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Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy New Year...(Creative, huh?)

Forgive me for the delay in posting, It's been one helluva long semester (and it's finally over) and now I am wrapping up the year and getting ready to head into 2013.  I don't know about you but for me, it means a time to reflect on all of the beauty that 2012 brought to me, along with the heartbreak and sadness that is loss.

This year, personally we said goodbye to Chris's Dad and great Aunt.  As a nation, we mourned the loss of so many victims of senseless violence and most recently, the Newtown tragedy.  Like all of you, I was rattled to my core and simply could not and cannot wrap my head around the depth of this situation and the impact its had on our entire country.  I continue to pray for peace and comfort for the families and victims.  

It's a mixed bag of emotions and I am thankful that the joy far overshadows the sadness, and for that I am so grateful.

As a country, we saw the turmoil of a stormy and divided nation as we went through another election, one that was filled with heated debates and one that I am sure, many of us lost friends over or decided that some were never really friends in the first place.  In any case, I think we all dug deeply within ourselves to redefine boundaries about who is worth "agreeing to disagree with" and who is no longer worth the trouble, at least that was the case for me.

I finished my first semester of graduate school and there were plenty of highs and lows with that, in fact I had to remind myself constantly, it's just a class, not brain surgery for shits sake!  But, happily, I came out of it with two classes under my belt, a pretty impressive handle on French feminism and quite a few international authors (Yes), and (I think) I am a  better writer than I was before I started, so there's that.

We welcomed a new niece into our family and couldn't be happier for our brother and sister-in-law, this was a high point for all of us.  My Mom and her beloved Dave got engaged and we have a wedding on the horizon.  We also welcomed baby Hayley, who brings laughter and joy to the whole gang.

Although the year was filled with challenges, I persevered and came out of it with eternal optimism.  I have so much to be grateful for (my healthy beautiful kids, a great husband and a wonderful family) and more than anything, now is the time to focus on the future and all that has in store.  

So my friends, I hope that 2012 was a year to celebrate and I wish you all the very best in the year ahead.

With any luck, I will get a better handle on managing my blog AND my school work!

Hey, we all have areas that "need improvement" so cut me a little slack...

Cheers to you all and Happy New Year!

And with that, I am off to YOGA

Monday, August 27, 2012

School Daze

Well, my summer is officially over.  Not because my kids are back in school but on the contrary, because I am.

Today marks the day I find myself once again, sitting in a classroom.  But now, I am a grad student. It's not my first time at the rodeo, but this is definitely a new horse.   I am filled with excitement and nervous energy.  I really don't know what to expect and can you believe this, I haven't even figured out what to wear yet!

When I told Holly, one of my oldest and best friends, that I had already emailed my professor to ask if I should prepare for the first day by reading one of the 13 books assigned, her response was this "Let the ass kissing begin.  You know, all the other students are gonna hate you.  You will be that one in the front, raising your hand and making the rest of them look like idiots."  To which I replied "Holl, don't be ridiculous.  This is graduate school.  Most of these people are working professionals, not fresh college grads in pursuit of a creative writing MFA." 

Then I remembered when I picked up my parking permit and was asked casually by the security guard, if I would like the fee deducted out of my faculty payroll.  

Hmmmmmm

What if I am the oldest, anxiously waving my hand waiting to be called on?  What if I am the one geeking out in the front of the class, taking notes at break-neck speed?  What if-gasp-I am older than my professor?  Yikes, it's possible.  At 35 I was older than one of my teachers so I suspect that I may run into the same situation here.  I am fairly certain that one of them is considerably older than I, since he graduated from college in 1978. Unless, of course, he is the Doogie Howser of the literary world.  

And yes, I read his bio. Never hurts to be prepared.

So as I sit here typing away, I am wondering what this day holds for me.  I know that I will head off to yoga in an hour, to calm my frazzled nerves a smidge.  After lunch (if I can eat) I plan on leaving for school with plenty of time to find parking and get myself acclimated to the campus.  I missed "new kid" orientation but I figured once again, I might be mistaken for an R.A., a house mother or a member of the faculty  welcoming committee.  After the parking permit incident, I thought it best to sit that one out.

Wish me luck as I embark on this adventure.  One that is sure to be filled with surprises and reality checks.  

And I want to thank each one of you who have supported and inspired me to follow my dream of writing and returning to school to pursue that dream.  Most importantly, I want to thank my family and my husband Chris.  Honey, you are amazing and I am so grateful that I have your love and support.  You ROCK and you ARE my rock.

And as far as my blog goes, well perhaps it will take on a new shape.  One that is filled with my adventures as a wide eyed graduate student at the tender age of 40.  

I am not above brown-nosing to be the teacher's pet so as Holly would say...Let the arm waving and ass kissing begin.  







Friday, July 27, 2012

TGIF and and even more, TGFF-

Friday, June 22, 2012

Camping

A lot of people may think I am a bit of a prima-donna, and they might be right.  I wasn't always this way, I will freely admit that over the course of 40 years, I have evolved into a woman who likes the finer things in life, but that's not to say that I can't appreciate the simpler things.  I *reluctantly* went camping last weekend.  I will also admit right here and now that I have a love/hate relationship with camping and it can turn on a dime, which it often does.

I grew up with a father who taught me how to camp, I mean really camp.  I washed dishes and took baths in rivers and lakes, I slept under the stars in a banana lounge chair on the shore of a cove in Lake Havasu, and I made more than a few trips to an outhouse perched atop a hill overlooking the campsite we called home for a week at a time. Truth is, I loved it (well all except the outhouse) but in my adult life, I have gotten used to being pampered.

Now I am lucky enough to have a sweet little vacation home out at the river.  It has it's issues, what with the mainentence, the occasional mouse and cockroaches the size of golfballs. But really it's like a little slice of heaven on earth.  I am spoiled because besides food, I have everything I need right there.  I have stocked that place up!  We even have cable TV, which last I checked Ridgemont still didn't.

So last weekend, we packed up the trailer we borrowed from my Mom's boyfriend Dave.  He generously allowed us to use it so that saved us quite a bit of dough since we didn't need to rent an RV.  We've used it before and it's a fine little toy-hauler, it does the job and the beds are quite comfy, even with a small child twisting and turning against my back all night long, essentially it's pretty basic but at least there is a toilet for those 3:00 a.m. bathroom breaks I now have nightly.  It's more of a "glamping" situation than pitching a tent and peeing in the bushes outside.

We joined a group of friends who really LOVE camping, I mean they do it in style with HUGE 5th wheels and all the extra goodies which makes this production much more satisfying I suspect.  Full kitchens and fancy bedrooms, the whole kit and caboodle.  Jealous? Yes I suppose I am.

Anyway, back to the camping.  So the prep work that goes with the "relaxing getaway" is not something I love.  In fact, packing up a bunch of crap while fending off a serious case of PMS, well let's just say it's not the perfect combination for a delightful weekend.  I do recognize that my attitude may have played a roll in  my reluctance, but I sucked it up and did the grocery shopping, the laundry, the stuffing of the bedding into a variety of bins, I gathered the toys and the electronics, got the bikes together, made lists of things to bring, etc. etc.  And so off we went to spend time in the great outdoors. 

We arrived in Carlsbad after an hour drive, not too bad considering we were towing.  We found our spot and our friends and began the process of setting up camp, which basically involves unpacking all the crap I had just loaded into the trailer and trying to fit 10 lbs. of shit into a 5 lb. bag...(thank's Mike, borrowed this little gem from you.  I like it.)

When I finally got it all sorted out, it was time for some sangria.  Ah...the refreshing part of the weekend!  We rode our bikes a bit and walked down to the "beach" (and I use this term only in the sense that the ocean met the shore but really it was much more of a rocky terrain than a beach). 

I did manage to whip up some rather tasty tacos in the shoebox kitchen and only got one complaint (my son, but he bitches about everything so I didn't take it seriously).  We put the little kids to bed, enlisted the 15 and 13 year-olds to babysit and joined our friends a few campsites down to sit around the fire and have a drink (or five).   Chris was the smart one who went to bed early, like maybe 11:30.  I, however, felt the need to be the last one to leave the party, probably some time around 2:00.  Yes, I am a fool.  You would think I would know better now but it's like a vortex, I just get sucked in!

So when the sun came up and the little girl woke, there really was not a whole lot of sleep for this lady.  Sleep is a valuable commodity in my life and without it, well let's just say that I might not be the "happiest" gal on the block.  Right about then, I was ready to pack up our junk and head back to the comforts of my home.  Chris was feeling the same way but when I checked on my boy who was sitting in the tent pitched outside, attempting to roll up a sleeping bag but was just sort of picking at the zipper, and saw the look on his face (with tears welled up), I knew we HAD to stay.  Chris and I muddled through the morning, Gav pulled on his wetsuit and grabbed his surfboard and went out surfing with his buddy. 

My dear friend Nicky took her little girl and Piper to a sandy, kid-friendly beach down the way.  Chris and I watched Gav surf and play in the ocean.  No sleep and a little hangover had everything to do with my own poor choice so why should our kids suffer?  Right.  They shouldn't. 

So we sucked it up and spent another night.  Our friends put together an amazing spread for dinner but grumpy old me, well I didn't even want to cook.  My family thought that Pick Up Stix sounded fine so I drove off site to have everyone's favorite camping fare: Chinese fast food.

We hit the sack and woke up early Sunday morning, Father's Day.  It's a rough holiday for both Chris and me, bittersweet since we both lost our Dads.  But Chris is such an amazing father so it's a day to celebrate him.  I'm not making excuses but I think this day coupled with grey skies and looming sadness, well it makes for a recipe resulting in a crabby bad attitude. 

We packed up all the gear, the chairs, surfboards and bikes into the back of the trailer and got the hell out of Dodge before you could start your generator, which incidentally in California State Parks, is not until 10:00 a.m.  Ugh~no coffee.

The good that came from this weekend was that our kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  They got filthy dirty, ate junk food, hung out and played with their friends and smiled the whole time.  So even with all this bitching, will I do it again?  Probably.  Will I complain the whole time?  Maybe, depends on the time of the month.

The bottom line is this:  The stuff we do for our kids, for our families, might not always be our favorite, but we do it anyway.  We do it because we get to see the way our kids light up and share their joy and happiness.  We do it because we remember our own childhood (the good and bad) and make choices to make things better, more fun, for our own kids.  Ultimately, we do it to create memories and connections with our family and friends.  

I often tell my son to "suck it up" and make the most of the situation you find yourself in.  I suppose I need to take my own advice.  But, I am only human and I won't apologize for that.  I will, however, apologize for acting like a turd if I offended anyone by being a grumpy crumudgeon, but that's what hormones and a lack of a shower will do to a girl.

In any case, I wish you all the best of luck in your future camping endeavers and if you are anything like me, I recommend sangria and sleep, in that order.

Happy Weekend and Summer!



Monday, June 11, 2012

Tranformation

I just spent a wonderful weekend at our little place on the Colorado River.  We went out there with some friends and were lucky enough to have wonderful sitters for the kids. So for just a minute or two, it felt like we were on Spring Break again, oh the good ole' days.  Would I want to go back there (meaning days without responsibilities like children and a mortgage)?  Not really, but that's what makes the time away well appreciated and the joy of coming home to my kids' smiling faces that much sweeter.

We have been friends with the three people that came with us for almost 20 years, Chris has known them even longer, back to the days of high school. What's so interesting is that one of them is going through an extraordinary transformation and I gotta tell ya, watching the changes this man is making, both inside and out, is truly inspiring.  I think he would agree with the assessment that his personality might be construed as "strong." At times, he can be obnoxious and abrasive, but most other times he can be a trusted confidant and friend.  In any case, as I watch him grow and evolve as a person, I see the light and happiness begin to break through that rough and tough exterior.  It's a bit like watching a Monarch shed his cocoon and spread those magnificent orange and black wings.  I'm looking forward to watching him fly.

Transformation. 

It can happen to anyone at any time.  To sum it up, it can be defined as a "marked change, usually for the better."  Do these changes need to be immediate and massive? I don't think so.  In fact, the process itself might involve a series of small changes, put together to create a chain.  Each link is fused to the next forming a bond that is structurally sound and able to withstand even the most difficult and unexpected circumstances.  This analogy can apply to either physical or emotional changes, but don't they often go hand in hand?  Our bodies do tend to reflect what we are thinking and feeling inside our heads.  Regarding these personal transformations, the "experts" say that if we tackle challenges head on and face our fear of change by making small adjustments, we can better manage ourselves as we navigate through unfamiliar territory without feeling overwhelmed.  

Setting goals is important but making them realistic is essential.  I've always said that adopting the "all or nothing" mentality can backfire.  Committing to changing or starting something; whether it be quitting smoking, exercise, eating healthy, finishing school, planting a garden, learning to swim, riding a bike, smiling more, being a better friend, whatever~I think it's important to start small.  And if you slip up, cut yourself some slack already.  Rome wasn't built in a day, right? 

We are all works in progress.  There isn't anything that holds us back more than our perception of ourselves. Believe me, I know as much as anyone, that the negative mental baggage we continue to schlep around can be exceptionally hard to lose.  But if you start by letting go of that stupid little carry-on first, it can be much easier to unload that faux leather Samsonite you are dragging behind you. You know what I'm talking about, the bag that's so old it doesn't even have those fancy little wheels and the handle that pops up out of the top?  Yeah, that's the one.  That enormous suitcase filled with the mental crap that you don't need.  If it doesn't serve you, let it go. 

And now you are shouting at me, "But that's easier said than done!"

And yes, you are right.  But you do have a choice in the matter.  This is your life.  If you want to keep toting around that old bag full of junk, go right on ahead.  Or would you rather trade it in for a sparkly new number with a shiny handle, a protective cover (maybe with pink flamingos on it) and wheels that even do a 360*?

Life is riddled with tough decisions and challenges.  How we respond to them is our choice.  Resisting change is easy, embracing change is hard, no big surprise there.  And now that I am witnessing my friend transform his whole life -his perspective, his body and his mind- it reminds me to face my own challenges head on and that determination, support and sheer will are key tools to ensure success. That and a little thing called forgiveness.

I think the message is this:  If you want to make changes in your life, if you want to make a transformation of sorts, don't be afraid to do it.  Get a new set of luggage and fill it with stuff you actually need, things like books and journals and support  from your friends and family by sharing your intentions.  Acutally put those tools to good use.  And remember there is no room for negative junk, only the good stuff.  Knowledge is power and not just because the guy on the Saturday morning cartoons sang about it, that really was some sound advice. 

And to my friend Demko, spread those wings man...it's your time to fly.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Accepted and Acceptance


Yesterday I got the news that I was accepted to the graduate program for Creative Writing at Chapman University in the Fall of 2012.

Needless to say, I was overcome with emotion.  I was downstairs alone and Piper was napping.  Gavin had gone off to hang out with some friends and I opened an email from the admissions advisor I have been working with for the past few months.  I sent her a note a half hour earlier asking when I might get my letter (via old fashioned snail mail) because I checked my status online and "the decision had been mailed" as of May 14. 

That was Monday. 

Yesterday was Thursday and I had been checking the mailbox frantically, waiting for the postman to deliver this invaluable bit of information, information that might change the course of my life.  I literally had to leave the house to distract myself from dancing around outside in the driveway with anxious anticipation.

She sent a rather vague note with a letter "regarding my admission" attached.  I opened the attachment, which incidentally took about four minutes to download.  I was watching Howard Stern on "The Talk" when it finally popped up.  I paused the show, looked at the screen of my iPad and saw the word "Congratulations."  I read it about 5 more times and let it sink in, then I burst into tears. I had no idea that I would feel the same emotions I expected to feel if I had not been accepted.  I was hyperventilating and crying like a toddler who just lost bottle privileges. 

I immediately looked up to my mantle, saw the photos of my Dad and Susie and in my tremendous joy, felt a surge of sadness that I couldn't share this moment with them.  This incredible moment that was INSPIRED by them.  I sat for a minute and calmed myself.  I called Chris to share the news with him and he was, as always, completely supportive and excited for me.  I burst into the second set of tears in five minutes. 

The next call I made was to my Mom.  She has always had faith in me and encouraged and supported my dreams and decisions in life.  I couldn't wait to share the news.  You can guess what happened next...yes, more tears and joy.  Then I called Cheryl (Chris's mom) and received the same warm and supportive reception. 

Then I called my editor, better known as one of my Ya Ya's (or a BFF to use a term the kids say) Jenn, who couldn't have been prouder.  She was almost as excited as I was.  Were it not for her careful editing skills, I may not have turned in my best work.  Jenn, here is a heartfelt thank you on my blog, but you can bet your sweet ass you will get one in the book.

I called many more friends and family members to share this news and each one helped to encourage and boost my spirits even more.  I know that this journey will be one filled with challenges but I have been blessed with a support system unlike any other.  For that, I am beyond grateful.

But the truth is, I believed in myself.  I worked really really hard for this and up until about a week ago, I assumed that I would get in without an issue.  I don't know if it was my inflated ego but I really felt like it was a no-brainer. 

As the days grew closer to the actual acceptance decision, I started to have some doubts.  I started to think that maybe I wouldn't get in.  Maybe I didn't have what they were looking for.  Maybe it wasn't in the cards for me. 

My stomach was in knots as I thought about it more and more.  I then realized that I had done everything in my power, put my best work out there, and now I had to let the Universe take over.  I had to surrender control and expectations and be willing to accept the answer, whatever it might be.

Wednesday morning, after checking the mailbox for the third time, I decided to head out to yoga.  On my way there, I did a lot of self talk, I mean literally, out loud, self talk.  Some may call it a prayer, which that may be what it is. I just told myself that I had to be open to whatever the Universe had to offer.  And if that meant I wasn't going to get into Chapman, well then I had to accept it.

I went to class and moved through the postures in a 100* room filled with sweaty yogi's, and breathed it all in.  I struggled that day with many of the asanas but yoga has taught me that acceptance is part of the practice.  You are exactly where you are supposed to be, right then and there.  Turning to my other passion, turning to the gift that is yoga, allowed me to focus and ground myself and it calmed my frazzled nerves. 

I was so grateful when I got the news I had been hoping for, but that isn't always how it works out, is it? 

I think we all think about acceptance as coming from others, but the real meaning of acceptance is through ourselves.  Being open and honest with yourself, opens the door to acceptance.  Acceptance of what is, what will be and what has been, is one of the keys to awareness, change and happiness. 

As I go through this journey, I am certain that I will have to be full of acceptance.  There might be people who don't like my work, I might not get straight A's, I might struggle with a Shakespearean class.  In the grand scheme of life, these are minor hiccups.  If I can learn to accept the little disappointments in life, maybe the big ones won't seem so horrible and the great gifts in life, the gifts that far exceed the disappointments, I will accept those with grace and gratitude. 

So with that said, I urge you to accept yourself right where you are this minute and then decide if you want, or need, to change.  Look in the mirror and examine what you see.  Is the image the person you want to be?  Are you following your dreams?  Are you following your passion? 

These are big questions for which you may not have the answers. Start looking for them and don't be afraid to try something new.  This is your life, right?  Who are you living it for? As my other Ya Ya and dear friend Jen (and some guy named Gandhi) would say "Be the Change You Want to See in the World,"  and ACCEPT the wonderful being that is you.

I want to thank my extraordinary family and friends, once again, for your unwavering support and love. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you.



Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Hello All!

Forgive my absence for I have been busy with the whole grad school application process, it was a doozy for sure!  Now, I am just waiting to hear if I will be, once again, joining the world of academia...

Or not.  Cross your fingers for the former of the two.

No stress, if it is meant to be, I will be returning to a college campus in August and buckling down.  If not, I will keep on keepin' on and hopefully, will finish the rest of the book I've written six full chapters of!  A fire is lit and the creative juices are flowing! So even though my blog has been neglected, I have still been writing.

So this morning, I got myself dolled up (don't get excited, that just means jeans and some make-up versus yoga pants and a pony tail) because Piper's school was offering photos with your child for Mother's Day.  I was bummed that Gav couldn't join us but he's a cool 7th grader who is often reluctant to get his picture taken at all, let alone with his mother.

So for a mother/daughter/grandaughter treat, my mom, Piper and I are heading down to San Diego tonight to spend the day at SeaWorld tomorrow.  The boys have a skateboarding deal so it's a good reason to head out of Dodge for a day of fun in the sun.   I am really excited because this trip reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom and I used to do the same thing-get a hotel, order room service (ahhhh room service) and trek all over the park to watch the whales, dolphins, penguins and flamingos.  Only back then, SeaWorld still had the AWESOME pearl diving - my favorite! At least they still have the otter and sea lion show, gotta love Clyde. Oh and Shamu had not yet attacked and killed a trainer. 

Piper is as intrigued and thrilled with marine life as Gavin and it's so amazing to see the similarities my children share, even being nine years apart and of the opposite sex.  Of course, Piper does idolize her big brother and her fascination with all things Gavin, from skateboarding to dinosaurs, is never-ending.

These two kids, they have changed my life.  I know, pretty standard for all parents, duh, but the reality is that the children have made me a better person.  I am selfish, I admit this freely.  I was basically an only child until I was a teenager.  My complicated and crazy family is another story entirely, which we have touched on in the past, but I was used to being an only child, having and getting everything I wanted (for the most part).  Don't be mistaken, my life has not been a rose garden, but it certainly has not been too terrible either.  I'm a glass is half-full kinda girl.

Spoiled?  Probably...well yes.  But  the truth is that even though I can be self-absorbed, I was lucky enough to have a mother who taught me how to be a good person.  She taught me how to be loving, caring, patient and kind, tolerant, giving and forgiving.  She taught me how to admit when I was wrong and how to apologize sincerely.  It is possible to be selfish and still have those qualities, I am living proof (I hope). 

And my friends adore her too, bonus.

When I married Chris, I got another Mom.  One that I love and admire. One that accepts me and loves me just as I am.  One that treats me as though I am her very own.  How lucky am I?  Pretty lucky I guess.  Oh, and my husband is pretty cool too.

I have a step-mother and step-mother-in-law who are incredible people as well.  In addition, I still have my grandmother, aunts and sisters. I am surrounded by women who offer love, advice and support whenever I need it.  And I couldn't be happier. 

See there I go again, it's all about me!  Hey, I will gladly own this too, for one can never have too much in the ways of love and support from the strong women in their lives. 

I sent out about 30 mother's day cards to my family and friends, most of whom have become amazing mothers themselves.  Those who have not yet ventured into the world of parenting, have offered unlimited love and support to my kids and I know that they will be incredible mothers some day too (if that's the path they choose).

All of these women, these mothers and friends, continue to teach me about unconditional love, patience, understanding and sacrifice.  They also remind me to laugh and to be present in each day, to really cherish the moments because as we all know, they are fleeting. 

So now that I have my own kids, I can only hope that I can teach my  children to have these same qualities, qualities that are admired by most and envied by some. 

Being a mother, while it doesn't define me, it certainly is a huge part of the definition of me.  Were it not for my kids, I don't think I could truly understand  myself and who I am supposed to be.  Times can be crazy, frustrating and messy but would I trade it for anything?  Hell no.  Bring on the insanity! There is never a dull moment and it certainly makes life interesting.

And as for the pearl diving, do you think I could do it in my pool?  Anyone got a line on where I can get some dive equipment and oysters in the shell, cheap?

Happy Mother's Day to all of the women in my life, but especially to my Mom...


Magi, if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be me.
I love you...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Deadlines...

It seems like I got nothin' but deadlines these days.

First, I apologize for not posting more often, for I am humbled to know that there are a few people who do enjoy reading my blog and care about what I have to say.  But alas, my absence is for the good....I hope.

I am in the process of applying to graduate school.  My intentions are to be admitted and start in the Fall of 2012 which is just a few short months away!
So the application process alone is full of work and deadlines so I haven't been able to write nearly as much as I would like, save for the BOOK I have actually started.

Yes, it's true.  I have been pouring my energy into writing a very exciting project.  With any luck I will see my manuscript actually published one day. I have completed eight and a half pages so far, which is better than I thought I had done so that gives me tremendous hope that I will continue to have a free flowing brain, filled with ideas that will make this literary piece both entertaining and insightful.  That, and I will get admitted to graduate school based on my ability to write creatively.

Deadlines are good.  They give us boundaries and guidelines.  That's one of the reasons I wanted to go back to school in the first place.  I am not a very good boss to myself.  I have great intentions but can get distracted.  Things like chores, bills, yoga, taking the kids to practice, swimming and dance, tend to get in the way of my ambitions. Good thing I know the boss, she's not gonna fire me anyway, no one else wants the job.

So deadlines for me = good.  I work better under pressure, I see the light and love to work toward the end result.  Clearly, I am no good at enforcing said deadlines on myself...as you might remember I was supposed to FINISH writing a book by the time I was 40.  Well that birthday is in three weeks and while my intentions have been good, the boss knows I am a slacker at times.  I guess I will have to settle for 3-5 chapters.  Hey, it's a start...

So going back to school means that I will once again, have expectations and deadlines set for me.  I will hone my craft, become a "good" writer, and be able to work as a professor at community colleges and four year universities if I choose to apply (and really, if they hire me, right?).  That, and I will have a pretty nice little degree to hang on my wall.  

I am a lover of school and only wish I had been this devoted as a kid.  But this seems to be my lot in life to be a student as an adult and I love it.  We all find our groove at some point, right? 

So forgive my absence as of late and know that while my posts may become even less frequent than before, understand that I am busy pouring my heart, soul and creative energy into my future as a writer and author, and hopefully creating a little something you might enjoy later on.

Fear nothing for I will not abandon you, my loyal readers.  As soon as I get those 25 pages finished, I will return. 

And thankfully, I've got a deadline.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tears of a Clown...

I cried while taking my son to school today.  Yes, I am the clown.  That or a mom who's just really proud.

I think it was the combination of the gloomy rainy skies outside coupled with the music...well mostly it was just the music.

I have become rather addicted to "Coffeehouse" on Sirius radio.  I don't know what happened to the punk rock girl I used to be...oh yeah, age.  Ok and let's face it, I was always more of a "New Waver/KROQ/Grunge" girl to be completely honest.  Punk rock just seems to sound cooler, right?  And I am all about the cool.

Anyway, "These Are Days" by the 10,000 Maniacs came on and that just happens to be the same song that was playing nearly 13 years ago, when my first born child came into the world.

I had created a play list of very specific music and put songs on a CD, very avant-garde in 1999, burning CD's from music shared on Napster.  What can I say, always on the cutting edge, that's me. 


Are they still suing people, by the way?  If so, it was my own CD and I am using the term "Napster" to once again, generate the cool factor by sharing my Gen X terminology...

So that particular song was blaring through the speakers in the O.R. while the doctors were busy chattering away and cutting me open from the outside in.  It didn't hurt, in fact the flurry of sensations I felt, both mentally and physically diminished any sense of pain or worry, that and a helluva good combination of drugs.  I knew that in mere minutes, my son would enter the world.

And so I sang, loud. And anyone that knows me, knows that I can't carry a tune, but it didn't matter.  I belted out the chorus and as I heard my son take his first breath and begin howling from the bright lights that suddenly penetrated his dark blue eyes, tears streamed down my cheeks and I knew that my life had changed forever.  It was a perfect harmony that I will never forget.

I was a mother.

But back to the future...Today, hearing those lyrics again just made me marvel in the joy and happiness that my son brings me.  True, I often joke about the trials and tribulations of parenting a tween/teen (which are all completely true) but the reality is that he is just about the most amazing kid in the world. 

I realized that I get so caught up in making sure that he grows into a proper citizen, a good man, that I sometimes forget to acknowledge and cherish the wonderful kid he is today. 

So this morning, I turned to look at him with tears streaming once again as the lyrics played in the background, and in a very garbled voice I told him I loved him so much...Poor thing, probably thought it was time to check me into Bellevue.

We set the bar high for the boy, no doubt.  But it's because we know he can handle it.  He has these qualities, that I know we taught him, but he's embraced them and they stuck.  That's all him, inside and out.  He has compassion and love and respect for everyone and I am ecstatic that it's pretty evident in the way he approaches the world and the people in it.

Here we are on the actual brink of his 13th birthday and Chris and I could not be more proud.  What lucky people we are to have had this tiny little person enter our world and turn everything we knew upside down.

He made us better people.  He made us grow up.  He gave us a future that we had no idea could be so challenging and rewarding at the same time.  He paved the way for a sister that idolizes and adores him.  He made our parents grandparents.  The gifts he's given us so far have been never-ending.

Gavin, you make me the happiest mom in the world and I love you more than you will ever know.  Thank you for choosing us, God did we ever get lucky.

I dedicate this blog to my son, the boy with no limits and a future as bright as the sun...


Gavin Davies Alsop

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

F*CK Cancer

I am struggling to find the words.  My usual rather upbeat posts and blogs have been replaced today with one that is filled with feelings of anger, sadness and sorrow. 

I have lost another person I love to cancer.

Cancer, the relentless beast that is unforgiving, brutally ugly and vicious. 

No one is immune and no one can really be blamed.  Sure, the life we lead might put us at a higher "risk" for getting it, but then how can we explain when an innocent child is stricken with a brain tumor or leukemia?  What did they do to deserve that kind of pain and suffering?

Cancer opens the floodgates to questions that seem to have no answers.  There is no rhyme or reason, so we have to learn to accept what truly IS (in terms of reality) regardless of the outcome. It doesn't mean we can't be pissed off about it, or feel tremendous sadness, it just means that we must get through it...any way we can.  I have been blessed enough to have family and friends who step up and offer the kind of love and support that brings comfort and peace in times like these.

I would like to believe that we have some control over our chances but the facts and theories are shrouded in mystery.  Some claim to have healed themselves through diet, exercise, green drinks, gurus, meditation and prayer.  Others invest all their chips by gambling on Western medicine alone, hoping that the chemicals penetrating their bodies will kill off the bad stuff and give rise to new healthy cells, cells that do their intended jobs.  Some are fortunate and beat the odds, others are not so lucky. 

The bottom line is that no one can hide from cancer.  You can live your life clean, eat all organic food and exercise until you have 3% body fat...and still get it, think: Lance Armstrong.

That being said, what can we do?  Do we get caught up in all the negative stuff and say screw it, I'm gonna do what I want because I can't stop the train if it has no brakes?

Or do we obsess about every minute detail in our food sources, exercise until we are blue in the face or research what the EPA says is the safest place to live?  I don't think that's the answer either...

I can say this-without any expertise whatsoever-You have to LIVE your life, the way you see fit.  There are thousands of books and people out there touting how we can "cure" ourselves and the ways in which we can prevent disease from invading our bodies, which certainly have validity. 

But the reality is you can spend all your time worrying about dying and suddenly your life has passed you by. 

We MUST cease the moments of every day, be present in our lives and create relationships that nurture both our souls and spirit.  We must learn to let go of anger and hatred and embrace light, love and laughter.  It's work, no doubt, but the time we waste, the energy we waste, on grudges and hate, it's of no use to anyone, most certainly not ourselves.

I know this much is true, I don't want to live my life with senseless regrets. And although I have lost people I love, I know that the time I had with them was quality.  No stone was left unturned and though I feel sadness and grief at times because I deeply miss them, I don't feel guilt or anger for things I didn't say or do. 

As I watch my husband mourn the loss of his father, I am hopeful that his heart will heal quickly and he will be left with only the memories of laughter and joy that he shared with his dad.  Chris was there, completely present at the toughest time of both his father's and his own life.  He didn't walk away, he didn't hide.  He was THERE... through it all. 
And I believe he is a better man because of it.

Finding the strength to be there, to watch someone you love, leave this world and move on to the next...well let's just say it's not easy.  But there is tremendous comfort in knowing that one of the people you love most, one of the people who gave you life, didn't leave this world alone.
He knew he was truly loved.

I dedicate this blog to Larry James Alsop, a great father, grandfather, brother, husband and friend. 
You will be missed Pop...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Putting Your Best Foot Forward, One Step at a Time...

The other day I went to pick up my son to take him to yet, another doctor appointment with the orthopedic surgeon.  We were heading over to have his back checked out for fear that he had fractured a vertebrae.  Well, thank the good lord that he was perfectly fine, for the most part, save for a strained muscle.  (Whew, she thinks, as she wipes the sweat from her worried brow).

The funny part of the story is the part that came before the visit, the part when I picked him up from school.  I arrived as the lunch bell rang and walked up the stairs through the menagerie of harried tweens and teens making their way to the cafeteria.

I heard my boy and glanced down to see he was right behind me.  As I caught his glimpse, I saw that he was giving me a pretty decent once-over.  He nodded in approval and made a comment that I was wearing heels so that I could be taller than him. An observation, I might add, that is true.

Sigh...(she thinks, realizing that the little boy is growing up.)

The most interesting piece is that here I was, a grown woman, being sized up by my son.  Now don't read into this as an Oedipal thing...the kid was making sure that I wouldn't embarrass him.

Apparently I already have.  More than once I have shown up at school to drop off a missed backpack or lunch money, usually sporting my yoga attire. And, as it turns out, I also embarrassed my nephew when not only did I say hi to him in said workout gear, I think I even hugged him too.  Sheesh, what could be more mortifying?

But here's the thing, it's not like I am wearing curlers and a robe or something.  I am a busy mom who tries her hardest to remain fit and healthy and I thought that was something that would be perceived as cool...I guess I was wrong. 

Bless his heart, I would have been none the wiser except that my very own sister repaid a debt that I didn't even know was owed.  She's a bit of a workout queen, a runner with a lithe little body and strong legs, just really fit and healthy herself.

She had been sternly warned not to run by the school during her afternoon jog before school got out, but most importantly she was told not to stretch in front of her car while waiting for the carpool gang to make their way out.  One day she overshot her usual route and ended up smack dab in front of the school.  It was there that she saw my son, casually sitting on the wall.

"Aunt Kath?" Gav said. 

"Gav?" she said with a smile.  "Hey, what's going on?"

After they exchanged pleasantries, she offered him a sweaty hug and he accepted (without reluctance) and off she went to stretch...
behind the houses...
three blocks away...
to save her son from the embarrassment. 

I only found out about this story because my sister shared it with me.  My poor nephew was mortified to know that I found out he was embarrassed by our exchange, but he did relish in the fact that nearly the exact same thing happened to his cousin.  Paybacks are a bitch they say...

So of course my sister and I shared some laughs but it got me thinking about the ways in which our outer appearance can affect the perceptions all people, including teenagers, have about us. (I mean teenagers are barely real people, right?  I think many would argue that they are part of an alien life form sent to torture and perform tests on us involving uncomfortable probes).

Back to the subject at hand, the world we live in has become a very superficial place.  We tend to focus on the least important aspects of our lives, things like how we look and what we wear, whether than the the good stuff, the stuff that counts: what makes us beautiful inside and builds our core character.

The so-called most "beautiful" people we see, can very often be quite ugly within.  Yet we continue to fawn over them, admire them and try to emulate their look or style because tabloids and high fashion magazines not only seem to suggest this, they demand it. 

The images splayed on the covers of the most prominent featured periodicals are usually those of painfully thin, perfectly airbrushed women, wearing clothes that most readers couldn't begin to afford much less fit into.

Their covers feature the same stories with only slightly different headlines:  "How to shrink your belly,"  "How to get your man to...(fill in the blank-love you, please you, etc.,)" and "How to find the best clothes for your body," in addition to how to have the best sex and what foods to eat to increase your sex drive and metabolism, so on and so forth.

Every now and again, you might come across an article about making a positive change in your life or a hard hitting news story but if it's lucky enough to grace the front of the glossy, it will most certainly be near the bottom, blending in with the color of the models skin tight pants.

I have long since abandoned most high fashion magazines for the likes of those that are better suited for my lifestyle but I can say that starting some time around the age of 10, my room was cluttered with various forms of media rags starting with publications like "Teen Beat" and "Tiger Beat" progressing on to "Teen," "Young Miss" and "Seventeen," finally on to the likes of "Glamour" and then the Big Daddy of them all..."Cosmopolitan."

While I certainly came across a few very useful stories, I mostly learned how to feel shitty about myself.  No matter what I did, it seemed that I could never measure up to the expectations of what these magazines suggested were the norm. 

Every month, the stories shared the same themes and although I didn't realize it at the time, the seemingly positive articles giving tips and "how to" ideas were making me feel horribly inadequate. 

I am pretty sure that most of the writers who created these stories did not set out to make their name in offering suggestions and instructions on how to have amazing sex or what to wear to land the perfect man.  A great example (and pretty cute movie I might add) would be "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days."

If you haven't seen it, here is a brief re-cap.  Andie is a writer who dreams of digging her teeth into the juiciest stories involving politics, religion, women's rights and so on.  Instead, she has to settle for being the "How To" girl at a fictitious magazine much like those I've described above. 

She pitches a story about all of the crazy things women do in new relationships that drive men away and her editor is crazy about the idea.  So off she goes to meet Mr. Right, only to prove how to mess up a relationship in 10 days or less. 

As you can imagine, there is a lot of ironic and funny moments in the film but there is also a very real story there.  Aside from Kate Hudson's character Andie falling for a hunky and lovable Ben, played by Matthew McConaughey, she discovers that even after she delivers a great story, her editor says she can write about ANYTHING she wants, so long as it fits within the parameters of stories about shopping, men and sex.

Ultimately she quits her job to pursue her dream of writing articles with less fluff and more substance. (Oh and of course he follows her and they fall madly in love...it is a movie after all.)

Now, I wonder how many other writers feel trapped in the hamster cage of certain corporate media, spinning their wheels and churning out story after story about the same old nonsense. 

I am not knocking all magazines because there are many, many quality periodicals, even within the fashion world, that produce intriguing, informative, thought provoking and moving articles, but sadly the most prominent seem to put out the same story with only slightly skewed and reworded paragraphs that share the same message:  You are not good enough now, but do "this" and you might be, eventually.

I realize that this is not something that will likely ever change, it's a multi-billion dollar industry fueled by advertisers and companies whose interests will remain on the forefront of society as we know it.

At the same time, I am not saying to completely abandon make-up and regular bathing in favor of leading a lifestyle that isn't true to your own heart. And by the way, if that's the life you choose, more power to you. No judgement here.

What I am saying is that there has to be a happy medium, a place where we can be healthy and comfortable in our own skin.

We can begin by focusing on the importance of working on the beauty inside first and then the beauty on the outside will likely become automatic.  It would be so amazing if we could all remember to teach our kids (and ourselves I might add) to remember the qualities that really define a person at their core, are not developed by how they look or what they wear.

If we could encourage our kids to embrace their uniqueness instead of treating it as an obstacle, perhaps this world could start to become a little kinder and less critical of what we look like on the outside.

Putting your best foot forward can mean a number of different things but I think it starts within your heart and moves outward.  Compassion, patience and peace are three things I focus on.  When I pay attention to those particular ideals, I find that I am less concerned with things that might be negative like gossip and judgment.  When I feel good inside, I naturally care about myself on the outside too.

My wise sister told me something once and it just stuck with me.  She said, "Remember, everyone has a story"  and those five words can change everything you think about a person.  I have taken that with me and try to remember that little sentence when I begin to feel critical or judgmental of others. 

I try to teach my children to feel love and compassion for kids who might be "different" or "weird" or "mean," because really, they have a story too.

We all have our own stories, and whether we choose to share them or not, we can really start to put our best foot forward by showing ourselves a little compassion, having patience and sharing peace. 

When I was a teenager, my father would say (usually after telling my friends something like I had peed my pants once in the 4th grade) "a little embarrassment is good for ya, goes a long way...builds character," then he would chuckle and walk away.

So I guess that what comes around goes around in love and parenting, and I think what he was getting at is that even things like embarassment, teach us to be humble which is a pretty good quality to have. 

When you can share a smile, spread the love in your heart, show the peace in your soul and truth in your character, you are most certainly putting your best foot forward. 

Everyone around you, including your kids (whether they admit it or not) can see that too...even when you stretch on the street in front of the school or walk directly on to campus sporting a ponytail, running shoes and sweaty yoga pants. 

After all, can I truly call myself a parent of a teenager without constantly embarrasing him?  (she thinks, with genuine love in her heart, as she walks away chuckling...)

 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Moving on...

So this year has started off relatively well, no complaints here.

This one is a doozy too. This is the year that I bid my 30's adieu and welcome a new decade.

When I was a kid, I thought that 40 was ancient.  I mean we're talking a relic, a dinosaur, a person in dire need of retirement and most certainly out of the realm of being "cool."

It was my Dad who would often tell me that our bodies betray our brains and that he still felt like he was 16, in his mind at least) even when he was well over 60!

After watching Madonna's half-time show Sunday, I realized that the queen of pop herself, even with the ridiculously buff arms and incredible stamina, has had to slow it down a bit. We were only privy to a few pelvic thrusts and gyrations. Those damn high-heeled boots kept getting in the way, that and an injured hamstring so I hear.  But all things considered, the old broad brought it and really, how many other 50-something year-old women have 1/10th of the energy she has, gotta give credit where credit is due.

And she practices yoga...(just another shameless plug for my favorite form of exercise and meditation).

Enough about that, what I am getting at is that with each year comes new opportunities, opportunities to hit the reset button and start over, reinvent yourself or try new things. Whether you make your "resolutions" on New Years Day or your birthday or any given Wednesday, these dates are great reminders that it's never too late to start anew.

And that might mean allowing yourself say goodbye; allowing yourself to move on.

Letting go of the mental baggage that holds you back can be complicated. We carry around heavy loads, loads of guilt or shame or sadness for the things we may have said or done that we can't seem to shake. I say, there is no better time than now to let it go and move on.

Easier said than done, I know but dumping this extra cargo allows us to move FORWARD and gain a greater sense of peace and compassion for others. Letting go and forgiving others and oneself is never simple but once it's done, we can begin to heal and the possibilities for amazing things start to present themselves. When we no longer focus on the negative junk, we suddenly experience clarity in a way that we couldn't see before because our vision was blurred by the dense fog and haze that continually cluttered up our minds.

After I lost my dad and best friend two years ago, I knew in my heart that I had said and done everything right but there was still that nagging feeling that I could have done more; exactly what, I have no idea. Finding a cure for cancer would be a great place to start but sadly, I never did get that medical degree, thus I will have to settle for putting pen to paper and taking a different path, one that suits me well.

While it seems like I will never get over losing Dad and Suz, time is helping to heal that intense pain. It can be hard to see the lessons that come with such a deep loss, but what I have come to realize is that during their toughest battles, the battle to live, I gained a strength that I never knew I had. And even though they both lost their fight, watching them struggle to face their mortality changed my life in a way that I am just now beginning to recognize as a gift. I would give anything to have them both back here, alive and healthy, but the reality is that will never happen. So instead, I choose to live my life using them both as inspiration and I reflect on the memories from our time together with an deep sense of peace and love.  I am allowing myself to move on.

Susie would also have been 40 this year...on my birthday. Among all the things we shared, our birthday was always the most special. After 25 years of friendship, the last one we spent together was our 37th.  So this year, I plan on carving out some extra time celebrating her by heading down to the beach, taking a stroll and basking in the glow of fond memories from our time together.  Memories that were filled with laughter and joy, mixed with tears and pain, but mostly laughter and joy.  She was one of a kind, that girl.  I am blessed and lucky to have known her.

As hard as it has been to move on, I know that my best friend and my dad would both want me to let go of that pain and experience all the good things in life, just as they had when they were here.  "No regrets," I can just hear them say...

So when I sit down to write my blogs, I look to my left and see photos of my girl and I look behind me and see photos Dad, and I know that they would both be proud of the choices I am making and would encourage me to follow my dreams.  The two of them were some of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders and I have to believe that they are still there, cheering me on from high above.

The truth of the matter is that I am not really hung up on the idea of turning 40.  What's the alternative?  I am grateful and lucky to celebrate another year, another chance to reinvent myself, to start anew and try new things.  Perhaps the eternal Material Girl is on to something.  Maybe this is the year I start out with a fake British accent...

Nah. But I wouldn't mind those arms though...
 

Friday, January 27, 2012

I wish I were a cat-well when it comes to napping at least...

Well, there she is.  All stretched out, belly full, eyes half open.

If I glance over at her, she looks up at me just long enough to curl her dainty white paws under to get a bit more comfortable.  Then, she sleeps.

This cat, boy am I jealous.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I can't resist an opportunity to take a nap. 

The joy of sleep, brings such a peaceful bliss to an otherwise hectic day.  I only need a half hour but I always feel like the process itself deserves at least a full hour time slot because it requires some preparation.   I'm not one that can lay on the couch and conk out. 

No, I need to be in my bed, under the covers, eye patches on, perhaps ear plugs in...It's a whole deal of prep work. 

Once I get nestled into my cozy cocoon, I shut my eyes and start to unwind.  If I can just settle myself long enough to relax...

Some days, oh the sweet bliss comes quickly and I fall asleep fast, awake refreshed and ready for the second half of my day.

Other days, after the whole ritual of it all, I lay there just to discover sleep evades me.  It's just not my lucky day I guess.

And finally there are those days when I sleep so soundly, I wake up and wonder exactly where the hell I am, what day it is and why was I dreaming about cramming stuffed animals down the garbage disposal.

Napping, for me, is one of the simple joys in life I am not willing to give up.  Some might say that napping is for wussies, people who can't make it through the day without rest.  But I say it's only fair to give your body AND mind a break from the grind of everyday life.  And again, those that know me, also know that I run at top speed most of the time so a nap every now and again is well deserved and much needed. 

The benefits of sleep and rest continue to remain on the front line of topics in every health and wellness magazine and talk show around.  Yet, more and more people are functioning on less sleep than ever before.

Sleep is the time our bodies, just like our computers, reboot.  It's the time when our cells turn over and regenerate, fighting the effects of aging, even better than Botox (maybe).   Isn't that enough reason to want to catch a few extra zzzzz's?

The truth is, like most of us, I fought naps as a child.  What was I thinking?  I mean, c'mon...kids these days should realize the joy of a nap!  Instead, they are busy trying to discover their world and everything in it! 

Little do they know that the day will come, soon mind you, that they will HAVE to rush around making choices and decisions that will not always be about which color paint to use or which bike to ride or which friend to play with! But if they are lucky enough, sometimes they will, (and that would be the day it's ok to forego a rest).

No, the truth is, for most of us, finding the time to indulge in a nap is usually few and far between.  Perhaps that's one of the reasons why they feel so good.

Occasionally, and I mean just occasionally, I will find myself napping a bit too often.  I still have a preschooler who naps daily and when she's not at school, I cease the opportunity to nap when she does.  I think it came from when she was a baby and I followed the very sound advice to "nap when the baby naps."  What can I say, it stuck.

Some women have boundless energy to keep up with their kids, get the chores done, go to work, and manage their lives without the need for a nap.  I will confess here and now, I am not one of those women. 

I have some friends who can't nap to save their lives.  I have others that can literally fall asleep in the midst of the rest of us chattering away.  And then there's me, the one with the whole production...

So today, even though I really want to lay my head down on my soft pillow and tuck my body beneath my freshly changed sheets, I will deny myself.  Instead, I've chosen to be a tad bit more productive by writing this blog while Piper is dozing peacefully in the other room. 

I might be sacrificing my beauty so I certainly hope you are all enjoying this!

But seriously my friends, if you are not currently a napper, I urge you to give it another try.  If you are a sleep aficionado like myself, perhaps scaling back to less frequent naps might be a good idea too, but only if it means you are able to do something else you love... it might even be exercising! 

So as I close today, I hope this finds you well rested and if not, damn it~go take a nap!

Now, where is that cat? 

Oh there she is, on my bed, curled up in a ball. 

Maybe she needs some company.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ohana, Yoga and Sisters...

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2012!
Had THE best breakfast with my sister today.
We meet about once a month at the tiny little restaurant called Ohana…which is perfect since that means family.  Anyone and everyone who goes there knows it’s THE best place for breakfast in Huntington Beach, if nothing more than for the excellent coffee and familiar faces of both the staff and regular patrons.
Every time we meet, I’m left with warmth in my heart that keeps me lifted all day long.  Today was an exceptionally marvelous morning because we were blessed with the kind of weather that only Southern Californians know as summer in January. 
I made it to my yoga class in time to relax and acclimate to the 98* temperature.  I settled nicely into my asana’s with ease and flexibility.  I laughed and smiled when I fell out of dancer’s pose rather than scrunching up my face and feeling frustrated for not executing the perfect arch in my back with my arm outstretched.  I simply picked up where I left off. 
Then, at the end of class I cried.
I didn’t cry because I was tired or hurt or sore.  I cried because I was feeling so overcome by emotions of happiness and at the same time, feelings of loss and sadness for both my sister and me. 
We lost our dad a little over two years ago.  That’s not so unusual you might think, but our story is not one that is what you would call “ordinary.”  We didn’t grow up together; in fact we didn’t even know each other until I was 10 years old. 
She turned 18 that year and a comment by my grandpa’s old friend suddenly triggered a series of questions that would lead to my discovery of the long lost sister I had always dreamed of having.
But the story is not quite so glamorous. 
We met and she WAS everything I had dreamed and hoped she would be.  We got together a few times over the next couple of years with our Dad in tow, and it always struck me as funny when she would call him Harry.  It seemed so odd to me that she didn’t call him Dad; my immature mind couldn’t process all of the emotional baggage she might have carried around the years prior to our meeting.
Dad had made the decision to allow her step-father to adopt her shortly after I was born.  My parents thought it would be best to keep her a secret, to protect my feelings I suppose.  But, the cat got out of the proverbial bag and there was certainly some ‘splaining to do. 
At any rate, time passed and we both grew older, me into an angst filled teen with certain daily drama, she into a young college girl with a life of her own to establish.  We lost touch and it was an odd and strange time.  I can remember feeling sad that our relationship had crumbled but I quickly got caught up in my friends or a boy and those feelings were shelved and replaced with new ones. 
Unbeknownst to me, Dad had continued to have a relationship with her. I thought they had stopped talking again and it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I realized they had been meeting for breakfast or coffee for years.  That really stirred up a sense of betrayal and sadness that I felt toward both of them, but really it was Dad I held accountable. Once I took a minute to think about how she might have felt, I blamed Dad entirely.  The good news was that he took responsibility for it.  The bad news is that she, then married and settled into her life, moved to Africa to spread the word of her faith.
In the years that followed, I did a lot of soul searching.  I realized that I desperately wanted a relationship with my big sister and not only that, I deserved it.  I wanted to know about this mystery woman who shared half my DNA and I hoped for the day we could meet again.
A few years later, she, her husband and young son returned home for a six month sabbatical. Finally, Dad would help orchestrate the meeting that I longed for.  I had a son of my own then; turns out the boys are less than a year apart. 
We met at a park, a neutral place where the boys could climb and run and jump like the busy toddlers they were.  Dad basked in the glow of having both his daughters and his grandsons in the same place at the same time for the first time ever. 
We met two more times before they had to return to Uganda.  Although these times were fairly brief, I felt a deep sense of hope and gratitude that our relationship would blossom like a tiny seedling.  It would just need to be cared for gingerly and its delicate roots would soon become strong, hearty and unbreakable.
With the power of the Internet, we began to get to know one another through monthly emails.  Little by little, we grew closer and the bond deeper.  In the months and years that followed, I began to cherish the relationship we were developing as much as I cherished my marriage and the bonds I shared with my parents.
Being raised an only child; one can never quite imagine what it’s like to have siblings.  I never knew that feeling of having to share, or wanting to for that matter.  I was blessed (and I say blessed now, 25 years later but then I thought it was a curse) with three step-brothers when I was 15 but until then, it had been just me. 
This feeling was different, and it felt new, strange and invigorating.
So when she moved back to California about nine years ago, I could not have been more thrilled. Since then, we have spent Christmas’s, birthdays and breakfasts of our own together on a pretty regular basis.  She has been there for me when I've needed her and I hope I have done the same. We both have two kids of our own (boys and girls) and they are growing up as (mostly) loving cousins, it’s awesome!
The thing is, this is also new to her.  For 18 years, she was an only child too, except for knowing that there was this mysterious little girl out there who was here baby sister. 
Now, we live less than a mile away and our relationship is stronger than ever.  It’s new to both of us so we are just sort of carving out our definition of what it means to be sisters and I admit; sometimes we’ve tried to figure out how it works and the kinks that come with being a family altogether.  The good news is that we seem to have found a groove and it’s a dance that we can both move equally well to.
So this morning, as we had our “usual” at our favorite restaurant in Huntington, it was one of those days where I just looked at her and realized how lucky I am to have her as my big sister.  Then, when our favorite busboy, the kindest guy who will pour coffee endlessly and always share a smile, said in a bit of broken English “Yaaa, sisters.  I see it in your faces,” I almost cried. 
That connection, that love and that bond, I am forever grateful for.  And although we both miss him tremendously, he gave us the gift of our somewhat unconventional sisterhood, and I know that our Dad is looking over us, smiling and happy that his girls are together again and that we are meeting for breakfast and coffee…
Oh and what all this has to do with Yoga you ask?  Well, get this, Kath digs it too.
Namaste

This blog is dedicated to my big sister Kathy, whom I love, admire and adore.