happy birthday, little man


Nine years ago, at 1:55pm, you stormed your way into my world.

And since then, you’ve turned it upside down. You have a wickedly funny sense of humor. You’re an expert cuddler. The rare nights you crawl into bed with me, you know that the very best way to do so is to be such a stealthy and expert spooner that I won’t notice you’re there. And I don’t. Until I do. And then I savor each moment. I know they are numbered.

Every morning, you hold the screen door open for me, my arms full of bags as I fumble with the keys. (By way of contrast, your brother lets it slam behind him, right onto my shoulder.) I know you want to ride shotgun all the time. But in spite of what you think, while it’s true I worked in the Senate, I don’t make the laws. At least, I didn’t make the laws that dictate what age you have to be to ride in the front seat.

You’re messy. But you’re sweet. Sometimes sticky. Quiet and loud at the same time. (How do you do that?) You have not met a piece of trash you don’t think is beautiful. (Please don’t become a hoarder.) You are the only one in the immediate family who can carry a tune, and for that reason I apologize on my and Jack’s behalf for our bad car singing.

Speaking of, I could live the rest of my life not hearing Eye of the Tiger again and be fine, but it makes you happy. So we listen to it. On repeat.

You are our cat whisperer, the only one who can pick them up and cradle them in one arm without them twisting down and running away. You’re growing up so fast and are almost as tall as your brother. But you still cover your eyes when a kissing scene appears in a movie. I’ve tried to tell you that kissing is fun, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to the day that you decide to take my word for it.

The idea of loving someone so much it hurts was definitely conceived by a mother. There are days I look at you and I never want to let you outside where you will face life’s cruelties. But then I want you to be part of the world’s adventures, so I let you out the door in the morning.

The door you hold open for me. In so many ways.


13 in ’13

First came 43 by 43, and now 13 in ’13. That is, I’ve set 13 goals that I intend to pursue in the year 2013. A few of these goals are a continuation of my 43 by 43 efforts. But there are some new ones already penetrating my psyche. And because I can think of no better way to hold myself accountable, I share them all with you. I expect badgering, welcome participation and hope for encouragement.

In no particular order:

1. Get spin certified. You know I love my Biker Barre. I’m not expecting to attain a level of awesomeness that will allow me to teach there. (That might have to be a 2014 goal.)  But every time I hear a song I  like, I imagine what I’d do along to it on a bike. In that regard, spinning is as close of a sport to cheerleading as I’ve managed to get in my adult life. Just harder and sweatier.

2. Learn a new wine region. I know my California wines, but it’s time to branch out. And  I know nothing about Italian wines. Bring on the Barolo, Amarone and Brunello.

3.  Host (at least) quarterly dinner parties. I love to cook, but I don’t do it enough for my friends. Just understand if you’re invited to a Chelsea feast, I’m going to cook Italian so I can practice the skills attained in the advanced pasta making class I’m taking from Hill’s Kitchen. And I’m going to multitask by serving Italian wine (see goal #2).

4. Save money for college. Or get the kids discovered. But I don’t feel like I’d make a good stage mom, so saving is probably easier (though not on my shoe budget).

5.& 6. Travel. I promised the kids I’d take them to Hawaii. And I want to go to Italy. To drink obscure Italian wines (see goal #2) of course. It’s listed here as two goals because it’s two trips.

7. Make iconic fashion purchase. I dream of Chanel. And Cartier. But I may have to set my sights lower. I’m sure I will agonize in this very forum over any potential purchase.

8. Open my heart to relationship opportunity. I’m a dating disaster. I tried Match for 24 hours before canceling the membership. I went on zero dates after six months of e-harmony. Set ups are few and far between. After my divorce, dating wasn’t a priority. However, I’m now at a point where I’d like to share my crazy, drama-prone life with another (hopefully calmer and less dramatic) person.

9. Sign new clients. I have this hot new job. It’s time to exceed my potential with some great new clients whom I can help navigate the tricky world that is the U.S. Congress.

10. Publish the sequel to My Night with George Clooney. This is the only goal that has a very specific deadline. Which would be by the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in late April. If you read my first story, you know why this date is significant.

11. Refinance my house. It’s time. That is all.

12. Finish home improvement projects. That means have a deck built, fix up the yard and install window boxes. Maybe build a wine cellar. Some things the Warriors can help me do. Some I will have to contract to have done. And maybe I can bribe my talented brother to come down to Maine for a week of intense help.

13. Live life to the fullest. I know this particular goal will be difficult to measure. But I will know it when I’m feeling it, and those who are close to me will call me on it when I’m not.

There you have it. 13 goals. 11 months left to achieve them. Wish me success.

private, public, partnerships

The other day, a new colleague admitted to me that she feels like she’s one step away from us being best friends because she is a regular reader of my blog. I took her proclamation as the greatest of compliments. It fills me with warmth to know that my words speak so intimately to her.

It isn’t the first time I’ve heard this said. Often when I meet up with a friend I haven’t seen in some time, I find that I don’t need to do any talking because this person feels caught up on my life. And in a recent bout of rapid fire dating, the gentleman in question professed to know me better than I could possibly know him based on the fact that he is (was?) one of my avid readers.

All this Chelsea love got me to thinking about the private me versus the public me and how those two versions of who I am calculate into my real life relationships.

Yes, I wear my heart on my sleeve, for sure. I can be generous (maybe overly so) with details. (You may have noted I had second thoughts and took down the picture of my weirdly sunburned back.) But there is more to me than you read in these pages. Sometimes less. I might (gasp) exaggerate once in awhile. And I certainly under-report when there are details involved that I want to keep private. Does having a public presence make it easier to get to know the deeper me or more difficult because new people enter the relationship with a preconceived sense of who I am? Does maintaining a very personal blog enhance my relationship with longtime friends and family or lessen it because there isn’t as much perceived need for them to make a direct touch to me?

I don’t spill the inner workings of my heart and brain in this format to make/keep/update friends. After all, isn’t that what Facebook is for? I write as a creative and emotional outlet. In that respect, my blog is a very public form of private therapy. Incidents or feelings that unknowing to you have left me shattered can be transformed into a funny tale. My deepest fears are often turned on their head with a little self-deprecating humor. Touching interactions with my children are recorded as little tributes to them so that there’s written proof in the universe that they happened. Contrary to popular belief, I’ve never hooked up with George Clooney. And the style posts are as fleeting as fashion itself. But there are moments, many defining and profoundly special, which I save just for me.

To know me truly, you have to spend time with me, laugh with me, cry with me, sweat with me, drink wine with me. “Then, and only then,” as a dear friend of mine recently noted, “will you be lucky enough to maybe know the real Chelsea Henderson.”