Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Between Here and There

Our family decided to spend the week of Thanksgiving in San Francisco this year.  This was a break from tradition for us but I find it becoming harder and harder to arrange schedules so that we can all be together for more than just a few hours, lately.  I decided that if I whisked everyone away to another city, the odds would be greater.  As it was, Angel Daughter Number Two flew up separately on Wednesday and Angel Daughter Number Three had to leave before us on Friday morning to get back to her job on Black Friday.  But it all worked out and we got to enjoy some precious time together as our little family of six.  I am beginning to feel it.  The it that happens when our children get older and start having schedules of their own, plans of their own, lives of their own.  And although I understand that this break is a natural part of my job description, I do not know how to do it without resisting.  I feel pangs of sadness albeit combined with the joy of knowing that my children are becoming what they were always meant to be.  Adults, in spite of my needing them to always be my children.  But I am realizing that we take turns, our children and us, balancing back and forth between who needs who more at any given moment, and right now, I suppose it is my turn to yearn.

At twenty-three years old, Angel Daughter Number One is a very good sport about being whisked away.  Maybe it is because she has been out of our home for the longest that she understands why being together is so important.                                               
And although I know how she tires of posing for photos for me, she still gives in after a bit of balking and eye-rolling.  I think that secretly, she really likes my insistence on recording her history.  However, if I am wrong, I do know that someday she will realize that I was right and she will appreciate having all of the wonderful(yet sometimes annoying) pictures to look back on.  They all will.
Angel Number Three has become either used to, or very good at, ignoring the camera.
Angel Daughter Number Four was thrilled to discover that the airport gift shop was selling Mexican Jumping Beans.  For anyone who has never had the pleasure of owning these little pet pods, they are hard seeds which contain little bugs that live inside of them.  When they move around, the little beans jump.  Hence the name, Mexican Jumping Beans!
The flight to San Francisco was lovely.  Viewing my Pacific ocean through the clouds from above made me appreciate its vast beauty even more.  There is something magical about flying.  I went through a period of being afraid to fly after a particularly turbulent trip into Washington, D.C. about twenty years ago.  AD1 was only about two years old, and I was very pregnant with AD2.  We hit some clear-weather turbulence and the airplane, itself, became a Mexican Jumping Bean!  I'm not sure if it was because I was pregnant and very hormonal, or if it was because I felt like a momma bear needing to protect her young, or because I felt completely out of control that I developed a fear of flying that lasted about ten years after that.  But I had an epiphany that went something like this.  Was my fear, or lack of it, going to prevent any airplane from crashing to the ground in any way?  Was I foolish enough to believe that if I let go of my fear that somehow I could cause an airplane to go down?  And finally, did I trust God?  The most important answer was to that last question.  Gradually, my fear subsided, and although I always recite The Shema(an affirmation of my Judaism and a declaration as to my faith in God) upon take-off and landing, I actually enjoy flying again.  It is a space between here and there.  A time to read, think and daydream.
And a time to observe life from a very different vantage point.  How often do we get to see the moon in between the day and the night?  This photo was taken during dusk of the November Full Moon.  A space between here and there...
Our hotel in San Francisco had a jar of fortune cookies sitting in the lobby.  Each time that Mark, the girls and I would enter, we would take a cookie and read our fortunes.
AD4 and AD2 walking the streets of San Francisco.

Angel Daughter Number One discovered a Christmas tree that was being adorned for the season.  Another symbol of here and there.

The architecture in the city can be fascinating.  So many beautiful, historic buildings.

Angel Daughter Number Three discovered these gorgeous cupcakes in the case of a little French bakery.

They appeared to be almost fake with their pearlized, puffed meringue tops.

We found a little indoor market filled with the most beautiful foods.  I happen to love cheese, so this display was like a work of art to me!
AD3, AD1, AD4, and me in front of The Bay Bridge.  AD2 had not yet arrived.

I will end today's post with a photo of my beloved husband and myself.  I have so much more to share from our trip to San Francisco, but I will do so in another post.  I feel as if I am at a place between here and there.  Between being a full-time momma and being an empty-nester.  Between youth and old age.  Between here and there.  So it is important to remind myself that there is still sweetness in the middle.  It's kind of like an Oreo cookie!  And right now, my life is the sweet, cream filling that sits between the delicious chocolate wafers.  It's all good.

San Francisco post #2, coming soon!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Will Always be

I have not written very much about my wonderful Angel Daughters lately, for several reasons, but the main one is this.  They are growing up.  Yes, I must finally admit that my children are no longer closer to being children than they are to being young adults.  And with their growth comes independence, busy schedules and a life which does not always include their momma.  They, are on the right path, but I, am quickly being "outgrown" of my job position.  The only job position that ever truly beckoned to me from the inner-most depths of my soul.  The only thing I ever knew with all of my being, that I wanted to be.  Truthfully, I am seeing my daughters grow at a rate which is only equivalent to the baby/toddler years when the changes were exponential and I found myself missing the baby or little person who once was only a few months or so before.  So I accept what is.  And although I am extremely grateful to know that my Angel Daughters are creating lives built upon what Mark and I have poured into them, my soon-to-be empty nest often leaves me searching for other things to feather.  A new flight pattern to create.  Something.  But while I do so, I also get to savour the definite glimpses of the incredible children who are now a part of these unique, lovely, radiant young women while being able to more clearly envision who they will still someday become.  There are very few other jobs in the world that can claim that as part of the job description.

These photos of Angel Daughter Number One were taken by Angel Daughter Number Two.  AD1 is now 23 years old.  She is a gorgeous, bright, big-hearted, hard-working young woman who is following the path of her own soul.  She is an actor who now has an agent.  She knows what the steps towards her dreams are, and she is climbing them, one by one, day by day.

How did she learn to create these beautiful bubbles while not allowing a very difficult industry to burst hers?  By doing Bubble shows for assemblies, parties and her latest gig, modeling for her younger sister.

As I watch her float on the wings of her own hard work and dedication, I am happy.  Which leads me to Angel Daughter Number Two, the taker of those beautiful photos:

AD2 is a self-starter who knows how to get things done.  She is both a photographer and a student of photography at college.  At almost 21 years old, she is being recognized in an industry that can take years to become known in.  She has an innate ability to market herself and her work in a way that shows maturity beyond her years.  And yet, she truly does still have so much to learn.  The most difficult thing is keeping her tethered securely enough, to save her from flying out of control.  Too much, too soon.  Yet her capability to make magic with the click of a camera can be awe-inspiring.  And as I observe her becoming the woman who she will someday be, I am proud.

Which now leads me to Angel Daughter Number Three:

My 18 year old.  AD3(or Alice in Wonderland), began her life as a college freshman this past August.  She goes to school and holds down two jobs, one at a jewelry store and another at J. Crew.  She is funny, very smart, charming and loyal.  And she is content.  She is not yet sure what she would like to major in or what she wants to do in the future, but she is open and willing to try things out.  And isn't that what being a young adult should be all about?  Figuring out the who, what, where and whys of life? Watching her put the pieces together without feeling the pressure of having to have all of the answers right now,  makes me smile.  As her momma, I have witnessed a newfound maturity in her over the course of the past year.  And for this, I too, am content.

Which naturally brings me to our youngest.  Angel Daughter Number Four:

Angel Daughter Number Four is a culmination of everyone in our family.  She is joy exemplified.  At 16, she is wise beyond her years.  She is free-spirited, creative and confident in a way that most 30 years olds are not.  AD4 is our beautiful dancer.  She expresses herself through movement.  And when I watch her dance, my heart dances with her.

Being a mother is the hardest, most fulfilling, sometimes frustrating, but always worth it, job that there is.  As I witness my daughters growing into young women, I pray that they will always know how much they are loved, how incredible they are, and how proud of them that I am.  Being a mom means knowing when to grasp hold and learning when to let go.  It means loving until your heart might burst.  It means setting free. It also means that no matter what else I become in my life, that I will always be the momma of these four special angels and for me, that will always be enough.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm Just Wild About Harry and Harry's Wild About Me!

I ventured down to our neighborhood bookstore this afternoon, but I must divulge a secret.  It was not only reading that I had on my mind. While I absolutely love to read and I devour several books a month, I have an ulterior motive when I go into The Village Bookstore in San Clemente.  Yes, they have a wonderful assortment of books both new and used to peruse and yes, it is such a lovely treat to be able to shop in a real bookstore with dogeared classics and crisp new releases containing uncracked bindings.  But the real, real reason that I nonchalantly pop into this particular book shop is...Harry.  Harry is a giant puff of fur and attitude who can often be found sunning himself in the shop window.  On days when Harry is not immediately in sight, I browse through the stacks of impressive titles keeping my eye casually out for two things.  A fabulous read, and  Harry.  Today, I happily found both.

Here was Harry's reaction to my enthusiastic squeal of delight.

It began with this:

Morphed into this:

Segued into this:

And finally, in true cat-titude form, concluded with this: 
Don't you just love it when someone is genuinely excited to see you?  Me too!

I spent several moments visiting with Harry.  We had a lovely chat.  He recommended a couple of good books, struck another handsome pose and strutted away into the bookshelves.

And that is why I am wild about Harry.

I just finished reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen which turned out to be a really good book and I am in need of another good story to whisk me away into other worlds, other lives, other perspectives.  I purchased Beloved by Toni Morrison and The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton with no particular reason other than they both caught my eye and Harry thought I might find them interesting.  I chatted with the book shop's owner for several minutes about how difficult it is to raise children right now and how I think that today's generation of young people is growing up at a more difficult time than past generations.  She agreed.

I then made my way home to my kitties and dogs and Angel Daughters(well, only one today) and husband and put dinner in the oven.  And I thought about how nice it is to have a neighborhood bookstore that has a persnickety cat who is not at all embarrassed to show his true feelings and an owner who enjoys chatting for a bit.

Do you have a neighborhood shop that makes you happy?  How about books?  Are your reading anything interesting right now?  And about this generation of kids...Do you think it might be harder for them than it was for us?

And welcome to all of my new readers!  Please leave me a comment and let me know that you stopped by!  I appreciate all of my readers very much and love to hear from you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Messenger

Two tiny eyes tracked me as I walked out to the edge of the bluff.  It was a sensation, at first.  That slight inkling that even though you are seemingly alone, you are not alone, and that there is someone, something focusing in on you.  Oftentimes when this feeling arises, I glance around only to find that I am only imagining things, that there truly is no one else there.  But still, there is that strange sensation.  That feeling.  That whisper.  And so, on this day, I paid some extra attention to the feeling.  I slowly did a 360 degree spin.  At first with my eyes open and then, with my eyes closed taking in all of the surrounding sensations.  My palms raised up towards the sun.  Breathing in the freshness of the ocean air.  Allowing the whisper of a breeze to tickle my skin.  When I stopped, I stood for a moment with my eyes still closed.  Enjoying the sensation of not-aloneness.  And then, with my feet planted firmly on the earth, I opened my eyes.

There she was perched on the smallest wisp of a branch.  She, with the two tiny eyes, watching me.  Observing me.  Curious, but not afraid.  A beautiful little Hummingbird.  The one that I have written about here before.  The one who calls the bluff outside of my home, her home.  The one who buzzes playfully around my head on days when the air is still and the sun is especially hot, beckoning for me to fill her feeder with the cherry red nectar that she loves so much.  We observed each other for what seemed like a very long time.  Two members of two very distinctive species.  Yet in her eyes, I could feel her saying, "I see you."  Not through you, or around you, but you.
And then she did something that I have never witnessed a Hummingbird do before.  With her feathers translucent in the sunlight and her eyes still keenly focused upon mine, she began to stretch wide.
She raised her delicate wings upwards towards the sunshine as she fluttered her brilliant feathers apart.  Her miniature, four inch body became as expansive as it could possibly become.

As she clung with her talons to the edge of the tiny branch, we continued to observe one another.  No fear, no threat, no aggression.  Just genuine curiosity and admiration.


And as her wings relaxed, her lightening-speed tongue which is shaped like the letter "W", shot around in the air in front of her, as if to take in even more of her environment.  Tasting, sensing, feeling.


And there we both rested.  Eye to eye.  Spirit to spirit.  No longer wondering who might be watching us, but seeing, really seeing.

Knowing by the tangibility of two clearly focused eyes, being reminded, that we are not alone.  That we are being watched and guarded and held in loving, albeit curious regard by beings that we might not fully  understand.  We are kindred spirits yet which one of us is the messenger?  Which one of us was sent to bring ease and peace to the other?

For another several minutes in our newly relaxed states, we continued to regard one another.  Me, standing as still and as serenely as possible.  And the Hummingbird, gently turning her head from side to side so that she could contemplate me with both of her eyes.

How often is it that we really feel seen?  How often do we regard one another with a feeling of awe and mutual respect?   How often do we open our eyes for long enough to understand that we are not alone even when it feels as if we might be?

How often?

When the moment was right, the little Hummingbird checked deeply into my eyes for one more second, and then nonchalantly spread her wings and flew.

I was left standing alone, but not alone.  A feeling of reverence and deep appreciation remained imprinted upon my soul.  A feeling of lightness overtook me and for a moment, just as the Hummingbird had done, I felt as if I, too, might actually be able to take flight.
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