09 December 2008

Chivalry ain’t Dead! (But my smile has been)

Today someone actually held open the automatic door for me at the safeway. By this I mean that he walked up just before me and triggered the door then stood in the “zone” and held his hand out for me to walk before him. I laughed and said – “That’s a first, I’ve never had someone hold open a door for me without even touching it!” He introduced himself and commented that I had a great smile. It was then that I realized that a smile goes a long way, yet mine has been away for a long time. I had been in a particularly happy mood this morning, for no particular reason and for the first time in quite a while. I also realized it has probably been a long time since I have not been in stress mode and therefore, most likely not smiling, in fact probably grimacing. Unfortunately it took a trauma to put it in perspective for me that all the little things that cause anxiety on a daily basis really just don’t add up to a hill of beans. After returning from the funeral of my 21 month old niece I have been in a bit of a funk to say the least. At these times I shut down and out and push away friends when I need them most. It is a paradox that I am not proud of. But in my introspection I realized that painful events make everything else pale in comparison. They make you count your blessings – of which I have many. It makes you slow down and let the logistics of the tedious days flow by like the creek after a heavy rainfall while you just watch it instead of getting swept with the current or trying to paddle upstream in vain. It was just a few weeks ago and slowly I have been reminding myself to let the little things drift away like eddies downstream. I began to ask myself, What happened to the care-free girl who was always looking for the next adventure; who inspired others to live to the fullest and love themselves; who was most often in a good mood for no particular reason? Perhaps I need to immerse myself and let the waves wash over me to rinse these layers gathered by sleep deprivation; overwhelming responsibility of raising a child on my own; betrayal of friends and family; and a myriad of other stressors and hurts. Or perhaps not to rinse completely, but smooth them into a texture of both character and healing with patches of the old me peeking up from within. I want to laugh again just for the sake of laughing; to explore the world again with an open heart; to love again just for the sake of loving; and mostly to find and love myself again. I want my smile back, not just for a visit but for good. When I smile, doors will open all over the place and my heart will follow!

23 November 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday to my Mother
Who taught me to be good and live from the heart
Who lived by example and comforted those in need: Not only in need of food and clothing, but in need of friendship, comfort, forgiveness and acceptance. Who was the first one to invite someone to dinner who was being shunned by our little society and the first to reach out, not just with a casserole but a hand, to those who were in pain. Who smiled through adversity and made everyone else comfortable even when she was in pain. Who tried to shelter me from those influences I didn’t quite understand and as a child resented her for – like taking away my Barbie doll and Mad magazines and not letting me watch tv; not letting me go to PG movies or stay out past dark. Who made everyday life fun as well as a learning experience: baking a cake for Washington on his birthday (with a tree and cherries on top of course!), following the make way for ducklings trail as well as the freedom trail and climbing the bunker hill monument. For simple fall days picking apples and picnicking on plaid wool blankets with a real woven wicker basket. For limiting sugar and feeding us vegetables. For all those things I completely took for granted. For creating a loving, stable home full of warmth – especially when there was a roaring fire in the fireplace (ok, that one dad gets credit for!). For all these things I am thankful. I wish I had gotten the chance to tell you so. I wish you could see how much they stayed with me now that I am trying to pass them along to my daughter. I like to believe that somehow you do see and see how she talks about her Grandma Gail when we sing the Moon Song at night or she plays with your ring hanging around my neck or hugs her stuffed bunny. I wish you could have known me as an adult and hugged me and my child goodnight. Happy Birthday. Happy Thanksgiving. It is more than a coincidence they happen together. We miss you. I thank you. I love you.

21 November 2008

The "Gift" of the Gab (or is is a Curse?)

Ever since my pregnancy and child’s birth, I have been afflicted with what has been called the “gift of the gab” by some. Since previously I have been much more laid back and quite a good listener, I am not sure what has brought this on. Perhaps it is the hormones activating an otherwise dormant gene (as there are certainly chatterers in my family) and/or sleep deprivation leaving my thoughts uncensored. Maybe living in the islands might have had an effect as there everyone has time to talk and listen and there is not much else to do. Or perhaps it is the isolation of single-motherhood that makes me unleash and process with whomever’s ear I get a hold of. Another theory might be that it is a form of controlling the conversation, since everything else around me seems utterly out of control. I have seen controlling people use this technique, whereby their reality is the only reality since nobody else can get a word in edge-wise. But the thing is I really don’t consider it a gift at all, but rather a curse. I often come away from visits feeling rather unfulfilled, whereas before I felt plumped up with good sharing about what was going on in my friends’ lives after a good give and take like a social dance between friends sharing their foibles and fables of the moment. I have also noticed that some people just stop listening as my voice begins to sound like incessant background noise. Yet, I just can’t seem to stop. This is my curse, which I am hoping will recede once my hormones disperse and I start getting some sleep again. But for now, I will rant on my blog and spare my friends…. Is anyone still listening? Hello? Anyone?

18 November 2008

No Sugar Added

It’s official. I am the crazy no-sugar-added lady at my 3 year old’s school. One teacher actually stopped me in the hallway today and asked “Is it true you don’t give your child sugar? What is your reasoning?” Perhaps I should see it as her search for truth and meaning, but I continually see such ignorance or lack of understanding in our society. Also, I am rather sure that it was more akin to “What are you crazy?” To me she might as well have asked, “Is it true you don’t smoke cigarettes? Why not?”

Our society is in denial – I mean, who wouldn’t want chocolate cake for breakfast (I had my leftover birthday cake with my tea just this morning, hypocrite that I am!), but come on, really, are we truly ignorant enough to think that our love affair with sugar is not going to affect our health? It is highly documented that sugar consumption is dangerous to our health given its effect to suppres our immune system; impede cellular function; stimulate overgrowth of candida (yeast); lead to obesity and tooth decay; wildly fluctuate insulin and sugar levels in our blood (and thus lead to major meltdowns in kids!); interfere with the body’s absorption of minerals; raise cholesterol levels; cause allergies, kidney damage, high blood pressure; and increase our risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.

What more information do we need? Yet we plan our school events around desserts; sweeten our children’s foods and even their medicines and then wonder why they won’t eat their fruits and vegetables. My daughter loves fruits and vegetables, but after an overindulgence of cake and ice-cream at a birthday party, she is less likely to indulge in carrot sticks or peas – which on most occasions she will eat with pleasure. We are not only risking our child’s health now by exposing them to excessive sweets, we are ruining their taste buds and their potential to choose healthier options when they are choosing for themselves later. So I am quite taken aback when people just don’t get it and wish that the understanding was much more prevalent so I wouldn’t have to be the crazy lady who just wants the options presented to my child at school to be truly healthy ones.

04 November 2008


My very first post on this blog was dedicated to my deep appreciation for my child and how she has graced my life with so much joy. It is that joy and love that a parent feels so deeply which can hardly be captured in words. And if that depth of feeling cannot be captured, words can hardly begin to explain the pain of losing a child. I have heard the analogy that “having a child is like having your heart running around outside your body”. We are so vulnerable as parents. From the moment we give birth there is an awesome and somewhat overwhelming feeling of giving life to this being. Each new stage of development gives way to its own stage of vigilance for a parent – from the basics of keeping them warm and fed; then they roll over and we must make sure they don’t roll off the bed; then they crawl and we plug the outets and put fragiles above their reach. But soon they are up on their feet and independently exploring the world and we serve a delicate balance of letting them find their way and providing love and guidance. It is then when your heart is literally running circles around your world and it is impossible to keep up with them. It is then when we are most vulnerable. A tragedy can take your little heart in a moment. I can only imagine how that feels: like you can hardly breathe – a dizzying sensation that struggles to make sense of how such a travesty could happen to an innocent whose whole life was before her. The pit in your chest where your heart used to be weighs far more than the emptiness it is. It is a travesty and no amount of analyzing it could ever make it better, rather would only make it worse. So we keep moving, with broken hearts and heavy minds, we remember all that was good in her short little life and tuck that into our pockets to rub like a souvenir stone while we keep moving and try to heal.

20 October 2008

Endorsing Obama

I was reading Colin Powell's comments today regarding why he supported Obama and it suddenly became clear to me why I admire him (both of them, really). It is because they are inclusive. It is because they are not divisive. It is because they are thoughtful in their search for truth and meaning and will listen to all sides and points of view without dismissing them out of hand and may even incorporate them into their own belief system. It is because they keep their chronies as friends, but that doesn't mean that they owe them their vote or a job or expect that from them in return. It is because they actually earn the respect of their peers and country not inherit or expect it to be served to them with their silver spoon. Because they transcend party lines, race and age barriers or at least blur them. Because they look at the facts and the issues and steer away from personal attacks and divisive politics. because, because, because.....

I actually teared up in the middle of reading Powell's comments which so simply stated his reasons he chose Obama and all of them had to do with the above sentiment that basically we are one country and need someone level-headed and thoughtful who can bring that country together. They were tears of relief that finally we may have found a leader who may actually be able to accomplish that come-to-the-table together and solve the issues mentality and set party politics aside for the greater good of the country. For the first time it felt like a fundamental change in politics as usual that we have waited for for a long time. Change that I can believe in.

Choix de Vivre

This blog intends to be a mindful look at everyday life and be thankful for the little things, both figuratively and literally. It will hopefully serve as a reminder that the universe is full of good if you just pause and allow yourselves to appreciate it. So here goes:

I am reminded daily that my choix de vivre is my joy of life. She reminds me when the first squeak from her lips in the morning is a searchful sleepy "Mommy". Her smile when she finds my cuddling arms reminds me. When she demands "my turn" and stands on her tippy toes to stretch her 3 yr old legs to push herself up on the potty, I feel proud and at the same time silly for feeling so. When she surfaces from her room with a striped shirt and polka-dot pants and two different color socks, so "chuffed" that she did it "all by myself", I am truly reminded, for it is both an accomplishment and an expression of herself. Although she may one day berate me for letting her leave the house dressed like that, until then I will cherish her enthusiasm to do so! When I drop her off at her first day of pre-school, she gives me a kiss to take with me and I walk out the door with a big sigh and feel both freedom and emptiness at the same time. For all of this, I am thankful and despite the last 3 years of sleep deprivation, loss of self, and 24-7 challenge of raising a baby to toddler to little girl, she brings me a joie de vivre that is unimagineable and insurpassable - all of this from a choice that changed my life for the best. For this, for her, I am truly thankful.