Fearless

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The boots pinch his feet, and the pack cuts into his shoulders.

The walk from the parking lot is long, but he’s impatient to get to the end. He knows the ocean is just there, past that distant berm of sand. He can smell the salt water and taste the salt air.

A wicked wind flattens his sweatshirt against his skinny body, and the sun is in his eyes.

None of these things matter. The ocean calls to him.

The boots only hinder his speed, but the solution takes seconds.

Bare feet slap the cold pavement. His pack is a few pounds heavier.

The path turns to sand, and suddenly the view is breathtaking.

Winter beach.

Throngs of glistening skin and coconut oil have vanished. Clouds hurry along the grey horizon. Shadows freckle the water, but there, just a few hundred yards out, it’s different. Dull green waves catch the pale sunlight and the color touches his soul. He watches the waves roll in for a moment, and does nothing else.

Indomitable, he takes a deep breath, and rolls his pants to his knees. He wades deep enough for the frigid water to lap over his ankles. A shiver runs up his spine, but be it cold or excitement I cannot tell. His little frame leans into the wind, towards the expanse of water, and I wonder if he’ll dive in.

He’s alone out there, but I dare not disturb him. Adventure is on his mind, and his imagination needs every jeweled twinkle of light that bounces off the waves. He is committing this sight to memory, just as I commit the sight of him to mine.

The sun is so bright he has no color. He’s a black shape cut into the wild scene that stretches past my periphery. His footprints in the dark sand fade with each wave, and a lone gull hovers out over the waves.

His soul skims across the water. He seeks treasure. He sails ships in rough seas. He battles Blackbeard one second, Lord Nelson the next. Sea monsters fall to his spear, and he wakes, sandy and exhausted, on the shores of some deserted island.

Suddenly he turns, hitches up his pack and races down the beach. I see his mouth open but the wind is too strong for me to hear what he shouts. 

I told my wife I wanted to start the New Year off healthy. A hike on the beach seemed perfect. I thought the exercise would do us good, and the kids would enjoy a break from the bare trees of our neighborhood. I didn’t know this trip would make such an impact.

I shouldn’t be surprised. My son has this effect on me. I watch him interact with the world, and suddenly I want to explore. Details come into focus, and my senses come alive. He fuels my creativity and every move he makes, makes me want to experience life on another level. What’s next in my story? What adventure awaits? What is beyond those waves, and over the horizon?

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-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC

 

 

 

 

Feast of the Seven Fishes and Unlocking Life’s Secrets

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The line is long and the smell is invasive.

People swarm the place, jostling for position at the glass counter. They wave their tickets and shout their orders. 

“53!”

“Here!”

“Whaddya need?”

“Three pounds of cooked shrimp! A fillet of cod, and six lobster tails!”

And on it goes. The workers hustle and push past each other. They argue amicably at the register, and a few spouts of laughter erupt intermittently throughout the morning. It’s a reminder to the impatient customers, we aren’t unfriendly, just busy. 

This is City Fish, in Wethersfield, Connecticut, the day before Christmas Eve.

I love it. It’s my favorite day of the year. My dad pays for the fish, we have a beer then I head home. Carols blast from the speakers and I start wrapping scallops,  making clam chowder, and sipping my way through some Christmas cheer.IMG_0967

I’ve shared this day with my Dad and brother for the past twelve years.

My grandmother was Italian, and invited us every Christmas Eve to her house for a traditional seven fishes meal.

It was always strange to my siblings and me. The house would reek of fish and bony shards of smelt would hide among the tangles of oily angel-hair pasta. We’d smile and chew and fill up on bread, but our distaste of seafood only grew.

When Grandma got too old to handle all of the preparations, the meals came less and less often, and I felt the tradition slipping away to a faded memory. I decided to take on the holiday, a passing of the torch I suppose.

She guided me through the first few meals, and after she passed, I became more determined to continue the tradition.

I know I am supposed to complain about this.

It’s too stressful, we need to stop using food to celebrate, it’s too much money, it’s too hard to keep up the tradition…

But then it’s 11 o’clock at night the day before the party and the only sound in the house is Elvis crooning Blue Christmas and the sizzle of bacon in the pan. The house looks incredible and I am alone in the kitchen too focused on when to add the cream to worry about anything else in the world. My heart and soul is the space between stove and counter and fridge, and my religion is bathed in olive oil. 

Father: Celery

Son: Carrot

Holy Spirit: Garlic and onion

This is the secret to life my friends. I have unlocked it for you. Immerse yourself in the kitchen and cook for people. Find what makes you happy and use it to make others happy. You will never be disappointed.

The next night and the house is filled with love. Cousins chase one another IMG_0970and cheeks are red from the fire and wine. Music plays and I watch the scene unfold from behind my apron. 

As the last hors d’oeuvres is slid into the chaffing dish I stand on the hearth to make a toast. My youngest son runs to me as I start talking. He is my shy one, but now,  he looks out at the faces with me.  

I didn’t prepare a speech. My mind reels with what to say. How do I capture it? I want to say to everybody how much this night means to me. How this year has been eye-opening to me. How I struggle everyday to discover my purpose, how I fear for my future, how self doubt and self loathing threaten any progress I make in my new career if not for their support and for the morals and tenacity passed down to me from them and those now gone. I fear for my kids’ safety and for their own futures. I struggle and I worry and I eat and I wonder and I freeze. But this night and the days leading up to it I am who I most want to be. I am decisive and creative, and I have family and tradition on my mind. I am happy and relaxed and finding joy in the little things like watching my son scrunch up his face at the smell of fresh garlic, or the intoxicating aroma of food and coffee, or the refreshing sting of cold night as I run barefoot across the driveway to the garbage can. How I worry about our country,  not for what I see on tv, but for the unrealized potential I see in all of us, and how when family gets together like this, like this night, we feel happy and loved and this is how we will prevail as humans, by remembering our traditions and ancestors and keeping their spirit alive, by staying together and progressing from what they taught us…

But fish gets cold quickly and the smelts are burning, so instead I say, “Thank you all for coming. I love tonight, and I love all of you. Now let’s eat.”

-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC

 

 

 

‘Twas The Week Before Christmas

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‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through my home,

Lay Amazon boxes, everywhere that we roam.

My wife is done shopping or so she has said,

I haven’t started, and it fills me with dread.

The children are feverish and coughing and sick,

The infections and virus are spreading real quick.

To ensure the Nice List, the behavior is fake,

On the day after Christmas, the whining will wake.

And mom on the treadmill and I with my weights,

Furrow our brows, at what-the-scale-states.

When down in the kitchen there arose such a clatter,

I ran down the stairs to see what’s the matter.

I jump over needles from the fake Christmas tree, (how?)

I step on a Lego and mutter ‘Oh Gee!” (edited for content)

And there wrapped in blankets one nine and one four,

Stand my two boys among the Chrtistmas decor.

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The older is drawing a picture with care,

He shows it to Benny, who can’t help but stare.

It’s an artist’s rendition of Santa’s World Tour,

The logic makes sense when your audience is four.

“Is he real?” he asks later, with a tremble and shake,

“Some kids at school say that he’s fake.”

“Look in your heart,” I say without fear,

His body relaxes, but his face is unclear.

“The magic is in you,” I whisper and wink,

He nods and he smiles and you know what I think?

He’ll wake on that morning and jump to the floor,

He’ll see all his presents and I’ll have it…

Once more.

-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scattered Rainbows

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Freedom.

I think it means something different to all of us. 

I remember hearing a story of a man who had been wrongfully imprisoned. Twenty years later he was released and set free. The interviewer asked him what he wanted to do now that he was out.  His response?

To swim in a pool of water.

It touched me on some level. It gave me a glimpse into rigid imprisonment. The simplest  desire, to swim in a pool, always out of reach, stopped by men and concrete and iron bars.

I often think of that man and his dream. I imagine that moment, him standing on the side of the pool looking down into the depths of pillowy liquid.

Does he cry when he sees it? Does he dip in a toe? Does he take a moment to breathe in the chlorine or listen to kids splashing? I hope not. In my mind he stops on the way home, finds the nearest pool and cannonballs in, fully clothed, with a whoop!

Because who knows when opportunities arise? Who knows when something will come up that will stop us in our tracks and imprison us in some way?

I scheduled an overdue preventative medical procedure this morning.

I had put it off for years. I was too nervous to call. Too nervous to go. I’m overweight, I have high blood pressure, what if I’m not a good candidate for anesthesia? What if they find cancer? What if this will start the downward spiral of health? Doctors appointments, hospital stays, uncomfortable conversations…what if?

The nurse on the other end of the line runs down a list of health issues. I am supposed to stop her every time I hear one that applies to me. True I have to stop her two or three times, but I hear all of the things I don’t have and I start to feel better. I hang up, with a scheduled appointment a month from now, and hop onto the scale. Hmm, ok not bad (well getting better anyway)! I head downstairs to make myself a tea and start writing. 

I lean across my counter, blowing across the top of my mug, watching the steam mix with the sunlight streaming through my window. A rainbow near the fireplace catches my eye. I see two more on the fridge, and one on the door to the basement. I see short blocks of color strewn across paper towels and old homework. Blue sapphires dazzle my eyes and impossibly straight lines of green and red race across the ceiling and walls.

I look behind me. Owl, sphere and porcupine.IMG_0860

They were my Nana’s. I took them when she died, and they sit on the kitchen window sill watching the comings and goings of our family. I wonder if they feel imprisoned. They sit there motionless year after year, under appreciated and barely cared for.

I look again and see the dozens of rainbows sprinkled through the house. They reach the entire length from kitchen to living room.

I see those rainbows and I feel the weight of my worries dissipate. Years of fear and guilt for not taking better care of myself suddenly seem ridiculous to me. Why did I wait? Why did I imprison myself, why…

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is now. Today. Right now. This very second.

Do it. Whatever it is do it, and take care of yourself. Seek the freedom missing in your life.

Do it then find the rainbows scattered around you. Don’t look too far and don’t wait til after the storm is over. Sometimes they’re right there in the kitchen, from small pieces of glass, that catch the sunlight just right. 

-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC

Defrost? Maybe not

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The 4:30 alarm is terrifying. I did what I could to soften its power. The piercing tones have been replaced by Edvard Greig’s “Morning”, and the volume is as low as I can get it.

Still, soothing oboe or not, the first notes assault my eardrums and I throw back the covers, dismount from the bed like an aged gymnast finishing a pommel horse routine, and fumble with my phone lest I wake up my wife or children.

It’s a heart pounding, breathless, confused three seconds of terror, but it’s effective.

It begins the morning routine. I’d like to say, after a few minutes I am energized and ready to face the day, but that never comes. I start the laundry, stand in the kitchen trying to figure out what to do next, and ultimately decide to go back to bed. I repeat the process at 6:30, much to my wife’s delight (insert sarcastic tone here).

But 6:30 is really too late. I am in charge of breakfast, lunches, backpacks, clothes and transportation, and we have to be out the door at 7:09 or the Universe will crumble; my universe anyway.

Seventy days into the school year, and you’d think it would be smooth sailing, but it isn’t. Something always seems to get overlooked, and I am too frantic to notice. 

“Oh yeah, Benny has lace-up shoes now, that’ll be five minutes.”

“Wait, Mike, you forgot to do the other side of your homework, get started.”

“Wait, we’re out of bread? Now what am I making for lunches?”

Extinguished pilot lights, resetting of mousetraps, lost keys, lost homework folders, lost shoes, lost lunch boxes-each eat away valuable minutes and no matter what I do, we are running to the truck ten minutes behind schedule.

And now…Winter.

Frost shrouds the windshield.

It isn’t completely icy yet, but it requires more than a casual wipe of the wipers.

Ugh. I forgot.

“Ok, everyone back in, gotta let the truck warm up.” (Translation: Screw you New England.)

We wait. I have another cup of coffee and the boys dance to music on “Alexa.” Soon enough our break is over and everyone climbs into the slightly warmer cab of the truck. Leather seats creak and the sound of seatbelts buckling is more pronounced in the crisp air.

“Look Dad, snowflakes are on the window!”

I hit the brakes and put it in park. 

Snowflakes are on the window.

He’s right. There it is. The ice isn’t a hassle or hardship. It’s a reminder:

Slow down. Stop. Take a breath. What do you see?

Crystals form and stretch over glass, yet heat billows inside the truck. We’re together and warm and if we concentrate, and listen to a four year old, we can look at something beautiful and fleeting.

What else am I not appreciating?

Months ago  my morning routine was much different. Stormy clouds weighed on my shoulders, and a job that was negatively impacting my outlook on life closed in around me.

I would hold my face in my hands as the water cascaded over me in the shower, wondering where I went wrong in life. I dreaded everything. Sunday evening blues set in and sleeping more seemed better than thinking about work. Little could break through my negative attitude. What difference was I making? Why am I not more grateful? Where’s my passion? What am I doing? How can I get better? I’m trapped.

I would mutter good-byes and give half-hearted hugs and kisses. I’d stare out the window and ride along the highways rushing towards unhappiness, head on the headrest, thumbs on the steering wheel and cursing the sun for making me squint. 

I’m not making that commute anymore.

Mornings are tough. Winter is cold. Time waits for none of us. I’m not sure how to unlock it all, but I think the first step is gratitude. Live an intentional life. Find the beauty in a frosted windshield.

A mile down the road and those snowflakes will vanish.

-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC

 

 

 

Four Day Weekend

“Four day weekend and tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Mikey, what do you want to do?”

“Dad, I am going to run upstairs, put on my bathrobe and play videogames all afternoon. I have…No! Home! Worrrrrrrkkkkkkkk!”

“Sounds perfect. How ’bout you Benny-boy? What do you want to do?”

He looks out the back window of the truck at the leaves blowing  across the front yard. His four year old eyes squint in the setting sun and he sighs happily.

“Drink.”

Both boys do exactly as they say. Mike is in his bathrobe before I walk through the front door, and Ben is double fisting Yoo-Hoo!’s before he takes off his jacket.

By Thursday morning the house is filled with the delicious freedom of a four day weekend, and the delicious smell of roasted vegetables. It’s for the Thanksgiving Day feast at my in-laws. 

The house my wife grew up in, is small and cozy and warm. The boys disappear to the “Lego room” and the rest of us flip through a mountain of Black Friday flyers in the living room. Stuffed mushrooms and coffee and wine appear and disappear like dreams and the end of dinner leaves us wondering, “Why am I so full?”

The temperature is below freezing, worse with the ferocious winds, but I am determined to uphold the tradition of the post dinner walk. We bundle up the boys and Grammy gets the dog and away we go. 

Tears freeze to our cheeks and my little one cries, “My knees are cold!”

I guess that’s what happens when from waist up it’s three layers, a down jacket, scarf and hat, and below the waist is just jeans.

We touch the bridge in town with their grandfather’s name on it and suddenly they aren’t so cold. They climb over the steel girders and walk the railings like a tightrope. It’s a small adventure, braving the elements, searching landmarks and the reward is dessert at Grandma #2’s house. They run back. If it’s for joy or to get warm I don’t know. 

While Grammy’s house is safe and warm, Grandma’s house is a frenzy of family. Ten cousins wrestle on the couch. They sit two to a chair watching YouTube videos as my older nephews almost have my son convinced they’ve turned him invisible (secretly I wish I had thought of that one).

My boys cry when I tell them it’s time to leave.

By Saturday the tree is up and the train is chugging around its base. I take a picture of the four year old. He is under the tree and I immediately know what he is feeling. 

I’m seven and I am laying under my own Christmas tree. Snake-Eyes hangs from a branch and a few other G.I. Joe’s are riding the rails of the electric train set. I look up. It’s strange, I’ve never been under the tree looking up. I am dazzled by the sight. A secret pine-scented world reaches heavenward. It is a maze of branches and blinking lights. A hint of tinsel and ornaments peek through the gaps and wish I could shrink myself down and live among the boughs and trunk. It’s a secret quiet world. The magic of Christmas from the inside. I wonder if anyone else has ever done this or if it is my own private discovery. I hope it is my own.

By Sunday night the backpacks are getting ready for the morning commute, and my sons feel the weight of sleep a little more profoundly. I tuck them in. The baby snores lightly as Mike climbs to the top bunk.

“Well, what was your favorite part of the weekend?”

“Seeing everyone.”

“That’s sweet. How come?”

“I don’t know. I just like when we’re all together.”

-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC

40% Off of Zagg and Thunder! Today Only!

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Buy one for your child, have them work on it the next few weeks and then wrap it up.

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Thank you for your business, and I wish you a Happy Holiday Season!

-Mike Sposito

Owner Spowerks LLC