Sunday, August 28, 2011

One of The Greatest Moments in History

It was sunset on August 26th.  A blazing blush-colored hue emanated from sea to sky, painting the horizon in a supernatural light.  I breathed in the moment, smelling the salient sea air, tasting the sharp, salty breeze on my tongue, listening to the distant call of the seagulls as they sailed gracefully like angels on the wind.  I thought about my friends and family back east bracing for a mega-storm and whispered silent prayers for mercy out into the Universe.  From my mouth to God's Ears.... From my heart to God's Heart....

Turning around, I glanced through the screen door and noticed my youngest Angel Daughter sitting on the bed in her room doing whatever it is that 17 year olds do on a quiet Friday evening when all of their friends are "busy".  I wondered if she just had a need to feel anchored to home, her restless spirit usually so quick to wander from here.  Feeling the consummate pull of 18 looming just around the corner, 17 year olds tend to have an unconventional "push me, pull me" attitude about home, wanting to go, but needing everything to stay just as it should be, even though....

At seventeen I learned the truth...

So I called to her, this child of mine.  I told her that she was missing one of the greatest moments in history!  I told her to put down her phone and to come outside.  "Hurry, hurry!"  I called.  "You are missing it!"  Slowly, she diverted her eyes from the various screens flickering below her and looked up at me with those eyes.  "Come", I said, and with a typical 17 year old swagger, she made her way out the screen door.  I did not have to tell her to look because it was all around her.  Cotton-candy colored clouds mirrored back onto themselves by the ocean sparkling below.
She didn't say anything at first.  She just pulled her cellphone out of her pocket and snapped a quick picture of the horizon.  "Beautiful, Momma", she said.  "Yes honey, yes it is.  Yes, you are."

We locked eyes like only one can do with someone who knows them on a level so intimately that they can almost read each other's  feelings.  I stood beside her, my breath slowly taking on the rhythm of hers.    We stood there for a while, just staring, just taking it all into our hearts.  And it went through my mind, this is one of the greatest moments in history.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Stuff That Makes it Worth the Effort

Going back in time around thirty seven years years, I met this little Italian girl with big brown eyes and a dangerously contagious laugh.  Being a little Jewish girl who absolutely loved to laugh, we giggled our way into a friendship which has spanned boyfriends(most better forgotten), stubborn tiffs, husbands, 3000 miles and children.(seven to be exact, several foster kids, two son-in-laws to date, and three beautiful grandbabies-hers, but she shares)  We grew up together and now, God willing, we will continue to grow old together  We might not share ethnicity or DNA or even the same home state(she is now in Nevada), but we do share a history and to me, that is what it really takes to be a family.  These people are my family.

Last weekend, they came out to California to visit the happiest place on earth.  They also came to introduce us to baby Kasen who also happens to be a cousin of baby Scarletts!  You might remember Scarlett from a few posts back.  She is the precious baby who came to see us a few weeks ago.  I have been in baby heaven all summer thanks to Donna's beautiful daughters.  First Scarlett,  and then Kasen and his big sister whom we adore, Aubri.  We love babies!
AD4 fell hard and fast for baby Kasen and he was just as smitten with her.  Kasen is an extremely happy little boy with gorgeous brown eyes and a contagious belly-laugh.(seems like genetics are definitely at work here)  It was both beautiful and bittersweet to watch the relationship that was forming between my youngest Angel Daughter and my oldest friend's sweet grandson.  It brought to mind "the circle of life" and all of that weepy, nostalgic stuff but when we get together, there is mostly only laughter.

And since laughter is what gets us through it all, Lord knows that none of us take ourselves too seriously!

Over the past couple of years, AD3 and AD4 have grown to have not only a sibling relationship, but a lovely friendship, as well.  There have been times over the years when I feared that these two might not have found their way to a common ground.  They are the closest in age of my four Angel Daughters as they were born only twenty-two months apart and there are times when their chronological ages are only one year apart.  AD3 was less than two years old when AD4 was born.  I think that was very hard on her.  She was still just a baby and suddenly, an even smaller and needier baby entered our family.  Their personalities are quite different which complicated things even more.  AD3 is more reserved, cautious and refined.  She likes to feel familiar with her surroundings before she feels totally comfortable in expressing who she is.  AD4 is gregarious, outgoing and quite bold.  Whereas AD3 might tentatively enter a situation testing the waters until she takes in the mood of the room, AD4 will bebop right in with a big smile on her face and an extended hand.  In high school, AD3 followed both AD1, who was an actor in the Theatre department and AD2, who was a cheerleader.  She could not seem to immediately find a place for herself.  Enter outgoing sister number four who she had to drive to school everyday.  The equation just became more complicated.  But now, their relationship is best described as it appears in the photo right above.  They laugh together.  They have a lot of inside jokes that I am not privy to...Hmpph!  They introduce each other to different music and they meet each other for lunch.  They are best friends.
As parents, we want our children to appreciate one another in the same ways that we appreciate each and every one of our own babies.  We want them to not only love each other, but also, to like each other.  Unfortunately, that is not always the way that things work out.  Sometimes we just have to allow things to evolve on their own.  Yes, we must nurture what is already there and set a great example, but personalities, birth order, and preferences all come into play in the development of a relationship.  Our children are really no different than the rest of the world.  They cannot be forced to like each other.  These two beauties are an example of how things can transition naturally from a familial relationship into a true and lasting friendship.  I am so proud of them, so proud of all four of my girls.  In spite of their differences, or maybe in light of them, there is a bond between these girls which transcends the bond of similar DNA.  What I have learned, as their momma and as the sister of only one brother who is now gone, is that the love between siblings is usually a given.  It is the like part that must be cultivated in a relationship that is separate from the parents.  It might be a tough one for parents to let go of, but when it happens on its own, it is definitely something that is worth the effort.
This is Donna's oldest daughter and Kasen and Aubri's momma.  The beautiful little blonde haired, blue-eyed impish angel is Aubri, Kasen's big sister, Scarlett's big-girl cousin.  Aubri looks a lot like her daddy.
Kasen(I had to get one with the boo-hoo face), is mommy all the way.  How does that happen?  I guess it happens in the same way that personalities are determined.  Plain old genetics and a bit of nature versus nurture thrown in for good measure.  As I watched Aubri going through the "that baby can do anything and make everyone laugh, why can't I?" stage, I thought about how difficult it can be for siblings to determine their places in the world.  We all have combinations of qualities that make us extraordinary and unique, however, it is usually what somebody else has that we seem to focus upon.  Part of our job as parents is doing our very best to try not to compare our children's differences.  They spend enough time doing this themselves and they do not need us to shine a bright light upon them.  Rather than comparing, it is best for us to bolster the diverse attributes and to enjoy and embrace the differences.
Growing up, people often mistook Donna and I for sisters.  We were even asked if we were twins on occasion!  The truth is that we sometimes argued like sisters but, we always came back to each other.  Always.  We embraced our differences and enjoyed our similarities.  Aubri is learning how to be a sister now.  She is also learning that family can also be chosen and that, is a beautiful lesson.
I love the way that Aubri wrapped her sweet little arms around our necks.  To feel that precious hand resting on my neck, was to feel unconditional, uninhibited love and in some ways, it reminded me as to why thirty-seven years of friendship has absolutely been worth the effort that it can sometimes take to make a friendship last.  All relationships take effort and work and even blood, sweat and sometimes, tears.  But to have someone who is still hanging around after knowing me for thirty-seven years, from teenage hormones to peri-menopause, that is definitely what makes it all worth the effort.  And if we make it for another thirty-seven plus years, OY VEY, are we going to be cranky with each other!

I wish that for my girls.  I wish that for Donna and Keith's children and grandchildren.  And I wish that for you.

*As an aside to this post, if you look at this picture carefully(or not so carefully as Jacob pointed out), it almost appears as if Donna's arm which is wrapped around Aubri is attached to Keith and that Keith's baby hand is resting on Mark's neck.  We all found this very, very funny(except for maybe, Keith, who is just a tiny bit self-conscious about his baby-hands) which is yet another reason why this friendship works so well.  We try not to make fun of Keith's baby-hands, but sometimes it's just hard not to...

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Like to Watch

Watching someone surf who really knows how to maneuver themselves around the waves, is like watching a dancer upon the water.  The rhythm of the waves matched with the synchronized movements of the human body can create a beautiful, exciting tango between man and sea.
The other day, we had some great waves which brought the serious surfers out in larger numbers than usual, but this guy really caught my eye.

He was confident and fearless.  He rode with the movement of the waves instead of trying to fight them.

His intensity reminded me that being here, in this moment; as a part of this moment, is what can make us clearer and more successful in all of our endeavors.  There are so many things that can knock us off course causing us to break the rhythm, taking us away from the original moment.

The beat of life can change in an instant, distracting us from what is here and now, forcing us to stumble, to lose balance, to fall.  But if we remain intent on the moment, even with all of the challenges that are trying to break us, we can dance on any wave that comes our way.

And we can make it look good...

It just takes some practice, persistence and a deep desire to stay on course even when the waves of life are determined to bring us down.

I thought about this moment when I was on the phone with my mother yesterday and she was doing her best to sweep me up into the frenzy which is her life.  She knows that there are some things that I will not discuss with her even to the point that I will be forced to end the phone call if she brings them up.  I have made this very clear.  My husband has made this very clear, but still, my mother and her husband cannot seem to help themselves.  Yesterday, I was having a quiet day with Mark and while I was preparing dinner, I decided to make an obligatory call to my mother.  Things are not good for her, but so much of it is her and her husband's fault that I can only offer practical support and not much else.  Still, they try very hard to suck me into their drama, to hurt me, to bring me down into a whirlpool of sadness and then anger.

I am working on(and have been for a very, very long time) remaining on the waves, above the water.  Remaining steadfast in my moments without getting caught in the undertow of the lives of those who surround me.  It's definitely not an easy task.  There are so many times when I stumble and get knocked down, way, way down.  But I am getting better at keeping the beat with a much greater ease.  And that is simply all I can do...All we can do when other folks try to sweep us up into their drama, do a little bit better at deflecting it with each experience.  As my dear friend Kathleen Botsford has reminded me, my mother is one of my greatest teachers.

So hang ten...

What is that other expression?  If it's not one thing, it's your mother...

With so much love to all of you,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Moments of Grace

5 am this morning and I feel the nudge of a cold, moist nose prodding against my hand which is dangling weightlessly off of the bed.  I am in a deep sleep but I feel myself slowly rising up from underneath my dreams as if soaring towards the surface of some deep body of water.  I open my eyes to see the face of my twelve and a half year old dog, Becca, grey around her chocolate brown eyes, constant companion, strictest confidant.  This is one of the very few faces in the world that can get me to do just about anything regardless of how deeply I am sleeping or how intensely sore my body aches.  Very barely clothed, I follow Becca to the sliding glass door in our bedroom and pull it open.  I look out on the enormous body of water which covers the horizon before me.  I scootch down onto my heels just in case there is the chance of a low-flying helicopter catching sight of me at this barely lit breaking of dawn.(as if there is any possibility of that)  Becca searches for the perfect spot as I try to bring my weary eyes into focus.  I remind myself as to how incredibly lucky I am to live here, on the Pacific ocean, and in my mind I send out several prayers of profound gratitude.  The first one naturally goes to God.  How solacing it is to believe, with all of my being, that Adonai is always close, in all of the details, in me.  The second prayer goes out for my husband.  Keep him safe in all of his travels throughout the day.  Keep him safe, dear God.  Keep him safe.  The third, to my four daughters.  Thank you for choosing me to be your mother.  I am here, I am here, I am forever here...  I look up into the sky.  In my line of vision, there is the Century Agave plant that I first wrote about back in April.  Bright yellow flowers bursting against the early breaking dawn.
And busily buzzing around those blossoms is a tiny wisp of a bird, a Hummingbird who has made this possibly one hundred year old plant, its home.  Her color almost equal to that of the flowers, I know this must be a female as male Hummingbirds have ruby-red throats and pointed tail feathers.  Females have a more rounded shape to their tail feathers.  She zips along from flower to flower, sipping the sweet nectar.  At first, I watch in complete amazement.  I have seen countless numbers of Hummingbirds throughout my lifetime, but my fascination with them never dulls.
I think to myself that I wish I had my camera and then I remember that it is sitting right next to my bed.(It is usually only an arms length away)  I scurry over to pick it up hoping that the Hummingbird will still be there when I return.
And she is.  Like an angel bird foreshadowing the harbinger of a beautiful day to come, she flits from flower to flower making me almost happy to be awake at 5 am in the morning.  I put down my camera and watch her for several minutes longer.  I want to dream about Hummingbirds when I crawl back under the covers again.

Becca trots back over to me and I kneel down to scratch behind her ears and kiss her stinky head.  To me, she is so beautiful.  I give her a "cookie" which she takes back to her bed to eat.  I settle back into the warmth and security of my bed.  When I look down at her again, she is contently snuggled back into her bed, breathing deeply, almost softly snoring already.  I sink slowly back down in to the realm of dreams, my breathing in perfect sync with the rhythm of this morning.
When I rise up again many hours later, the sky is cerulean blue and the flowers on the Agave plant are now a bright Crayola yellow.  Becca dances in front of me to let me know that it is time to get out of bed for the day!  I reach down to scratch her on the head, but she inches away from me coaxing me out of my bed.  I laugh as I follow her to the back door.  We walk out the the edge of the bluff but instead of looking down to the water, I immediately am drawn upwards.  To the top of the Century Agave plant, to the buzzing of a Hummingbird's wings, to the sky, to the sun, to God.

May you take notice of enough details in your day to remind you that there is always a reason to say thank you. Sometimes, you might have to search for it a little harder than other times, but it is there.  It is always there...

The Writing Muscle

I want to write.  I have so many things running round my mind, but have not yet been able to put them to paper.  Tomorrow.  I will be writing tomorrow.  And by letting you know this I am not only holding myself to it, but I am making a commitment to you, as well.  I never like to let my friends down so by putting this out there, I will do what I said that I am going to do.  Write... Because the writing muscle needs to be challenged regularly, too

And Mark, I just wanted to thank you for pointing out my Angel Daughter error from my last post.  I am so glad that you said something!  I get the girls mixed up by name, all of the time!  Now I guess that I am starting to mix them up by number!  No wonder they find dear old mom so amusing!  Great observation, Mark!  Now I know that you are definitely paying attention, friend!

Happy dreams, all!
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