the greatest love…

If memory serves me correctly, the Bible teaches that…”There is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for another.”

As Father’s Day approaches I can’t help but think of the men who have done just that for their loved ones…lay down their lives…in the process of providing for their families.

Cover of

Cover of Father’s Day

Women get much of the credit for raising our youngsters to be exemplary human beings. We dote upon them endlessly, instilling them with manners, compassion, self-confidence, skills for success. We are there to transport them…to volunteer on their behalf…to play hostess to their friends…to console or to celebrate, depending upon the circumstances.  

Mothering is hard work, for sure. However the rewards we reap are priceless, beginning with…an endless supply of hugs….and “I love you’s.” We don’t have to wait for a special occasion, like Mother’s Day.

My daughter and I begin and end our phone calls with “I love you.” And as though that weren’t enough…we manage to incorporate a few more into our conversation. When I’m searching for something else to say, I fill the void with…”I love you.”

By comparison, fathers often miss the small moments in their children’s lives. They’re on hand for the big occasions…birthdays, graduations, weddings. Fathers are lucky if they make the ball games, the recitals, the swim meets, opening nights. It’s more than likely when their jobs beckon…dads are off and running…whether they like it or not.

As a seasoned travel industry employee my husband hasn’t had the luxury of witnessing the minutiae of our daughter’s life. When she began focusing upon a dance career at age 14, their time together was  further impacted.  

When our daughter was 16, she and I relocated 3,000 miles from home so that she could train with a professional company. My husband remained behind working to support the venture on top of his other responsibilities.

As you can well imagine, parenting took on a whole, new twist. I was pretty much single-parenting a teenage-wannabe- ballerina in a strange environment…with dad a phone call and a plane ride…away.

I can’t say which of us fared better…or worse. The day my husband flew home after helping my daughter and me settle into our new lives…I shed a few tears. My best friend and soul mate was leaving .

We both had to hold up our end of the deal. Mom had to help make the dance dream come true…dad had to pay for it.

Like all fathers who love their children very much, my husband continues to give as completely of himself as he is physically able. Between his job and his duty to family, there is no gap…no doing just for himself.  His love for my daughter and me is…that great.

Since my father died when I was one, I cherish the relationship between my husband and my daughter. She and I agree…her dad’s the best.

every day’s father’s day…in our home…Imported Photos 00345

………hugmamma.

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reality check…for college grads

Eleven years ago when my daughter decided not to pursue a college degree, opting instead to train for a career in ballet, I had to do some mighty fancy footwork of my own in order to convince my husband that she had the talent and passion to succeed. It helped…a little…that her conservatory high school instructors supported her decision. After all, ballet is for the young at heart…and bodyIMG_0442

The fact that our daughter was lauded for her potential in all the summer dance programs in which she participated was also very encouraging. Her first summer away from us…ever…at the age of 14 was to Banff, CanadaBeing awarded a scholarship to return  the following summer probably clinched the deal in my husband’s eyes. Wow! Even the Canadians recognized a rising star, or so we doting parents liked to think.

Instead of returning to dance in the Canadian Rockies, however, our budding ballerina decided to accept American Ballet Theatre‘s invitation to their summer intensive in The Big Apple. I mean what kid isn’t going to prefer…candy to rocks?…the rat race to mating elks?… Times Square to isolation?

Truth be told…my daughter wishes she’d gone back to Banff. The training was better…the ratio of dancers to teachers was better…and the cost was way less. But hey! You win some…you lose some. But you always…move forward.

In the grand scheme of things, however, our daughter’s won…big time!

An 11-year dance career (and counting) is no small feat!

As long as our daughter’s passion and body hold out…she’ll be dancing…until “the fat lady sings.”March 2011A 00095

Meanwhile, it’s ironic…and devastating…to learn that college grads are having difficulty finding jobs these days. The following Wall Street Journal editorial reminded me of their plight.

Sorry, College Grads, I Probably Won’t Hire You

by Kirk McDonald

Dear College graduates:

     The next month is going to be thrilling as you cross this major milestone in your education. Enjoy the pomp and circumstance, the congratulations, and the parties. But when it’s all over and you’re ready to go out into the world, you’d probably like to meet me, or others like me–I’m your next potential dream boss. I run a cool, rapidly growing company in the digital field, where the work is interesting and rewarding. But I’ve got to be honest about some unfortunate news: I’m probably not going to hire you.

     This isn’t because I don’t have positions that need filling. On the contrary, I’m constantly searching for talented new employees, and if someone with the right skills walked into my office, he or she would likely leave it with a very compelling offer. The problem is that the right skills are very hard to find. And I’m sorry to say it, dear graduates, but you probably don’t have them.

     In part, it’s not your fault. If you grew up and went to school in the United States, you were educated in a system that has eight times as many high-school football teams as high schools that teach advanced placement computer-science classes. Things are hardly better in the universities. According to one recent report, in the next decade American colleges will mint 40,000 graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, though the U.S. economy is slated to create 120,000 computing jobs that require such degrees. You don’t have to be a math major to do the math: That’s three times as many jobs as we have people qualified to fill them.

     It’s time to start addressing this crisis. States should provide additional resources to train and employ teachers of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as increase access to the latest hardware and software for elementary and high-school students. Companies–particularly those like mine that depend heavily on information technology–need to join the effort by sponsoring programs that help schools better train graduates to work in a demanding industry. But there’s one more piece of the puzzle that’s missing, and it’s the one over which you have the most control: you.

     I realize that you’ve a lot going on, and that the pressures of finding gainful employment are immense.  But understand this, because your future might very well depend on it: If you want to survive in this economy, you’d be well-advised to learn how to speak computer code.

     I don’t mean that you need to become genius programmers, the kind who hack into NASA’s computers for fun. Coding at such a level is a very particular and rare skill, one that most of us–myself included–don’t possess, just as we don’t possess the athletic ability to play for the New York Knicks.

     What we nonexperts do possess is the ability to know enough about how these information systems work that we can be useful discussing them with others. Consider this example: Suppose you’re sitting in a meeting with clients, and someone asks you how long a certain digital project is slated to take.

     Unless you understand the fundamentals of what engineers and programmers do, unless you’re familiar enough with the principles and machinations of coding to know how the back end of the business works, any answer you give is a guess and therefore probably wrong. Even if your dream job is in marketing or sales or another department seemingly unregulated to programming, I’m not going to hire you unless you can at least understand the basic way my company works. And I’m not alone.

     If you want a job in media, technology or a related field, make learning basic computer language your goal this summer. There are plenty of services–some free and others affordable–that will set you on your way.

     Teach yourself just enough of the grammar and the logic of computer languages to be able to see the big picture. Get acquainted with APIs. Dabble in a bit of Python. For most employers, that would be more than enough. Once you can claim familiarity with at least two programming languages, start sending out those resumes.

     So congratulations again on your achievement–and good luck getting your real-world education.

Mr. McDonald is president of PubMatic, an ad tech company in Manhattan. Previously, he was president of digital for Time Inc.

Just the other night hubby and I were talking about his having to replace his administrative assistant who decided to leave to pursue other interests. The foremost requirement he cited in her replacement was…computer proficiency. Everything else is secondary.

Looks like I won’t be applying. Now if communicating were the priority…yeah, right!

My daughter’s love of dance motivates her to continue training during the summer months when her ballet company is on hiatus. (Most companies are off at this time.) Her feeling is…and I agree…that she needs to keep honing her skills…to keep challenging herself to be better.

How do you remain relevant in your career? Keep learning. Learn everything within one’s power so that you can do what you want…for as long as you want…and hopefully…

Four Financial Tips for College Grads

…get paid what you want…(oh well, two out of three ain’t bad)…

………hugmamma.

sunshine…in my heart

I may live in an area where skies are gray more months than I care to admit…10 out of 12.IMG_1705

I may get rained upon more often than I’d like.

The cold may chill me right down to my bones, activating my arthritis…big time.

My garden and I may not keep company as much as we’d like…the weeds love it…as do the bunny rabbits and deer.

Walking Mocha isn’t as much fun when it’s wet…for me.

The upside is…and there’s always an upside…I can hibernate and not feel guilty about it!

Screenshot of Tyrone Power from the trailer fo...

Screenshot of Tyrone Power from the trailer for the film Alexander’s Ragtime Band (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can watch TCM‘s oldies but goodies…give me Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara…any day of the week.

Turning on all the lights in the house brings the sunshine indoors.

Cuddling with my pets is something we all like.

Warming my innards with a cup of hot tea and dunking ginger cookies to nibble upon…well! could life get any better?

But in my bag of tricks there’s one precious item that never allows me to descend into the doldrums. It is the sunshine that I hold within my heart all year round…my daughter!

I celebrate Mother’s Day… 365 days a year. 

And as I use to do when she was a child…I sing this lullaby to her…

You are my sunshine,

my only sunshine,

you make me happy,

when skies are gray.

You’ll never know dear,

how much I love you.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

My prayer for you who are also mothers is that you are blest with…

…everlasting sunshine too!!!…Imported Photos 00065

………hugmamma. 

a fine line…

English: Bo Derek attending the

English: Bo Derek attending the “Night of 100 Stars” for the 82nd Academy Awards viewing party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA on March 7, 2010 – Photo by Glenn Francis of http://www.PacificProDigital.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Acknowledging female beauty has always been at the forefront of society. There’s a subconscious standard where women are rated on a scale of 1 to 10. Bo Derek was labeled a “10” in a film of the same name, co-starring Dudley Moore…a 4 or 5 by comparison. Yes, even women are guilty of judging whether a guy is a hunk or a dud…pun intended.

Mothers, and fathers for that matter, unwittingly expose their daughters to societal discrimination. It’s an age-old desire that they measure up to the standard set by others…be they relatives, friends, acquaintances or even complete strangers.

We allow ourselves to be bullied into thinking we should look like Angelina Jolie or Beyonce.

English: Phyllis Diller portrait

English: Phyllis Diller portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God help us if we look like Phyllis Diller, a comedienne of the psychedelic 60s and 70s. I can’t even think of a current media darling who looks as homely. There are none! Those folks don’t make the small screen, big screen or print. Unless, of course, they’re meant to draw attention to what we don’t want to emulate.

Whether we like it or not, we imprint our mindset onto our daughters.

Other adult females  are also guilty of doing harm. A relative once asked her husband if he didn’t think I looked gorgeous swimming around in their pool. Wanting to escape his appreciative stare, I instinctively crossed my arms over my chest and tread water. While the moment quickly passed, it has never faded from my memory.

There’s no escaping the web we have woven for ourselves. It is embedded into the very fiber of our souls, I’m afraid.

My daughter is a ballerina…the quintessential embodiment of female beauty. At least that is what is presented to the paying public. It’s a different story behind the scenes. If you’re an avid fan of “Dancing with the Stars,” you know what I mean. The same is true for the reality shows about models.

It’s important we teach our daughters what’s true and what’s false. There’s no escaping the latter, considering our constant bombardment by the advertising and marketing world. Only a solid, moral foundation can help our youngsters maneuver life’s slippery slope.

Beauty need not be evil…if it shines from the inside out.

…perhaps we should…shift our focus to…our inner beauty…IMG_4505

………hugmamma.

 

 

there but for the grace of god…

Français : où mène la Licence

Français : où mène la Licence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children the world over are often the victims of adult sexual fantasies, beginning with their immediate support group of relatives, friends, and family acquaintances. Whether such unwanted advances are seen through to fruition, i.e. sexual abuse, goes mostly unknown. After all, the fear of being “found out” is something a child instinctively knows will probably bode ill for him or her. Adults are to be believed; children are to be seen…and not heard…according to society’s dictum.

The recent escape of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight from the evil clutches of a band of brothers in Ohio, reminds us of the hold adults can have over unsuspecting innocents.

How many among us have been propositioned by an adult to have sex? Even if we were clueless about the mechanics of such co-mingling, we had a hunch it wasn’t child’s play. The mere thought of an adult touching his private parts can give a child the creeps, to put it mildly. I think it’s more likely the child would want to…get the hell out of there…AND FAST…even while his feet feel as though they’re cemented in place.

Pairing an overbearing, sex-starved adult with a child whose brain cells are still developing and maturing is like pitting Goliath against David…minus his slingshot. A child can’t even begin to wrap his or her brain around the torrid looks and lurid obscenities directed at him or her. They’re like “deer caught in headlights.”

To say I was such a child is probably commonplace. Perhaps the streak of cynicism I developed while living in NYC had been lying dormant since childhood. My ears and 6th sense have always perked up when men have made suggestions I thought were definitely…queer.

The earlier children learn about the “facts of life,” the better. And I don’t necessarily mean the how-tos of sex and making babies. Although that IS an inescapable reality.

A good friend once told me when our children were toddlers that they wouldn’t absorb any serious information until they were 5. My feeling was, and continues to be, that children learn from the day they are born.

From birth we are like sponges waiting to soak up all that we can in order to make decisions…great and small.

Values…right and wrong…good and bad…moral and immoral…are taught by adults who should know better. Every word…every gesture leaves an indelible mark upon a child’s psyche…for better or worse.

It’s never too early…and it’s never too late…to remove those rose-colored glasses from a child’s eyes.

A little cynicism is like…a 1/4 teaspoon of ground red pepper with the juice of one lemon dissolved in hot water. A daily dose of this elixir keeps my metabolism revved…and overall inflammation under control.

With life-saving information…a child can be on the alert for sexual predators…without even knowing that her radar is set to high alert.

…better safe than sorry…my motto…IMG_4487

………hugmamma.