Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for August, 2013

40 to 40 #1

Birthdays

I have always loved birthdays – including my own. I’m sure you this now, if you have followed these posts (or Facebook). It’s been 40 days of celebration culminating in today. I can think of one friend who is probably thinking, “Enough already!” And another posted, “You’ve dragged this out for two weeks,” to which I had to correct her that I have dragged this out for 40 days.

As a child who grew up in Arizona with an August birthday, I was rarely home on August 4th. Our family, along with most Arizonans, went on vacation in August when the “dry” heat of Phoenix is not always so dry, and back-to-school is just around the corner. Because of this, I rarely had a birthday party. We always celebrated of course (usually with my cousins – who I can’t wait to see next week!) But sleepovers, tea parties, roller skating…all the parties my November-born sister had, alluded this Leo. I never remember this bothering me (I’ll have to ask my mom, because if it bothered me, it would have been she to whom I complained), but instead I learned to make this day what I wanted on my own. And I loved that I had a day that was just mine.

Over the years I have grown out of this (a bit). I still love my birthday, but I love it for what it is: a celebration of life. My life and all those in it, especially my family and friends. Over the past few years, I have spent my birthday at Disneyland, LegoLand, a Katy Perry concert…all things my children (and husband) were excited about. Were these events my first choice for ways to spend my birthday? You bet, because it made my children happy. And as most parents know, there is nothing better than seeing your children happy.

I also no longer see this day as just mine. I have a dear friend whose birthday is August 4th as well. And I love this. I love that we share today, in the same way that we share so many other aspects of our lives. And one of these years, we’ll celebrate today together.

I started writing my 40 to 40 blog as my way of celebrating what’s important to me. But along the way, I learned something about myself: I learned that it’s fun to let others celebrate with you. I learned that I like surprises (or maybe just some surprises). I learned what my mother means when she says, “Haley, you don’t understand, I don’t feel 65!” (or whatever age she was at the time…)

40 is not old (unless you are under 40, and then you might think it’s old). Many of my friends have already hit the milestone – and they make 40 look really great: happy, healthy, confident, purposeful. If this is 40, I’ll take it (and wouldn’t want to go back).

My goal to to make 40 look great to those who aren’t here yet.

  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Blog
  • 40 to 40 #2

    Mail

    When I arrived at my parents’ house on Thursday, I had a few birthday cards waiting for me. As always, my parents had put the cards on the fireplace mantel. Growing up, this was where cards and presents went. When I put up three birthday cards I had opened in Maryland, my husband chuckled and said, “You actually brought those with you?” Yup!

    I love mail. Not email (although that’s pretty cool too), but hand written, USPS stamped mail. I think it began as a child when I met a swimmer who lived in Tucson, AZ, and we became pen pals. Although we only saw each other once a year at the state meet, we wrote letters back and forth for a couple of years. I remember the excitement of opening the mailbox and seeing a letter addressed to me. I still feel that way.

    Later on, I exchanged letters with my cousins during the school year and with school friends when we traveled over summer vacation. These were similar to the notes we passed back and forth at school, but mailed – which made them more exciting. My parents always sent postcards whenever they went away (they still do! Although often to my children now). I love mail.

    In college, I loved receiving letters, newspaper articles and sometimes comics from my parents in the mail (my mom still sends these). I remember once my dad sent a list titled “The 20 Best Blonde Jokes,” with a note that read, “Share these with Nancy;” and another time he sent a political cartoon about Michael Irving and the Dallas Cowboys. I still have both.

    When I was in the hospital, I received stacks of mail. I talk about this often, because it was so meaningful, and  I was so grateful for the time people took to write letters, share their own stories and send their well wishes. It is a bit of goodness that I hope to pass along and share with others.

     

  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Blog
  • 40 to 40 #3

    Cousins

    Back in the Spring, when I asked my boys what they wanted to do this summer, they both responded, “Spend time with my cousins.” So I made sure much of our summer has been spent visiting cousins in Florida and Arizona (we also had my nephew with us in Maryland for two weeks), just as so many of my childhood summers were spent with my cousins. And still are. I get it; time with cousins is awesome.

    Today I took my boys and three of their cousins to Big Surf. For those of you who grew up in Arizona, you know Big Surf. (Think: massive water park in the dessert.) But as an adult, it’s not that massive. The wave pool is still there, but they have added several water slides. Nonetheless, a day at Big Surf with your cousins is about as good as it gets. And for me, spending a day at Big Surf with my mom, watching my boys enjoy their cousins, is about as good as it gets. It’s childhood magic in the summertime.

    I too choose “time with cousins” when mentally planning our summer. I look forward to it each year. And even though we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, when we do, there is still some of that cousin-magic. It’s just plain fun. And comfortable. And easy. What is it about cousins? They just make me smile.

    So I get it. When my boys tell me they want to spend time with their cousins, I do whatever I can to make it happen (including taking five kids by myself to the Grand Canyon, or the movies or a water park), because I know the excitement of anticipation that comes with looking forward to spending time with a cousin…or even better, an older cousin.

    (Oh the things my nephews will teach my boys!)

  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Blog
  • 40 to 40 #4

    Work

    Recently I spent the day with one of the busiest moms I know. We made tentative plans to get our boys together between meetings, phone calls, running errands and well, being a mom. It was an impromptu “swim date” (because my boys have declared they are too old for “play dates” – and we were at the pool) and I thoroughly enjoyed spending a few hours with a friend while our boys swam.

    During the course of our conversation, my friend shared with me that one of her colleagues said to her, “You’re always on vacation.” I laughed out loud; and she would have too, if it wasn’t so untrue and (almost) offensive.Let me just clarify: this mom owns and runs two businesses, in addition to numerous “on the side” volunteer projects, while raising three kids. Always on vacation? Are you kidding?

    Perhaps “always on the go” would have been a better statement. Yes, she is often on the road traveling…to visit clients, to continually educate herself in her field, and to spend time with extended family. The latter being what one might confuse for vacation. I get it. But it’s not vacation, it’s relocation.

    Tonight I begin my own relocation. I am fortunate enough to spend the next three weeks in Arizona and California. My husband will travel back and forth, our midshipman is living in the basement of our house, and we’ll take advantage of the time to have the floors replaced in our boys’ bedrooms (years of children’s fun finally removed from the carpets!) But I will not be on vacation. Vacation is a foreign country or on a boat where no one can reach me via email or cell phones. I couldn’t do that for three weeks. Three weeks in AZ and CA – while extremely awesome – is relocation. I will do everything I do at home – in a different state. I will still be working: scheduling talks, sitting on conference calls (yes, at 5am because they are scheduled for 8am EDT), drafting committee reports and a myriad of other tasks. Just as my girlfriend, who spends time in Virginia and Delaware with her family in the summertime still works. She too has relocated.

    Because of this, I have to say, I am lucky to have the job/s  - and do the work – I do. I need a phone and a computer. And I love what I do. I feel such gratitude when I have the opportunity to share my story; to read emails and respond to readers who have read my book and took the time to email me. How many times have you written to an author? (I haven’t.) I receive emails – if not daily – several times a week. How awesome is that? I so greatly appreciate these emails – and the time they took to write them – that I respond to every single one. And not just “thanks for writing.” The emails I receive are filled with careful thoughts, personal stories and emotions not aways shared. My replies are filled with the same.

    As I travel to Arizona to celebrate my 40th birthday, I am so grateful for the opportunities I have to share my story, make a difference, touch lives and hopefully set an example for my children…no matter where I am.

  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Blog