The Only Things I’m Certain About

I’m certain about death and taxes, love and life, rainbow sprinkles and mashed potatoes.

I’m certain about death and taxes, love and life, rainbow sprinkles and mashed potatoes, and that I was handmade and homemade and home-grown to be a mama, writer, photographer. And I’m certain I’m even-tempered, but only as even-tempered as someone who is HIGHLY sensitive to the changes and the shifts, the tastes and the smells, the FEELS… oh, the FEELS – like fingernails lightly down your back, or staring into space for five minutes after an evocative episode of This is Us.

Ok, they’re ALL evocative. For me, it’s the doctor character. And William. Sweet, sweet William.

I’m certain about legacies.

Sometimes I feel it coming – these changing tides – even while they’re still being born and unfolding, and I have to type fast before they implode. Or I have to race to a computer or phone before I explode. Today is a mix, like sun and clouds.

I’m certain about loss and grief, but not about the paths they take. I’m certain we have to rise up to move through paths and waves, and probably not as seamlessly as we’d like. Life’s greatest challenge. I once wrote a piece about grief that has since disappeared, but I think of it every now and then. Since I can’t get it back, I can rewrite it and give it to you right here and now. So let’s ride the waves together. FTSF Topic: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes ..”


I once wrote that grief is like “the princess is in another castle” theme from Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. games.


Just when you have confronted demons, fought valiantly, been sucked through warp zones, and fought on in endless pursuit of fireballs, feathers, mushrooms, and frog suits, you arrive at the castle level to fight the next big bad buy. And you do it, and you do it in style. You fight so hard and so well, only to be rewarded with a simple message printed across the screen.

Super Mario Brothers

So then you leave to enter a brand new world – full of brand new demons, and one brand new big bad guy at the end of the castle at the end of this world. You defeat the brand new bad guy, only to be greeted with the same disappointing message.

When does it end? Where is your reward? Where is your princess?

personal blogging

Eventually in the game, you get to the real end, you defeat the final bad guy, and you get your princess. For keeps, this time. It doesn’t work that way in real life, although we certainly do have our rewards – like learning to unlock new layers and worlds within your own heart and mind. And finding yourself to be stronger and smarter than you ever thought possible.

The problem is that grief doesn’t have a set endpoint – there is no final big bad guy you can defeat, and then expect to never be challenged again. You will most likely continue to unlock new levels and worlds – through warp zones and not – collecting gold coins and stars, new weapons and new rewards, only to find yourself once again at the doors of a gated fortress.

It’s disorienting, isn’t it?


My life has been full of such fortresses. After my father passed away suddenly from a heart attack when I was just about four-years-old, there was that first night without him. And then there were subsequent nights of resisting but having to let my sister and my mom out of my sight during day to day life. There were the weekdays that I waited for him to come home from work. There was the year following his death which I have mostly blacked out from memory. Therapy. A fear of loud noises.

A new home, a new dad and new siblings. A new school – the start of kindergarten.

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When I thought I was past a lot of my anxiety and grief, there were new challenges in young adulthood – going to college and falling in love. Moving several times. Becoming a mom to a girl who looked like me. And to a boy who reminded me of me.

A challenging time for me was being pregnant with Des – a baby due right around my father’s birthday. It wasn’t until Scarlet approached her fourth birthday that I began a new grieving process. My father had passed away three weeks before my fourth birthday, so I breathed a huge sigh of relief when that day passed, and we sailed through her fourth birthday party happily and whole. I then had a calmness I hadn’t thought possible, until a new trigger revealed itself – signing her up for kindergarten. I showed up on the first day of registration, as the first parent there, and my heart was pounding in my throat and my chest was constricting. How could I be back here – so far and so grown, but still shaking at the thoughts of change?

We defeated that bad guy, and now it’s Des’ turn for kindergarten.

Where is my next castle/challenge/bad guy? I don’t know what it will be and how it will hit me. I know I will probably live my life with challenges, but hopefully with gaining new skills, weapons and tools too. Moving through, as I also move on.

I’ll live my life fully and effectively, until I get the next message – “Great job, but your princess is still in another castle, and probably always will be.” And then I’ll stop, reassess my tool belt, add new weapons, and learn to move through.

This brand new world, until the next one comes along.

This week’s Finish the Sentence Friday topic is “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

What are you certain about?

Ten Years Gone

“Then as it was, then again it will be
And though the course may change sometimes
Rivers always reach the sea
Blind stars of fortune, each have several rays
On the wings of maybe, down in birds of prey
Kind of makes me feel sometimes, didn’t have to grow
But as the eagle leaves the nest, it’s got so far to go”
— Led Zeppelin in Ten Years Gone

There’s a Tamara-shaped hole in New Jersey that is ten-years-old now.

This blog? Is now seven-years-old.

It’s funny, but not so funny, that the three year difference in there was a dry spell. I don’t remember writing a single thing I loved, except maybe parts of our wedding program. And I didn’t take many photos either. WHY? It was California.

I must have been crazy, except I wasn’t.

It’s funny how we lose our ways, and find our ways, and lose our ways, again, in depths we never considered, only to find our ways, again, in heights we never imagined. I don’t even know what I sat here to say, about ten years out of New Jersey and into the next great adventure. And ten years into one adventure after another great adventure after another after another.

Like Alice tumbling, falling, tumbling, falling, down the rabbit hole.

And I don’t even know what to say about ten years out of New Jersey. What do I have to show for it? Everything. And nothing. If you ask me on a different day, or even during a different HOUR, my answer will be different. Everything. Nothing.

Yesterday I cried for 30 minutes. It was my first real cry in months and enough to induce a headache. I was crying because I was so lost. And I was so found. All in one week. It’s like everything and nothing. The truth is: THIS IS SO HARD. Sometimes.

There are things people say I make look easy – like childbirth and photography. Parenting and working. And really? REALLY? I feel like I have band-aids covering my body. I feel like I’ve just been through a battle, only to still be facing a giant war.

This morning I said to someone, “God, you look amazing and I look like I just woke up.” (she did and I had) Yet someone said to me, three minutes after that, “God you look amazing.” I hope someone then said it to her. It occurred to me that the meanest person in my life – the bully – is me. Instead of smiling and saying “thank you,” I had to blurt out, “Thank you. Wow. I honestly feel like I look awful, awful and how wonderful it is that I don’t.” How wonderful it is that maybe, I never did.

Battle scars and all.

If it looks easy, it’s because I put a bow, clean hair, some mascara, a coat, and a hat on it. Oh, and probably coconut oil.

That’s the story of everything. Oh, and how I’m sensitive to changes – when they’re not talked about. When they’re talked about, but without answers. When the Sweet Valley Twins books started being terrible – and going from stories of learning about the Holocaust – to stories about Jessica having a crush on a boy at camp but not wanting him to see her because she was sick and looked awful. (the horrors!) And when we all four had a cough and cold for over a month. The doctors couldn’t be clear with us. What was it? What had changed? Was it us? Or the world? Or our changing reactions to a changing world?

When everyone stopped personal blogging, and stopping visiting here – one by one.

When people stopped reading my consistent personal writing.

When our attention spans changed. Was it us? Was it the world?

I didn’t stop. No, never. I did dry up a bit, knowing full well the dam would break again and I wouldn’t be able to contain it.

ten years gone

I’m still finding my way. I stumble. I do stupid things. I get rejections (ALL THE TIME). I can’t always bounce back from them. I’m sensitive to the changes. I haven’t been doing this long enough to know what it means. When things are slow, I panic. When things are fast, I panic for a different reason. When things are slower than I’ve ever seen them, all I want is for you to tell me you’ve seen it slower – and you’ve seen it bounce back. Better than before. That you’ve seen ME bounce back.

Better than before.

All I really want is for you to hold me, tell me I have pretty hair, and give me $30,000 and ice cream with sprinkles.

So Happy Ten Years to me, and Happy Seven Years to this blog!

We’re all in this together and that’s never changed for me. I come here for so many different reasons – some financial, some emotional, and mostly – both. Fimotional? I hope you can see the heart and soul through my missteps and triumphs.

I’ll leave you with a last story. When we were house hunting, we first saw another house that we liked enough to look at twice. Ultimately I couldn’t see myself there at all, and not even close. Soon after, we found and fell in love with this house.

ten years gone

I love this house and it’s still changing, and I love it even more. I know struggle, though. I say, “You wait your whole life for a house but is this my dream? Can I see half or whole parts of my dreams? Am I having an existential crisis, like I do whenever anything gets too heady?” (YES) These are pieces of dreams, but sometimes the big picture looks shoddy or it has missing roof pieces in the beginning. Sometimes in the middle too. The faucet sprays backwards, but oh, look at the LOVE here.

The carpet is hideous, but hey, we’ll cover that too.

We’re all building works in progress. Ten years gone, but ten years here.

I’m so very here.