Anderson-Messeder Holiday Card 2018

Another Year passed already!


As I write this in early December 2018, Tom is 21. Gabby is 19. Kieran is 18, and Devin is 15. It’s been an interesting year. When I sat down to decide how to write this year’s e-card, I quickly glanced at a few older ones and had to chuckle about how I continue to write that the current year has been a growing experience for me. I can say without a doubt it’s again true this year, more true than ever. It’s been tough, but I’ve also enjoyed every small step of the way – even the ugly ones… because this is it. It’s the only life we have and we are to experience and take in whatever it brings with it.


For me it was the year of PTSD, running, and blogging more than ever. Here is a quick highlight from each season for our gang –



January – always the opportunity for a new start. It’s a cold and dark time of year. This one kicked off with my brother Mario coming to stay with us for a while, trying his hand at Uber and beginning a new life. Tom moved back home from college and started working locally. Daren & I took a birthday present trip (for Kieran’s 18th) to NYC to see the Opera Tosca. Daren made his first batch of beer. In February I went on a work trip on weekend with Daren to Austin, TX where we had the WORST wine tasting ever. Koji hurt his paw and was on limited duty for a few weeks. In March Daren and I went to Costa Rica with a great group of folks from my yoga studio, and then on another work trip that I accompanied him to down to New Orleans, LA. We spent as many weekends as we could in Branford, and at the end of March brought in the new season of renters, but not before we got back down to the city for Devin’s birthday present from his girlfriend who took him to see an Islander’s Game while we enjoyed some grown up time (eating Ethiopian).


Winter Blogs:

On Giving Gifts that Heal this Holiday Season

On the Mysterious Secret of Slowing Down

Lexapro Journal (Continued)



The weather started warming up (just a little at first). The sun shone for more hours. We took a few trips down to Long Island to visit our families. The outdoor work began at both houses. We did not plant a garden this year (surgery for me), but did create an attractive herb garden off the back porch. Gabby came home from college for the summer and took up a job at Stop & Shop (where she also works at URI) as well as weeding during the day for one of her friend’s from high school’s father’s landscaping company. Mario moved along to work with our cousin Paco who opened a pizza kiosk in New York City, just a block away from Columbus circle. Kieran had his senior prom and graduated from high school. I had carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand. Daren and I took a long weekend and went to York, Maine (my birthday present). Tom bought his first car on his own (used of course) and officially stopped going to college for now. Devin completed his first year at Cheshire High School. I completed a 500-hour yoga teacher certification in June.


Spring Blogs:

On the Wonder of: What’s wrong with me?

A Frigid New England Morning

On The Monkey Mind vs Spirit

On Our Human Inchoate Brain

On the Sound of Silence

On a Song for Someone

On Vagueness

On the Sun, Moon & Tides

On Being AWOL Through Life

On Understanding Panic Disorder



As the summer rolled around the days were officially hot and long. Tom and Gabby worked their summer jobs. We hit up one of the concerts on U2’s latest tour. Daren & I went to Branford for a few weeks but it was cut short by a really bad episode (PTSD related by yours truly) which is how I will pretty much remember this entire year unfortunately. The good part is that I finally took my diagnosis seriously and started pretty intensive treatment. From that point on it is fair to say it’s been my sole focus. Daren, his father, Kieran, and Devin took a 12 day sailing trip along the coast from Mystic to Nantucket and back. My girlfriend Sherrie and I went on a long weekend getaway to an all Women grown up version of camp up in the Berkshires. Around this time I became a bit more serious about running and self-care as well. I spent a lot of time on the trail that is 1.25 miles from our door. I finally got out to NYC to see the pizza kiosk Mario worked in this summer with my friend Lucy & her daughter (before he took up an even better painting job). In August Kieran and Gabby packed up for college. Kieran to Harvard as a freshman and Gabby back to URI as a sophomore. This semester Gabby moved into a beach house with 3 other roomies. I underwent carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand and spent time in recovery blogging and painting with my left hand. Daren and I took a trip to Nantucket after a brief stop in Boston for a work function he had.


The start of autumn was still incredibly warm for a while. The days however were getting shorter, and the trees more colorful. We did a LOT of weekend traveling this fall. I began by going down to Florida to visit with my aunt Fran who was also hosing my cousin Camille who I hadn’t seen since 1992! It was really special to spend time with them. Daren and I spent our anniversary by going back to Jonathan Edwards where we got married and had a wonderful long weekend in Mystic. We also got out to Cambridge a few times to see Kieran, and down to New York City again to see the Nutcracker and enjoy a truly Nordic meal at Aquavit. Daren had an unexpected trip the ER one lovely Sat eve (kidney stones). The fall baking took place, followed by the fall planting, and then lots of holiday baking! It only got colder and darker as the weeks went by. We had our first snow in mid-November. We’ve hiked a bit, me more so than Daren. I’ve continued to run, topping out at 18 miles for the longest run and shooting for 10Ks for my “short” runs. I’ve also been spending a lot of time by the dark windows meditating and contemplating the beauty of the earth. It’s a beautiful pastime at sunrise and sunset.

Autumn Blogs:

Life in the Slow Lane

On “Her Story”

On the Fluctuating Gunas (The What???)

On Why I Love Teleworking

On the Harvest and our Minds

On Fear and Suffering

On Navigating with Love

On the Possible Spiritual Aspect of Halloween

Rainy November Morning Walk in New England

How I’m Choosing Who to Vote For

Hygee (Hoo Guh) & How I Plan to Embrace Winter this Year

A PTSD Triggered Morning

Weekend in New York City

And speaking of sunsets – … the sun is now setting on 2018. Happy Holiday Season from our family to yours.

~Anderson-Messeder crew


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Anderson-Messeder 12 Days of Christmas Part II

We’ve continued our journey of donating to charities for the 12 days of Christmas this season. Here are the last few and what we’ve shared with one another –


Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS). I realize this is a minefield of a charity to share with the public since it’s created such a divide in our country. However, no matter what side of the fence you are on, the reality is that there are refugees and they need resources. Daren dug up a short video clip showing refugees arriving in Greece from Syria via Turkey: We donated housewares via Amazon to a refugee family in New Haven, CT.


National Organization for Women Foundation (NOW). After watching Miss Representation on Netflix last month (free if you’d like to watch it!), I was moved to donate to this organization. We watched most of the movie together last night as a family. As a woman myself, I have not even noticed the way the media has influenced me to think about the way I live my live and see myself; AND has likely pushed women away from engaging in Leadership and Political roles. The media and politics shape our culture & how we live, and only 6% of our representative population are making these decisions for everyone else (caucasian heterosexual college educated married men over the age of 35).


Save the Sound and CT fund for the Environment. This is an organization that works to ensure critical natural areas are protected and support wildlife, recreation, and clean water. In addition to a myriad of many environmental pursuits, some highlights are: They push for great open spaces to be protected from over-development, see that important coastal and island habitats are preserved, and natural dunes & marshes help protect shoreline communities from future storms and sea level rise.



Bowery Mission. The Bowery Mission has been helping homeless New Yorkers since 1879, meeting the specific needs of each man, woman, and child who walks through their doors. They first help by meeting immediate needs: food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. They also have residential recovery programs and camps for children. Additionally, they address deeper needs for spiritual wholeness, life and job skills training, and addiction recovery. We watched a short YouTube video that Devin found that explains the impact of this organization impeccably. Check it out if you have a moment –


American Red Cross. I know everyone knows what they do!

I really enjoyed spending the holidays this year focusing on a charity each day during the 12 days of Christmas. It was an exercise to think about what matters to us and to take action (no matter how small) to do something outside of ourselves that inspires us to make the world a better place. I hope everyone I know feels empowered to do things for others and fight for what they believe it.

“As (Martin Luther) King said, ‘The problem today is not the vitriolic words and the evil actions of the bad people. It is the appalling inaction and silence of the good people.’”

Happy Holidays!


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Anderson-Messeder 12 Days of Christmas

This year in honor of the holiday season, as a family we are focusing whole-heartedly on those less fortunate than us. We are cutting back on overall presents, cards and cookies. With the heavier wallet and extra time, each of the 6 of us picked 2 charities to focus on this holiday season. In honor of the 12 days of Christmas, each day we are donating to the charities of our choice in rotating order.

Today marks Day Six of our 12 Days of Christmas Giving journey –

  • Saturday afternoon our family (except Thomas who is still away at school) went to Target to purchase toys, clothes, pajamas, and shoes for two little boys who are in a domestic violence shelter in Middletown. We really had a fun time picking out items from the heart. At times I had tears in my eyes thinking about the these two little children we were shopping for and how we are making Santa come true for them and their mother.
  • Sunday we honored the Connecticut Virtual Food Drive that we are running. If you haven’t already donated and would like to help us reach our goal, please do! We are 31% of the way there so far. The website is:
  • Additionally, over the past few weeks I have been ordering extra non-perishable items on sale through Peapod and putting them aside for the Cheshire Food Pantry. On Tuesday evening after work, Devin and I drove over to the food pantry to drop off several bags of items. We have decided that this is so important, so each week we will continue to look for non-perishable items on sale and put them aside for a monthly drop off on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.
  • Tuesday evening Kieran and Gabby gave us a presentation of their two charities and their donations were made on Tuesday and Wednesday evening. Gabby’s presentation can be seen here:
  • Gabby chose the ALS foundation. Her father’s cousin passed away fairly young from the disease, and now his mother is also suffering from ALS.
  • Kieran chose to donate to The New Haven/León Sister City Project. Last February Daren and I went to Nicaragua and learned about the vast number of ways we can help this country. It touched our hearts and the most profound message I took away from this visit to the Third World is that I’m lucky. We sort of both have a soft spot in our hearts for this country ever since we saw a House Hunters International episode where a young couple was moving down there to help their economy.
  • Hailing from a Domestic Violence home as a child, Tuesday evening we also watched a Ted Talk about Domestic Violence with Gabby, Kieran and Devin. Tonight we also made a donation to the Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury to help victims in our own area.
  • Lastly, yesterday our daily donation went to World Vision.

A little more information about our charities can be found below. I was inspired by a similar blog not too long ago, perhaps we too can be an inspiration for others. Cheers! Love! Hugs & Kisses, xoxo



One in four women are victims of domestic violence and many women are seriously injured or even killed by their violent partners. When there is nowhere to turn, domestic violence support services like New Horizons provide secret, secure housing for the short term while a dedicated team works with each woman/family to find them a more permanent solution. The legal team helps ensure that they are represented in the courts and makes sure that they are safe and protected.Last year New Horizons helped over 1,000 women in Middlesex County.

Here is a paragraph from their website describing what they do:

For over 30 years, Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) has operated New Horizons Domestic Violence Shelter, a 24/7 emergency shelter for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. On an annual basis New Horizons provides services and shelter to over 1,300 women, children and male victims. The shelter itself one element of a comprehensive approach to intimate partner violence (IPV) that also includes community education, support groups, individual counseling, court advocacy and consultation to CHC’s clinical provider teams. New Horizons’ staff members are part of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence where they advocate for ongoing advancement of legislation and policy that protect the health and interests of women. A 24/7 confidential hotline service is also available through the program.



The New Haven/León Sister City Project is a bi-national organization working in Greater New Haven, Connecticut and León, Nicaragua to promote social justice and support education and sustainable development. Through delegations and other exchanges, we strive to understand and celebrate our respective cultures. We also educate about the impact of US government and individual choices on Nicaragua and other parts of the world


The New Haven/León Sister City Project was founded in 1984, at the front end of a movement of sister-city relationships that sprung up between Nicaraguan cities and North American or European cities throughout the 1980’s. The fundamental vision of the NH/LSCP in the 1980’s was to create healthy ties between US and Nicaraguan citizens as at a time when the government of the US was engaged in an illegal war against the government of Nicaragua and its people. Our alternative citizens’ foreign policy had the goals of raising awareness among US citizens about the effects of US-funded war on the people of Nicaragua, and supporting Nicaraguans in their vision of creating a more just society. The NH/LSCP determined that its commitment was to solidarity with Nicaraguan people, and to relationship-building between US citizens and Nicaraguans, no matter who was running either government.


Many Nicaraguans continue to have hope in the social gains that the Sandinistas may be able to make during their governance; and many find themselves increasingly disillusioned with the party. The NH/LSCP continues to prioritize healthy relationship between US and Nicaraguan citizens, continues to educate US citizens on the impacts of US policy in Nicaragua, and continues to support programs designed to empower poor Nicaraguans.

Our Work in León

The primary work of the NH/LSCP in León is to support community organization initiatives in the rural community of Goyena, and to facilitate programs and projects that supplement the efforts of the formal education system.

This work includes:

Support for the community preschool with capacity-building efforts for the local teachers, and facilitation of an after-school program for first to fourth graders. Developing public health projects including clean cook stoves, clean water, nutrition, etc.Organizing Women’s Rights program and use of Forum Theater to explore conflicts and develop leadership. Organizing Environmental Youth Brigade (see article) and other sustainable development efforts. Organizational support for the parents’ council at the preschool, as well as for the community board of directors of the community. Support long term movement by community towards self-sufficiency and sustainability. NH/LSCP’s New Haven office is located 2nd floor of the First Unitarian Universalist of New Haven building at 608 Whitney Avenue where we’ve been for 17 years.



Established in 1985, The ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure.

As the preeminent ALS organization, The Association leads the way in research, care services, public education, and public policy — giving help and hope to those facing the disease. The Association’s nationwide network of chapters provides comprehensive patient services and support to the ALS community. The mission of The ALS Association is to lead the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy, while also empowering people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support.


 World Vision is a humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice.

Working in nearly 100 countries around the world, we serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. We believe in a full solution to poverty and injustice. We provide emergency assistance to children and families affected by disasters and conflict, partner with communities for long-term solutions to alleviate poverty, and advocate for justice on behalf of the poor.


Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury

Our Services: Safe Haven provides emergency shelter and free comprehensive support services to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Safe Haven is committed to ending violence and sexual assault by changing the social conditions and beliefs that perpetuate violence against women and children.

Towns We Serve: Safe Haven serves the towns of Bethlehem, Cheshire, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Prospect, Southbury, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott, and Woodbury for domestic violence.

A donation of:

$600 provides one week of shelter for a mother and her children, including food, clothing, personal items, counseling, advocacy and support groups

$400 provides one hour of art therapy for 18 children

$100 provides three weeks of support group for 10 women

$75 pays for an advocate to support a rape victim in the hospital

$50 provides court advocacy for three victims whose partners have been arrested or pays for three presentations to 2nd graders to stop bullying

$25 pays for dinner for 8 women and 7 children at the shelter or a birthday party for a shelter child.


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