The Wolfeboro Project: Thank you! (It’s Not Over, Yet)

Summer in our Happy Place has sped by. And as the world and our society shifts, evolves and develops, so too does our second home here in Wolfeboro. More than the home, though are the wonderful people who make a house a true home.

Our screened porch project took many weeks; from April until after the end of July we had our contractor crew, electricians, roofers, gutter installer and our garage door installer in and out of driveway. They became part of our extended family – if only temporarily. While the final numbers on this portion of our renovation have been eye-opening and sometimes eye-popping, we have been so happy with the results.

Spending quiet time, family time, reading time and just being in our porch oasis is everything we hoped for. Thank you to these skilled workmen who were always pleasant; they cleaned up; corrected any problems along the way and offered insightful ideas on how to make our porch so beautiful and comfortable: Craig Howland, Howland Siding and Insulation and Larry, George and Terry.

When I met the owner of the garage door company, Nick Leighton, Overhead Door Options, I was in the middle of a nutty work day. He actually gave me a hug at the end of our meeting saying, “It looks like you need a hug.” We were still in the midst of having the porch completed and he understood our concerns about this 70s home and our continuing project.

To top it off, Nick’s price was better than other prices we checked out; his installer, Jason was truly a pro; and the doors arrived and were installed on time and on budget. Oh, my! And the house looks amazing – despite other improvements still needed (siding, paint, etc.).

We’re now in the midst of mediating an invasive species – Japanese Knotweed. We have 2700 square feet of the plant on our corner property. Ephraim Baker is doing a terrific job so far; we hope to start considering some plant cleanup so our corner property looks less wild.

Beyond our home, the people we have met and spent time with this summer are overall – so amazing and lovely. I have been working in town and get to see Wolfeboro residents as well as so many visitors and tourists who actually lean in to hear recommendations for restaurants, museums and more that Wolfeboro and the Lakes Region offers during the season. One of my co-workers told me I should work for the chamber of commerce because my knowledge of the area was so impressive. It’s hard to believe I have soaked up so much knowledge about the area during our years of vacationing here and now owning a home.

Our new friends have been so much fun; from Thirsty Thursday on the Winnipesaukee Belle with co-workers and friends to Tom and Cami’s staff party at their island home; the Ossipee Boys Concert, Cate Park concerts, our Katie’s Kitchen friends: Patty, Bruce, Grace, Joyce, Joe, Bonnie, Roger – and so many others; co-workers Mary Ann, Cindi, Louise, Julia, Ellen; Olympia Gym pal Roxie – and others there who were always so nice – including staffer June; our Springfield Point friends, Laurie, Mona, Randy, Susan; Winterhaven friends, Missy, Doug – and new friends Joann, Charlie as well as Penny, Paul; and Cate at Wolfeboro Corinthian Yacht Club and some of our Alpine Meadows neighbors – the list is getting longer.

Our family and friend visits this summer have been tons of fun and those visits go way too fast. From Doug’s mom’s 85th birthday celebration week and the family in town for that and their vacations – to our friends Jarrod and Leah visiting to Adam FINALLY getting here and visits by my mom, brother Steve and wife, Sue – there are not enough thanks – and hours in the day – to enjoy everyone.

While this post is meant to be a Wolfeboro Project update, it is a bit of advice to people who are considering a second home or a move to a small town: embed yourself in the town. Listen, learn, share – and be an active participant. Embrace the local culture; adapt to how your new community does things since it’s probably different from your other town.

I’ve been to local community meetings, the library, town hall, non-profit group events, museum lectures about the region and more this summer. I’ve chatted with the police chief and officers, fire department staff; went to the library and public safety open houses; I wish I had done more.

The thing I am embracing is – this is now our life. We’ll be here seasonally as we continue to work (with visits throughout the fall and winter as we can). Our Wolfeboro Project will continue – and we’ll learn the lessons of home renovation, living in a small town and basking in this beautiful place we call home: Wolfeboro, NH.

What’s Next 2016

Taking a moment to reflect pushes me more toward looking forward. When I read about issues and news stories that ask the question, “How could this have been prevented?” I ask the question, “How can we make changes for our children and their children?” My top three changes start CO2016_09with mind and body.

1. During this year, my hope is to daily, say or do (or at least think) something positive about or to another person. Enough with the negativity; it gets you no where and probably adds to the lines in my face. So, enough. As much or as best as possible, smile, and respond with, “I hear what you’re saying.” Do we really think we’re going to change another person’s mind when they are loaded for bear and ready to take someone’s head off? People don’t change that much; it makes more sense to take positive energy; shrug to yourself and perhaps try to think something positive about that negative person. Plus, I’d like to record weekly, a positive outcome for that week – business, family/friends, personal or something out of the ordinary.

2. After two body part replacements since 2011, I have learned that fitness Sunset7_06is supreme. I get through each workout day in a positive way; my nutrition is key and adds to my positive mindset. For 2016, this journey will continue:

  • Start each day with 20 sips of water (thank you #NBCJennaWolf);
  • Two-three workout days per week with stationary bike action at the house in between and more outside recreation.
  • #OptOutside is tough. We get caught up at the office – which for me is my home – and it’s difficult to carve out at least 30 minutes outdoors. This, I will work on.

DB_BJB_Settlement_April2011 - Copy

3. Date night keeps things fresh. This is our 25th anniversary year. Marriage is a partnership that grows, ebbs, flows and evolves. It is never perfect. At least once a month – beyond the usual outings – we’ll go to a comedy club, enjoy something cultural and take turns yielding to the other when it comes to things we enjoy doing.

Whatever fits in your world, resolve to make it happen. Find what makes you happy and set out to accomplish the goal – no matter how small or large. Your positive action will sustain you; the positive karma may catch on you those around you and be infectious in a very positive way.

 

The Written Word

The Written Word

When your children and your children’s children go through the family things some day, what will they find? Perhaps not our generation, but surely our children’s generation one thing that will not be passed down is the written word.

oldlettersOver the weekend, I hauled into the house from an old desk stored in the garage, a drawer filled with my life. Most of what was stowed away for years was from the early years in my radio career, but I also discovered high school memorabilia I thought was long gone – and frankly, I hadn’t even thought about it for decades. What I found that was most meaningful, were cards and letters from friends and family members.

There’s a letter from my ‘mom-mom’ who died in 1995. The letter is dated December 31, 1981. She tucked into the note another note that she received from a niece of my late grandfather. She listened to me on the radio back then and was so glad to have that connection. My grandmother wrote how proud she was of me.

A letter from my elementary school gym teacher dated November 10, 1981 wrote of how he and my other two favorite teachers had formed a ‘fan’ club and how they too, were listening to me on WMGK and were proud. I found letters from radio fans who talked about their lives and how connected they felt listening to me and the people I worked with. Most important were all the letters my brother wrote me when he was in the Air Force. This was in the early to mid 1980’s. These letters are particularly significant because my brother suffered a life-changing accident during his time in the Air Force and lost the use of his right arm. The letters he wrote before the accident describe his homesickness as well as the fun he was having seeing other places and meeting new people. He ultimately me his wife – and they lived happily ever after. But it was emotional for me to read the handwriting he had before the accident. He learned how to use his left hand and has done extremely well over the past 20+ years.

What will the next generation have to look through when they look at their history? Emails, documents, blog posts like this, a Google search. The written word – putting pen to paper – is often from our hearts and minds. The physical act of writing, not typing, is somehow therapeutic.¬† While writers today do indeed express themselves well by typing words, too often a majority of people so dislike writing that they shorten everything down. “R u going 2nite? OMG me 2. C u l8tr.”

When I work with clients and we are able to get media coverage, I always encourage them to write a ‘thank you’ to the reporter. If they want to type out an email, that’s OK, but looking at these files of handwritten cards I have – many of then ‘thank yous,’ I am so incredibly glad I’m a little bit of a pack rat. For me, there’s nothing like a personal card that someone had to choose or just find that blank sheet of paper to write a thoughtful few lines or more to offer their thanks.

The letters from my grandmother and my brother and some friends are a part of me. They describe personal history that was going on back then and how they were interwoven in my life. My grandmother has been gone for years, but to read these letters I found makes me know that she was a part of me – and I of her. I can hear her laughing right now – probably after telling a dirty joke.

Consider writing a card the next time you need to get in touch with someone. It’s worth the time and effort; and on the other end of that card, there is probably a friend, family member, colleague or someone you listen to, who will tuck that card in a file for safe keeping.

 

Thoughts for a Friend

Helping someone can be awkward. You don’t know what to say or do. You question your motives or whether you should get involved at all. Being a friend is about being there. Almost like a marriage: in sickness and in health; in good times and bad. That is how one should be with a true friend. It’s a difficult task.

My friend is in a dark place. Her life is shattered in many ways. The reasons are many and it happened over a very long time. I learned tonight that she is in need of professional help. She’s barely getting through a day. I can feel her pain. There is not much I can do – except just be there. I;ve been doing a lot of listening, but I realize her problems are so complex that I can;t begin to really be of any productive help. She feels alone and lost.

I know deep inside, she’ll find that place where she was long ago when she was a strong, vibrant person with love and laughter in her heart. She has lost that person. Perhaps with the right help, she’ll rediscover who she is and start anew.

I wish I could have helped her more a long time ago; but I did not know the trauma she was experiencing. I wonder if I was truly her friend because I did not know her pain. Some things are so deep, we do not share them even with the closest of friends. In sickness and health; in good times and bad. I will be there for her on the other side of her pain.

Ya Got To Have Friends

Nearly 24 years ago, Doug and I met. We met through a group that formed out of the kindness and creativity of a man named Carl. That group of singles – then called Voorhees Single Professionals – was created long before the internet, Match.com or any other online dating service. Carl created the group out of a desire to connect single people in their 20’s and 30’s to a social life that was tough to find beyond the bar scene at the time. An earlier article in the Philadelphia Inquirer mentioned the beginning of the group in the fall of 1989.

Day10_20100817_27Tonight, more than¬† 23 years later, Carl, his wife Ramona, Rick, Mary, Doug and I – who all met because of this group – had dinner together. I am exhausted. It was as though we had just left a group meeting and had planned weeks of events. We now are planning to get together for a boat ride – the six of us – on the Chesapeake – this coming summer. Ramona volunteered to start a Facebook page so we can begin to plan a September 28th ‘reunion’ of sorts. We want to revisit what Carl started so many years ago – a group of people who want to get together for social activities – a MEET market he proclaimed at the time – NOT a MEAT market – which was the big problem for singles.

The six of us met at our house for drinks and appetizers for about an hour. Our kitchen was filled with non-stop talk. Catching up; talking about our children – successes – failures; things on the horizon. When it came time to leave for our dinner reservation, we continued to talk. The car ride went by in a flash.

At the restaurant, we ordered and continued to catch up on each others’ lives. We talked about people who have passed away; who’ve divorced – but best of all, we reminisced about how each of us met. To remember those days as if they happened yesterday makes you feel as if everything that you’ve gone through – suffered through – survived – is even more meaningful.

What it all comes down to is – as the character Billy Crystal played in “City Slickers” said is ONE thing: if it were not for Carl and his one idea to put an ad in the local shopper’s guide and reserve the community hall in Voorhees on that September night in 1989 – none of us would have met. Our lives would be completely different.

Thank you Carl – forever; we love you. And we’ll plan that reunion for September 28, 2013.

No Complaints

I went through the painless process today of having blood work done. It’s the first step in what will be an involved process as I tackle this hip device dilemma. As depressed as I felt the end of last week and into this week, I couldn’t help but realize that I’ll be just fine.

There I was at the lab, rolling up my sleeve for the two minutes it took to have blood drawn. I’m not one to watch the needle go in and the blood flow, so I looked out the window. Snow squalls were whirling around pretty hard at that hour. Outside, a man was wheeling a young woman to a van after she had been at the lab. She appeared to have on her lap what I’ll guess was her entire medial history in a huge binder. The man lifted the woman out of the wheel chair and she maneuvered awkwardly into the front seat of the van.

In that moment, I knew that no matter what happens along the way during my saga, I will probably never be in the position of that young woman: wheel-chair bound; dependent on others to help her do so many things. I think of my friend Dan who has been a quadriplegic for decades and my friends, whose son will need their care for a very long time. What everything really comes down to is – love, family and friends. The rest is just speed bumps; minor glitches; stuff we just have to handle. We fix things – then move on. What counts is how we live and love with other people every day. I have nothing to complain about.

Simple Things

Tonight was for simple things. Pizza and salad with the family; a pleasant glass of wine; a son who is excited for his accomplishments; a son who tells me (without asking) that he’ll be home around midnight (with MY car).

Being a low-maintenance person is a good thing. As you age, you learn that letting go and just letting things happen is a good thing. Being grateful for a family and friends who I enjoy spending time with is a good thing.

Just a short post tonight – so I can enjoy more good things this weekend.