Tag Archives: family

My Heart Almost Died.

I was always known to take chances, for following my dreams and being a free spirit. At times it was a little scary, but the thrill and pure joy of doing what I love outweighed that fear. It squashed the doubt inside too; all of those practical questions about money and the future didn’t matter. I was living in the moment, for “right now”, and I wasn’t going to grow up and let my “heart die” like Ally Sheedy claimed would happen in “The Breakfast Club”.

I spent my twenties finding myself, building my self-confidence and reaching for all of the exciting possibilities as a journalist and author. Money was not an obstacle; not because I had a ton of it, but because I could make almost anything work on very little.

I interviewed some of my favorite celebrities, could state I was the first person to interview Taylor Swift, made so many wonderful connections in the entertainment industry, and published 5 books all by the time I was 30. I even started seeing more money from book sales and actually got some paying gigs for articles.

I moved around a ton, leaving New York, my family, and some of my closest friends, always knowing they were there, cheering me on. To Nashville, back to New York, then to Anna Maria Island, and my 6 months of travel of the West Coast and New Orleans, and back to Nashville… something changed after that last move.

It wasn’t that money started to matter to me, but time did. I spent so much time running toward my next adventure. I gave so much of my time working as a barista even after it stopped supporting my free spirit lifestyle.

Suddenly, I was back in Nashville, where I had felt so alive just five years ago as I wrote “The Watch Dog”, but now I was stuck. Stuck being underpaid and overworked as a barista. Stuck doing digital marketing to create more income, and because I was trying to force myself to like it more since it was related to my chosen career path.

I always knew journalism wasn’t going to pay much, but times have really changed. With every high school and college kid blogging and writing articles, talent doesn’t mean as much as the time, energy and social media strategy you can bring to the table.

This past year, I have lacked in all of those departments. I’m fully aware I’m no longer 25. I don’t have the energy to run around behind an espresso bar for eight hours, write a chapter of my novel afterward, interview a singer-songwriter, write three articles, spend an hour on social media, cook dinner, and still have a social life.

Believe me, I used to do it all. I used to wake up at 4am and go to bed at midnight, and be at my best. I was bubbly about it all, too. Now, I’m a grumbly shift manager at one of the busiest Starbucks I’ve ever worked at, lucky if I write in my journal twice a week and my energy along with my spirit is depleted.

Ally Sheedy was right (or John Hughes rather)… I feel like my heart died a little. But I’m determined to get it beating again. What’s equally as bad as my dreams, or the energy to pursue those dreams, being on pause, is I miss home. I miss my brother, sisters, my niece and nephew. I hate watching them grow up so far away when I was there every day with them for so long.

It’s time to come home. I’ve spread my wings. I’ve left the nest. I soared. I fell. I got back up and soared again. And fell again. I’m tired now. Time is precious. I don’t want to waste that time working just to pay the bills. I am so drained and stagnant that I am not living.

When I move back to New York, I will be a nanny for my niece and nephew. There is nothing like being around children to awaken my creativity and remind me of all the excitement left in this crazy world. I will no longer have to waste all my energy at a job that underpays and overworks me. I will be making quality moments with people I care about, and when the little ones are off at school, I can focus on my writing.

I will encourage those kids to follow their dreams and that anything is possible. Along with their parents, I will try to help guide them with advice, but I know—and I hope—they won’t take all of it. Everyone needs to find their own way in life. There were tons of advice and warnings and discouragement thrown at me growing up.

Some of it was good advice, and maybe I should have taken it into consideration, but I wouldn’t have had this amazing journey with all of its ups, downs and wonderful surprises. My mother always said to me, “I don’t want you to get your hopes up”. To this day, I try to always get my hopes up. Sorry Mom, I know you didn’t want me to get hurt, but really, I’m fine!

Hope is one of the most important things. It’s our life line. Even if something didn’t work out, I never regretted the hope I felt beforehand. That feeling is magical; to allow yourself to get buzzed off of excitement and believe that anything can happen. I will always tell my niece and nephew to keep their hopes high. It’ll keep our hearts from dying.

Passing Mom’s Light Onto The Next Generation

Happy Mother’s Day!  This particular day is often difficult for me.  I’m usually left alone to mourn my Mom all over again.  It’s hard for some to understand — to those who never made a big deal about the holiday and who still have their mom with them.

I would be celebrating my sister-in-law since I am still in New York, but she, my brother and the kids are with her mother in Queens today.  Once again, I am left alone today, thinking of my mother.

But this year feels different.  While the weather is rainy, the birds are chirping and I’m still smiling over the beautiful gesture my 6-year-old niece made last weekend.  Samantha, my brother’s daughter, is also my Goddaughter.  I thought it would be nice to have a day to spend with just her.

Aunt Sandy and Samie.
Aunt Sandy and Samie.

Last Sunday, I took her to Manhattan to Alice’s Tea Cup for lunch followed by a trip to Make Meaning — a crafting place.  Sam wanted to make something for Mother’s Day.  Over lunch, her imagination ran wild on what we could make.  She asked if I would be making something too.  I knew she’d want me to, and I enjoyed being creative still, just like when I was a kid and begged my parents for a pottery wheel for my birthday.  I haven’t grown out of it.

I told Sam I would be making something as well.  Her face brightened and she said, “I have an idea!  You can make something for your mom, too!”  I was worried I was going to have the conversation with her again.  The one where I explained that her grandma — my mother — was in Heaven.  But she remembered and knew exactly what she was suggesting.  “You can put it on her grave.”  I smiled at her, wanting to cry, and squeeze her.  Sam is at that age when she’s absolutely adorable, witty and quick as a whip.  She either melts your heart or tests your patience to the point where you can’t believe she’s the same kid.  My mother would have enjoyed her and my nephew so, so much, and they would have adored her right back.

We made candles for our Moms.  Mine is the one with the butterfly.
We made candles for our Moms. Mine is the one with the butterfly.

Samantha sometimes throws tantrums and talks back, but when something is important and meaningful, she gets it.  Like when I showed her my great granny’s recipe box.  She was so excited to look through all of the recipes that were written by our relatives, and even me, as a kid.  When she looked at me and asked if she could come up with a recipe, I knew how important she knew that box was to me.  She ran around my sister’s house, exclaiming how her recipe was added to the box — showing all of my siblings.  We all got the importance of that moment.

While my mother was not here to see Samantha come into this world, and she only saw my nephew, Sebastian as a baby, that does not mean Mom is not here to help us teach her and keep certain family traditions alive.

We have so few of my childhood traditions left.  It’s no one’s fault.  The family has gotten bigger, we’ve gotten older, and it was important for us to let go of some things, but not all is lost.

This Mother’s Day, I don’t feel alone.  I am not in mourning all over again.  I feel loved and like I’m good at loving, especially children.  Someday I’d like to have a child of my own and spend many Mother’s Days with he/she or them.

As I gear up to move back to Nashville in a couple of weeks, it’s hard for me to think of leaving these children and my brother — who I’ve just grown closer to with age.  It’s particularly hard knowing I am a piece of my mother to my brother, and with me leaving, he feels like she’s dying all over again.

It’s difficult for me to explain to him and the children why I can’t stay.  It’s not them.  It’s this feeling inside my heart that tells me I’m not supposed to be here — in New York.  It’s the feeling I get in my heart when I’m in Nashville — like I’m onto something special.

But I will always be with him and those kids when I can.  I just hope they all understand that.  Like Mom, I have a knack for silliness and will always be good to make those kids laugh and maybe even my siblings, too, when they don’t feel very much like laughing.

Your Opinion Of You Is The Only One That Matters

I have always been a sensitive soul with a bleeding heart for others.  Throughout my life people have sought to hurt me without provocation.  Sometimes it was a kid at school that I didn’t particularly care for anyway — either they were a bully or simply put, a jerk.  Still, the mean things said, the dirty looks passed, or just their plain old avoidance of me, upset me.  I just never understood it.  I have a hard time snubbing someone or being mean, even when called for, let alone to someone like me, a bubbly goody-two shoes. (Granted, that quality alone might annoy some people, but I don’t think it calls for any kind of rude behavior!)

Looking back now, I was probably seen as a dork, which I know I am and don’t care.  I’m proud of all my personality traits — no matter who sees them as uncool.  I’m awesome and I’m comfortable with saying that.

Still, growing up, I let these kids’ opinions affect me.  I wanted to win them over, regardless if I even liked them or not.  This was my need for love and acceptance that I was not getting elsewhere.

Now, as an adult, I have faced bullying and mean-spirited people trying to tear me down once more.  My initial reaction has been the same; it hurt and I couldn’t understand where it was coming from.

What killed me even more was the fact that it was not coming from punk kids who were mere acquaintances to me, but rather family members.  My father and my uncle should be the closest men to me while growing up, but instead have been quite damaging to me throughout my life.  They say things when angry that purposely attack someone they’re supposed to love.

I suppose this is reflected in my novels.  In the “Dream Catchers” series, Jordan’s father was very much a representation of my father and uncle — with a bad temper and fabricating lies out of spite.  Meanwhile in “The Watch Dog“, Rett’s abusive childhood is a culmination from what me and my siblings have all experienced along with behaviors that can develop due to abuse.  We all suffer from how we grew up on different levels.  My father and his brother also come from an abused home and obviously have not learned much from it.  In my most recent novel, “Indigo Waters“, Cappie’s relatonship with his son Fin is quite damaged as well.  His father has him pegged as reckless and a screw-up.

I have given my father and uncle many chances throughout my 32 years, but I realized I was stuck in the same cycle.  I would forgive and accept them back into my life, only for them to lash out at me again not long after.  I’m done with that now.  While I don’t wish harm on them, I don’t need their poison in my life.

Recently, my uncle — whom I was very close with growing up, but who has betrayed me many times, lashed out at me on social media.  I have kept my distance from him for several years after he spread rumors about me and my siblings throughout the family.  Still, we were in occasional communication; a friendly Merry Christmas text or Happy Birthday here and there.

Imagine my surprise when I received a very long message from him out of the blue gratuitously bashing me about getting off my pedestal.  I won’t rehash the message here, but basically he was saying I was nothing special and he belittled my career in a very harsh way.

My brother, who has been the only man in my life to stand by me, couldn’t understand why I would let it get to me as I teared up over it.  I explained it still hurts no matter who it’s coming from.  I know this relative is mentally unstable and was having a burst of anger about what he has done to our relationship, but still, I didn’t warrant his backlash about my career — something that is none of his business.

I do know that the pain and tears I felt are stemmed from childhood.  I still want to be loved and accepted by everyone.  Funny enough, it was these men who made me feel insecure about all of that, and here one of them is, still trying to keep that insecurity running through me.

It made me realize that I need to work on feeling more confident in who I am and what I’ve done; I am proud of all I accomplished and who I am.  I never tried to say I was better than anyone like this ass is claiming.  I needed to remind myself of these things, so thank you very much for that, crazy uncle.

Just like those kids’ thoughts of me no longer bother me because they didn’t even know who I was, I am learning to think of certain family members in this light as well.  My entire life they thought I was cruel, heartless and many other things that were actually their own traits they tried to project on me.  They never bothered to get to know who the hell I actually was, which I am happy to say is nothing like them.  Thank God!

I am going to keep working on reversing the negativity that was laid on me throughout my life and fight back with my “Half Full Attitude” (positivity).

I write these blog posts to help remind myself and also at the hope this may help anyone out there reading.  It doesn’t matter what others think of you as long as you think highly of yourself.  It’s a lesson we all need to learn.

Sending love, kisses & hugs!

…And also sending a punch in the mouth to those who seek out causing others pain…

Wellbriety Column: The Mother and Son Relationship in Addiction

The relationship between a Mother and her son is one that transcends time. No matter the age of your child they are still your baby and you want to protect them. I remember speaking to a therapist (and close friend) years ago regarding my son. I will never forget this conversation as long as I live. She was actually out on the road touring with us at my son’s request. He was on a rampage of using and drinking night after night. She did her best to try and use every tool she possessed to help him understand how bad his addiction had become. He would not listen. I was in a total bubble of denial about his addiction and refused to see it. This was not helpful to either of us.

After one particularly bad night I sat down with her and asked openly, “Is my son an addict?” She answered “YES”. My heart instantly fell into a bottomless pit of pain. I began to sob and asked her for help. A few days later my son was flown to rehab; he was safe.

Safety and happiness are all a parent really wants for their child. I was no different. However, my lack of knowledge about this insidious disease caused me to become one of my son’s greatest enablers. I submerged myself in every book, article and conversation that had to do with addiction and recovery. I needed to know what my child was going through and how best I could help us both. This was the key and first step to my own healing.

I know that a Mother’s first instinct is to protect her child at all costs, but in this case that is not the best way to help them. They need to learn to deal with their demons and heal in their own time and space. A lot of people talk about tough love, but I am not a believer in that path. No matter how bad things became, I never gave up or turned my son away. I was there for him whenever he asked for help. We all have our own roads to follow in this life. Choose yours wisely and with compassion and understanding. If you think your child is using, seek guidance from a professional or a group. Al-Anon is a good place to begin. There are also a lot of websites to turn to with meetings and articles of help. I was told by one of my son’s therapists in rehab these words of wisdom: “You cannot help your child unless you put your healing first.” I have found them to be true.

Just remember, you were there when they fell down the first time, so be there to help lift them up each time they ask. You will love yourself for it.

Snowbound and Motivated

Being back in New York this winter, I have learned that I’m not too fond of snow anymore.  As a kid, and even most of my adult years, I would pray for snow and play in it when it came.  A few years ago, my sister and I made snow angels on New Year’s Eve with no coats on… maybe we were a little tipsy, but we were eager to do it.

Now, I long for beach weather like I had in Florida (and was so sick of by the time I left).  I miss being able to go for a walk, feeling the sun on my face, and doing an outdoor workout if I felt like it.

I walked to a nearby Starbucks a few times this winter, and it wasn’t a picnic.  I almost slipped into a sewer at one point!  Ice, snow, cold rain = no fun for a pedestrian.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, Long Island isn’t very pedestrian equipped.  Most main roads have no sidewalks and most busstops aren’t marked.  Add the snow to the mix, I’m practically walking with traffic or waiting for a bus in the actual street.

The one time I did go out to play in the snow with my niece and nephew.  I think I got frostbite!  My niece definitely did.

In spite of the weather, I am more motivated than ever to continue my healthy journey.  My brother is even joining me somewhat.  He is challenging himself to be vegetarian for at least a little while.  He’s made me his personal chef and I joined his gym, so we can go together.

It’s been an adjustment for him, to get back into the swing of working out and eating healthier.  I’m trying to make heartier meals, since I’m already accustomed to eating less and healthier, and his appetite is bigger.

Though now that I’m working out again, I find myself hungrier than usual.  So after a workout, we usually have smoothies.

Other than maintaining a healthy regimen, I’m trying to balance getting all of my articles in for the spring issue of Runway, and keeping Half Full Magazine as active as possible.  I really want to make my website a well-rounded powerhouse in online magazines.  And of course, I’m working on writing “The Reunion“.  I’m at the point in the novel where I think everything is crap, a common emotion I go through at the quarter mark, haha.  I usually step away at this point then come back a week later, read through it all, and find I love it.  Hopefully that happens again!

Well, that’s all for now.  Feel free to comment and share what’s going on in your world!  I love hearing from you!

Hugs, Kisses & Stars,
Sandy