Celebrating Higher Numbers

As the numbers get higher, the words come more slowly.

I don’t know if that’s because I have to reach farther back into memory, or because the celebratory moments are less obvious.

Whatever the reason, I am determined to make it to 45, so here we go . . .

27. In high school I played flute and bassoon.

28. I sang in my synagogue choir when I was young. I took voice lessons as my first challenge to myself after I got my doctorate. I’d really like to join a woman’s a cappella group if I can ever get the courage.

29. When I went on a vacation trip to Bali/Hong Kong, I spoke in Japanese almost the entire time. I was travelling with a Japanese friend of mine, and she wanted to do the tour thing. Our tour guide in Bali didn’t speak much English, so Japanese it was (luckily on that part it was the two of us and the adorable guide). When we got to Hong Kong, and our tour grew to 30+ Japanese and myself, I spoke English at first until my friend let it slip that I could speak Japanese. That was when I knew I had a handle of the language . . . wish I remembered more than just a few phrases now.

30. Once upon a time I had a dream of being an actress. I never pursued that dream because I let fear and doubt get in my way. However, I do occasionally make appearances on the stage. My most memorable role in the early days was, perhaps, was an ancient Japanese woman in Teahouse of the August Moon, when I got to act as a goat. As an adult, I played the Nurse from Romeo and Juliet in a bizarre little summer Shakespeare show that took scenes from several plays. The nurse is lots of fun.Tea House of the August Moon

I just got an idea for the next one, which may take an entire post o fits own. Stay tuned . . .

 

Celebrating Life’s Ups and Downs

A comment on my post yesterday made me pause for a second, and ask myself if this list I am creating is about EGO. Am I trying to say look at me and how wonderful I am? Why did I decide to write a list celebrating my life?

Our lives are all made up of stories, some large, some small. Some victorious, some failures.  Unless someone has walked through your life with you for entire thing, by your side through it all, there is nobody who knows all of your stories. My mother doesn’t know. My sister doesn’t know. My brother doesn’t know. My childhood friends don’t know. My adult friends don’t know. My husband doesn’t know.

It’s not that the stories are secret, simply that nobody can be there at all times to experience them.

However, those stories make us who we are today, and those stories guide us toward who we will become. In a world (or at least a country) where middle age is sometimes seen as “less than” youth, and where I “aged out” of my highest academic degree by not getting a tenure-track position within a couple of years from graduating, it makes understanding and valuing your own story all the more important.

There’s a scene from the movie The Holiday which gets me every time. Iris  is having dinner with Arthur Abbott who points out something very important:

Arthur Abbott: Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.
Iris: You’re so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god’s sake! Arthur, I’ve been going to a therapist for three years, and she’s never explained anything to me that well. That was brilliant. Brutal, but brilliant.

I’ve too often been the best friend.  This list is to help me understand myself as the leading lady in my own life.

Today, I will include some things that I celebrate because they made me stronger or helped me grow. I hope you will celebrate those moments in your own life which may have been difficult at the time, but through which you came out a new (and improved) person.

22. When I was completing my MFA, my committee chair threatened (and tried) to fail me because I hadn’t done some things for her that had nothing to do with my thesis project. She, literally, sat me in her office one day and said “that’s your second strike” when I was unable to perform a time-consuming task for her because I had other (paid) obligations. After this meeting, I didn’t remain meek. I went to a dean and discussed my concerns. He told me there was little he could do, as it was her word against mine but he would help me in any way he could. After my thesis production, my chair wanted my committee to fail me for things that could have been fixed if she had advised me earlier in the process as was her job (I’m not saying I had no errors, just that if she had pointed out her concerns when I was in rehearsal I might have been able to answer those concerns). Yet, she came to rehearsals and said nothing, leading me to believe all was well, until my committee meeting where she attacked. The other two members of the committee seemed somewhat speechless. They offered me an alternative, which was to write a paper answering some of the concerns, and reflecting on how or what I might have changed. I turned in a 12 page document that couldn’t be disputed. My chair isn’t the one who let me know I had passed, another committee member did that. I never spoke to my chair again.  I learned to stand up for myself and my (future) students against injustice in the system.

23. I mentioned being told in Japan that I was the “weakest” teacher at the small conversation school I taught at. I was crushed. I asked for an explanation. What was I doing wrong? What could I improve upon? What were the complaints against me? My boss told me he couldn’t be specific at the time but he would find out. I remember going to the river, sitting under the cherry blossoms, and sobbing for hours. Being in a foreign country is difficult enough, but then to be told that you were failing in that country was even worse. It was terrifying. The way I saw it, I had two choices, quit and go home or stay and try to improve. If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself, is I am stubborn to the end. Despite the fact that I never got any more information from my boss, I chose to stay, and worked as hard as I could to become better. In the end, my boss asked me to stay on for an extra month (I was supposed to be at that school for a year) until my replacement came. I then moved onto a bigger school where I stayed for two years until I decided to go to graduate school.

24. I miscarried my first child. I know this happens to many women, but I blamed myself. Before I knew I was pregnant, I had asked my doctor to put me on antidepressants. I don’t remember what I was on, but it was one not considered safe for pregnancy. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I stopped taking those pills. About 6 weeks in, I lost the baby and I mourned. I still mourn the child who never was, because I blame myself for that loss. However, if I had that child, I would never have received the wonderful gift of Sarah.Sarah turns 10

 25. I completed my doctoral program in three years, including course work, research and writing my complete dissertation. My dissertation was then nominated for an award. I had to present at a conference where they would then announce the award winners. I was pregnant (with Sarah) at the time, but hadn’t had any problems with morning sickness until my nerves about presenting kicked in. Picture me sprinting from the elevator to my hotel room, carrying my bags, saying hello to roommates who I hadn’t seen in over a year, and running into the bathroom to vomit. Fun days. Anyway, my presentation went well, despite some antagonistic questions from audience members. The other nominees presentations were interesting, and we awaited the awards ceremony. Just before the ceremony, the head of the committee (who I had met in other situations) pulled me aside and said, “Lisa, nobody is getting the award this year, but you are getting an honorable mention.” I am the ONLY ONE who got an honorable mention, but NOBODY got the award. Politics that I will NEVER understand at play. To this day, I still can’t understand why that happened. When they announced it at the award ceremony, nobody there understood it either. I had to try to be stoic, try to hold in my tears. I failed miserably. From that I learned my first lesson in the brutality of academic politics, a lesson I would (and still am) continue to learn over the years. A lesson that has led me to know that there is something else out there for me, even if I have yet to figure out what that is.

26. The last one for today might surprise you. Nathan (my now husband) was my first and only boyfriend. I was a complete and utter failure when it came to dating as a young person. In junior high, I “dated” Stephen for like a minute. (Basically he called and asked me out. One of our friends convinced me to say yes. I got scared and broke up with him before we even had a date.) I had one date with Chris in high school, but he liked me a lot more than I liked him. I ended up going to the prom with him as friends, because my friends wanted me to go with someone. I had a few flirtations in Japan (Gacho, Scott, and Mike) but I wouldn’t call those dates. I met Nathan in grad school in Hawaii, and didn’t even know our first date was a first date. (For that story read this). We dated (including long distance) for five years and then we got married (now married 13 years). I think I learned enough from being the best friend, to know that I had found a good one. At the same time, I always thought I’d never find anyone, that there was something wrong with me which prevented me from connecting beyond friendship. Always the best friend, never the leading lady. Lesson learned.

Senior Prom

 What are some of the challenges in your life that have made you become the person you are today?

Continuing the Celebration

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” (Oprah Winfrey)

Have you ever done this?

Have you ever tried to come up with a list of the things that make you unique? Things that are worth celebrating?

It’s difficult.

I don’t know if it is modesty or humility, or simply an unwillingness to stand up in front of the world and say “This is me. This is what I’ve done. This is who I am.”

Maybe I simply compare myself too often to others, and am unable to see the good in me.

On yesterday’s post, the talented Andra Watkins, who also shares this birthday month with me, wrote this comment:

“You did this. Period. [. . . ]”

Why can’t I just say, “I did this. Period.”? Without the but . . . or the clarification, or the explanation that somehow tries to justify why I am celebrating this particular thing.

Today, as I continue the list, I will try to keep to I did this. Period. (Explaining only enough for you to understand what I”m talking about). Here goes.

12. There’s no way to count the number of words I’ve written, in journals, in stories, in blog posts, in academic papers. Some words remain hidden from the eyes of others, some have been read by a handful of people, and some are just beginning their fearful journey into the light of day.

13. I have completed one novel for middle-grade readers, and one novel for YA/NA. Neither have been published, yet, but I am still hopeful and working toward that.

14. I was nominated for a Po’Okela award (kind of like the Tony’s of Hawaii)  in playwriting (as part of a group of writers) for The Kabuki Mikado.

15. I was also nominated for a Po’Okela award in lighting design for two productions The Staircase and Gertrude Stein and Her Companion. Did I mention that I studied lighting design and almost thought of going in that direction?

16. I was the first student at Smith College to design lights for a faculty directed production.

17. For a year after college, I did a combined internship in Electrics/Stage Management at StageWest, a (now defunct) regional theatre in Springfield, MA.

18. While in Japan, I moved from being told that “I was the weakest teacher” (without clarification) to becoming the Head Teacher/Trainer at a bigger school.

19. Over the past few years, I’ve tried to do something outside my comfort zone at least once each year. These things have included: taking a tap class and performing in a recital; taking piano lessons; creating a piece of art that I actually hung on my wall; travelling with a group of near strangers; attending a conference on my own; and starting a blog.

This is my creation that hangs on the wall.

This is my creation that hangs on the wall.

20. I have a couple of poems published in anthologies, and a few articles published in magazines and journals.

21. It’s impossible to count the number of books I’ve read in my lifetime. I love books. They are the things that I haven’t been able to let go of, despite the weight of moving them. I have slowly weened out my collection, but it always grows again.

That’s all for today. It’s getting harder.

What are some thing that you’ve done. Period?

 

Celebrating 45

A few posts back I wrote about how I have no intention of fading away as I move into the future. Yet, I’m the first to admit that I am the hardest on myself–unable to see my own successes when I’m not quite where or who I thought I’d be. However, my journey into memory through pictures made me decide that I should celebrate the interesting life I have lived. I should acknowledge the things I have done, that make me unique. I should, basically, celebrate myself. Please bear with me as I toot my own horn, because sometimes doing things like this is necessary.

I plan to make a list of 45 (wonderful) things that make me who I am, in no particular order, with details provided if explanation helps. However, I will spread it across several posts because A) I don’t want to bore you and B) It’s really, really difficult for me to do this.

Here I go:

  1.  I was born backwards (breach) which says a lot for who I am now. 😉 In some ways, being breach saved me from a car birth. My Dad used to say that he dropped Mom off (after getting stopped by a policeman as he sped to the hospital) and went to park the car. When he got back, someone congratulated him on the birth of his daughter. A woman, waiting for her daughter to give birth, turned to him and said “How did you do that?” Way to make an entrance.

    Cheeks.

    Cheeks.

  2. I started reading when I was very young (like 3 or 4 or something). Mom says it was in competition with my older brother Steve (who you might know from his many blogs, such as this wonderful post about helping others). I’d like to think my love for words simply insisted on making an early appearance. I vaguely recall people handing me newspapers and asking me to read out loud. I didn’t necessarily understand the words, but I could read them. Sounding out words, and finding meaning in those sounds, or finding interesting ways of putting those sounds together, has become the passion of my life.
  3. That leads to my love of learning languages. All languages. While I’ve lost my fluency in most (including English sometimes) in my life I have studied (and in some cases spoken to some degree): Hebrew, French, Spanish, Japanese, Russian (for a very short time when I was supposed to go on a trip), Slovak (again in preparation for a trip) and a few words in Chinese.  I believe that, if you want to travel, the best way to learn about people is to learn their language. It is the height of ego to expect others to learn English, and make no effort to communicate with the words that represent the culture.
  4. I have visited 8 countries. Now, that’s not a lot, for a girl who dreamed of seeing the world. My list of countries that I still want to go to is large. However, when I travel, I rarely do it just as a tourist. I try to see the country beyond the tourist image. I lived and worked in Japan for three years, and hope someday to be able to live and work somewhere else, even for a short time. My travels have not ended, I just have to find new ways and means to go. Even though I haven’t been to many of the places I’d love to go, I have friends from countries all over the world, many of whom I have actually met in person.

    Red: Where I've lived (although HI has disappeared)Blue: Where I've been
Green: Where I want to go

    Red: Where I’ve lived (although HI has disappeared)
    Blue: Where I’ve been
    Green: Where I want to go

  5. I’ve lived in 9 states and visited 44. I would like to get to all 50, and there are a few I might want to live in.
  6. I have earned three degrees: a BA from Smith College with a double major in English Language & Literature and Theatre; an MFA from the University of Hawaii, Manoa in Theatre (Directing); and a Ph.D from Arizona State University in Theatre (Theatre for Youth)
  7. I have directed 25+ plays at all levels (from beginning actors to professional).While this is one of the areas where I feel like I somehow have failed, I always wanted to direct, and at least I can say I have directed some truly wonderful and challenging pieces.

    The opening scene of CLOUD 9, another play I loved directing, especially because it pushed buttons and promoted discussion.

    The opening scene of CLOUD 9, another play I loved directing, especially because it pushed buttons and promoted discussion.

  8. I have taught hundreds if not thousands of students in subjects ranging from English conversation to writing, from Introduction to Theatre to Special Studies in Drama. I’ve taught at colleges, universities, language schools, after school programs and special programs for adults. I’ve lost track of the types of courses I’ve taught, but they include classes in theatre, writing, honors, and education.
  9. I saved two wonderful dogs from the humane society and they have enriched my life immensely. Even with the begging, the poop, and the constant dog hair.Lizzy & Jasper, 1-1
  10. I found a wonderful partner in life, Nathan, who for whatever reason puts up with my craziness and stands by me even when I don’t want to stand by myself.
  11. We gave birth to an amazing, talented, and beautiful daughter, who surprises me every day.

I think that’s my list for today, as now I’m entering the part where I think “I did this but .  . ” You know, where I start undervaluing everything I’ve ever done.

This isn’t easy, that’s for sure.

Do you ever have a difficult time celebrating yourself and your accomplishments?

At 4am

At 4 am
Darkness is
inevitable.

Not the literal darkness
of a world at rest–
for that is hard to find
as the lights of technology
bleed through
a constant reminder
of human vs. world.

This is the darkness
that leaks out of nightmare
where painful reality
joins forces
with the creatures who hide inside
gnawing at sensitive spots
until your mind screams wake up
or stay in a land filled with
creeping mists
oozing their chill
across the floor
while doomed faces
threaten you
with the failures
of your own mind
and the reality of a world
which prides greed and cruelty
over community
We all pay the price
When we wake into
the inevitable darkness of doubt.

Ladies in Red, Purple and Every Other Color

I have a brilliant and talented friend named Kristie.

She was a year ahead of me in college. She and I lived in the same house, and had the same major (English Language & Literature).

She went on to get a masters from Harvard and then became a high school English teacher that I would love to have my daughter study with.

I went on to become . . . well, me.

Just a short time ago, Kristie made her first venture into the world of blogging (she blames me for this). Her first post at Schmidtty First Drafts reveals her wit and way with words. Her second post, entitled “Not Yet, Boba Fett” shares an honest look at the challenges many people, especially women, face as we enter that bizarre between time known as midlife. Her post inspired this post. I would love for you to pop over and read Kristie’s post before continuing with this one, but in case you don’t, she writes about a scene in Postcards from the Edge where Shirley Maclaine, dressed in a glittery red-outfit performs the song “I’m Still Here” at a party that was supposed to celebrate her daughter. Kristie writes:

“As I enter midlife, my disdain for Maclaine’s poorly timed and skewed self affirmation has tempered and transformed. In a culture that devalues those growing older, especially women, her declaration now seems about so much more than simply shouting “Look at me. I need attention right now.” It serves as a siren call, one beckoning us to look first at ourselves. In my midlife world this necessitates a temporal exploration. Who was I? Who am I? Who do I now want to be? That confident (though sometimes needy and sometimes selfish) bravura woman in red, where did she go? Because she existed.”

In some ways, I’ve always been the lady in red. Although, just as often I might be the lady in purple or hot pink or some other bright color that says “Look at me, I’m here.”

I wore red at a mini reunion with Kristie (with the white coat) a couple of years ago.

I wore red at a mini reunion with Kristie (with the white coat) a couple of years ago.

While this isn’t really about the color of my clothes, there is a pattern to how I wear clothing. When I most want to hide, or feel down on myself, I wear grays, blacks, neutrals. When I need a confidence boost, or when I have to make some kind of presentation, I’ll either where a professional looking black or the bright reds and purples of a woman who wants to be seen. This doesn’t mean I want or need to be the center of attention, its more like a statement that “I am here and what I say matters.”

Too often in my life I’ve felt invisible and unheard. Yet, the lady in red always wanted to come out. She wanted to sing to the world “I’m alive and full of fun and fabulous ideas!” So I added color to my wardrobe, and began to find ways to be heard,

Except when I wasn’t.

Now, like Kristie, I’m not willing to simply fade into the background as I enter midlife. I’m not willing to disappear as wrinkles and gray hair begin to make their presence known. I’m not willing to accept the status quo. I intend to create a path into the future filled with passion, ambition, adventure and possibility.

I plan to wear a lot of red (or purple, green, yellow,  and maybe even orange)  while doing it.

 

 

My Words Have Stopped

I’ve stopped writing.

I’ve stopped reading.

I’ve stopped talking.

I’ve stopped commenting.

I’ve stopped.

I look at this blog and think, I have nothing left to say. It’s not writer’s block. It’s something deeper than that.  I have entered the darkness at the bottom of depression and it has controlled me for a few months now.

I have lost my ability to think.

I have lost my ability to organize.

I have lost my ability to motivate.

I have lost.

Today I sit and wait for a birthday party to end, so I can pick up Sarah. I think I’ll find the topic, find the words, find my voice.

Yet all I can write is this.

Empty words on an empty screen.

Written out into the void of emptiness.

I want my words back. I want myself back. I want my life back.

It’s time.

Catching Up, Cleaning Up, Starting Over

Standing at the Precipice

Have you ever felt like you were teetering on the peak of a mountain, and your next step will lead you to destinations unknown? You could step off and plummet toward the crags below. You could step off and defy gravity, being buffeted by winds that carry you into magical possibilities. You could step off onto an invisible path in the sky that leads in a meandering fashion to points well beyond your vision, even with the eagle-eye perspective of your high perch.

Or you could try to turn back and walk down from that peak. However, as you look behind you at the path you took to climb this far you see the dangers that lie that way. Your past journey involved a complex maze made up of false starts, dead-ends, obstacles, steep cliffs, dark caverns, some easy passages where the climb was pleasant, and many unexpected surprises.

You stand there, on that peak, and breathe deeply of air so fresh and full of oxygen that your head begins to spin, and you become unsure of where you are or where you are going. The only thing that is clear is that you cannot stay on that peak forever. Eventually you must take a step and enter the unknown.

I am on that peak. I know that it is time to change, to take a blind leap, and to move forward into something different.

Tying Up Loose Ends

Before I do this, however, I feel like I’ve been letting a lot of things dangle loosely over the past month. I need to catch up on myself, and find a stopping point to some of them so that I can take the step I need to take. That includes some less-than-pleasant tasks like writing a letter to make a final attempt to deal with the evil corporation. It also, however, includes acknowledging some past kindnesses that have been sent my way and got swept aside during the overwhelming emotions of the past few weeks.

The first kindness came from Stuart Nager, a wonderful person, talented writer, long-distance “kindred spirit” who, I must say is also part of the inspiration for the next step in my journey. Stuart has been going through some life challenges lately, and sharing his very personal journey in an honest and inspiring way through his blog called The Opening of Doors. Almost a month ago, Stuart nominated me for the Inspiring Blog Award, an award which I have received in the past but which means even more to me coming from this kind and inspirational man. While my head is in too many places at the moment to pass on the award appropriately, I wanted to acknowledge Stuart’s kind gift and officially off it to all of you who have inspired me with you kindness, your words, and your generosity in this slightly bizarre community that has played such an important role in my life over the past few years.

In the same vein, I have to thank the wonderful and talented Victoria Walters who tagged me in the Liebster Award last week. I honestly haven’t been reading enough lately to pass the award onto 11 blogs. Forgive me but life has just become too much for me to keep up. However, I will answer the 11 random questions Victoria asked because some of the answers are relevant to what comes next.

  • What made you want to be a writer? Simple, I love words and always have, whether written or spoken.
  • Where do you find the inspiration for your writing? From trying to be open to everything around me.
  • What are your goals for 2013?  This is a tough one, but so important. I want to write more, but more importantly submit more. I want to be kind to myself. I want to work toward being healthy and living each day with no regrets.
  • What’s your favourite quote? “Believe.”
  • Where in the world would you most like to visit? Where wouldn’t I like to visit? Right now Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Greece top my list.
  • What five things would you take to a desert island? A kindle (for the random 4G signals I’ll miraculously pick up), pens and paper, a pillow or hammock, chocolate.
  • What is your biggest strength and your biggest weakness? My biggest weakness is my inability to name my biggest strength.
  • If you could met one author, who would you choose? I can’t really decide, but I’ll say Victoria Walters. 😉
  • What’s your favourite film? I don’t have a favorite but love romantic comedies.
  • If you went into The Hunger Games, what would be your most useful skill? Thinking quickly under pressure . . . but ultimately I’d be doomed by my empathy and unwillingness to kill
  • Which fictional male would you most like to marry? I can’t think of one, but there are plenty I would like a hot and steamy romance with.

Stepping into the Unknown

Okay, so I tied up some loose ends . . . although perhaps not completely. Now its time to leap, so I am making an announcement. I may not be spending much time at Women Wielding Words for a while. This will still be the home of my random thoughts, 100 Word Challenges and occasional rants. However, I am determined to reinvent myself this year, and figure out how to became the person I truly want to be. I feel like Woman Wielding Words has helped me get to this point, but now I feel blocked and like I’m just weaving empty words. So, I’m starting a slightly different blog which I am calling Re-Envisioning Lisa. You are welcome to follow me over there, of course, but it will be different. I want to use that blog to help me find the path that I can’t see, which means it may be more “journal-like” or essay exploring the what-ifs and whys of my life as I take my first hesitant steps off of the precipice.

From there . . . who knows.

Clouds to walk on

Carrying Paradise Inside

I have learned some important lessons over the past few weeks.

The lessons began with the horror of Newtown, when I started to question where we’ve gone wrong to create a world that is full of so much cruelty, horror, and unspeakable acts. I learned from a childhood friend, neighbor or a child who was lost, who spent the days protecting his neighbor’s and his town from the predatory journalists, armed only with a video camera and a caring heart.

Who would have thought the little blonde boy I used to babysit would grow up to be such a kind, caring man.

Who would have thought the little blonde boy I used to babysit would grow up to be such a kind, caring man.

The lessons continued with the passing of my father; the first time in my life that I really had to face the reality of our mortality, and let go of somebody I love.

Photo by Steve Kramer

Photo by Steve Kramer

Then I found myself in Hawaii, spending the holiday’s with my husband’s family. Despite the fact that I’ve spent many holidays with them, there’s always a certain amount of awkwardness in my time here. This year, that feeling was multiplied by the sadness I carried in my heart. I found myself trying to hide from:

  • the awkward reactions from people who did not know what to say to someone who just lost her father
  • the even more awkward reactions from people who simply didn’t say anything and avoided the topic all together.
  • Nathan’s father’s sometimes naive (although I believe unintentional) anti-Semitism
  • the overwhelming holiday spirit that I simply did not feel.
  • the somewhat hypocritical attitude of people who claim the virtues of living in paradise, but never really take advantage of the place they live in
  • a constant clash of cultures

As I’ve been experiencing all this, I slowly began to absorb the lessons that surround me. For example, paradise is only paradise if you take the time to appreciate its beauty.

Sunset at the luau.

Sunset at the luau.

You can find paradise on an island, but you can also find it everywhere. If you spend all your time complaining about traffic, or focusing on other things like work and money, it doesn’t matter what the sunset looks like or the weather feels like–because you won’t see it.

I’m learning that paradise is actually something you carry with you.

It can be found in the smiles of children, who learn that new friendships can be formed over the joy of hanging upside down.

DSCN1570

It can be found in the moments when we stop, relax, and simply enjoy the sun.

DSCN1626

It can be found in those moments where we run, dance, and fly.

DSCN1653

It can be found spending time with old friends.

DSCN1580

Paradise is the place where you stop and realize that the small moments, and the inexpensive pleasures filled with love and laughter are the ones that truly matter. My wish for all in the coming year is that you take a moment to stop and celebrate the life you have.

It’s simply too short not to enjoy with all the passion and love you carry inside.

DSCN1592

A palm with holiday lights.

DSCN1655

Dolphins know how to be joyous!

DSCN1691

Sometimes being different just makes life even more special.

Simple joys, like blowing bubbles and swimming through them, are the things that make life worth living.

 

Transitioning

I find myself once again sitting alone in an airport. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was supposed to leave last Thursday, with my over excited 9-year-old and my almost as excited husband. But, on Wednesday, as I transitioned from professor to person on vacation, my father made a larger transition—from life to spirit.

Transitions have been on my mind all day. Whenever I fly long distance, life takes on this surreal appearance. This morning I was with my mother, tears falling down my face as I admitted that I felt bad for leaving to head on this trip.

“I want you to go,” she said. “Dad would want you to go to.”

Now I sit in San Francisco airport, with the clock telling me that I have transitioned through time—in that usual bizarre way when time passes and yet you go backwards.

Now I sit in transition, waiting for the connection that doesn’t come for hours.  It is quiet here, for the moment, as I sit by my gate where nobody else has gathered. It’s that between time, before a new flight comes in and another flight goes out; before the transition into the next moment of reality; before the next moment of life.

How does one transition from the celebration and sadness of a life lost far too soon to join a celebration of another kind, with a loud and boisterous family that only knows a part of you?  I’m trying to find my holiday spirit, but the black ribbon pinned near my heart reminds me of a gaping hole—of a family that was once whole but now has a rip in it, just as the ribbon has been torn. I don’t know how to put on a “I’m going to Hawaii” smile when it just reminds me of all the trips I didn’t get to take with my father, and all the transitions yet to come.

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I know that life can’t stop, and that a life without transitions isn’t a life well-lived, but sometimes, just for a moment, I wish I could just freeze time and make everything stay the way I want it to be.

Do you ever feel like that?

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