Category Archives: Marriage, Family, and Life

Adam Grant, Selfishness, Generosity & Karma

Adam Grant, Selfishness, Generosity & Karma

I am a big fan of Adam Grant, especially his recent book Give and Take.  This morning Adam’s blog asks who is smarter – the selfish or the generous?

Interesting read. I find that many people that take a win at all costs, let’s turn every interaction into a contest of one upping stance never can get out of that loop. It is always the next deal, the next situation to take advantage of, the number of toys they have in relation to their closest competitor (sibling, family, friends, person at the gas station). These are also the folks that tend to judge kindness as naivety , generosity as stupidity and the choice of peace over fighting as weakness.

The sad outcome I have observed is that that lifestyle leads to stress, unhappiness, bad health, selfishness, and broken relationships. Just as there is always a next deal, there is always another person – friend, colleague, partner, spouse – if the current model doesn’t support your idea of self.

The most successful people I know in all aspects of their life learned early, and practice often, the concept of selfless giving. Whether to family, friends, colleagues, or strangers – giving of time, energy and talent is a foundation of their lives. The giving does not have judgement of status, payback or publicity – they give whenever they can because it is the right thing to do. They will give the hand up, the atta boy/girl, the introduction, the opportunity because it feels good, because they can.

These success stories do include people who have achieved great success materially, who have made true change in their field, and who are considered incredibly smart (if not brilliant on a good day).

The selfish or the generous – perhaps both do arrive at the same finish line in the big picture. Maybe, if you judge by those with the most toys, you might be more inclined to see the person who follows the “me first” motto as a clear winner. However, I believe the quality of a generous life versus a selfish life is richer. I wholeheartedly believe in Karma, and I know that the intangible rewards of a life of kindness, compassion and service directly lead to a life of abundance, freedom and creativity.

Hearts & Peace, Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel, NY

Hearts & Peace, Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel, NY

 

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My Son, The College Decision & The Pact

My Son, The College Decision & The Pact

Today my son made a decision as to which college he would attend.  In keeping with a pact I made a long time ago the choice was his, and truly whatever choice he made would have been fully supported. In fact, a few weeks ago I made sure he knew that even if he decided not to go to college that would be fine too. He went into this decision knowing that the outcome had zero impact on how much he was loved and respected.

I made that pact thirteen years ago sitting in his hospital room. After contracting E. coli 0157:H7, Thomas developed HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome).  I won’t go into specifics, but if you care to look up the details it wouldn’t begin to give you an idea of the horror of watching a four year old succumb to it. The HUS led to renal failure and his first surgery to start peritoneal dialysis. The prognosis was not good, in fact after his second surgery to insert a port – on Palm Sunday – he bled out.

He left us that day for a bit, and as it was happening I found what I needed inside me to say goodbye to my son. I told him the gift that he was to us in the short time we were together, the special love and joy he brought to all who knew him, and the ability way beyond his years to truly care about others. I told God that I accepted the plan for Thomas’ life, but that with all my heart and soul I vowed to support whatever path his life would take if God would see fit to give him more time. When you are in this position your faith isn’t challenged, it’s crystal clear. You know what you believe and with Whom you are dealing with. It’s time to put your words into action – this is one negotiation you can’t go back on.

I believe I passed out and awoke expecting to have my worst nightmare confirmed. I was told that Anthony was with Thomas in the Pediatric ICU – Thomas had suffered congestive heart failure as a result of the HUS, surgery & bleeding.  Despite this, it seems that my negotiation skills were up to the task. There definitely was a plan for Thomas’ life that required a bit more time here. Each day the parallel of Holy Week was not lost on us. That dark, rainy Good Friday was bleak indeed and yet infused with a hope previously unknown to us. Like any good epic hero story worth its salt, this one has a biblical happy ending – Thomas waking up on Easter Sunday morning when the Easter Bunny came in to deliver Beany Babies.  We had a few more weeks in the hospital, and a long time of visiting doctors ahead of us, but the pact was sealed.

After 25 days in the hospital on May 2, a day we still celebrate, Thomas came home. Ever since that day we have kept the deal.  It was much easier when he was little, when his kind deeds and good choices were local. As he got older and asked to travel to Costa Rica to spend time in La Carpio the immediate reaction was fear. After a deep breath, we supported his trip – you know with that whole pact thing we couldn’t really say no.

Today – exactly thirteen years later – Thomas has made a decision to continue his journey at Fordham University. In my heart and soul I still keep that vow to support whatever path his life takes, every step of the way. With much love, joy, and pride I have a front row seat to watch the life of this handsome, bright and kind young man unfold. Best deal I ever made!

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Marriage Equality: We All Have the Right To Love, Be Loved & Commit To That Love Publicly & Legally

Marriage Equality: We All Have the Right To Love, Be Loved & Commit To That Love Publicly & Legally

As human beings, it is in our make up to want to love and be loved. We seek to belong to a family, to create a family. We work to become a part of the community we live in, to participate, celebrate, and work together to make a better environment for all.

As human beings we deserve to be able to do this freely, without fear, without discrimination. The test is not how others judge the outcome of our best efforts. For every family that succeeds spectacularly, and for every family whose best efforts may fail, there are many families living happy lives, doing their best and creating memories.

The fears that allow one human being to feel they should dictate to another who they should love have been part of every society throughout time. While the fears span a wide range of categories – including race, religion, nationality,  and gender – they all  are based on one word:  different. Even within more narrow parameters where most of the big “issues” are seemingly okay, there are still family members and friends withholding support for personal reasons. If we seek to regulate marriage based on tacit approval of everyone in the couple’s lives no one would ever get married.

I am proud to be a straight ally. People in my life whom I love very much do not have the same rights that I have, that is unacceptable to me. Our children were raised to treat each and every person with kindness and compassion, they were encouraged to give service to others. They were not given messages, overtly or covertly, that some groups are less than, and therefore open targets for prejudice, ridicule or scorn. I am incredibly proud that they have grown into people who see this debate as a no brainer, who actively work to break down these barriers and who are wise enough not to confuse spirituality and faith with rules made by a group of human beings to lessen or exert control upon another group of human beings. People on both sides of the debate point to faith issues, and in some instances tend to paint with a broad stroke. The Jesus I know was pure love and acceptance. In many instances Jesus aligned himself with those who were considered outside acceptable society. He most likely would not be popular, considered highly electable or welcomed into many of the homes of those supporting prejudice in His name. Again, this is the Jesus that I know.

Today is an opportunity for us to move forward as a country whose freedoms and rights are extended to all. Just as decisions that have previously been made regarding civil rights and equality issues were volatile and fought against in their time, this decision is highly contentious right now. I am hopeful that today is one of significant change, and one that we will be able to look back on as a high point in American history.

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Facebook Lessons: Sometimes a “Like” or Lack of a “Like” Can Be Telling You Something

Facebook Lessons: Sometimes a “Like” or Lack of a “Like” Can Be Telling You Something

Facebook lends a whole new layer to seeing people’s behavior more clearly.  The two that helped me see some relationships more clearly: people that can’t be supportive even when the only effort involved is to press one key, and lurkers that have nothing to say (or like) until they can be negative and argumentative. The out & out nasty, negative people are easy to delete – I just don’t choose to deal with that on a daily basis. The real life friends who do this in a public forum – that passive aggressive behavior is teaching me something about them, the relationship and ultimately me.

“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”  Maya Angelou

When this happens to you you have a few options:

  • Have a face to face conversation (imagine that!), and express how you feel. It might clear the air and resolve a misunderstanding, or you may find out this passive aggressive behavior was their way of telling you they’ve moved on.
  • Let’s face it, if a friend can’t make the effort of being happy for you or supportive when it just involves liking your page, or post, are they showing up in real life when you really need them? Actions speak louder than words – or posts!
  • Could it be that they are just not into facebook? Some people have pages, but really don’t post or take a look very often. For those folks, it really isn’t about you!
  • Often the posts that they are responding to, and the people that they are “liking”, will tell you everything you need to know about where their life is at right now. If you can see that, accept it and move on do so. If you want to express how you feel and see if you can make a positive change do that, but read Maya Angelou’s quote first and take it to heart.
  • There is also the ego effect of seeing posts in a public forum – for some pages become less about sincerity and more about “look at me and what I want you to think of my life”. Posts and “likes” become another label or social strata to show others just how cool, hip, smart, successful or loved you are. In this case, it really isn’t about you – or if it is, it’s that you don’t represent the lifestyle they need to put forth.

It’s almost unbelievable that we are learning more about people who we are close to on a regular basis through social media, but perhaps facebook has taken over social interaction to such a large extent that it was inevitable. As with all things, you have a choice in how you want to recognize this and whether or not to address it.

Just keep in mind -

“The first time someone shows you who they are…”

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Living Shades of Gray: The Importance of Flexibility

Living Shades of Gray: The Importance of Flexibility

Perhaps I reeled you in thinking I had tips related to the steamy series…but now that you’re here, read on. Maybe it was a sign!

As a person that tends to be most comfortable in a black and white world, learning to embrace the shades of gray in between has been a challenge, and a gift. Stepping outside my comfort zone has provided some of the greatest life lessons, and adventures, I have known.  Along the way there have been disappointments, wrong turns, and failure, but they in their own way were important parts of the journey.

There are benefits to living in a black and white, right or wrong world. You are not required to give a lot of thought to options, or opposing viewpoints. Life is far simpler when you keep boundaries tight, and the unknown at bay. Your days have a certain rhythm that is not only predictable, but also comfortable. When you surround yourself with people just like you in many ways, you are frequently supported in your worldview. Anyone outside your group – family, community, country or belief system – is not to be trusted, believed or in some cases respected.

When we hold hard and fast to what we believe is right, we make assumptions about what, and who, is wrong. When we believe whole-heartedly that our way is the only way that is good, we make assumptions about what, and who, is bad. Inviting flexibility into our lives does not require us to waver in what we believe to be true for ourselves, but it does require us to be respectful to those with differing opinions. It invites us to consider possibilities that exist beyond the parameters we have set for ourselves.

While it is obvious to consider how this applies to political, religious, and lifestyle choices – the truly positive thing about considering shades of gray can be the difference it offers to us in our day-to-day lives.  For me I never really had black and white problems with big issues – it was more in figuring out what I was “supposed” to be doing in any of my life roles. It was tied up in what a “good” student, worker, wife, mother, friend was as determined by outside influences instead of my own heart, soul, and mind. I was held back by internalized messages of “who do you think you are”, and a recurring fight with how others thought a responsible grown up should behave.

The ability to let go of rigidity and truly go with the flow was life altering. It opened doors, altered relationships and allowed me to become more than I ever thought I could be. Some of these changes also required me to navigate difficult situations, and make tough choices, but even those instances were easier when tempered with flexibility and open mindedness. The acceptance that change is good, relationships change and grow, and that we can be grateful for gifts in our lives even when the people or things that brought them to us go away is freeing. The ability to be flexible, and positive, knowing that there is always so much more to learn is truly a gift.

Living in shades of gray, being open minded, allowing for change and seeing the positive in all situations is an ongoing thing. Some days are challenging, you feel yourself being pulled back into old habits – do not give up! Those are the days where you look for the “power of positive thinking” to push you along. I truly will let everything from a great parking spot to a song on the radio be a “true sign” of good things to come! Perhaps even reading this, thinking it would be about something else was your sign today!

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A New Way To Look At Love On Valentine’s Day

A New Way To Look At Love On Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day – many people have negative feelings about this wonderful holiday because they confuse it with the crass, commercialism it has become known for. Like many other days that have the potential to add so much to our lives, jewelers and card stores have convinced us that it’s the dollar value of love, and not the true feelings, that matter. How many carats do you love me? How many dozen roses do you love me? Do you love me Russel Stover, Godiva or Vosges?

St. Valentine was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II for aiding Christians, and for marrying Christian couples. This was during a time of persecution when being Christian was a crime. Claudius took a liking to Valentine, and considered saving him, until Valentine tried to convert Claudius – Valentine died on February 14th.  This bit of history is often debated, but it is this version that leads to the day we celebrate now. Some say that Valentine’s Day first is noted in the fourteenth century by Geoffrey Chaucer and his peers as a day to celebrate romantic love, others say it was put forth to supersede pagan celebrations of the times.  In the eighteenth century Valentine’s Day was embraced in a more secular way for secret admirers to communicate their desires, and for those in love to acknowledge each other.  This is the time where the first notions of what we recognize as Valentines are seen – bits of lace, poetic words and posies are sent hoping for a kind return of sentiment. Flowers at this time were especially sent for their meanings – the flower, its color and the arrangement spoke volumes to the recipient.

Valentine’s Day right now is promoted as a day to impress, make grand gestures and show your love in dollar signs.  Prices go up, reservations get scarce and the pressure is on. Roses, chocolate, jewelry and champagne are used to measure the depths of love. This is the Olympics of relationships, it’s time to go big or go home. Many very happy couples can take a hit if the message of love is interpreted as a message of “I forgot and I now give you the best CVS had to offer at 7PM tonight”.

I offer a different approach to the big day of celebrating love – in all the forms it takes in our lives.  Perhaps my way of looking at Valentine’s Day is why it truly is and always has been one of my favorite, if not my favorite, holiday. It can truly be a day of giving love, celebrating love and showing love without it necessarily being about romantic love. This allows the celebration to include all of us, young and old, as participants in a world wide love-in. It’s a day to be thankful for the love in our lives from partners as well as children, parents, pets, friends, neighbors and kind strangers. Yes – the strangers that smile at us, hold doors and connect with us, and look us in the eye.

If we choose to we can make this day about showing love. Taking the time to communicate why you love someone rather than the garbled, drive-by “loveyou” we have all adapted as shorthand on the way out of a room, out the door, or on the phone. Spending time in a way you know is meaningful, rather than spending money in a way you know is bartering. Showing love to others through service and kindness rather than checking off cards and chocolate on a “to do” list. In each instance we not only have the capacity to bring more meaningful love into the world, but we have the opportunity to expand our own hearts and drive away the cynical thoughts we may have given in to.

It is said it takes twenty one days to form a habit. Imagine if you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day my way, and you really liked it?  Imagine if you decided this was a great way to be everyday? Imagine how amazing your life might be by March 6th???

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!  Go out and spread some love!! xo

 

jim dine heart

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Families Dealing With Tragedy: How To Try To Make Sense of the Senseless

Families Dealing With Tragedy: How To Try To Make Sense of the Senseless

I received an email last night from a mom asking for help in dealing with the news of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. She was devastated herself, and didn’t know how to answer her young children’s questions about what happened or address their fears. How do you make sense of the senseless? How do you explain the presence of God in such a Godless act? I have been trying for over twenty four hours to find the words that might be of some help, to be present to my families in a meaningful way. There are no words, there is no simple way to process this tragedy and make it okay.

What follows is the lesson I would share if The Family Program were able to meet today. I hope it is helpful and comforting. As always this is my attempt to model for parents ideas of how to teach their children. Each family is unique and I believe parents have within them the gift to know what is best for their children. In my search for wisdom, the most meaningful words for me come from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: “If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.” Speak from the heart, speak with love and your words will be the right ones.

These families in a small Connecticut town most likely never imagined that such violence would ever visit them. Sandy Hook Elementary School seemed to be a wonderful environment for learning, staffed by caring people who had as recently as this year instituted new parameters for safety at their schools and were in a state of compliance and readiness. To some degree these factors intensify the anxiety of parents, of human beings, even more so. When you are doing everything right, when you work as a community to provide the best resources for your children to learn in a nurturing, safe environment how can things go so terribly wrong.

Over the past two days I have listened to many professionals in law, psychology and religious studies offer their best advice about how to address the attack on an elementary school in a seemingly idyllic setting. The consensus of this group is to answer only what is asked, let the child lead the discussion, and reassure that this is a singular event. As a generalization, these suggestions are fine and appropriate; however, no one who is in the position of trying to comprehend this atrocity and answer children’s questions about it finds these suggestions sufficient. As a trained marriage and family therapist I know these are the clinically correct responses, as a person and a parent it is not enough. The challenge and heartbreak is that there are no correct answers, there are no words that will ever make this okay, and there is no way to make sense of the senseless.  If we cannot wrap our own minds around what has happened in Newtown, how can we process it, explain it and make it okay for our children? If this horror shakes us at our very core and awakens every anxiety we have about safety personally,for our families, and those we love and care about how can we possibly find a way to communicate that everything is fine?

The questions that seem to be top of mind are as follows:

  • Why did this happen?
  • Why did that man want to kill those people?
  • Why did God let this happen?
  • Did this happen because those children/people were bad?
  • Can this happen to me?
  • Can this happen at my school/workplace?

While I defy anyone to answer any of these questions with absolute certainty, I can offer some suggestions as to how to best approach this conversation. I will try my best to offer advice as to how to speak with your children about tragedies that they are confronted with, keep in mind that these approaches are also often helpful in trying to process events ourselves. The first two points the professionals make are valid in that you should try to give short, specific answers to what the child is asking. Sometimes we over explain in the hope that we are covering all of the bases and giving the best information – when we do this we run the risk of providing too much information and perhaps adding to the stress and anxiety the child is feeling by introducing factors they were not previously considering.  We need to let the children lead the conversation in that often they need to take a small amount of information and process it before they can ask another question or take in more information. We can also guide the conversation to this singular event and use reminders that this is a unique situation and not one that should be expected in their own lives/schools/families. That being said, we are truly not addressing some of the larger questions, and by avoiding those questions we are avoiding an opportunity to share the comfort that faith can provide. For the very best definition of faith is to believe in something we cannot see, feel or prove but yet know to be true. In moments such as this when we are challenged to make sense of the senseless, faith may be our way to move forward.

  • Why did this happen? – While we can never understand something this horrible we do know that humans can make very bad choices. Sometimes because they are sick, sometimes because they are not loved, sometimes because they are so angry and hurt that they cannot see clearly. This act of violence had nothing to do with the victims, but had everything to do with the horrors inside this young man. All tragedies that happen when someone exerts violence on someone else comes from that place inside them where these factors exist and never, ever are the fault of the victim. Often the person who does such a thing doesn’t know the person they hurt, nothing the victim did or didn’t do made this happen.
  • Why did that man want to kill those people? – We honestly don’t know, and may never know the answer to this question. This young man had anger, hurt, rage and confusion inside him and it came out in this very horrible way. When people are in that place they act without thinking – he acted out because of what was inside him and not because of anything those children or adults did or didn’t do.
  • Why did God let this happen? – One of the hardest things that children and adults struggle with is the idea of free will, that we in our humanity are capable of making choices on our own regardless of the impact on ourselves or others. If we could understand this clearly as adults, perhaps it might be easier to explain to children. The basic concept that God created all and allows all to exist, rightly or wrongly, directed by their own free will is a higher thinking, abstract theory. It calls us to move beyond what many often blame on God, or use God to support their own beliefs and prejudices and asks us to take responsibility for our own actions. On a higher thinking level we believe in God, or an all encompassing being of creation, and accept that there have been lessons for us to follow to be good, kind, compassionate people who live in service to others. This is the faith I know, this is the faith I teach. This faith allows for acceptance of all, respect for all and forgiveness without expectation. If we can find a way to accept this in our hearts, we can then explain in a simple way that God creates and loves, but allows humans to make their own choices. When these choices are bad or evil, God does not stop them in the same way that God does not take credit for the good and brave choices people make. We are all offered the same choices and lessons, what we do with them is essentially up to us.
  • Did this happen because those children/people were bad? - These children and adults were not killed because they were bad or did anything wrong. Their families were not bad or did anything wrong. This happened because of the anger, illness, hurt and confusion within one young man.
  • Can this happen to me?  Can this happen at my school/workplace? - People die when they are very old, very sick or when there is a terrible accident/incident. The reason why this is so very horrible because it is so very rare to hear about someone doing this. We shouldn’t expect that this will happen to us, to our school or to someone we know and love. We may be afraid thinking about this, and it is normal to have fear and anxiety about the “what ifs”, but in time we will begin to trust that the people in our lives are doing all they can to keep us safe. Children can’t really grasp statistical data, and when adults are faced with tragedies such as this it is hard to distance the reality enough to be analytical. The true answer to this question is yes, it can happen to any of us. The reality is that the probability of it happening is very small. Right now the hurt, fear and sadness is too palpable and too fresh for us not to be fearful. Time and ritual are two healing factors that allow us to begin to lessen fear and anxiety. This week will be a rough one, hold each other close and allow one another to know that despite the fear there is love and faith that things will be okay. As humans that is really all we have in terms of guarantees.

While we feel the need to hold on tight and not let each other out of sight, healing begins by moving forward. Fear is lessened by being brave despite what you know. Acting on behalf of change, of making things better, of changing laws and standing up to ingnorance allows us to become strong again. Most importantly we need to express our love for each other, be kind to each other and be forgiving towards each other. Realizing that every day is a gift and believing that each of our lives, regardless of how long we live, is our time on earth to make a difference will allow us begin to live again not in fear but in love and purpose.

 

 

 

 

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Newtown, Connecticut is Every Town, USA Today

Newtown, Connecticut is Every Town, USA Today

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone

Regardless of their ages & geography right now I want my three here with me so I know they are safe. It has always been a daily act of bravery & trust in a higher being that has propelled me at each stage to send my kids out into the world to live t

he lives they were meant to. Against every natural instinct & anxiety I keep reminding myself that my job was just to get them here, teach them & provide them with the tools they need to be who they were meant to be in the world. The hardest part of the job is knowing when it was time to get out of the way so their lives could become their own. Despite knowing & doing what’s right, there is always that small piece of my heart that never lets go. There is always the subtle fear for their safety.
Tragedies such as what has happened in Newtown, CT remind us how fragile life is & breaks our hearts not only as parents but as human beings. Each of these parents is living our collective worst nightmare, our thoughts & prayers are with them all. Also, thoughts & prayers to all of the adults who acted so bravely & selflessly to protect these children. May all of the victims rest in peace.
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Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all who mother.
To those that give unconditional love, support, challenge and praise so that another soul can grow.
To those that know this is one of the hardest things you can do and choose to do it anyway, sometimes more than once.
To those that act as mother when they see the need .
To Fathers that mother, lend support and partnership to their children’s mother and who model by the way they treat their mother.
To the children that inspire us to be better mothers and make us believe that just by them being here the world is a better place.

Wishing you all a day filled with love, peace, joy, hope and the knowledge that every day you are changing the world.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Who Do I Think I Am?

Who Do I Think I Am?

From my earliest memories I remember my mother reprimanding with the words “Just who do you think you are??”. This was not her early attempt at introducing me to inner wisdom or prompting me to search for my own truth, this was a very pointed reminder to mind your place. There was a very strong message not to think you are special, better than anyone else or deserving of special treatment.

To a child who wore a pink tutu and a tiara around, who wanted a cage built for go go dancing so I could practice while wearing my white boots and who looked upon Barbie as a lifestyle coach rather than a doll this question was more of a challenge than a reprimand. I had a very strong opinion of who I was and exactly what I wanted to be doing. I also was blessed with a father who supported my vision and encouraged it in his own way, including building me small bench to dance on in lieu of a cage.

My Dad died when I was eleven.  I lost not only my supporter but the one person who saw my vision and said go for it – the hell with anyone who doesn’t like it. My father had a lot of phrases that stick with me to this day, I hear them within me when I need them, when I need a voice to tell me that standing up for right – for yourself and others – is the only way to be.  My sense of integrity, of being the announcer when the emperor is naked, is definitively connected to being the daughter of my father.

Some cool memories that have never faded include fishing and being allowed to bait the hook, going for drives, shopping for records and tools at EJ Korvettes, going to White Castle on Fordham Road where you were served at the car by waitresses on roller skates, hours of skee ball on City Island and parties in the yard overflowing with people and music. And birthdays – my birthday was always a huge celebration and often held in conjunction with the Labor Day BBQ (in hindsight that is probably why it was so huge, but I digress).  One of my favorites was my eighth birthday in 1969 – an amazing example of how my Dad “got me”. The trip to Korvettes for that birthday included a purple tee shirt, purple tie dyed bell bottoms,  a faux snakeskin fringe vest and the Crimson and Clover Album by Tommy James and the Shondells. This outfit and this music, paired up with my round purple tinted sunglasses (from the set where you could change the lens colors) made me feel like life just wasn’t going to get much cooler. If you can recall a purely blissful day in your life – for me this was one of them.

The store of these memories have stayed with me over the past thirty nine years –  they have consoled me, bolstered me, protected me and have given me refuge. My mom dealt with a lot in her life that did not give her the capacity to be the cheerleader, the supporter or the fan. The message was clearly be responsible, be mature, don’t cause trouble and do as I say. My inability to toe this line was often met with the famous question “who do you think you are?”.

The many years between eleven and now held many fine accomplishments, achievements and goals met yet often the celebration included that tape that plays in your mind that only a mother can record. The doubts, the insecurities, the inability to take a stand and know that you earned it and deserved it. And always that question…..

The last few months have been ones of change and introspection for me and so much good and positive energy have come out of it. I feel as if I am in such a good place and surrounding myself with books, meditation, journaling and experiences has opened up my spirit beyond what I thought I was capable of. The most important result of this self work is that the other day, for the first time, I was able to firmly state that I know exactly who I am.

I am the sum of all I have experienced thus far, and it has all been a lesson to prepare me for who I am today. Every person, place and thing I have encountered on this journey was there for a purpose – at some points my spirit was ready to learn the lesson and at others it was not; therefore, those lessons continued. Each day is a new opportunity, a new choice and my choice is to be positive and forgiving. To be adventurous and bold. To be challenging to my self and gentle with others.

Mom & Dad thank you for my lessons. I was sent to be parented by you to become who I became. On May 12th I will remember the thirty ninth anniversary of my Dad’s passing with gratitude for all that he imparted to me in our time together, and for his spirit that has never left my side. On May 13th I will celebrate the memory of my mother as an example of someone who mothered to the best of her capacity and who gave me the gift at the end of her life of explaining it all and filling in all the missing words I had been waiting to hear. I also feel your spirit with me.

Who do I think I am?  I am exactly who I was meant to be!

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