The Cloak of Invisibility

There have been times in life when I felt like an outsider, most of my life actually. Instead of dredging up stories from my deep past, let me tell you what the last few years have been like.

I’ve lived in my current community for 14 years and worked at my employer for over eight now, and only now am I finally starting to feel a connection of some sort. It’s like I’ve been wearing the Harry Potter invisibility cloak. Some of that is self-imposed, running around as the working mom of three young kids in a new community. But some of that is inflicted on me. Of course in the latter case, that says a lot more about other people than it does me, but it doesn’t make me feel any better!

All of this sets up a pretty good case for therapy, to talk through why that is, and what that does to me mentally not to mention the very real physical health implications a lack of connection does to a body, but honestly I don’t have the time and don’t want to spend the money dissecting that because it is a never-ending quest.

adam-solomon-472458-unsplashI desperately miss those precious few times when I was warmly welcomed and felt totally loved and included, one of the gang.  I don’t have a posse…a group of friends to hang out with. My friendships are all one on one, spread out all over the US, and believe me, I value those, but frankly, I’m a little bit jealous of Taylor Swift and her squad.

And as a mother, I feel it even more acutely whenever invisibility affects one of my kids. You can imagine, then, how much this article a mother wrote about feeling invisible spoke to me. Take a moment to read it now. She’s got a great attitude and idea about how to manage the pain.

Sometimes the social anxiety, fear of rejection, and actual rejection was so bad, I had to stay at home. For example, there was a time when I sent my husband to dance rehearsals because he had thicker skin than I did. I told him about two young, affluent mothers at the dance studio. One woman had twins who played soccer with our daughter, so we had met her before from those activities. However she refused to acknowledge my greeting whenever I saw her, and she did the same with him. A wall had gone up, and she simply couldn’t be bothered with “others”.

My husband, being the guy he is, let’s most things roll off his back. He thought it was funny how she refused to acknowledge him, so he decided to turn it into a game. This woman and her friend always sat together and talked while our girls rehearsed.

He made it a point to greet them and gently engage them in conversation. They flatly ignored him, every time. This went on, week after week, for the nine months of dance season.

Never once did they crack. Never once did they show an ounce of friendliness.

Now my husband is a personable guy. He can carry on a conversation with anyone and he is well received the vast majority of the time by the people he encounters. But these women specialized in making others invisible. This isn’t a case of one-time preoccupation. This was a mission on their part.

I am reminded of a board meeting I attended. At the start of the meeting, one of my coworkers – someone senior to me – made it a point to go down the line to greet each of the outside directors one by one with a handshake but skipped me sitting in the middle of the line of them. Granted, he hadn’t seen the other people in a few months, but it’s not like I run into him all the time at work. It was remarkable. All he had to do was nod and say hello, but he literally ignored me while he said hello to every other human around me.

That was not an accident. That was deliberate. Believe me, I know to listen to my gut, and that guy is not the warm people person he pretends, or perhaps aspires, to be. How hard could it have been to say hello to me?


It makes me wonder what I have done to make people feel included, welcomed, in my social circle over these many years. Maybe I’m not that good at it. Maybe it’s been so long since I felt “at home”, I don’t know how to reciprocate.

It makes me wonder if our home is literally a safe haven for our kids. Do I cultivate that feeling of inclusion, full visibility, for them?

This brings to mind a funny episode. My coworker Doug was excellent at brokering introductions and making people feel welcome. He and our boss most certainly did that for me when I moved to Pittsburgh…he immediately made me feel at home there, and made it clear I was a welcomed addition to the team.

Doug knew of a coworker, Madison, who was moving back to Pittsburgh and would be working out of our office from that point on. He could not be there to take her to lunch her first day in the Pittsburgh office, but he knew I would be, and he asked me to welcome her. I was happy to do so.

Madison and I went to lunch that day and we invited another coworker, Joyce, to join us. Madison and I really hit it off, laughing and joking about a number of things, talking a mile a minute, such that the much quieter Joyce exclaimed, “How long have you two known each other?” We both looked at our watches and replied, “About 15 minutes!”

Just one. All it takes is just one person to help bridge the gap between unseen and seen, visible and invisible, stranger to acquaintance and maybe even friend.


My husband and I talk about where we want to live when we retire, and our current sentiment is “not here”. However, we don’t want to wait until retirement to make that move. We want to do it when we can perhaps influence where our kids will end up when they are old enough to be on their own, which means we may pack up and go while they are still young. And if we do this, we may voluntarily force all of us into a situation where we feel invisible all over again. Except with the next move, we will deliberately choose a place that feels like home before we go, more so than Ohio has ever done for me despite growing up in this state. It’s a risk, but we’re willing to take it.

You see, the risk of feeling invisible may not impact me as much since I feel this way all the time as it is, but as a mother, I worry about what this would do to our kids. Do I have the mental fortitude to help our kids through this sort of transition? Why is loneliness and invisibility such an issue?


Anderson Cooper said something poignant on CNN’s New Year’s Eve telecast earlier this month. The clock had struck midnight, all the songs had been played, and he and Andy Cohen were signing off for the night. Anderson acknowledged that New Year’s Eve can be an incredibly tough inflection point for a lot of lonely people, who no doubt reflect with melancholy on the year that had passed and maybe with some dread for the one ahead.

I was so touched that he said something to acknowledge these people who were no doubt alone, watching him on TV just then. For a moment, Anderson acknowledged those people…he saw them. In a way, I felt like he was talking to me. He spoke from a place of knowing, talking about one particularly difficult new year’s eve where his father had been very ill and ended up passing away a few days into January. He knew what it was like to stop for a moment and realize that the year ahead promised moments of pain and it would be tough to get through. One has to breathe deeply to muster up the strength to plow through what’s ahead.

It made me think of the years worth of new years, when my husband and I would crawl into bed after midnight, and I’d just cry in his arms over the feeling of invisibility and loneliness I felt living here. I can’t tell if that’s just the fate of a someone like me, a nomad who has moved around a lot, if that’s the small town where I live, or if that’s just society today. What does it take to belong?

Are there people in your life right now who need to be seen, to feel included? What can you do to help them in the coming days? What stories do you have to share on this topic?

 

Photo by Adam Solomon on Unsplash

 

 

 

Puppy Party Pooper

Parent fail. In the big scheme of things I did not commit a big, giant, honking parent fail but it feels like one. I hate failing anybody, let alone my daughter.

black-maltipoo-1
A black Maltipoo

My pre-teen daughter had her heart set on a black Maltipoo puppy and we found one in Michigan, about three hours from us. She wants to name the puppy Oreo, after her favorite cookie. But being new to the Maltipoo scene, and not exactly a natural born animal person, I have been taking my time learning about breeders and what questions to ask. I used to be really scared of dogs when I was little, and we obviously didn’t have one when I was growing up. My parents were not dog people, so it all still feels like foreign territory for me even though I married my husband but fell even harder for his adorable, three-year-old basset hound who lived to be fourteen.

Couple all the above with the fact that one of my day jobs is to be a risk manager, and the primary occupational hazard of that line of work is to think of the all the things that can go wrong. Needless to say I have been extra cautious.

I’ve learned you need to move fast in the Maltipoo market. Pups get scooped up fast. We were planning to make the trip to Michigan this weekend to see the pup in person and assuming we fell in love with her on the spot, we’d get her. I don’t know that I was 100% sold on the idea of black puppy, as I think the apricot and creme ones are very cute too, but the idea was growing on me because all three kids have very dark hair, almost black. She wanted a black puppy to look her and for it to be a girl so it would even out the boy/girl dynamic in the house.

Last night I wrote to the breeder asking for her address so we could plan the trip and agree upon a time. She wrote me back to say that her last black pup had been purchased, the runt of the litter who had a curly coat and a little patch of white on her chest that made her a perfect Oreo. I could have put a deposit down on her, but something told me to wait.

Parent fail.

I had to tell my daughter first thing this morning. It did not go well. You see, her birthday is next week and she was certain that she and this puppy were destined to be together.

I’m sick to my stomach. Now I feel like I made a mistake. Breeders tell me that nobody wants a black Maltipoo because you can’t see their facial expressions, and then sometimes the black totally fades away to little-old-lady gray. In other words, the black ones are hard to come by because no one intentionally breeds for them, and as far as I can tell there are only a couple available right now in the entire US. And I just gave up the opportunity to choose between three of them relatively close to us.

I ruined my daughter’s birthday, or so it feels. This is the perfect time for us to get a pup because life is a little quiet right now, unlike the rest of the year, but it certainly looks like that window of opportunity closed.

I know there will be other puppies, and the right one is out there, waiting for us, but right now I’m drinking a big, cold cup of “you suck”.

Call me the puppy party pooper. I’ve earned it.

 

 

The First Post of the Year!

danielle-macinnes-222441-unsplashI’ve been blogging a little over a year now, but 2019 makes for the third calendar year I’ve been writing and throwing it all out there for everyone to see. It wasn’t lost on me this go around that the first post of the year is kind of a big deal, ya know? It has the ability to set the tone for the year, you see.

It’s like that scene with Santa at the North Pole in The Polar Express, when he presents the first gift of Christmas.

No pressure or anything. It’s just, you wonder if you should be able to hear the elves cheering at the North Pole here in Ohio when you hit the “publish” button.

Is it a wee bit ironic that this particular blog post is not the first post of the year? I digress….

It’s January 11 and our Christmas decorations are still up. Don’t judge! I suppose I could be removing Christmas ornaments right this very moment but I am choosing instead to write. Priorities, priorities… There is so much to catch you guys up on!

The weeks leading up to Christmas are a big blur and a big ball of stress but somehow I wake up on Christmas Day and everything is right with the world. Sure, we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted to this year, but the day was fun and relaxed.

One of my favorite weeks of the year is that time between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Like that line from the Chicago song, does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? It doesn’t matter if I’m working or not, it’s a pretty relaxed week and quiet at work if I do, and there is simply no pressure to do anything if you don’t want to. Talk about blessed.

I wish people weren’t in such a hurry to rip down their decorations that week. I think we should all just hit the snooze button on life and take a lesson from the Danes and embrace hygge (pronounced “hue-gah”).

Hygge is kinda hard to explain, so I’m told. It’s a state of being. I suppose you can describe it by saying it’s the cozy feeling of contentment that overcomes you when you just hang out at home in PJs and fuzzy slippers, feed the fireplace, drink hot cocoa, snuggle, and be happy. I even got a book about hygge this Christmas. Can’t wait to crack it open this winter and enjoy. Hygge is my favorite state of being. I inherently knew what hygge was before I knew there was a word for it.

Perhaps if I got a tattoo, it should say “hygge me” inside of a heart. I might be onto something there…


We sent our Christmas cards to family and friends but this year, I took the unprecedented step of writing a letter to go along with it. Let that sink in for a moment: I love to write but I never did that before. Isn’t that funny?

It was pretty well received. A few people contacted me to say they enjoyed it. What they didn’t know is that I wrote it off the top of my head and the original version was six – count them, SIX – pages long! It hit me that 1) no one wants to read six pages about the five of us, and 2) that gets a little costly for the number of cards we mail, so I was forced to play editor and whittle it down to just two pages.

Do you know how hard that is? I mean, I had YEARS worth of news to catch people up on, people I don’t get to see very often if at all.


I’ve had a lot of thoughts and content bubbling up inside for the last few weeks but I just couldn’t find the time to get it written down. Instead, I’ve been on the prowl for a puppy.

Yes, a puppy. Our oldest seems to be allergic to big dogs, so this makes the effort a little challenging. We would love to welcome a pet into our lives but we’re all allergic to cats. It’s been over five years since our angel of a basset hound, Monk, passed away. I’ve been researching breeds and we think we are ready to move forward with a Maltipoo, a low-shedding, hypo-allergenic cross between a poodle and Maltese. Part of me is a little anxious about having to train a puppy but “designer dog” rescues are hard to come by although not impossible. We may have found a rescue, actually. We need to do more research on that but at least we’re aware of one.

<<< Isn’t this little guy cute? Be still my heart. I want to hygge him.

But these last three or four weeks? I’m exhausted. It occurred to me today that I am “puppy pregnant”, which is not to say I’m actually pregnant. Oh, no…. Mama Louie’s uterus is closed for business, shall we say! 😳

But seriously, I’m scanning puppy sites in my every spare moments. I’m scrolling through endless dog names. I notice everyone who already has a dog. I’m wondering if the dog we get will look like my husband and the kids (dark-haired) or more like me (returning to the blond of my toddler years)? I’m starting to buy things to nest. The kids can not wait to add to the family. Our youngest is looking forward to no longer being the youngest. 🤣

Did I mention I’m tired, oh so very tired? This past Monday wasn’t even my first day back at work but midway through an afternoon meeting I wanted to grab a pillow, curl up in a ball, and nap.

Will it be a boy or a girl? Will it be a colicky baby or sweet? Will it come “late” or “early”? We’re not even sure when we’re “due”.

Puppy pregnant is a real thing.

I need a nap.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

 

Word of the Year 2019

Happy new year!

It’s become a thing for many people to choose a single word that will be their focus or mantra for the new year. This hasn’t always been a habit of mine. I guess I became aware of the practice a few years ago but didn’t apply it to my own life until recently.

Although I didn’t choose a word for 2017, one quickly revealed itself to me early on: travel. That was the year I turned 50, and I decided that it was time I started visiting people and places that had been on my wish list for too long.

I had originally wanted to travel to Iceland as part of a big birthday trip that year, but I ended up making several mini-trips instead, and it was just as glorious if not more so. It was so much fun, I really kept the trend going well into 2018 with several more trips. Between work and play, I’ll bet I had a dozen or so trips under my belt. The nomad, the wanderer, in me can’t sit still.

Not all those who wander are lost. – J. R. R. Tolkien

Last year, I tried to choose a single word, but in true Silonda style, I chose three: breathe, connect, and nest (see My Intention for 2018)! I really need to work on that following instructions/simplification thing… 🤣

Cue 2019. Somehow January snuck up on me. I don’t know how! For two, solid months I knew I wanted to devote some time to planning and dreaming for the upcoming year, two of my absolute favorite things to do, but I just wasn’t settled enough to pull it off.

Planning and dreaming is important stuff, but I had the overwhelming urge to purge things out of my house instead. What do they say? “Outer order invokes inner calm”? So I’m just telling myself that the physical purging of stuff was needed to proceed on to the inner task of meditation.

Still, the task of choosing a single word to focus on was daunting, which is crazy: it ought to be pure fun!

Through an online friend I came across the Dayspring quiz for your 2019 word of the year, so figured I’d give it a whirl.  The questions were Biblically-based, but low and behold (cue the angels on trumpets), they revealed an excellent word for me for 2019: courage.

courageCourage might be worth 10 Scrabble points but it’s priceless in the game of life, eh?

Why courage, you might ask? I never really thought of myself as a skittish, fraidy-cat type. I’m not meek and never have been but yes, I can be a quiet observer. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to experience the slow building of confidence that comes from sticking your neck out, trying new things, honing a skill, and getting recognition for excellence. Basically, I’m not a confidence newbie.

But like any muscle, it gets weak if you don’t exercise it. That said, I will –

  • Catch myself whenever I say, “I can’t do that!” to describe something I’m afraid to do and change it to, “I will do that!”
  • Take the time to warmly welcome anyone new in my social or professional circle and help them connect to others, even if I am not the official “host” or MC of that circle. I will summon up the courage to play the role anyway and not concern myself with how that might appear to others.
  • Ask myself, “What would courage look like?” in times of uncertainty and then act on it.
  • Step up and speak out whenever I see injustice, like racism, sexism, or bullying.
  • Lead efforts I feel should be made.
  • Share what’s in my heart, in person and this blog.
  • Dare to dream bigger than I have before.
  • Breathe deeply and remember that I’m batting 1.000 in my ability to get this far in life.

What about you? Have you chosen a word for 2018? What does it mean to you? How did you discover it? And most importantly, how will you use it to influence the year ahead?

Sending you my very best wishes for the seasons ahead. Peace, health, and happiness to you all. ✌🏻❤️

 

 

 

 

January

amy-reed-518427-unsplashHow I love January!

A perfect blank slate, a fresh start

Winter white

Brilliantly sunny with blue skies

New-fallen snow that sparkles and tingles with the slightest hint of sound…listen closely for its promise

A clean calendar

Crisp, sweet air

Hope anew

Momentum

Resolve

Potential

Beginnings….a genesis

Relief

Happiness and good cheer

Forward-looking

Onward and upward

Best efforts and good habits

Unencumbered

Free

Pay day

A new box of 64 crayons with the sharpener built in

A full tank of gas

Rev your engines full throttle…

Go

 

Photo by Amy Reed on Unsplash

Brief Reflections on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve at Louie Lodge. My husband and I will be apart today for the first time since I met him 18 years ago. One of the high school bands he works with was invited to march in the Citrus Bowl parade in Florida yesterday while today they marched at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. I stayed back here in Ohio with our kids.

December 31 is usually a quiet night for us. We hang out at home, watch the ball drop on TV, and catch a few musical performances. No big parties for us. Nobody but us. I often wish we had a big group of people to hang out with but the truth is we don’t have a posse we feel close enough with to do that. I’d rather lounge on my comfy sofa with the blanket and fireplace going and not deal with whomever is on the road and shouldn’t be.

Tonight is a night of quiet reflection, again.jeshoots-com-490731-unsplash

I usually make a big list of resolutions at the start of the year and take this last week of the year to reflect on the progress I’ve made so I can plan next steps, but not this year. I’ve had the last few days off work but instead of reading, relaxing, and reflecting, I’ve been tidying and tying up loose ends: making overdue appointments and dates with friends, cleaning, and purging clothes and household items that clutter up the place. I’m glad I did…it needed to be done…but I feel very unsettled heading into 2019. I haven’t done the proper meditation and planning to start the new year.

How I love a fresh slate, an opportunity to start all over again. I am way overdue for reinvention, for new beginnings. My husband jokes with me that I need a change of some kind every three years: a new city, new house, new job, or new kid. It’s been 14 years since we’ve had a new house or city, and eight years since I changed employers or had a kid, so I am well overdue on many fronts. Given that we aren’t planning any more kids, you can see where this is headed.

I was feeling very hopeful about 2019 until about an hour ago. I had my heart on a certain puppy for the last week or so, and I thought the breeder told me we were next in line to choose, but I learned moments ago that the puppy I had my eye on has been scooped up by someone else who jumped ahead of me. Perhaps I misunderstood the breeder, but I’m actually heartbroken over this. It’s crazy. It’s just a puppy but I woke up this morning of new year’s eve thinking she would be ours and join our family soon, another sweet little heartbeat to add to the home, but instead she’s gone, just like that. Now I don’t know what 2019 holds for us.

Pardon me while I go take some time to think about that as the clock winds down to midnight.

But before I go, here’s wishing you all, around the world, a peaceful and prosperous new year full of good health and joyous community with your favorite heartbeats.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

 

Blessed Are the Mornings

The tick, tick, tick of the clock is the only sound I hear at the moment, punctuated every now and then by neighborhood cars as people start their day this last workday of the week. In a moment, my oldest will stir from his bedroom and start his routine for yet another day of high school. My husband and youngest two are still asleep, warm and cozy under down comforters in their rooms.

It is unusual for me to be awake so early. Mornings sneak up on me. I am well rested when I rise these days but it’s usually a slow acceleration from awake to functional. In contrast my husband can bounce out of bed with full energy and ability to hold a lively conversation the minute his eyes open.

Not me. Don’t ask me to talk first thing in the morning. Don’t expect me to remember anything either. My oldest son coined this phrase that we laugh about but it’s 100% true: don’t expect anything from me before I gain my “morning strength”. Coffee isn’t the magic elixir that delivers it, either. Morning strength comes only from standing on my own two feet for twenty minutes.

simon-matzinger-633741-unsplashIt’s not that I don’t like morning: I love it. I especially love waking leisurely to the birdies chirping outside and the gradual light of sunrise. I love seeking out a cool spot in the bed when stretching but then curling back up into the warm spot your limbs inhabited all night long.

One of my all time favorite things is when one of the kids climbs into bed in the morning and we get to snuggle and hug.. It’s even better when my youngest makes this little sing-songy whimpering noise, almost to the point of sleep-talking, when he stretches or settles into a new position. It melts my heart to hear it. We’re almost at the point where our kids have outgrown wanting to climb into bed with us. I’m gonna miss the smell of their freshly-showered heads tucked under my chin and the way their little bodies spoon mine. So sweet. So peaceful. Just warmth and protection, trust and love.

But on days like this, where I rise in the early morning as the first one up, I feel like I’m keeping watch over a sanctuary and helping its inhabitants prepare for a new day, except the inhabitants are people you love still angelically tucked away in their little cocoons for the night.

I have a routine when I rise first. I check on each heartbeat, plant a kiss on each cheek, stare in wonder how the faces of my children have changed yet again seemingly overnight, and then I leave to grant them peace, the luxury of sleep for however many minutes longer before their day begins.

Blessed are the mornings, aren’t they?

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash