Reflections of growing up, remembering my roots and seizing a life free of regret

“Listen, when I was a little girl, I used to spend hours looking for ladybugs. Finally, I’d just give up and fall asleep in the grass. When I woke up, they were all over me.” – Under the Tuscan Sun

New York CityPiles of ice. Snow falling atop dirty snow. Fourteen degrees on a good day. The time of year has come when we Northerners start to threaten the permanency of our lives above the Mason-Dixon line.

It seems not a day goes by without talk of the weather.

“I need to get out of here”

“I’m moving to Florida”

“Remind me why I live in New York, again?”

Whether it’s careers, family ties, or the social scene, we all have our reasons for living in a particular place. And, as March rolls in, I cannot help but think about this great city of New York, and all the reasons why baring the bitter weather makes living here worth it.

We all know New York City offers a plethora of sites and attractions. On any given day, we have the option to visit Broadway shows, shopping strips, museums, beaches, markets, concerts, sporting events or comedy routines. We have more restaurants and bars than most locals will visit in a lifetime.


"Wishes"My last day as a Walt Disney World employee involved portraying one of the largest displays of public sadness I can remember from my adult life. This January marked 10 years since those Disney days. And, I celebrated it back in the wonderful world of Disney with my former College Program (“CP”) employees, who I proudly still call friends.

In 2004, I had applied to Walt Disney World’s College Program (WDWCP), which meant taking a semester away from my university to practice job skills in the Land of the Mouse. Recruiters had placed me on the Animal Kingdom’s Operations team (my first choice) at three different attractions – “It’s Tough to Be A Bug,” “Pocahontas” and “The Festival of the Lion King.”

My responsibilities included everything from crowd control to organizing strollers (or “BUGgies”) to teaching show audiences how to hand jive to Hakuna Matata. Mostly, my job was to make sure everyone had “a magical day.”





Here We Are, 2015

Seasons GreetingsIt’s that time again – time for a new year to begin and reflections of 2014 to surface.

As many of you know, I have published a New Year’s post every year since I started blogging in 2010. I always focus these annual posts not on resolutions, but on the memories I am thankful for in each closing year.

As I reflect back on 2014, I realize most of my highlights have revolved around life’s simple things: spending time with family and friends, exploring my own neighborhood, and making myself known to local coffee vendors.

I have been presented with a series of challenges the past couple years. While life has moved mostly forward, it has also presented a series of losses ranging from tragic deaths to sick family members to unsuccessful relationships. I have been learning not only how to find stability through my personal challenges, but also how to remain a strong social worker while absorbing stories of my clients’ trauma on a daily basis. The combination has required a great deal of personal time and self-preservation.





A Week in Arizona

This Thanksgiving, my family and I flew from two separate Northeast airports to the Grand Canyon State to spend the holiday week together. With my brother, Dan, now living in Flagstaff, we figured it a perfect opportunity for a Griswold-style vacation in the desert. Here are the week’s highlights:

Saturday: Day 1.
We landed in Phoenix. Dan picked up my parents, sister and me in a sleek black minivan from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and we headed for Flagstaff. We wouldn’t have made it the two-hour drive, though, without stopping for a delicious Mexican dinner en route. Besides the salted margarita and homemade salsa, my favorite part of the dining experience included a sign on the restaurant’s front window that read “NO FIREARMS ALLOWED.” You can carry guns on your person in Arizona, but not all restaurants want them brought to the dinner table.


View from "The Swing"I come from a family of five, with an extended family of 77. Like many families, we are one of reunions and traditions. And, one of our most popular family traditions is “The Cottage.”

My grandfather began the process of building our cottage in 1945 on a plot of land next to Lake Ontario in the Thousand Islands, New York. For perspective on our location, we can walk down the shoreline and see Canada. The Cottage is also a 30-minute drive from the town where my grandparents raised their six children. And, over the years – as most families do – we multiplied.

The Cottage, as my cousin described it, is a place where tradition meets new-aged thinking. He was actually referring to the food at the time, but I think it’s an appropriate way to describe The Cottage as a whole. For 69 years, this quaint, two-bedroom dwelling has been a gathering place for my continuously growing family. It’s a place we all return to in the summers, no matter where in the world our lives have taken us. And, while the family has grown in size, the foundation of The Cottage has stayed mostly the same. The space is sparse, the amenities limited, and one might consider the experience more comparable to camping than visiting a lake house.