Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Legacy: Twenty Years Later and Still Going Strong

1984 - Granny & Pop's Farm (Senior Honors Night)

Next month, a silent milestone will occur, which will be noticed by very few…aside from myself and other family members.  Twenty years later, my dad’s legacy is still going strong in all of us.  Rather than remembering that single, devastating day, I'd prefer to celebrate all the days that came before.  For every day that I woke up with the comfort of knowing that he was just a phone call away, my hope is that for those of you, who still have that opportunity, take advantage of it.  When you think you've said all there is to say, say a little more.  A time may come when you wish you'd said "I love you" just one more time...  

Dear Dad, 

I love you and I miss talking to you.  I wish you could see all the many blessings that have happened in my life over the past twenty years.  I wish you could have met your future grandchildren.  You would be so proud.  I'm grateful that your absence in my life isn't as severe as it was in the beginning, and that I reached a point of peace a long time ago.  So many life lessons followed...lessons I needed to face and learn on my own.  Lessons you would have tried to shield me from, protect me...but I came to realize as a parent, there is less protection and more preparing involved.  Because we cannot protect our children from the world.  But if we're lucky, we can help influence their paths and choices and better prepare them for life and that single day that changes their life forever.  When we have to leave.

You were my rock, Dad.  A wonderful, yet flawed, kind and generous person.  I see now just how much you struggled in your life and I still stand in wonder that you made it look so effortless and as you often said "offered it up to the Lord."

I especially wish that you had lived to see me graduate from college, land a great job, and move ahead.  I know I contributed my fair share of worries that resulted in more gray hair for you.  It can't have been easy knowing you were going to die, then seeing your typically practical daughter quit her full time job, refinance a house, and go back to school full time.  I want you to know that it worked out okay.  It was was one of the best choices I've made in my life and certainly one that forever changed the direction of where life would take me.
I published a book and shared some of the less happy times in my childhood and some bad choices later in life.  I want you to know that I remember the good times too.  And I still know how to bait my own hook.  

I also still have a healthy fear of electric and wiring, while still maintaining a somewhat mechanical curiosity to explore how things work.  Seeing you fix absolutely everything inspired me to repurpose antiques and jewelry to create new stuff.  I wish I could say I retained your knowledge of plumbing and could effortlessly solder copper pipe, watching for the silver to evaporate into the joint...signaling a good seal.  What I can tell you is that I remember watching you, I remember being loved by you, I remember being proud to be your daughter...and I continue to share and try to model your kindness with my children, with my friends, and family members...and that I discovered a long time ago how to measure true self worth.  And Dad, you were priceless.  I love you.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Sunday Squirrel...Sometimes

Sometimes reaching the point of no return is not enough to drive us forward into the unknown. just have to live

Sometimes actually having a plan or parachute isn’t enough to help prepare for life’s future destinations.

Because no one knows when they are going to be dropped out of a plane at 40,000 feet above the ground.

And sometimes it’s enough to know that you are a willing passenger on a journey, 

acknowledging your shortcomings, uncertainties, and doubts.

Because sometimes…you just have to live.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Wrinkle Free Living: Ironing Out Things That Matter

It's a rare occasion for me to write about cleaning or ironing…unless it’s to show a mound of laundry
Wrinkle Free Living
on top of my dryer to express my frustration in keeping up with housework.

Today I come before you a changed woman, believing firmly in wrinkle free living, and the need to iron out the little things that matter.  And my life changing moment occurred the other day when my 26-year-old son, Alex, sent me a text message. 

It came out of the blue…without prompting…usually it's only after he's been MIA for a week or so and I text to make sure he’s okay...other times it's my need to ensure he's arrived safely at his destination during inclement weather...and candidly, "inclement weather" can include the sun rising, the sun setting...I think you get the picture.  It's a full time job every day of the year!

I get this honestly.  My dad used to check on me all the time.  I still remember the slight annoyance thinking that my Dad didn't believe I could take care of myself.  I realize now as a parent myself, that it has almost nothing to do with confidence in your children...and more to do with a slow self realization that somewhere along the way, that they grew up and you missed the part where your life transitioned from constant champion and guardian, from sun up to sun text stalker and second shadow...still focusing on the wellbeing of your children...only now from a distance.  They now have different zip codes, no curfew, no "house rules"...yeah, I can see how that transition would be a little more challenging than I'd first imagined.

But this week, I experienced a bit of a role reversal and I think he was checking in on me instead.  He shared something I had long ago forgotten…not realizing that something so small and silly would leave a lasting impression.  And that the little things we give next to no thought at all about...are the very things that make a big difference in creating and shaping a happy childhood memory:

Here's hoping we all continue to embrace the little things in life that we do almost without ensure wrinkle-free living for life J

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Sunday Squirrel...acorns of wisdom

Okay, I can either get irritated or embrace the fact that I have become the kind of person 
Keep reaching, my can only achieve more!
synonymous with the traits of a squirrel, often snapping a quick picture of beautiful clouds in the middle of an afternoon meeting.  Or channeling a catchy tune when the room is blank and silence threatens to drown a room.

I also throw out dozens of far-fetched and crazy ideas … waiting for one to stick.  Let’s hold that thought and consider my furry kin, the squirrel.

What exactly is it about the squirrel that gives her a bad rap?  I mean, come on…anyone can think in linear terms.  It takes a real trailblazer to think like a squirrel.  And if I have to pick my exact type, I choose the ground squirrel (though tree squirrels are more solitary and more like my personality).  I resent a little being referred to as a rodent; if I were indexing the animal kingdom classification for adjustments, I’d move the furry little squirrel over into a different category…maybe one all its own.

I’m not surprised to learn that if I trace the word “squirrel” back to its source of origin, it jumps back to Anglo-Norman (1327), taken from Old French, “escurel”, Latin, “sciurus”, and finally Ancient Greek, skiouros, meaning “shadow-tailed.”  Seems most things I see these days have some sort of origin or connection to Ancient Greece and its rich culture and history…and that’s not all bad since my two youngest sons are Greek American.  And if you’re counting, this would be the first diversion and call out of “Squirrel” on my thought process and storytelling.

Every time I’ve used the name “squirrel” in conversation, it has been to bring attention back from my kids or someone else, who has gotten off track or off topic.  I have also had occasion to be called “squirrel” in the middle of one of my own thoughts, darting and jumping from one thing to another…finally arriving at my point, which was good all along…it’s just not always easy to follow me when I’m on a spurt of inspiration.  While most are putting up the first roman numeral "I" and outlining a plan, I’ve already skipped ahead and thought about how to bring it to life.  I'm not saying it's good or bad.  Just a different approach.

And let’s think about squirrels and their strengths for a moment.  They have an excellent sense of vision (check, me too!), they are versatile (hey, me too!), and have a good sense of touch (I’m seeing a pattern).

Sadly my squirrel friends live a life more fraught with danger than I.  Did you know that most squirrels die in the first year of life?  Next time, I hope you swerve!  These guys are cute, with lots of potential.

Squirrels are also seamless in adapting to almost any environment, capable of living almost anywhere.  And they learn through observation.  At this point, I really can’t think of a reason why there would be a negative connotation to being referred to as a squirrel.
After all, the term “squirreling away” is a positive indication of anyone who is thinking ahead and storing up resources for the future.  The squirrel is smart in her own way, adaptive and flexible.

So the next time you see me in “squirrel mode,” remember this:

Some of my best ideations were hatched in squirrel mode…

  • Developed a social responsibility initiative to support children learning with assistive technology, resulting in a pilot program, followed by $100,000 in funding over two years.
  • Became a night-time blogger, making new friends and realizing you’re never too old to learn something new.
  • Helped my son dream so big, he created a #ShareaScare campaign to support autism, resulting in a grass roots fundraiser, with over $1,000 raised to support Autism Speaks.
  • Wondered what it would be like to finally publish a book I wrote decades ago…and so I did…and laughed out loud when friends from other countries asked me to autograph it.

Never take no for an answer…argue to the bitter end over an idea, supporting all the reasons it is brilliant…and be willing to sometimes concede that it just won’t work.

I have created revenue generators from everything from writing to yard sales and even making jewelry…knowing that like my furry friend, I need to squirrel away what I can, so that when the lean times come, I am well prepared.

So you wanna call me a squirrel?  Go ahead…I’d argue we need a lot more squirrels like me to deliver breakthrough results in a world full of nuts!