed to be “my” time. So, why the hell am I sitting in a constant state of waiting for the other shoe to drop? It’s like being in a foreign land without a translator.

Apparently, I’m not comfortable in a state of settled awareness. I don’t even know how to react to being present. I prefer the ratty robe of worry. Currently, I’m training myself to keep that robe in the closet and unify myself with the now. Did I hear good luck with that, Lisa?

There are days, even weeks, when the struggle is real. Why? Well, life. I’m not made of stone, and I have a T.V.

I know for sure that unlearning is a hell of a lot more complicated than learning. Trying to untangle decades of trauma, behaviors, and thought processes will take some time and effort. I’ve been doing the work, as they say, for a year. Yes, I’ve made some significant strides, but the world as we currently know it has me grabbing that ratty robe more often than I’d like. There are no back-to-school sales for unlearning.

Now, if only I had an eraser. Enjoy the Ride!

Spirited Boys

I just finished a book at record speed. Why? Well, because it grabbed my attention from page one, and I couldn’t get enough. The title is “The Day John Died” by Christopher Anderson. John, as in, John Kennedy, Jr.

First, the story grabbed me because I, and anyone with eyes in my age group, had a crush on John. He was like your forbidden best friend’s older brother crush. You don’t have a chance, but it’s fun to gaze. 

Secondly, I had no idea that John was “a spirited boy” or in today’s terms probably had a little ADHD going on. I prefer spirited boy.

Oh, how do I know this? Well, because I raised one as well, just not in the public eye.

John’s early days in the White House were described as “active” and “curious.” Running the halls like he owned the place and asking any adult, including Secret Service agents, every question a toddler could wrangle up. Yup, he’s spirited all right.

I’m not going to lie here. I was getting envious thinking of Jackie’s help in handling her handful. I know I could have used a couple of agents and a Nanny during those primitive years.

I imagined meeting Jackie at a parent-teacher conference, realizing we were in the same boat. FYI: My boat is a raft and hers a yacht.

Throughout my son’s education, it was obvious that the mothers of these little spirits also magnetize towards each other, and remain lifelong friends. The cry for help must be written all over our faces.

There are two scenarios: Jackie and I would have been best friends, or I would have been served with a restraining order. It could go either way, but I’m leaning towards friends. I know me, and I know I would be starstruckso there are no guarantees. 

On one of our many playdates at the park, we could discuss the need to have our colorist on speed dial to touch up the never-ending grays caused by the shenanigans of our little overactive, curious but lovable boys. A girl can dream.

As everyone knows, Jackie was very protective over John, and rightfully so, considering the circumstances surrounding him at every corner. Still, her protection from the many, many Mrs. Kennedy wannabes had me dreaming of landlines. You go, Jackie!

One of the perks in raising a child in the ’70s was the ability to screen their calls, and Jackie had no problem telling an unfamiliar female voice, “I’m sorry he’s not here right now.” 

Unfortunately for me, my little spirit was born into a world of cell phones and the knowledge to press charges for invasion of privacy if I even tried such a move.

Of course, this story is all in jest. I would never have been in the same circle as my girl Jackie, nor would I ever be screening my son’s calls, hmm, well maybe, but I found it very interesting through the words of Christopher Anderson that our sons, had such similar spirit and curiosity. Just another reason for me to love Jackie.

Enjoy the Ride!

It’s Complicated

Photo Credit Earth.com

Once again, the universe is knocking on my door. Hello, it’s me again.

This time by way of a post on addiction, alcohol to be exact that stirred up a memory I haven’t thought about in years, 10 to be precise. Our minds are complex places.

The memory is of my sister-in-law and her untimely death due to her prolonged use of alcohol. Her story, like everyone’s, is complicated. The big gray area does exist.

Her name was Debbie, she was 51 years young.

My first impression of Debbie was that she was beautiful, intelligent, fun, creative, and talented. She loved her baby brother very much, and she shared a birthday with my sister. A winner.

As we got to know each other better, I realized something was off, but not having any experience with alcoholism, I just thought she was a bitch. I was naive, and everyone around her was in denial.

I learned that when their mother died suddenly at 48 years old, Debbie was in the middle of a typical mother/daughter squabble, and they were not on speaking terms. Forgiveness also died that day.

Debbie and her siblings were grieving the loss of their mother individually, being left with a disabled father in disbelief and not much help. Two siblings had spouses for support, and three were left to their own devices. Grief is a complex emotion, and this was a recipe for disaster.

All three chose alcohol as the device to numb the ache. One escaped. One continues his imaginary competition with Keith Richards, and Debbie, wearing an anchor of guilt for two decades, was found dead in the melting snow 10 years ago this week. Free at last.

As I said, Debbie was intelligent and creative, two skills that come in handy when you’re keeping a secret of this magnitude from the world around you. Keeping it alive is another story.

Living a lie every dang day had to be exhausting. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with the responsibilities expected of me while strategically contemplating how I will sneak in a drink and keep my act together throughout the day. That is no joke; it’s a full-time job.

I know she wasn’t the first or the last to juggle this lifestyle. We’re only human.

Over the years, her intelligence and creativity grew exhausted, while the disease grew arrogant, insisting on vodka in her coffee, leaving the creamer on the curb. Acceptance? Blind eyes? Both?

As with everyone in her life, we grew frustrated trying to help someone who was not ready to receive the offers. She was in her own way.

Correction, she was ashamed, and shame is a powerful emotion. Seducing her with lies quietly convincing her she was worthless while blocking love like a linebacker. Vodka was her helmet.

So, we made excuses to justify the behavior and make ourselves feel better. Talk about creativity.

  • She’s only hurting herself.
  • She’s a functioning alcoholic.
  • She’ll know when to stop.
  • It’s not like she’s sitting in a bar all day.
  • The list goes on …

After two turbulent marriages, endless lost opportunities, burnt bridges, and too many stints in rehab, the secret was sitting center stage, not Debbie, and it showed. You can only fall down so many times, literally, before surrendering or succumbing.

According to the coroner, she “succumbed” to her disease, alcoholism.

We are ALL worthy of being the best version of ourselves.

If you are suffering, please ask for help. There is no judgment. Make the call.

Do it for Debbie ❤

Alcoholics Anonymous — 800-839-1986.

%d bloggers like this: