Sunday, April 27, 2008

San Juan Capistrano or Why the Swallows Always Return

There is so much history around us, but it is often difficult to take the time to remind ourselves about those who have ventured ahead.  Last week, I decided that I needed a change of perspective and so I wandered down to a little town which is within a few miles of our home.  The town is called San Juan Capistrano.  It is most widely recognized for the Mission(the first one in California) which remains there, as well as the Swallows who come home to roost at the same time every year.  It is a lovely little town seeped deeply in history.  I have been told that there are even some bewildered "spirits" who wander through the streets and haunt the homes there, looking for their lost lives and loves.   
As I entered the Los Rios District, I came across this handsome gentleman.  I walked by him and he smiled a warm smile as I passed.  I smiled back and made a mental note that if he was still there when I returned on my way back, I would ask him if I could take his photograph.  When I approached him, he was more than happy to oblige.  He made a natural subject.  His face and the energy that he exuded truly encompassed the feeling of the area.  I was honored and humbled by this lovely gentleman whose name is David.  He shook my hand with so much warmth that I was overtaken by his generosity.
In the background of this photograph, you can see the old jail cell which was used to hold outlaws.  When my angels were little, they used to love playing inside of the cell.  They used to "lock" each other in and climb up and down the bars.  It kept them busy long enough for me to take some deep breaths and enjoy the beauty around us.
The Los Rios District is over two hundred years old.  It is the oldest town in all of California.  This picture shows the train tracks which go from Los Angeles to San Diego.  It is one of the stops along the way.
Many of the homes along this street are historical landmarks.  They range in age from forty years to two hundred and four years old.  I love looking at them!  Each new homeowner adds something new to the landscape of the community.  

This house is now the site of a beautiful tea room.  Charming.

There are several shops intermingled along with the couple of restaurants and private homes.  This is a new shop which was created out of a very small old garage.  When I went inside, the owner was a delightful woman who did a wonderful job creating a lot within a very small space.  There are quite a few artists who live in the area.  It is no wonder that they are attracted to this little town since it is so rich in natural beauty and history.

My hope is that this little visit to a historic town will inspire you to embark on an adventure, this week.  We tend to follow the same routines from day to day, and we often forget to observe the beauty that is around us.  I would love to see some photos of, or hear some stories about the areas in which you live.  

May the coming week bring you lots of happy surprises and bits of inspiration.  

Friday, April 25, 2008

Solutions and Adaptation

If anyone has ever had a day in which they burned their "signature dish" while awaiting the arrival of their oldest angel and her boyfriend, this picture is for you. 

Thank you for taking a quick walk with me in my garden.  I adore your company, and I feel much better now!  Off to the market to figure out a "plan B".  Isn't that what life is all about anyway?  Creative solutions and adaptation.  And knowing that, no matter what, everything is going to be okay in the end...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I Love This Kid

As I have mentioned in the past, my youngest angel is a Hip-Hop queen.  She is the little one in the middle with the very large attitude.  Ever since she was a toddler, the music has spoken to her soul and when it speaks, she just has to MOVE!  Not only is she good at Hip-Hop, but she is also a very talented Ballet dancer.  Her body is her instrument and she uses it to express her exuberance for life.  I am awed by her ability to give into the rhythm.  She dances because it makes her feel good.  She dances because she can.
Yesterday was her final dance competition with this team.  I know she will miss her friends but she wants to expand on her abilities.  I always tell my angels that they can use their God-given gifts to go as far as they would like to reach.  I encourage each one of them to do something because they love it and never because they think that they have to.  It has served them well, so far.  

In this world of parent-driven desires for children, it has always been my philosophy to allow my angels to take the lead in deciding what their interests are.  As a result, Mark and I have shared the blessing of having daughters who exude great pride and pleasure in the activities which they choose to participate in.  Our oldest angel has been a singer and an actor ever since she was small.  She is a Fine Arts/Theater major at her university.  Angel Daughter number two has always had a need to express herself by being an incredible Gymnast/Cheerleader.  She has recently taken up photography for which she has a very natural eye.  This is something she would like to pursue in college.  Angel Daughter number three is a natural born athlete.  She gravitates towards sports where she can be an integral part of a team.  She inspires her teammates with her dedication and drive.  They have each chosen their own paths.  Seems to me that that is the way which it should always be.  How else can we learn to listen to our souls?  How else will we ever be able to find our own joyfulness?

May you find a way to listen to the rhythm of your own spirit.  May you remember to express yourself in ways that make you feel good and may you take the time to honor your own gifts.  It is never too late to say YES to your heart's greatest desires. Never.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Stopping to capture a moment in time is something that we often forget to do.  When I was taken off guard by this magical sunset tonight, it sparked a sudden thought.  I need to take the time to capture more moments like this one.  More ordinary, extraordinary moments that can never be relived.  

A thought crossed my mind today which sparked this set of pictures.  The only absolutes in life are that there are, truly, no absolutes.

When you read this and look at these photos, I want you to know that I could not let another moment pass without letting you know how extraordinary you have been to me.  My heart is fuller because of you.

May you take a moment to notice something that might not have caught your immediate attention today.  May you record it in your memory and share it with someone you care about.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Leaning on Acceptance. Leaning on Faith.

Life is unpredictable.  With the ebbs and flows of our days, we can either become swept up in the force of the waves or we can gently allow ourselves to be guided, understanding that acceptance is also a form of freedom.  

Exactly two months ago, today, my husband and I were standing in the icy cold sterility of an ER examining room.  As my husband spoke quietly with my sister-in-law, I stood stroking the hair of my deceased younger brother.  Disbelief mixed with utter sadness and confusion coursed through my veins.  Acceptance came slamming, head first, into my life and I was forced to acquiesce to the fact that I would now be living the rest of my life without my brother.  It was a horrible day.  Not only was I loosing someone whom I thought would always be in my life, but my husband lost his brother-in-law, my daughters lost their beloved uncle, my parents lost their son, my nieces lost their daddy, and my sister-in-law lost her husband.  So much loss, so much pain.

As I have explained here before, my extended family chose to remain securely fastened within the grips of anger, blame and hatred.  I will not honor their psychosis with a detailed explanation of the more than thirty year history that remained cemented inside of their minds.  I will only go on to say that my little family of six had no other choice but to separate from the very destructive energy which my extended family chose to remain stuck in.  Thinking that tragedy tends to bring people closer is sadly a fantasy when it comes to people who have caused division for most of their lives.  Luckily, my husband, our angels and I, also have my father and my step-mother to round out our lives.  They have been loving, supportive and attentive throughout this entire ordeal.  

I began writing this with the attitude that it would be uplifting, but the mind wanders where the mind wanders.  I am still muddling my way through all of the changes in which my brother's death affected my life.  But, here is where I was originally headed when I began writing this.  Mark and I have always held onto the dream of owning a home on the Pacific Ocean.  It was one of those "some day" or "when the kids are grown" types of dreams.  Someday came a lot sooner when we experienced the untimely passing of my brother.  Mark and I looked at each other and wondered, what are we waiting for?  Ocean front property is limited and the prices will only go up.  Life is unpredictable, and so Mark began searching for a beach home which would help to heal our spirits.  Somehow, things lined up exactly and he found this little charmer.  When he brought me to look at it, I could feel my spirits lifting just a little bit.  Something about it felt right.  Something about it felt like we had been "guided" to this spot.

And so, the process began.  At first, we didn't allow ourselves to become too emotionally vested in the place, because my intuition told me that the owners really didn't want to let go of this property.  Slowly, things began to fall into place, and we opened our hearts up to the possibility that this home would soon be ours.  There is more to this story which I will share with you later, but for now, I will just tell you that the couple who will be passing the keys along to us have been through their own shares of ebbs and flows.  They are grateful that they will be passing this magical place along to a family who will love it as much as they have.  We will not be living here full-time, as it is a bit small for our family, but it is only about twenty minutes from our home so we will be spending lots and lots of time here.

Here it is.  A spot in which I feel that much of our healing will begin to take place.
This is the front view of our magical beach home.  That is my dear husband who you see taking measurements.
This is our master bedroom.  The previous owners were in the process of moving out, so that is why there is furniture and boxes still in the room.
Our master bathroom.  Not exactly the colors I would choose, but now that I look at them, I am thinking that I could really do a lovely Zen motif in here.
Another view of the master bath.
Yes, this is our "frontyard".  Our home rests on a bluff which is about one hundred feet above the sand.  
I had to take a photo of the "SOLD" sign in order for it to sink in!  It was kind of like pinching myself.
Another photo which is off of our master bedroom patio.  Heaven on earth.
Angel daughter number three is sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter.
A view of the living room and kitchen sitting area.  The complete wall is open to the ocean.
The homeowners recently redid the kitchen.  It is very cute and cozy.

When the heart is broken, it can take a drastic leap of faith in order for it to begin the healing process.  Although this process began several weeks ago, it is going to take a very long time to overcome the hurt and betrayal which was created by my family.  This little home helped to heal a very dear woman of cancer.  Knowing this fills me with the faith and the acceptance that will bring my family back to a place of wholeness.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Grey Stone, Crimson Blooms

As I wandered throughout my backyard, this afternoon, I felt completely awed and comforted by the variety of Spring blossoms which seemed to appear overnight.  The colors and textures and scents caused me to stop and take notice of how beautiful everything was.  I felt a sense of serenity when I looked down at our Buddha statue and observed that the only leaning flower, had landed almost purposefully in it's lap.  The contrast of the subtle, light grey stone against the vibrant, crimson red blossoms, made me think about the many contrasts which we experience throughout our days.  Hour to hour, things evolve and change.  Each moment of our life history can look very different from the last, but it is up to us to notice those changes.  Some are drastic, however, most are quite subtle and will not be noticed unless we take the time to wander slowly and to observe.

I had no purpose when I went outside today.  I only wanted to be.  And I realized that even in
the most seemingly uneventful moments of life, we can be prompted to notice some of the 
greatest contrasts.  We can observe the beauty in asymmetry, but we must be prepared by
allowing ourselves to start by just being.

If you have a few moments today, take a few deep breaths and then try to clear your mind of unnecessary clutter.  While in that moment, look around and see if you might be able to observe some of the contrasts which are all around you.  

I would be most honored if you would share some of your observations here.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Glass Flowers or Leaving Las Vegas, Part II

Since you have embraced the sadder times of life with me, it is only fitting that I share this little miracle with you.  This is my youngest angel getting to know my great-niece, soul to soul.  And yes, she smells as wonderful as she looks.  There is something about a new baby...Let's just say that I might have had another one if my husband and my OB hadn't nixed that idea.  I am one of those kinds of women.  Extremely maternal and naturally in tune.  As a child, the only thing which I knew for sure about my future was that I would have children.  I am very lucky that I married the man that I did.  He is also a natural father.  Strong, paternal, and a total goof-ball with our daughters.  I only hope that our angels marry men who are a lot like their father is.  My future son-in-laws will have some big shoes to fill.
Ah, Las Vegas.  Interesting town.  Whenever we go there to visit our dear friends, I think about how many times this town has redefined itself.  From the days in which the mob ran this place to the failed attempt at making it a wonderful family destination(Bad idea. Very, very bad idea.), this city has changed it's facade dozens of times.  Being the "card shark"(tee-hee) which you now all know me to be, I have witnessed several of the major changes, myself.  I will tell you one thing.  People do not go there for the shopping.
I'm not sure who the man in the white shirt is(good thing he still has his shirt after spending some time in Vegas), but I can tell you who all of these lovely, smiling individuals are in the center of the frame.  On the left, is The Cheesemiester, my oldest daughter's boyfriend, and my newest Black Jack student.  I think, from now on, I will also refer to him as "Grasshopper". Next to Grasshopper is Angel Daughter Number One, Angel Daughter Number Two, Angel Daughter Number Four(I get so confused when they mix themselves up!), and Angel Daughter Number Number Three.  Next to AD3 is...Wait who is that pretty young lady and what is she doing in our picture?!?!  Okay, just toying with you.  That's B, one of AD3's very best friends.  She came with us to Vegas, and I am very glad that she did.  B is a very sweet girl.  Polite and friendly.  It makes me happy to know that my girls have such wonderful friends.  She was a delight to have around.  You should have seen our suite after six kids and two adults got finished with it!  Oy.
If you have never been to Las Vegas, this is the ceiling at The Bellagio Hotel where we stayed.  Those are individual colored, glass flowers which were placed up there to resemble a giant flower garden.  The colors are vibrant and magical.  I must admit that with the endless supply of money that Las Vegas takes in, they do use their imagination to create interesting and creative casinos.  However, people sometimes forget that glass flowers are still made of glass and can easily shatter unlike the real thing.  This town can fool people into thinking that what they are seeing is real.  Most of it, is in fact, a facade or an illusion.  Much of this isn't reality.  Once again, let me remind you as a kind of public service announcement.  People do not go to this town for the shopping.
And finally, here is my family.  Look!  All of our angels are in the correct order, surrounding their daddy.  He is a very lucky man.  We are a very blessed family because we have each other. This is what is real.  No glass flowers here.(except on the ceiling)

May you be blessed with as much good as your heart can hold.  May you always find a way to recognize what is important and holy in a life which can sometimes be painful.  Life is a classroom and we are both the students and the teachers.  May you find ways in which to learn from all of the experiences of your days, and may you sometimes stop to contemplate who your teachers are and who your students might be.  Distinguish what is real, and hold fast to it.  Balance.  Balance.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Leaving Las Vegas Or Accepting the Journey

Initially, I was about to write about the trip my family took this past weekend to Las Vegas(with pictures), but my laptop decided it wasn't feeling well. All of the photos that I took are now in the custody of that computer and so I will have to wait until it arrives home, feeling healthier, from the Apple store.

I will share several highlights from the weekend, number one being that all four of our angel daughters were able to join us. Having a daughter in college, and another who is eighteen and becoming very independent, makes it difficult to plan family vacations. Our oldest angel and her very lovely boyfriend(You might remember "The Cheesemiester" from my blog about his Pizza Hut commercial.) drove out the day after we arrived and spent two nights with us. Angel daughter number four is a fantastic, little dancer, and she had a competition which we attended. Even though Hip-Hop is not my favorite style of dance, I can truly appreciate the difficulty and the energy level that it takes to choreograph one of those dances. AD4 puts everything that she has into it. Her sassy, whimsical spirit shines through in all of her dance moves. Truly a joy to observe!

Another, absolutely life-affirming moment which our family shared, was meeting my "great-niece". She belongs to the beautiful daughter and son-in-law of my oldest and dearest friend whom I have known since I was twelve. Their entire family is our extended family by choice(and after thirty-three years of friendship, we can't seem to get rid of each other). We have raised our combined seven children, plus her three now foster babies, as cousins. She is my soul-sister. The baby, who was born almost three weeks ago, is one of the most beautiful babies that I have ever seen. She is tiny and perfect and round. Her eyes are inquisitive and alert. I got my hands on her as soon as we walked in the door and only gave her up to let my niece feed her, and to allow the rest of my family to cuddle with her for a bit. She now owns a huge piece of her Auntie Deb's heart. I will check with her mom to see if I can post a picture of her here. I just know that she will melt your heart.

D, my dear friend, is still the temporary mother of three adorable foster babies ages, fifteen months, two and three and a half. Their birth mother(BM, as we so lovingly like to refer to her)still has not gotten her life together after a year and so these precious little children live their lives in a state of limbo. The only real hope for them would be for BM to release custody so that they could be adopted into loving homes, but it does not look like she is going to do that. Social Services only seems to care about "success stories" which to them means reuniting children with their birth parents. In situations like these, where the BM took drugs and drank throughout all of her pregnancies, abused and negected her two oldest children until they were removed from the home, and cared so little about her youngest baby that she landed him in Intensive Care for the first week of his life suffering from drug withdrawl, she tore up her parenting card! D and K and their family have done an absolutely amazing job of parenting these children. I only pray that the rest of the story turns out well. We were able to spend lots of time with the children during our visit, but it is always bittersweet. Each time we see them, I wonder if it will be the last.

All in all, we had a fun trip. I even got to teach my daughter's boyfriend(The Cheesemiester) how to play Blackjack. Something that you definitely don't know about me is that I have been a Blackjack player since I was eighteen years old. I really like to play and used to participate in Blackjack invitiational tournaments. I have even held my own against grumpy, old men who think that women shouldn't be allowed to gamble and have driven them away from the table with their tail between their legs. I kind of like it when that happens(tee-hee). Anyway, The Miester caught on really quickly! He did very well for his first time, and even walked away with a little extra money in his pocket. We laughed a lot and had a great time. Thanks Angel daughter number one for allowing me to borrow your boyfriend for a little while. You only have a couple more months left until you don't get chased away from the table anymore. I do promise that your youthful genes will be a bonus when you are my age!

I chose this stock picture of the pier because it represents some of what I am feeling, right now. I am still on the long journey past grief, and into a life without so much raw pain. I can visualize a place in which I will be able to take deep, peace-filled breaths, once again, but I know that I am still a long way from actually arriving there. Patience and prayer are two things which sustain me. Patience. Prayer.

Related Posts with Thumbnails