Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Surviving Thanksgiving Alone

My friend Sharon just called. It is so rare to have a phone conversation these days, the simple act of breathing and swallowing between sentences feels like a refresher course from 1989 scuba diving training.

We both confessed we often don't hear from each other for weeks sometimes, simply because we are too Debbie Downer to enter anyone's world. So we just shut up and shut down. Go off the radar.

For me, that pretty much describes the past 24 hours.

It started with a 3:30am airport run (did you read that, folks? 3:30 A.M.!) to send my husband and oldest son off to Maui. Luke and the Vanderbilt Commodores play in the prestigious Maui Invitational basketball tournament all week. I am happy for my whole family; sad for me. (We are in the last 3 days of a ratings period, so I have to stay in Nashville.)

I will confess, this text from my daughter almost made it ALL better.

I've felt anxious about this week alone for at least the last 3 months. It's likely why I have taken so many trips of late, hoping the binge travel would sustain me through these days flying solo.

To keep from tumbling into a dryer-load of despair, I checked out a fresh batch of books to keep my dopamine pumping. I learned last weekend at a local TedX event, where those 12-20 minute "ideas worth sharing" lectures come from, that learning something new "lights up" the brain and spikes dopamine production.

It's much like traveling, laughing, and deep talks with my family and friends do for me.

Which brings me back to being alone.

Why does it bother me so?

Perhaps it's due to growing up with a house full of siblings and a steady stream of people in the house...which then morphed into a full house with my own children.

My Wing Siblings & their kids

Perhaps it's what my brother and I call the "Wing Discontent" rearing its cruel and ugly head, our constant battle for stimulation, evolution, and purpose.

However, in just the last few hours while listening to one of my newly check-out books on tape, it occurred to me perhaps it's more deeply rooted.

Oprah writes in "What I Know for Sure" that each of us at our core longs to be valued:  "The yearning to be heard and loved is so strong, we seek it wherever we can get it."

Oprah admits she didn't feel loved -- and thought she'd make people approve of her by being an achiever. Until she learned the following:

"The love and approval I craved could not be found outside myself. A lack of intimacy is not distance from someone, it's disregard for yourself....You don't have to spend one more second deprived of the affirmation you should have gotten from your parents.  Look inward. The loving begins with you."

Whoa.  Is this my over-arching issue? If so, what do I do now?

This morning I took a step in the right direction. I scheduled an early shoot to get dressed, out of the house, and surrounded by PEOPLE, followed by a live radio interview to talk about the Nashville Rescue Mission and its upcoming Hearts for Hope luncheon on Valentines Day.

Post-interview fun on the Michael DiGiorno show
I also vowed to journal what I'm grateful for.

"Gratitude can transform any situation. It is the quickest, easiest, most powerful way to affect change in your life," the Queen of Talk insists.

Care to join me?

I Don't Want to be Alone on Thanksgiving

The Commodores are playing in the Championship game of the Maui Invitational, baby!

Even better? After seeing my son Luke on television last night, I heard from my very best childhood friend in the whole wide world.

It was 10:45pm her time. She was visiting her parents in Florida and sent me a short email saying hi.

I immediately called her back at her childhood home number--one of the few I can still remember!

I LOVE this woman.

Friends Forever, even if we only see each once per decade!
Stacie Beth lived right across the street from my Tampa home in Carrollwood Village.

My childhood home; Stacie lived right across the street
In the heart of summer, I would spend weeks at her house.

She always had chocolate in her pantry and perfectly organized, matching containers in her fridge. I wanted her dad to be my dad. The only photos of me in childhood dance recitals, came from him.

When he and her mom would go out to dinner, they would kiss me goodbye too.

She said when she turned on last night's game, she spotted Luke right away.

"He looks just like a Wing!"

"I am so happy for and proud of your kids, Tracy."

I feel the same way about hers. When I see pictures of Stacie's daughters today, I am taken right back to childhood. I instantly love them.

I feel this way about all of my friends' children.

Isn't this one of the blessings of age (and of Facebook)!

Who ever thought being alone this week, would bring such a Happy Thanksgiving.
Nashville Rescue Mission: What Thanksgiving's All About!

Post Script, Post-Thanksgiving:

If the following isn't proof that there IS light at the tunnel.
The sun will come up in the morning.
This too shall pass.

All is well with my soul!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Travel Binge

My precious Nicole
I was reading through scripts for Friday night's newscasts, when an epiphany started to wash over me. 

Weekend wine train plans with my Nashville girlfriend were unexpectedly cancelled, and I found myself free with no commitments. 

I jumped on and looked for frequent flier flights to California. 

My heart had been yearning to see my daughter. To check in on her new life in LA. To make sure she is as happy as she claims to be. 

There were seats available. I texted Nicole about the possibility. Since she can't travel with her team this year, I knew she'd be in town. 

"Sure, come on out," Nicole texted back.

Her follow-up texts were a great indication she is really just fine, mom.

"And can you bring a vacuum? I spilled makeup on my carpet." Followed by: "You're bringing a TV for my room. Right?"


I booked my ticket for 6am the next morning.

Late that night things got even more exciting. On my drive home after the late news, my oldest son John called. He sounded really bummed, looking forward to absolutely nothing that weekend in Little Rock. 

I asked if he'd like to join his sister and me in LA. 

After some cajoling and checking to see if I had enough miles for his flight too--and John deliberating if he dare do such a spontaneous, impractical thing--he said yes!

I booked his ticket. 
My boy & me

I have felt giddy ever since. 

I land in 4 hours. John will follow this afternoon. 

I have admittedly been on the move almost every weekend of late with college reunions, family visits, and birthday adventures.

Visiting pops & step-mom in Chicago with zany Uncle Ben & Sister Tiff
Best ever Vanderbilt Class of '90 Reunion!
My long-time, loyal, and fabulously tan KY friend, Cynthia

World's greatest high school hooligans, 2am at Waffle House

These trips have been a blast. 

Yes, Bon Jovi is this gray!

But nothing compares to the joy I am feeling right now, knowing I will share the weekend with two of my precious children. Knowing they will be reminded how they have each other, too. That they are part of a family who loves them. That they will never be alone in this sometimes lonely world.

Post-family nap on the beach, Santa Monica

Sure, my mom needs will be satiated. I will leave cashless and my credit card will get a major workout.  And my heart will be overflowing.

Thus it is, my latest epiphany: As I've gotten older, my motivations have evolved from climbing and achieving, especially during the work week, to living and loving once the weekend hits.

In fact, I'd better sign off now and seize the next three hours for a power nap, as I plan to make the most of this 36 hours with John and Nicole in sunny California.

Plus, I'll need the strength to haul this vacuum and TV through LAX.

Coast to coast, nothing beats a sunset

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