Nursing Tanks for Mothers In Need #DoGoodGiveGoods

SupportHerDreamI am briefly coming out of my seclusion with the most beautiful 7-week-old little girl in the world (just try to argue with me), so that I can tell you about a soon-to-be-ending campaign that is close to my heart. There is no denying the benefits of nursing our babies, but it is rarely easy. It can be even more difficult for mothers who struggle with getting those little luxury items that make it easier, like nursing wear.

Breastfeeding is a hot topic right now. Maybe it always has been, but of course it’s something that I am suddenly giving very close attention. What I know is that my personal breastfeeding journey with my new baby is very different from the one I had with my now 7-year-old daughter. My life is different now. I am older and better informed. With my first daughter, living in fast-paced New York City, working full-time in a job that required frequent travel, being the sole breadwinner of the family and returning to work only five weeks after her birth, the situation was not optimal. Although formula was more expensive, it allowed me to work the long uninterrupted hours that my job required, and it at least gave me the peace of mind that my daughter would be fed, regardless of whether I could make that flight or that train. It broke my heart to give up breastfeeding only six weeks after her birth, but frankly she is a thriving young girl who insists she was not traumatized in any way whatsoever by my choice. By the way, it still does not alleviate my mom guilt and probably never will.

However, this time I have been very blessed and very lucky, in that I have had the luxury of time, the patience of age and the support from my family to focus on breastfeeding. And even with all of that, it’s not easy. Even little things – a good nursing pillow, water // snacks within arms reach, a private place to feed (if that’s important to you) and having good nursing tops // bras make a big difference when it comes to keeping with your goal of breastfeeding your baby.

One of the pieces that I credit with making my experience so positive this time around is my Bravado nursing tank. It is not easy to be comfortable in those first postpartum days and weeks (need I go into details ladies?), so I appreciated the soft yet stretchy fabric, the hip-length and roomy tummy area, the supportive straps and the foam inserts. I also appreciated, and continue to do so, that it is more flattering than a lot of nursing wear. And, the full drop-away cups help to maximize skin-to-skin contact while nursing, still providing some discretion.

But, my absolute favorite thing about Bravado nursing tanks right now : Bravado’s “Support Her Dream” Campaign to Donate 10,000 Nursing Tanks to support new mothers in need.

You never know what factors are keeping a woman from realizing her breastfeeding goals, even something as seemingly simple as nursing wear. With every purchase of the NEW Bravado Dream Nursing Tank ($55 US // $60 CAD) through April at BravadoDesigns.com and national // specialty retailers, Bravado will donate a nursing tank to Good+ Foundation to help ensure moms in need have a successful start to their breastfeeding journey. The donation goal of 10,000 nursing tanks is valued at nearly half a million dollars and will be distributed to Good+ Foundation, which serves throughout North America.

Having or not having those little things could either encourage or discourage a new mom in need to keep up with her breastfeeding goals. Maybe after struggling for weeks, it’s discomfort and aggravation that finally make her give up. We all know the advantages of breastfeeding our babies, so why not do what we can to support her?

I know that this is late notice. Blame the 7-week-old bundle of perfection sleeping next to me right now. But if you or a friend could use a new nursing top, this is the one to get. Join @bravadodesigns @GOODPlusFdn and help new moms in need. Buy a Tank, Give a Tank. BravadoDesigns.com

Now excuse me. Somebody’s hungry.

Meissa and Mama

Finding Neverland Delights on Broadway

Finding_Neverland_Broadway_PlaybillThe classic musicals of Broadway past will always have a special place in my heart. I walked down the aisle to “Wedding Processional” from The Sound of Music to marry a man who won me over by gifting me an entire DVD collection of Rogers and Hammerstein movie musicals including Oklahoma and The King & I. However, at some point during my adult years living in New York I developed a stronger taste for that darker and edgier theater with adult themes that usually fills my itineraries when I visit my old home. So despite frequent excursions to see local school and community family-friendly productions with my daughter, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen a good-hearted, family-friendly, positive musical at the Broadway level. Thankfully, last week in New York City I had that opportunity.

 

At the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on West 46th Street, I was transported back to the Finding Neverlandmagical and sentimental world of the classic musicals of my childhood during a matinee of Finding Neverland, the musical based on the 2004 movie starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet that came to Broadway earlier this year. Currently the show stars Glee’s Matthew Morrison and Broadway stars Terrence Mann (Pippin, Cats, Les Misérables, Chorus Line, Beauty & the Beast) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, Mamma Mia!, Sweeney Todd), and all three of them blew me away with their voices and presence. Like the film, the show follows playwright J.M. Barrie as he summons the courage to become the writer – and the man – he yearns to be. Barrie finds the inspiration he’s been missing when he meets the beautiful widow Sylvia and her four young sons: Jack, George, Michael and Peter. His journey rediscovering his childhood imagination leads to the now renowned stories of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and the lost boys of Neverland.

Surrounded by a packed audience of all ages, from young children on a special holiday adventure with their parents, to elegant ladies from upper Manhattan known for frequenting matinees, to even otherwise cynical teenagers, I was swept up in the magic and spectacle of a musical that brought me back to why I fell in love with theater in the first place. Finding Neverland BroadwayA highlight was the scenic design by Tony Award®-winner Scott Pask (Pippin, Book of Mormon), particularly in the number Stronger (see video), where we first get a glimpse of the Neverland in Barrie’s imagination. And while mainstream audiences may at first be disappointed to no longer find familiar TV star Kelsey Grammer in the double role of the producer and Captain Hook, I was beyond grateful to instead get the theater legend Mann who has delighted us as a natural on the stage for decades.

Listed this month as one of Time Magazine’s Top Plays and Musicals of 2015, the funny, charming, and beautiful Finding Neverland plays at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater (205 West 46th Street) Tuesdays at 7:30pm, Wednesdays at 2pm & 7:30pm, Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets and more information can be found online at www.FindingNeverlandTheMusical.com, in person at the Lunt-Fontanne box office. Follow the magic on Twitter and Instagram: @NeverlandBway.

He Named Her Malala

Not long ago the new school year started for us across the United States. For my family and I know for many, schedules were shifted meaning earlier wake up times and cranky kids. My Inara, now in second grade in Laguna Beach, California, sighed heavily and expressed her annoyance at both the early rising expected of her in the morning and the interruption to her summer social life. I brushed her hair and told her a story about a girl on the other side of the world who was forbidden to go to school, but risked her life to do it anyway. I told her the story of Malala Yousafzai.

#HeNamedMeMalala on #RealPoshMom

A week later, I was honored to learn more of the young woman’s story at an advance screening of He Named Me Malala, by documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman), opening October 9th across the country. The Fox Searchlight film is a portrait of the teenager’s life back in Pakistan and now in the UK, and it depicts not only what happened the day that a Taliban gunman shot her for speaking out and defiantly attending school, but also the evolution of her family, culture, country, and personal mission. Despite obvious opportunities to be preachy, the film stays on course about the central unifying issue: the importance of raising and educating strong girls to become powerful independent women, and the positive effects that this has and could have on the world.

There were moments, as I suspected there would be, that moved me to tears. The tears didn’t come from shock, sympathy or devastation, but rather from gratitude. Gratitude for a father who broke tradition by celebrating and sharing the birth of a daughter, gratitude for parents who instilled a passion for education in their children, and gratitude for a family that has every right to spread hatred and fear but instead spreads inspiration and strength to all who will accept it.

#HeNamedMeMalala #FoxSearchlight #RealPoshMomThere were also moments of laughter. Malala is a teenager with two little brothers to torture. To them she’s the annoying big sister getting too much attention and making them do their homework, not the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and an international hero. Still the love in the family is evident and heartwarming, especially between father and daughter. Even when you wonder why this man willingly made his daughter a target, you begin to understand the long-term goal: ensuring that in the end she would get the education she is entitled to and the platform she longed for. When she was asked during a conference call last week what it was her father did to make her this person, she explained, “It’s not what he did. It’s what he didn’t do. He didn’t clip my wings. He allowed me to move forward, even though I am a girl.”

Wanting an even deeper understanding, I have been reading the memoir I Am Malala, choosing passages to read to Inara before bed at night. She and I cuddled on the couch to watch Stephen Colbert interview (and do card tricks with) the young woman last week on The Late Show, and we were both jealous when a friend in New York watched our young heroine speak live at the Global Citizen concert in Central Park. I am proud of my daughter’s interest and have even used Malala’s story in discussions about inequality around the world, including in our own country. It has all been a learning experience for us both. I intend to take Inara to see the film when it is released on October 9th and she is looking forward to it. Because the subject matter can be disturbing the film is rated PG-13, but as we’ve discussed it at length and are reading the book together, I am confident that my 7-year old can handle it. Other parents should take appropriate precautions, but know that it is told from the perspective of a very intelligent and peaceful young woman, and it is at no point unnecessarily violent or disturbing, beyond what it should be in order to be truthful.

The evening after the screening was back-to-school night for my daughter, whose public elementary school overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by a state park in southern California. The principal boasted that all classrooms had less than 20 children, and the teacher showed off the iPads and laptops available to each student, all thanks to all of the generous support from the parents and community. While I am grateful that my daughter and her friends have the opportunities they do, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with sadness at the inequality of education. Even within our own country there are children lacking basic school supplies and quality teachers due to lack of funds and interest. As a mother with one daughter and another one on the way, my heart aches especially for the 60 million girls around the world who should be in school today but do not have access to education. It doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be.

#HeNamedMeMalala #FoxSearchlight #MalalaYousafzai

With the release of this film comes the opportunity to create and spread the #WithMalala movement in support of the Malala Fund. The goal is to enable all girls, everywhere, to complete 12 years of safe, quality education so that they can achieve their potential and be positive change-makers in their families and communities. They work with partners all over the world helping to empower girls and amplify their voices; they invest in local education, leaders and programmes; and advocate for more resources for education and safe schools for every child.

“Do I speak for myself?” Malala asked during our call, “Am I going to use my voice?” She did. Let us join her, and start by visiting the sites, seeing the film, and spreading the word.

#HeNamedMeMalala

#HeNamedMeMalala #FoxSearchlight #MalalaYousafzai

 

10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Travel

 

Truly understanding and appreciating a new culture can take months or even years. When traveling, most of us don’t have that luxury. Those for whom a few days to a week is about the best that can be hoped for have to figure out how to get the most out of limited time. A checklist of museums and attractions is a common instinct, but it won’t give you the deep connection that makes travel rewarding. After years of planning events around the world I have learned that taking a few simple steps allows travelers to better connect to new places, make amazing memories, truly feel at home in a strange land, and always have the best travel stories to tell.


Beijing1. LEARN THE LANGUAGE
. I know that this is obvious, and the obvious response is that it’s difficult and time-consuming. But you don’t have to be fluent to get the benefits of putting in a little effort, and it will make you much more comfortable. Learn the most important phrases: “Hello,” “Where is the bathroom?” and the most important in any language: “Thank you.”  I also like to learn to ask for the check and how to say the equivalent of “Cheers!” every place I go. Ask a native speaker to check your pronunciation; with those basics you may even convince passerby you are a local. And on that note…

2. DRESS THE PART. The more different you look the more different and isolated you will feel. People in obvious Paying respects to Shakespeare in Budapesttourist garb always look so awkward, and are easy targets for scams. Do some quick research – Pinterest is a fabulous resource – on what the locals wear and pack your suitcase accordingly. Are they more casual or more dressy than you are used to? Are they having fun with colors and prints or are they in muted earth tones? Do they all have scarves or head coverings? Most importantly check out the shoes, because they will tell you what the most fashionable and practical choices are. Are most of the women wearing cute ballet flats? Low heeled boots? Wedges? They probably know that it’s the best way to be comfortable in the lifestyle and climate and look fashionable at the same time. Nobody in New York City is wearing white or super high heels; follow their lead because they know something you don’t. Dress like a local and you may even find other tourists asking you for directions.

Love In the Time of Cholera at the home of the author in Cartagena, Colombia3. READ LOCAL LITERATURE. You may not be able to pick up the language in a week, but pick up a translated novel that takes place in the city or region you will be exploring and start it before you leave, giving your mind a head start on adapting. In Paris read Émile Zola, J. M. Coetzee in South Africa,  Haruki Murakami in Tokyo, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar in Istanbul, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Colombia. Walking the streets of Cartagena reading Love in the Time of Cholera imagining Florentino Ariza spying on his beloved Fermina Daza from his park bench gave me a stronger connection to the city, as if we shared a secret. And during the afternoons when it was too hot to do anything but lay by the hotel pool, my mind was still exploring as I turned the pages.

4. CATCH A LIVE PERFORMANCE or festival, outside of the tourist zone. While I’m sure the hotel’s dinner buffet hula dance extravaganza is lovely (and you should learn the history of the hula in Hawaii), find out where the locals go for a good show. One of my favorite traditions is finding a great jazz club no matter where we are, from Shanghai to Krakow. Sitting in a small club, surrounded by locals and visitors from around the world with a shared love for jazz, introducing ourselves to the band members (from Poland, playing New Orleans jazz, in Istanbul) after the set and drinking with them and their friends until 4am is still one of my favorite memories. In New York or London, skip the long-running big spectacle shows that everyone has seen, and pick instead an avante garde performance. Go downtown to see an Off-Off-Broadway play. You are much more likely to be surrounded by locals and to feel as if you are one.

Krakow, Poland5. HANG OUT IN A CENTRAL SQUARE. There are the classics like Washington Square Park in New York and Trafalgar Square in London, but try hanging out in Krakow’s Rynek Glowny and Prague’s Old Town Square too. Learn the history. See the commerce. Listen to the conversations and the protesters. Take pictures, but also eat the street food, tip the musicians, feed the birds and read your book on a park bench. Don’t rush on to the next attraction; just sit, rest your feet, take it all in and fall in love with your surroundings.

6. And while you’re at it? TALK TO PEOPLE. As always in a big city anywhere in the world be cautious and streetwise, but often the locals are as genuinely curious about you as you are about them. Ask them questions. If they’re interested, buy them a pint and get their life story. Some of my favorite travel stories are just repeating someone else’s. In a tiny restaurant in a hillside German town we ended up spending hours with a chef from Ibiza, his Russian winemaker friend, an American GI (who was initially just looking for an ATM), and a dog named Snob, all of whom remain seared into my memory years later. It all started because we asked questions.

7. JOIN A TOUR LED BY AN EXPERT DOCENT. There are plenty of big group options that teach you less than a common guidebook, but with a little research you can find engaging, unique, and highly intellectual tours. A 6am bicycle tour through Montmarte, while the shops are just opening up and the empty wine bottles still litter the streets of Paris, will give you a unique perspective of the city. An artist-led graffiti tour of Bogota will teach you more about the culture, politics, and history of Colombia than any other. A historian who has hiked the entire length of the Great Wall of China can point out things nobody else would notice.

Early morning bike tour through Paris
We were guided around London a few weeks ago by a docent from Context Travel, a network of scholars and specialist in disciplines including archaeology, art history, cuisine, urban planning, environmental science, and classics who lead in-depth walking seminars for small groups (6 or less). With her we not only got a personalized tour helping us to understand the city’s history and major landmarks, we discussed the upcoming election, the conflicted feelings on currency and immigration, and the true purpose of Her Majesty the Queen, and were surprised with a visit to what once was The Texas Legation in London. The company’s website makes it easy to pick a city (they currently operate in 25), pick an interest, and reserve a guide. It is well worth it.

8. FOLLOW CURRENT EVENTS. Watch or read their news (BBC World is a great resource when traveling). Even if you can’t IMG_7971take a tour, do a little online digging to understand the struggles of the people. What are they concerned about? What have they been through? No matter how pretty and peaceful a place can seem, there is always a group of people who are unhappy. Understand them and you come closer to understanding the whole culture. If you are in a place where your country’s policies are not appreciated, find out why and try to see yourself and your politicians from their perspective. People around the world want to be heard; offer them an ear.

9. MEET UP WITH A FRIEND. If you know someone who lives there, even if only casually or from years ago, reach out and ask them to meet up. If you don’t know somebody, chances are there’s a friend of a friend somewhere. Maybe a coworker once studied abroad and maintained some connections. In this global village, you can find people with similar interests via Twitter or Instagram in advance of your trip and meet up when you get there. You will let down your guard and forget you are in a strange land for an hour or two. Locals anywhere rarely get to experience their own tourist attractions, and usually love to show off their neighborhoods when someone visits. Give them that chance.

Off-Broadway Play in NYC10. Most importantly, BE YOURSELF. What do you like to do at home? If you’re into sports, arrange to see a game while traveling or find out where there’s a pub showing a match. Soccer isn’t my favorite sport, but watching a big match with a rowdy crowd in a European pub is an experience everyone should have at least once. Do you enjoy live music? Hiking? Theater? Exploring new restaurants? People do those things around the world. Find your passions and experience them in a new place, because it will make you feel at ease, it will ignite your spirit, and it will show you how alike we all really are on this planet. And that is the very purpose of travel, isn’t it? That and the stories.

Tea in Beijing

 

 

For more information about CONTEXT TRAVEL: https://www.contexttravel.com

 

Follow my travel adventures on Instagram at @SeeJayneGo

30 Hours in Avalon, Catalina

Catalina HeaderThe island of Santa Catalina has taunted me from 22 miles off the coast of California since I first visited Laguna Beach in 2009.  Sometimes completely shrouded by the marine layer, often appearing only as a silhouette on the horizon at sunset, and occasionally giving us glimpses of glowing rocks on the east end when the morning sun reflects back through a clear sky, Catalina is an intriguing presence when you live along the coast of Southern California. My family, in celebration of our wedding anniversary and my husband’s birthday on the same weekend, finally visited for a short one-night stay to get a taste of what the island has to offer.

Blog Catalina - 05Inhabited for at least 8000 years, the island is thought to have once been called Pimu by the natives, who greeted its first European visitors in 1542. On the eve of St. Catherine’s Day in 1602, a Spanish explorer renamed the island Santa Catalina. In years following, the island hosted hunters, smugglers, ranching, mining, and military operations, was awarded in 1846 as a Mexican land grant, and purchased in 1894 by The Banning Brothers who developed roads and attractions until a fire destroyed the city of Avalon in 1915. William Wrigley, Jr. (yes, that Wrigley) bought the island in 1919 and developed Avalon as a resort destination, bringing his Chicago Cubs baseball team to the Island for spring training in the 1930-1950’s. In 1972 Wrigley deeded 88% of the island to the non-profit Catalina Island Conservancy to protect and restore the land and its wildlife, keeping it undeveloped and wild.  The island holds a unique place in the history of motion picture production as Hollywood’s exotic back lot, beginning as early as 1911. Production crews and sets could be sent to the Island by barge and the vast mountains and beaches could be transformed into almost any place in the world, from the coast of North Africa, Tahiti, the American frontier, the lost continent of Atlantis and the home of Jaws. Although closed to tourism and filming during World War II, it picked up again afterwards and was once again an exotic yet convenient location for Hollywood in the 1950’s, and continues to be so today.

Friends with their own boats go back and forth as their lucky hearts’ desire, but for most us the options are the frequent Blog Catalina - 01
departures from Long Beach, San Pedro, Dana Point, Newport Beach, and San Diego on vessels operated by Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer. These modern boats offer comfortable airline-style seating for the hour-long trips to and from the island. For a special experience, however, nothing beats arriving by air. Given the special occasions for our visit, we chose to spend a little more and travel via Island Express helicopter, a thrilling 15-minute ride departing from Long Beach and soaring over the ocean before landing in Avalon. Our pilot entertained us during the brief journey with facts about the water depth and whale watching, and pointed out our hotel as we hovered over the town before landing. It was a truly wonderful way to get our bearings before we started exploring!

Blog Catalina - 04A short cab ride through the town of 3500 permanent inhabitants brought us to Hotel Catalina’s Courtyard Garden Suites, our home base for the short visit. Booked last minute with requirements including a bed for the munchkin in our room and a jacuzzi on the property, it was  a charming choice in the center of town. After quickly checking in we walked around the quiet and glistening streets, enjoying the off-season coolness and bright beautiful colors all around us. We lunched at El Galleon with views of the beach and harbor from our table, and then walked along the water until the drizzle started falling again. We ducked into Three Palms Avalon Arcade for mini bowling, air hockey and arcade games that resulted in handfuls of prize tickets for our daughter. As the sky cleared we walked to the 40-year-old Catalina Island’s Golf Gardens, known as one of the world’s most beautiful and challenging mini-golf courses. Given the off-season rainy weekend, we had most of the course to ourselves, surrounded by gardens and educational signs explaining the story behind each of the holes’ themes. After another leisurely walk along the waterfront, we returned to our hotel for some jacuzzi time before dinner. I had booked a table at The Avalon Grille, an upscale yet island-casual restaurant along the waterfront that I knew would be perfect for my husband’s birthday dinner on Saturday night. The staff could not have been nicer to us, and the 6-year-old was as impressed as we were with the food, ambiance and service. Back at the hotel we returned to the jacuzzi, and then sat by the courtyard fire pit playing cards until the chill chased us back into our room.

Sunday morning we had time for breakfast, a short tour and lunch before boarding our boat back to the coast. My Wrigley Botanic Garden Catalinahusband had hoped to start his birthday with a stand up paddle along the coastline but the choppy sea was not ideal, and island tour times wouldn’t work with our early afternoon transportation reservations. So after breakfast at The Pancake Cottage we walked around The Catalina Casino to Descano Beach to inquire about kayak and paddle board rentals and campground facilities for future visits, chatted with a group of scuba divers, took a self-guided tour of the Catalina Island Museum, and took a cab up to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. The garden, originally supervised by the late Ada Wrigley, places a special emphasis on plants that grow naturally on one or more of the California islands, but nowhere else in the world. After $2 trolley ride back to town we stopped for lobster rolls at the Bluewater Grill on the waterfront before it was time to leave.

Although the intention of our short visit was to relax and get acquainted with the island, my one regret is not getting a chance to see the buffalo. A herd of North American Bison has been roaming the hills of Catalina since 1924, when 14 were transferred over for the filming of The Vanishing American. By the 1980’s, the herd had grown to as many as 500, far more than the island could support. Since then the conservancy has taken control of the population, for the good of the animals and the island’s vegetation, shipping some to land reservations in South Dakota. Bus and jeep eco-tours of Catalina that give guests the opportunity to see the roaming animals will be at the top of my to-do list when we return.

Blog Catalina - 03Getting back to Long Beach was a comfortable and easy hour-long ocean journey on the Catalina Express as we had upgraded to the Commodore Lounge for priority boarding, wide reclining leather trimmed seats, and a complimentary beverage in a lounge environment with great ocean views. Although they neglected to tell us to arrive early so that we could sit together (seats in the lounge are first come – first serve), we moved about and were able to enjoy the view of our new California home as never before: from the sea.

Special notes:

Plan to visit on your birthday and get lots of special discounts! With proof of your birth date you travel free on the Catalina Express boat, get 20% off a helicopter ride, get a complimentary ice cream cone at the candy shop Lloyd’s of Avalon, discounts on hotel rooms, tours, massages, and more! We even got a discount for our anniversary. For more about the promotions, visit http://www.catalinachamber.com/specials/birthdaycatexp.

Catalina is in a constant state of drought, and unlike other parts of California, they can’t simply pipe water in. At restaurants you will have to ask for a bottle of water, and hotels will request that you not have your linens washed every night. To do our part, we bathed at home before leaving the coast on Saturday morning and carried bottles of water with us on our trip. We suggest that you do the same. 

GoodbyeCatalina

 

30 Hours in San Diego

USS Midway Museum

Vacations don’t always require long flights and big budgets. Since moving to Southern California, I set a goal for my family to take short trips exploring our new state. Follow along as we find the best places for both family and romantic getaways close to our new home.

San Diego, California’s second largest city, is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Anza-Borrego Desert and the Laguna Mountains to the east, and Mexico to the south. Its diverse neighborhoods are spread out over 4,200 square miles and nestled along 70 miles of sunny Southern California coastline, with a gentle Mediterranean climate and a welcoming vibe. Consistently rated one of the top family destinations in North America, San Diego is the ideal destination for children of all ages offering a variety of family friendly activities and world-class attractions throughout the year. And luckily for us, it’s only a little over an hour south of our home in Laguna Beach.

Elephants at the San Diego ZooOur first priority for the weekend was the San Diego Zoo, first opened in 1916 and now encompassing 100 acres in Balboa Park. Pioneering the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats, the zoo is home to 4,000 animals of 800 rare and exotic species. We knew we would have to commit our entire first day there, and even then we couldn’t see it all! We started the day with the 35-minute narrated tour on a double-decked bus to learn the layout and pick our favorite spots to return to and explore in detail. Some of our favorite parts were the Chinese Giant Panda cub Xiao Liwu,  the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge with a mock polar bear snow den and Arctic research helicopter, and The Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey, where a herd of eight elephants roam a 2.5-acre exhibit that includes a 120,000-gallon pool and gentle rolling hills surrounded by a replica tar pit, fossil dig and children’s play area. Our 6-year old daughter Inara is still talking about the adorable koalas in the Conrad Prebys Australian Outback, and we were all amazed that we got to see the 3-month old baby gorilla riding around on its mother’s back and later breastfeeding right in front of the viewing window. As a parent who who is very concerned about the future of our planet, I was also appreciative of the exhibits addressing the threats animals are facing due to climate change, and providing guests with suggestions for reducing our carbon footprint.

San Diego Zoo

As it was a last minute trip, we waited until after our day at the zoo to decide where we would stay that night. After a quick search on Expedia, we settled on the Hotel Solamar, a stylish boutique Kimpton Hotel in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Deigo. The neighborhood is a historic 16.5-block district founded in 1867 when it was the Wild West complete with Wyatt Earp running three gambling halls, and now housing a thriving dining, shopping, and nightlife scene. It was a bit too chilly to enjoy the hotel’s rooftop pool but that didn’t stop us from trying, and we hope to get back again to fully experience that option. For dinner we rode Uber to The Fish Market, a seafood restaurant on the harbor founded in 1976 by fishermen, and had fun posing by “Unconditional Surrender,” a statue of the famous WWII sailor kissing a nurse.

Day 2 started with a big breakfast at Broken Yolk Cafe (but not as big as the one Adam Unconditional Surrender San DiegoRichman finished to win the Iron Man Challenge there in 2010, on Man vs. Food) and then set out once again for the harbor. We entered a floating city at sea and walked in the footsteps of 225,000 sailors who served our country aboard the USS Midway Museum. Part of the Navy fleet for 47 years and active during the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars, the USS Midway was one of America’s longest-serving aircraft carriers and the museum highlights the city’s rich military history. We listened to passionate docents everywhere on the ship, and Inara loved climbing on the aircraft all around us.

USS Midway Museum

A narrated Hornblower Cruises harbor tour gave us a different view of the city, passing by Shelter Island, ship-building and dry-docking facilities, Coronado Island, and under the 2-mile-long San Diego- Coronado Bridge. With a large sightseeing deck and full snack bar, it was a perfect way to pass an hour or two on a beautiful afternoon before getting ice cream in Seaport Village to enjoy while walking along the water towards the last stop of our visit.

With so many museums to choose from Hornblower Harbor Cruise SD and limited time, we decided to let Inara have some fun at the New Children’s Museum downtown across from the San Diego Convention Center before heading home. A highly-engaging, multi-sensory experience, it was a wonderful opportunity for her to work off some energy, and for us to build and play with her. The museum offers opportunities for children to experience the arts in ways that are meaningful to them, like climbing, sculpting, painting, and banging “drums” with kitchen utensils-turned-instruments. The current exhibit, FEAST, features 13 artist installations and 8 other projects centered around food in unexpected ways.

San Diego WWII

We were sad to leave the city that afternoon, knowing there was still so much left to experience! We left with albums of photos, homemade clay bowls, and the comfort in knowing that San Diego is close enough to visit again soon. Suffice it to say that 30 hours is not a long enough time to see this beautiful city! There seem to be special events every weekend, which means plenty of excuses to return. A few that caught my eye happening in the coming months include:

  • Celebrating all things Irish at the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival, held March 14 at the corner of 6th Avenue and Juniper Street near Balboa Park. The day includes a 10:30 a.m. parade and an all-day Irish festival featuring food, beer gardens, musical entertainment and more.
  • On April 19, EarthFair in Balboa Park celebrates a range of eco-friendly practices and environmental causes. Offerings include earth-friendly and organic foods, wildlife preservation education, displays of alternative energy vehicles, pet adoption services and more.
  • From May 7-10, knee-slapping good times abound during the San Diego Annual Gator by the Bay Zydeco, Blues & Crawfish Festival, held at Spanish Landing on Harbor Island. The event features 25 bands on five stages along with dance lessons, food and Cajun cooking demonstrations.

For more information on San Diego’s offerings, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website at www.sandiego.org or call 619-236-1212.

Why Not Travel to Colombia?

Cartagena, Colombia It was as if I had declared my intention to walk through Times Square in 1975 alone and unarmed. “Colombia? Why?” was the response almost every single time I shared the holiday travel plans I had with my husband. And my response in turn? A defiant “Why not?” of course.

In truth, situations came together that gave us the option to fly off somewhere for a week, including that my daughter would be spending the break with her father and his family in Florida. We only had  a week to travel, so our bucket list spots that would require longer (meaning a day or more each way spent in transit and more than a 3-hour jetlag) were off the table. As we are in the middle of home renovations, spending a bunch of money was out of the question too. What to do? Log on to the American Airlines website, plug in our miles and see where they take us. Bogotá! 1. It was the cheapest miles ticket over the holidays. 2. Neither of us have been to Colombia (a huge plus). 3. Cartagena, the glamorous Caribbean city only an hour and a half from the capital by air, has been popping up on countless “Best of” travel lists from over the last year and for 2015. And the best part? It’s not crawling with Americans in fanny packs and white sneakers yet. Done. (Note: My Spanish is terrible. My husband, a gringo from Texas, fares much better but is far from fluent.) DSCN1610

We arrived in Bogotá at midnight, crashed at the airport Aloft Hotel for a few hours, then hopped an early flight out to Cartagena on the coast. Bogotá was cold, so stepping off the plane after such a short flight and getting hit with the hot tropical air was a welcome shock. Most of the people we encountered were tourists as well, mostly from other South American countries, and the security and cabs were all accustomed to people who had no idea where they were going and were very helpful. We got to our hotel, the Hilton Cartagena (using points from previous travels), checked in without incident, and were soon lounging at the pool with fruity cocktails and a beautiful view of the Caribbean. It was Christmas Eve but you would never know it aside from the decorations. We weren’t far from the Old Town, about 10 minutes by cab (a consistent equivalent of about US$3) so for our three days we spent evening hours there after afternoons by the beach or pool. The old city was much like New Orleans with its architecture and party spirit, music, food and pedestrian streets, and it truly came alive at night. We cocktailed at the elegant Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena, formerly a convent and now a favorite of part-time neighbor Gabriel Garcia Marquez, with live music, roaring fans, English-speaking staff, and air-conditioned bathrooms (more on that later), and dined at little cafés around the town. The top spots were booked up weeks and months in advance, long before we’d booked our trip, but we ate well and imbibed even better. In Cartagena you can’t beat the Caribbean favorites ceviche, local cerveza, and rum cocktails.

Why Not Colombia?And we walked. We traced out the paths of the characters in Love in the Time of Cholera, scoped out the beautiful cathedrals, and took dozens of pictures of the gorgeous architecture and the walls of the old fortress.  During the day we needed frequent breaks from the heat, so returning to the cool and fragrant halls of the Santa Clara was invaluable for rest and a cold drink or two. Other favorite places in Cartagena included Café del Mar, an open air restaurant/club on the walls of the old city (pricey but worth it for the view- go for at least a glass of wine at sunset), Demente Tapas Bar in the trendy (and more local) Getsemani neighborhood adjacent to the old city (chat up well-traveled owner Nicolas as he puffs his cigar and plays American blues on his computer behind the bar- he gave us great recommendations for Bogotá), and Café Havana, where we listened to live Cuban music and attempted to salsa dance after midnight when the party finally started.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria

Bogotá was something completely different, as only an hour and a half flight took us from 7 ft elevation to 8660 ft. elevation. In Love in the Time of Cholera the city was described as like Paris: often grey, rainy, and cold, but rich in culture.  Although the high altitude was noticeable, we got really lucky and arrived for some sunny and warm days, perfect for exploring the city by foot.  The first element of Bogotá that grabbed our attention was the prevalent graffiti; even statues and monuments are tagged. But much of the street art works are gorgeous murals taking up entire buildings, and there were clearly significant styles. I wanted to know more, and my online searching turned up a website for Bogotá Graffiti tours, Colorful Bogotá Street Artdone in English by an Australian street artist who is now a resident of Bogotá. We were intrigued and signed up for the next day, not knowing at all what to expect. It turned out to be one of the best choices I’ve made while traveling. While our first day exploring the city was lovely and informative,

Bogotá Street Artincluding the absolute MUSTS- the Botero Museum,  Museo del Oro (Gold Museum), and Museo Histórico Policía (dedicated mostly to the country’s wars with drug lord Pablo Escobar and guerrilla groups M-19 and FARC), the most interesting and informative part of our Colombia adventure was this two and a half hour tour. Our guide explained the battles and the partnerships between the artists and the authorities, the reasoning for the art and the legality of it. We started to notice the different styles and tags, and came to understand the messages that they conveyed and why. In Bogota Graffiti Tour a country where the media is still tightly controlled and individual rights are limited, this art is a necessary form of communication. In order to truly understand the culture and history of Colombians, learning about their struggles from different sides is essential (including the role that the U.S. has played) and we are truly glad that we got the opportunity during our time in their country.

Our nightlife experiences in Bogotá were quite different than Cartagena and other cities around the world, because it was very clear that this is a place where caution is key. Of course that’s the case everywhere when traveling, but here there are still powerful groups of people with political points to make, and they control large parts of the country. Safety is stressed by guidebooks, hotels, and locals alike, especially when it comes to what neighborhoods you go to and how you get there. This is one of the only cities I’ve spent time in where I didn’t use public transportation. When leaving the Hilton Bogotá, the staff walked us to a car, noted who we left with and where we went. Leaving a museum, the front desk called a car for us, gave us the license place of the car that would come, and gave us a code to give the driver so that our route could be tracked.  At one point on our way to the historic La Candelaria district our driver got stuck in standstill traffic because of a protest, and it was evident we would be late to our destination. Being seasoned travelers, we offered to pay up and walk the rest of the way but driver  would not allow it, even calling the hotel to have one of their representatives talk to us. He explained that the two remaining blocks might look safe but were not for us, which was unnerving. A fellow American who was staying at our hotel had grown up in Colombia and had a teaching job in another city, but the day we met she had just been robbed by a cab driver. So suffice it to say, our evenings were early and nightcaps were in the hotel bar. Boring, maybe, but thankfully we now have no bad stories to tell.Andrés Carne de Res Bogota

Highlights of Bogotá included the restaurants Black Bear (swanky New York vibe and modern dishes, a recommendation from Nicolas in Cartagena) and Andres DC (we went to the one in the city but the BIG one is 45 minutes away; I would describe it as a House of Blues on, well, when in Colombia), and the cable car trip up the mountain to the breathtaking views from Montserrate at 10,341 ft. If you are lucky enough to get a sunny day, like we were, drop everything else you had planned and get up there then. I’ve met many travelers who never got the opportunity to see a view other than fog, sadly.

Overall, the country is certainly not the backwards and scary Romancing the Stone version that Americans seem to envision still. For the most part we felt very safe and cared for, and the people really wanted us to have a good time. Many said “You will come back, right? And tellJayne Overlooking Bogotá your friends to come!” as we left. If you, like us, prefer to travel to places that will challenge you, where you will not be surrounded by other American tourists, it’s worth it to travel to Colombia. Knowledge of the language is a good idea no matter where you go in the world, but here it’s more important as English isn’t as prevalent. If we’d been fluent we likely would have taken more risks and had more fun, frankly. We did leave with beautiful memories though, and thanks to utilizing miles and points, it was a very inexpensive trip that we are glad we took. But Colombia has quite a ways to go before we would recommend it to everyone, and after meeting the people and seeing some of the beautiful country, we sincerely hope that they can get there.

 

The Center Stage Studio (and My Second Childhood)

CSS's cast of Annie takes a bow

CSS’s cast of Annie takes a bow

When we first realize that our child is interested in our own passions, the first thought is elation. I KNOW that! I know how that world works, I did it once too! We can chat with the other adults running the program as if we are old colleagues. We know the requirements, the routines, the general culture around it. And of course there’s that evolutionary parent pride, knowing that they must have gotten some gene that made them more like you.

CSS summer camp production of Matilda

CSS summer camp production of Matilda

But then the next emotions come through: yeah, I know that world. I remember the hard work, the heartbreak, and all the things about it that scared me and made me doubt myself.  Is that what my child will go through? How will she balance it all? Will she be better than me? And I worry, have I subconsciously pushed her into something she wouldn’t have otherwise chosen? I’ve certainly taken her to more theater than sports events. I’ve sung show tunes as lullabies since the day she was born. I will plunk down money to see a show faster than for clothes or beauty products (obviously), and surely she’s sensed that. So how can I make sure that she only does it because she really wants to?

Inara as Miss Hannigan in Annie

Inara as Miss Hannigan in Annie

Thankfully when we moved out here to Southern California, I found The Center Stage Studio, a triple threat school in Orange County (Aliso Viejo), California. We have a 30-minute drive from Laguna Beach and it is well worth it for what they do. Triple Threat in that world means acting, singing and dancing, the foundation skills of a successful career on the stage, specifically in musical theater. Each semester a new show is chosen, and there are classes every day of the week that kids can join. Each class has its own cast, and everyone gets a part regardless of their level of training or talent. The mini versions of Broadway hits are performed at the end of the semesters (or ends of special camp weeks in the summer and winter) on an impressive stage with a shared set, with shared costumes, and the kids get head microphones to wear so they can be heard by all of their fans in the audience. The studio provides training, but even more importantly it provides fun and confidence. My little one still doesn’t grasp the concept of being nervous; it’s all just play for her. And as long a she feels that way, I will enjoy every moment of this “stage mom” life.

Scene from CSS's Annie

Scene from CSS’s Annie

And if it becomes something more than play? She has far more opportunities than I ever had. The studio is run by true professionals, and she’s trained by and alongside Broadway and television veterans ready to take a kid to the next level when they (and their parents) are ready. CSS has over 500 students rotating through the school a year, in shows and classes for all elements of performance. Inara spent a week learning a mini version of the Broadway show Matilda over the summer (one of my favorite Broadway shows), this fall she played a tiny blond Miss Hannigan in Annie, and in the spring she will join one of the casts of Seussical The Musical. During this upcoming winter break the studio is offering 2 week-long camp sessions to do a Frozen-themed musical for all the little Elsa and Anna wannabes in Orange County. And for those mamas like me who may have a missed calling or two, they even occasionally offer adult classes. Every city has its own offerings for performance training, but we feel very lucky to live near The Center Stage Studio and will be involved as long  as we live in Southern California (and as long as my mini-me wants to be).

It’s a wonderful feeling to pass the proverbial torch on to our kids. And the answer to the question “Will she be better than me?” has already been answered: undoubtedly. And I couldn’t be more elated.

CSS Summer Camp cast of Matilda takes a bow

CSS Summer Camp cast of Matilda takes a bow

 

 

 

 


 

Center Stage Studio is located at 27101 Aliso Creek Road Suite #136, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656 Phone: (949) 305-9758

For General Info, Registration, Birthday Parties, email: csseventskristen@gmail.com

Sawdust Art Festival’s Winter Fantasy

Author's daughter watches the glassblowing demonstration at the Sawdust Art Festival's Winter Fantasy

Watching the glassblowing demonstration at the Sawdust Art Festival’s Winter Fantasy

For those of us lucky enough to live in or be visiting Southern California this month, a can’t-miss event is the Sawdust Art Festival’s 24th Annual Winter Festival. As this is our first winter living in Laguna Beach, we were eager to attend the opening day festivities on Saturday. We spent the afternoon and evening walking the sawdust-covered paths through the hand-crafted village with new friends; the kids got their faces painted while the adults enjoyed wine, the weather was SoCal-perfect (Hats and gloves? Purely for fashion’s sake!), and we all filled our heads with visions of local art under our trees this year.

Playing with the pretend snow at Sawdust. Photo Credit: Mary Hurlbut

The festival grounds have been transformed into a winter wonderland, where 175 artists create, display and sell the most unique holiday gifts in all of Southern California, including jewelry, clothing, fused and blown glass, ceramics, woodwork, forged metals, painting, photography, sculpture, clothing and textiles. The experience is heightened with live holiday entertainment, fabulous outdoor cafes, art classes and demonstrations for young and old, a petting zoo, and of course Santa himself, ready to hear Christmas wishes and pose for photos taken by Laguna Beach photographer Mary Hurlbut. Special activities for families and kids include pottery wheel throwing in holiday-themed shapes at the Ceramic Center, and many art and craft projects at both the Children’s Art Spot and Studio One. The Towne Square at the entrance of the festival grounds offers plenty of photo opportunities, including Santa’s House and Sleigh and falling “snow!”

Jayne and her family visit Santa at Sawdust. Photo credit: Mary Hurlbut

My family visit Santa at Sawdust. Photo credit: Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust’s Winter Fantasy: Holiday Tradition will continue over the next four weekends, including the Friday after Thanksgiving, from 10 am to 6 pm each day: November 29, 30 & December 1, December 7, 8, December 14, 15, December 20, and 21, offering plenty of time to do your holiday shopping. Also, November 29th just happens to be Small Business Saturday; what better small businesses to support than your local artisans? Special community events include partnership with Toys for Tots every Sunday of the festival. Toys for Tots is a foundation with a mission of collecting toys to distribute as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community. Visitors can show their support by contributing new unwrapped toys for children, newborn to 17, every Sunday during the festival. Those that donate a new toy with a value of $5 or more will receive free one-day admission to the Winter Fantasy that Sunday.

Adult admission is $7; $6 for Seniors (65+); $4 for children (6-12); FREE for children (5 & under); and $10 for a Season Pass. The festival is located at the Sawdust Art Festival, 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. For additional information, please visit www.sawdustartfestival.org or call 949-494-3030.
Sawdust Art Festival Winter Fantasy 2014

I’m Sorry for My Fragile Heart

FragileHeartLet’s be real; life is not always bright and happy. Today I share my very recent personal story on Real Posh Mom not only for my healing, but I hope for that of others. The more people I talk to – not only women – who have been through this, the more I realize that we need to open up and share our stories. It makes me sad that anyone else has experienced this pain, but it does help to know that I’m not alone.  ~ Jayne

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At two weeks, we knew there was life. At nine weeks, we knew there were two. At twelve weeks, we knew something was wrong. At thirteen weeks, after a drive to Los Angeles for a long needle through my abdomen and meetings with specialists, there was hope. At almost sixteen weeks, we knew it was too late. At what was supposed to be four months into our pregnancy, I was once again alone in my body.

Three. That’s how many babies we’ve conceived and lost in one year. My new therapist offered to call them embryos if it would make me feel better, but it wouldn’t. Embryos are what they would be if they were not intended, not loved, not cared and dreamed for. These were our babies and always will be. I consider myself a mom of four, even though three of them never made it past the second trimester. But I can’t say that. When people ask me how many children I have the answer is, of course, one. One perfect 6-year-old daughter. And when other women who I know have had miscarriages and stillborns and infant losses are asked how many children they have, of course the answer is the number of living. But we all know the truth in our hearts.

I didn’t name them. I probably would have if they’d made it to 20 weeks. For some inexplicable reason, that’s the point where it made sense to me. Maybe because we were hoping to make it to 20 weeks, when fetal intervention surgery may have been an option to save at least one. But the mass growing in the chest of Baby A causing pressure on her developing heart and lungs grew too rapidly. With a shared placenta her sister couldn’t handle the change in blood pressure, so within hours of each other we lost them both, much sooner than even our doctors expected. The routine visit showed not the squirmy twins I’d loved watching only two weeks prior, with beautiful profiles and feet that were kicking each other like I’d hoped they would do for years to come, but instead lifeless little bodies with still hearts. I felt my own heart stop for a moment with them, forever just “the twins,” our Baby A and Baby B.

Only weeks ago yet forever ago, I was assembling hidden inspiration boards on Pinterest that I intended to make public as soon as we were confident enough to make our happy announcement. Clothes, registry items, products and advice we’d need in the coming months and years was being curated as I lay in bed or on the couch or on the bathroom floor, my body too tired and sore to do much else. I’d finally broken down and purchased a few maternity basics as there was no hope in buttoning any of my regular size jeans, and I often wondered if I would ever be able to again given my age and the multiple pregnancy. Projects and trips had been cancelled, put on hold, or sped up to accommodate both the official due date and a more realistic expected one, and real estate in two different states was analyzed in the hopes of making some very big decisions quickly. I went to sleep at night with my hands on my belly trying to feel those first few flutters expected at any moment, and I woke every morning wondering how much they’d grown while I’d slept. Now I place my hand on my soft abdomen and miss them so much it’s hard to get out of bed.

The last miscarriage was hard, this time was harder. Is harder. It will take longer to bounce back into the land of the living and although physically there is no permanent damage, emotionally that is not the case. I am still getting promotional emails for formula and cord blood registries and car seats. Alerts pop up on my phone telling me that my baby is now the size of an onion and what nutrients I should make sure to be getting this week. I delete the apps and unsubscribe from the mailing lists but more keep coming. My body is late getting the message as well, ready to nurse infants that aren’t here. There suddenly seem to be more babies around than ever before. And so many twins. And everyone I see seems to be pregnant. I resent the once forbidden wine, sushi and unpasteurized cheese that I’m now able to have after months of craving them.

I am heartbroken. I am angry. But mostly, I am really, really sorry. It doesn’t matter how many doctors tell me that it wasn’t my fault, that there was as a one in a million chance of the anomalies, or that neither my body nor our genes caused the problems. In my mind, I failed these babies by not giving them the best chances for survival. I don’t know how, but somewhere something went wrong, and it happened inside of me. I am sorry that my amazingly paternal husband still does not have his own child, one with features and gestures that he and his family can compare to their own. I am sorry that my daughter still does not have a half-sibling like we have now twice promised her she would have, and who instead has a mother who cries all the time.

I am also sorry that when a woman sat next to me at the cafe with her beautiful baby in her arms, I didn’t smile and ask her questions like everyone else did. Instead I turned away and tried to work through the suffocating emotion without making a scene. And, I’m sorry that I abruptly stopped and walked the other direction when I saw a couple on the beach with twin toddlers. Sorry that I didn’t attend the PTA meetings, dinners, and trunk shows where I knew someone would be pregnant or showing off their new family addition. Sorry that I couldn’t really go anywhere, worried that the tears would suddenly start streaming down my face, and I would have to explain why. Sorry that I couldn’t bring myself to comment on friends’ sonogram images, pictures of their babies in Halloween costumes, or their beautiful new maternity photos. So, so very sorry that I can’t share in their joy. But, they have friends, family and strangers smiling at them, approaching them, touching their bellies and asking about sleep training and onesies and siblings and strollers. I have a void. Literally a void in my body, where new life is supposed to be growing. Figuratively a void in my life that baby showers, kicking, mock-tails, registries and birth classes were supposed to fill right now. In a few months, I will feel the void that infant crying, midnight feedings and diaper changes were supposed to fill. But how do I tell them, these happy sleep-deprived people, how bitter I am? I can’t, and I won’t. But the ache is constant. I miss my babies and the dreams I had for them. I miss being exhausted and sick but knowing it was all for a good reason. I miss the anticipation of their arrival in our lives.

I know that I am still living, that my heart is not the one that stopped. I hope to one day forgive my body for these cruel betrayals. I hope to receive forgiveness from the friends and strangers who didn’t get the happy version of me they were expecting, and who didn’t know why. I hope that one day my husband and I either find the strength to try again, or find peace in not taking the chance of more heartbreak. I can’t comprehend either at this point, but I am grateful that we do have options, knowing that it could all be much worse and is for so many. If our life consists of only my daughter, our beautiful marriage and supportive family, then it certainly isn’t something to complain about. I know.

I am sorry that in my fragile heart right now, it’s not enough.

Originally published on my personal blog A Moveable Appetency