September 11

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“Imagine all the people living life in peace” ~ John LennonImage

This is an updated edit from the post I made a year ago.  New photo thanks to Ted Mattison and his awesome lunch box.  Today, I sit next to my now ten-year old daughter and tell her the story of what happened on September 11, 2001.  Believe it or not, I have no longer kept the horrific details of that tragic day away from her.  She has learned of the terrorists, and she now understands there were horrible wars being fought on lands far away and she comprehends that America continues to fight a war on terrorism.  She also knows that the leader of these atrocities, Osama bin Laden, is dead.  Thank you, President Obama!

Do you remember where you were the morning of September 11?  Of course, you do.  We all do.  As I mentioned before, the cats were unusually restless and woke us at 6:00 a.m.  There was no small child yet; though the Bean was starting to sprout.  Those who know me understand that I will never willingly get out of bed at 6:00 a.m., however, on that day, I did.  The phone rang and I knew immediately it was not going to be good news.  It was my friend, Lisa, from D.C. calling, “turn on the news”.  The first tower had already been hit; and, Paula Zahn was announcing it was a small plane.  As she spoke, the view behind her was of the twin towers with smoke billowing out of the first.  I stared in disbelief; the unthinkable was approaching the second tower.  I watched, in real-time, as the jetliner smash into the second tower.  I thought how surreal life had just become.  I contemplated turning off the television.  I was one month pregnant with the  Bean in what I’ll simply describe as a very sensitive pregnancy.  This was so horrific and tragic, I didn’t want these emotions filtering through by body and soul.  As much as I thought I should, I didn’t turn off the television.  In fact, I could do nothing, but, watch for the next week.

On this day, I am now able to share with my now thriving 10 year old, the story of one victim that hit very close to home.  Our friend and contractor was at the house the morning of the attack.  He and I sat in silence waiting to hear the news.  His nephew was a financial planner for Cantor Fitzgerald.  He arrived every morning that week and we watched.  One morning, he called.  He would not be coming to the house today.  It had been confirmed, his nephew had been killed.  What hit me the hardest was that his nephew’s wife was also expecting.  Her now ten year old never got to meet her father.  I count my blessings every day.

My husband flew into D.C. last May, moments before President Obama made the announcement….Osama Bin Laden was dead.  Bryan was able to join the thousands of revelers just after midnight at the White House.  He described it as a moment of  beautiful mayhem that he will never forget.  Americans coming together in celebration that terror and evil did not prevail.

The Bean and I now have long talks about 9/11.  She has seen the images and watched the video of this horrific moment in time.  She is not afraid.  Based on what she shares with me I think she intends to be part of the change and forward momentum that America needs to make this country become again a place where people live in harmony and find and enjoy their freedoms.  Sounds corny, but, let’s see what happens!  Peace!

The Best Luck I Had Was You

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“Cause the best luck I had was you…and I know one thing, that I love you!” ~ Michael Franti

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since that 3:00 a.m. drive down the mountain to Stanford Hospital to receive what we thought would be a little eye rolling, a few chuckles and advice to go back home and relax for another 3 or 4 weeks.  Ah, the best laid plans.  A year ago my post was a tribute to the Bean, reflecting on the memories of the day she was born. Rereading it today, it still makes me smile and wonder where I drew the creativity to write such an almost humorous post. I’ll probably repost it at some point today; however, for the sake of nostalgia (mine), feel free to check it out at http://www.journeyto2020.com/2011/04/21/she-is-going-to-be-a-handful/

Instead of writing, yet again, about how enamored I am with my child, I’ve decided to switch gears and give her a voice by sharing a poem she wrote for her fourth grade class this week; a little piece of her soul~

MY SOUL

My soul is running free
Like a wild horse
My soul is the drumming
Of hoof beats on the
Burning sand
My soul is the sound of
Ear piercing whinnies
My soul is a bright
Place with the smell
Of thick leather
My soul is the sweat
And blood of a horse.

By: Ally Sinclair

Happy 10th Birthday, sweet Alexandra!  Your love, kindness, courage and beauty (inside and out) is the essence of an unbridled soul!  May you, forever, experience life exactly as you feel it today!!

p.s. And, never forget the best luck I had was you ♥   xoxo!!

Faith in Humanity

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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” ~
Dalai Lama

It’s been a long week.  Life can change on a dime.  All you can hope is that your faith in humanity will always maintain and hold you.  Twenty four hours ago I was losing some faith.  My child was on the receiving end of some very unkind and ugly behavior at school.  Behavior that, of course, had no merit, no foundation and that should never, ever have been tolerated.  But, ugliness happens….life happens.  Between the time of her explaining her heartbreak to Bryan and myself, and us sorting things out with teacher/parents/etc., we got a call that Aunt Re was failing.  Bryan had to catch the first flight to the East coast, immediately. He stopped by school at lunchtime today to tell the Bean he was leaving for a while.  He didn’t explain much and she didn’t ask.

As I sit here at 1:00 a.m. and wait to hear whatever news I can receive, my heart breaks for the journey that Bryan is taking with his/our beloved Aunt Re.  Prayers for a peaceful journey are all I can wish and hope for.  However, through this heartbreak, I must share that my faith in humanity has been restored.  This evening I have received an outpouring of e-mails from parents from the Bean’s class wanting to know if she is okay and if there is anything they can do to help.  Apparently, after Bryan left her at school, she had a difficult time masking her emotions from her classmates.  They all knew, immediately, something was wrong and surrounded her with hugs and kindness. She found comfort in her friends.  Many of them told their parents and the parents took the time to send me an e-mail.  It’s amazing to know that despite the road bumps and tragedies in life’s journey, humanity really does always prevail.

I dedicate Journey to 2020 to Re/Aunt Re/Sharon Frasier.  You have always been my biggest fan and cheerleader, and for that I am forever grateful.  You are kindness.  You are courage.  You are wisdom.  We love you are with you, hand in hand, on your journey.

Happy Birthday, Buffalo Soldier!

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“None but ourselves can free our minds.” ~
Bob Marley

Bob Marley would have turned 67 this week.  He may be gone, but, his words and message still ring true.  Happy Birthday, Buffalo Soldier!

Perspective

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“It’s not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself.”  

~Joyce Maynard

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to title this post, “pondering”, “parenthood” or “disenchantment”.  As my daughter approaches her tenth year, I ponder how Bryan and I are measuring as her parents.  I believe our successes greatly outweigh our failures and I believe we are doing a pretty darn good job at nurturing a decent human being.  Parenthood, while not a piece of cake, has come to us gracefully, without a lot of drama.  The child, as I have always said, brings more to our plate then we could ever dish out on to hers.  This beautiful person is such a gift in my life and inspires me everyday to dig deeper into my art.  Parents sometimes forget to continue to grow on their own journey as they raise the next generation.  My daughter and my journey to 2020 becomes richer each day with knowledge, love, understanding and, sometimes, disappointment.  Fortunately, the few moments of disenchantment when actions of unkindness or cruelty come along, I always have this small person to remind me that resilience is “rooted in a tenacity of spirit”.   On her first day of preschool they asked us to describe our child in one word.  We chose “empathetic”.  Yep, we were right!

Photo taken of the sun setting over the Pacific during the Super Bowl ♥

Resilience

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“Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit—a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds. When we have a clear sense of identity and purpose, we are more resilient, because we can hold fast to our vision of a better future.” ~ Author Unknown

I received a letter today from my oldest sister.  In this letter she reflects on how fortunate I was to inherit the gift of practicality and resilience from our late mother.  Our mother saw, in the first 25 years of her life, so much more than many of us have or will ever see in a lifetime.  She survived WWII leaving her homeland of Romania at the age of 18, never to return.  Bombings in Poland (where she fled a theater moments before a bomb wiped the building off the radar), raids in Austria, then moving throughout Europe until the war ended and she arrived safely in Trieste, Italy, with her younger sister in tow.  She fell in love with an American G.I.  They married and had a child (my oldest sister) in Italy.  The army sent my father home due to illness leaving my mother and sister alone in Trieste.  They joined him months later arriving by boat on Ellis Island in 1956.  I don’t know, but, it seems one might have no other choice than to become practical and resilient in times like those.

Being the youngest and most obnoxious child of the brood, I’m flattered and honored that I remind my sister so much of my mother.  I’m not sure if it was nature or nurture, but, somehow I do believe I took on my mother’s sense of practicality; but, more importantly her tolerance for life and people.  Resilient, I’m not so sure.

Fast forward to mid December….the last two weeks of 2011 brought brain cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer affecting members of our family and close friends.   I’m still standing and, believe or not, smiling some times.  Am I super(wo)man?  No, not really.  I’m muddling through and being the person my mother taught me to be.  Optimistic, hopeful and helpful whenever possible.  Perhaps it is because I learned very early in life to embrace the good, turn away from the bad and try not to let the ugly get in the way.  Still, I find myself, sometimes, struggling with my own resilience to the hurt and pain caused by the insensitivity and mean spirited-ness of some people.  Insensitive, intolerant and, well, just plain mean people still exist.   Nine and a half years ago I got the gift of my mother’s spirit back.   This little being came to us with the most amazing spirit of kindness, understanding of tolerance with a keen sense of resilience.  Where this perspective and resilience comes from I do not know.  What I do know is that I am blessed to have her near me, to remind me of what is most important and often offer perspective that goes way beyond her nine little years.

Do not think that we are only here to teach our children.  We are also here to listen and learn from them.  I wish you all peace, love, happiness, tolerance; but, most of all, resilience in this new year.  Be safe. Be well!

Forever Young

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Quote of the Day:  May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true, may you always know the truth, and see the lights surrounding you, may you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong; and, may you stay forever young.”  ~ Bob Dylan

This has been a very emotional week.  My best friends from childhood will be gathering in my hometown, celebrating 30 years from our graduation from high school.  First of all, 30 years from ANYTHING is emotional; but, high school is another story.  I have always believed in the saying “make new friends, but, keep the old ~ one is silver and the other is gold” and I now instill this same philosophy in my child.

It is such an important philosophy for me to hold close, because there have been so many chapters in my  life.  I sometimes wonder if the small child will have such a big book, with so many chapters to lug around.  Perhaps her own novel will be more concise, less dramatic and; therefore, require fewer chapters.  My intuition tells me it will be the latter.  Whatever her story may be, I will tell her this: “friends will come and they will go; however, the impact of the lessons and gifts they bring will stay with you forever.”   As I write my blog, I generally try to parallel my daughter’s life and journey with my own.  Whether that is good or bad, it always brings the same resolution; that no matter how much life changes, it really does remain the same (with much better technology 🙂 ).  Thank you, Steve Jobs ~ may you rest in peace!

Whether it is the result of the many chapters of my life, the moves from coast to coast or the distance I live from my childhood home, I have always had this idea that I would never reconnect with my friends from childhood.  Well, that idea went completely out the window when Zuckerberg came to town with his baby, Facebook.  Initially, I thought Facebook was silly and trite; but, then I succumbed to the idea and, BOOM, Kathy appeared.  We saw each other’s names and “accepted” a friendship (maybe there should be a “re-accept” button).  I said, “come to California” and she said  “okay”.  We hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in over 30 years.  I pulled up to the curb at SFO and we were both crying before I even got out of the car.  We talked for 5 days straight, remembering idiosyncrasies that were long forgotten.   Every time I laughed, she cried, because it was a memory so profound within her ~ with that, I cried because I remembered that laugh from my childhood.  A laugh that only she could resonate.

So I dedicate this week’s blog to my 8th grade best friend forever, Kathy, and the Milford High School Class of 1981.  It’s been a joy reconnecting with you all.  May we find some other old friends along the way, may we find joy in our own personal journeys; but, most of all may we stay forever young in our hearts and in our souls.  I love you all and thank you for my childhood.   I wish this wonderful kind of childhood for my daughter and all her friends on their journey to 2020!  Godspeed!