a daughter…is a daughter

Laughter. Tears. Gossip. Advice. Stories.

Laughter...

More laughter. Always…more laughter. And stories. Stories galore.

These are the benefits I’ve enjoyed since my daughter returned to our empty nest. 

Because she spent her teen years totally devoted to training for a career in dance, I missed what most moms experience with their daughters. The conservatory she attended had no proms, no homecoming games. The handful of boys could not have met the social needs of the predominantly female private school.

As far as my husband was concerned, it was as though our daughter was safely tucked away in some convent. No guys…no problems.

I was fortunate enough to be with my daughter the first 2 1/2 years she spent training with Atlanta Ballet in Georgia. Having seen her in their summer program, she was encouraged to return to them during what would have been her senior year. It was a time of tumult…professionally and personally. Normalcy was at a premium. Everything revolved around dance.

Ballet Lift

Parenting a wannabe ballerina must closely resemble grooming an Olympic ice skater. You do what you can to help your child succeed. Even in the face of adversity and rejection, you remain positive, offering whatever support you can to help sustain the dream.

A career in the performing arts matures kids…fast. Not only must they deal with who they are becoming physically, but they must also be open to adapting their appearance to their job description. Even if they have to “read between the lines.” Because you know it’s not going to say…”You need to be a waif, or else.”

Beyond the physical, dance hopefuls must conduct themselves like adults. Be respectful. Be on time. Be prepared. Be responsive to correction. Be adept at learning choreography, and remembering roles learned in back-to-back rehearsals for a couple of different productions.  Be competitive…while being a team member. Be responsible for themselves…in all ways.

I know middle-aged adults who don’t have half the life skills my daughter has acquired during the 11 years she has been in the professional dance environment. At 27, she could conduct a class in…how to get the most out of life…with a whole lot of passion…and not a lot of money.

So you see, I’m learning how to strive while being contented, from my own personal YODA…my daughter…my hero…

…my bff…best friends forever…

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

 

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

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now’s the time…

...proud mother of 12...

…proud mother of 12…

In celebration of life…my mother-in-law died September of last year…Poet Walt Whitman says it best…

Happiness…

not in another place, but this place,

not for another hour, but this hour.

IMG_0672

…her laughter…was infectious…

…make the hours count…before the hour glass runs out of sand…

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…our beloved dad…and grandpa john…who went before…

...grandsome james is now in his 30s...and a father himself...

…grandson james is now in his 30s…and a father himself…

falling leaves…life?

In 2004 I discovered an author who has become a favorite…of mine…and my daughter’s. 

Cover of

Cover of The Fall of Freddie the Leaf

While decorating my daughter’s room for Christmas, I came across the Fall of Freddie the Leaf – A Story of Life for All Ages written by Leo Buscaglia. The story is appropriate for this time of year…winter, but its message seems only too fitting in view of what transpired in Newtown a week ago.

For young and old alike…

Spring had passed. So had summer.

Freddie, the leaf, had grown large. His mid-section was wide and strong, and his five extensions were firm and pointed.

He had first appeared in Spring as a small sprout on a rather large branch near the top of a tall tree.

Freddie was surrounded by hundreds of other leaves just like himself, or so it seemed. Soon he discovered that no two leaves were alike, even though they were on the same tree. Alfred was the leaf next to him. Ben was the leaf on his right side, and Clare was the lovely leaf overhead. They had all grown up together. They had learned to dance in the spring breezes, bask lazily in the Summer sun and wash off in the cooling rains.

But it was Daniel who was Freddie’s best friend. He was the largest leaf on the limb and seemed to have been there before anyone else. It appeared to Freddie that Daniel was also the wisest among them. It was Daniel who told them that they were part of a tree. It was Daniel who explained that they were growing in a public park. It was Daniel who told them that the tree had strong roots which were hidden in the ground below. He explained about the birds who came to sit on their branch and sing morning songs. He explained about the sun, the moon, the stars and the seasons.

Freddie loved being a leaf. He loved his branch, his light leafy friends, his place high in the sky, the wind that jostled him about, the sun rays that warmed him, the moon tht covered him with soft, white shadows.

Summer had been especially nice. The long hot days felt good and the warm nights were peaceful and dreamy.

There were many people in the park that Summer. They often came and sat under Freddie’s tree. Daniel told him that giving shade was part of his purpose.

“What’s a purpose?” Freddie asked.

“A reason for being,” Daniel had answered. “To make things more pleasant for others is a reason for being. To make shade for old people who come to escape the heat of their homes is a reason for being. To provide a cool place for children to come and play. To fan with our leaves the picnickers who come to eat on checkered tablecloths. These are all reasons for being.”

Freddie especially liked the old people. They sat so quietly on the cool grass and hardly ever moved. They talked in whispers of times past.

The children were fun, too, even though they sometimes tore holes in the bark of the tree or carved their names into it. Still, it was fun to watch them move so fast and to laugh so much.

But Freddie’s Summer soon passed.

It vanished on an October night. He had never felt it so cold. All the leaves shivered with the cold. They were coated with a thin layer of white which quickly melted and left them dew drenched and sparkling in the morning sun.

Again, it was Daniel who explained that they had experienced their first frost, the sign that it was Fall and that winter would come soon.

Almost at once, the whole tree, in fact, the whole park was transformed into a blaze of color. There was hardly a green leaf left. Alfred had turned a deep yellow. Ben had become a bright orange. Clare had become a blazing red, Daniel a deep purple and Freddie was red and gold and blue. How beautiful they all looked. Freddie and his friends had made their tree a rainbow.

“Why did we turn different colors,” Freddie asked, “when we are on the same tree?”

“Each of us is different. We have had different experiences. We have faced the sun differently. We have cast shade differently. Why should we not have different colors?” Daniel said matter-of-factly. Daniel told Freddie that this wonderful season was called Fall.

One day a very strange thing happened. The same breezes that, in the past, had made them dance began to push and pull at their stems, almost as if they were angry. This caused some of the leaves to be torn from their branches and swept up in the wind, tossed about and dropped softly to the ground.

All the leaves became frightened.

“What’s happening?” they asked each other in whispers.

“It’s what happens in Fall,” Daniel told them. “It’s the time for leaves to change their home. Some people call it to die.

“Will we all die?” Freddie asked.

“Yes,” Daniel answered. “Every thing dies. No matter how big or small, how weak or strong. We first do our job. We experience the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain. We learn to dance and to laugh. Then we die.”

“I won’t die!” said Freddie with determination. “Will you, Daniel?”

“Yes,” answered Daniel, “when it’s my time.”

“When is that?” asked Freddie.

“No one knows for sure,” Daniel responded.

Freddie noticed that the other leaves continued to fall. He thought, “It must be their time.” He saw that some of the leaves lashed back at the wind before they fell, others simply let go and dropped quietly.

Soon the tree was almost bare.

“I’m afraid to die,” Freddie told Daniel. “I don’t know what’s down there.”

“We all fear what we don’t know, Freddie. It’s natural,” Daniel reassured him. “Yet, you were not afraid when Spring became Summer. You were not afraid when Summer became Fall. They were natural changes. Why should you be afraid of the season of death?”

“Does the tree die, too?” Freddie asked.

“Someday. But there is something stronger than the tree. It is Life. That lasts forever and we are all a part of Life.”

“Where will we go when we die?”

“No one knows for sure. That’s the great mystery!”

“Will we return in the Spring?”

“We may not, but Life will.”

“Then what has been the reason for all of this?” Freddie continued to question. “Why were we here at all if we only have to fall and die?”

Daniel answered in his matter-of-fact way, “It’s been about the sun and the moon. It’s been about happy times together. It’s been about the shade and the old people and the children. It’s been about colors in Fall. It’s been about seasons. Isn’t that enough?”

That afternoon, in the golden light of dusk, Daniel let go. He fell effortlessly. He seemed to smile peacefully as he fell. “Goodbye for now, Freddie,” he said.

Then, Freddie was alone, the only leaf left on his branch.

The first snow fell the following morning. It was soft, white, and gentle; but it was bitter cold. There was hardly any sun that day, and the day was very short. Freddie found himself losing his color, becoming brittle. It was constantly cold and the snow weighed heavily upon him.

At dawn the wind came that took Freddie from his branch. It didn’t hurt at all. He felt himself float quietly, gently and softly downward.

As he fell, he saw the whole tree for the first time. How strong and firm it was! He was sure that it would live for a long time and he knew that he had been a part of its life and it made him proud.

Freddie landed on a clump of snow. It somehow felt soft and even warm. In this new position he was more comfortable than he had ever been. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. He did not know that Spring would follow Winter and that the snow would melt into water. He did not know that what appeared to be his useless dried self would join with the water and serve to make the tree stronger. Most of all, he did not know that there, asleep in the tree and the ground, were already plans for new leaves in the Spring.

 

The Beginning.

Postscript:

Leo Buscaglia approached life with joy and enthusiasm. He pursued a path of perpetual learning that took him to places of wonder, excitement, and enlightenment. His sense of urgency to live life now and explore all that is possible was contagious to all who knew him. His life was dedicated to the single concept of “Love” and all the beautiful and positive elements that it encompasses. 

He died of heart failure on June 29th, 1998, at his home in Lake Tahoe, Nevada at the age of 74. A note was found on his typewriter the next day. It read, “Every moment spent in unhappiness is a moment of happiness lost.”

 …make merry…while you may…leave tomorrow…to…

…tomorrow!

Autumn Leaves on the North Carolina back roads

Autumn Leaves on the North Carolina back roads (Photo credit: Visualist Images)

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Autumn leaves in Gekū

Autumn leaves in Gekū (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

………hugmamma.

today’s thought…

Treat today as though it’s all you have…

…and spend it wisely.

Then perhaps tomorrow…

…there’ll be no regrets…

about…

…yesterday.

Our beloved Sunkist joined her sibling Fudgie in heaven a week ago.

Seventeen-year-old Sun never let a day go by…

without doing exactly as she pleased. 

And I’m certain…she still is…

………hugmamma.

a year without fear…part 2 (read part 1 first)

 
Always Postpone Meetings with Time-Wasting Morons

Image via Wikipedia

So here’s how Scott Adams, Dilbert‘s creator, set about “turning over a new leaf.”

     As 2011 approached, I wondered what would happen if, for the next 12 months, I said yes to any opportunity that was new or dangerous or embarrassing or unwise. I decided to find out.
     Shelly quickly embraced my new attitude and booked us on a trip to Costa Rica. That country has a huge population of monkeys and no military whatsoever–an obvious recipe for disaster. But my immediate problem was surviving Shelly’s idea of fun. This, as it turned out, included zip lining (less scary than it looked), an ATV trek through a dangerous and muddy jungle (nearly lost a leg) and, finally, a whitewater excursion down a canyon river in the rain forest.
     I should pause here to explain that though I have many rational fears in life–all the usual stuff–I have only one special fear: drowning. So for me, whitewater rafting pins the needle on the fear-o-meter. But this was my year to face my fears. I was all in.
     The first sign of trouble came when the more experienced of the two guides said that Shelly would be with him in his two-person kayak and I would ride with the new guy. This worried me because most reports of accidental deaths include the words “and then the new guy….” The second red flag appeared as the guide explained that when we hit the rapids through the waterfalls, we civilians should hold our oars above our heads and let the guides do the steering. My follow-up question went something like this: “Waterfalls?”
     Things went smoothly for Shelly and her expert river guide. I watched them slalom down an S-shaped, 12-foot drop. Shelly might have said something like “Wheeee!”
    My experience differed. My guide (the new guy) steered my half of the kayak directly into the huge rock at the top of the water hazard. My next memory involves being at the bottom of a Costa Rican river wondering which direction was up and holding my breath while I waited for my life-preserver to sort things out–which it did. Somehow, my guide and I got back into the kayak, only to repeat the scenario at another rocky waterfall five minutes later. If you think this sort of thing gets more fun on the second try, you might be a bad guesser.
     Our guides brought the kayaks to a resting area midway through the excursion. I crawled to shore like a rat that had been trapped in a washing machine. You know how people say you shouldn’t drink the local water in some places? Well, apparently you should also avoid snorting a gallon of bacteria-laden Costa Rican river water. I woke up the next morning hosting an exotic-microbe cage match in my stomach followed by an hour-long trip over winding jungle roads to the airport for home. I’ll summarize the two weeks that followed as “not good.” On the plus side, I didn’t gain weight on that vacation.
     So far, my strategy of being more adventurous was producing mixed results. My life seemed richer and more interesting–but it also involved a lot more groaning, clutching my sides and intermittently praying for death.
     It was time to dial back the risk-taking a notch. For our next adventure, I insisted on something more civilized. Shelly picked Hawaii. The most dangerous thing I tried there was swimming in the ocean, which I’ve heard on good authority is full of sharks. People who seemed to know what they were talking about said that the sharks leave you alone unless you swim at the wrong time of day and look like a seal. I hoped that the sharks in our area could tell time, and I did my best impression of someone who was very definitely not a seal. Apparently, I pulled it off.
     My friend Steve taught me how to cook a gourmet Mexican meal. He also taught me that when the executive chef says, “Wear gloves when you cut the hot chili peppers,” that’s more of a requirement than a suggestion. I spent the next four hours in agony while experimenting with the cooling properties of mayonnaise, milk and vinegar. I also learned that in a situation like that, when the executive chef says, “If you need to use the bathroom, take the bagel tongs with you because I’m not helping,” he isn’t joking.
     I had better luck with my evening of salsa dancing in San Francisco, in a neighborhood that was apparently zoned for salsa, murdering, carjacking and hate crimes. Our plan was to get there in time for the free group lesson, then to use our new skills to dance the night away.
     We arrived late, and the lesson was half over. But that didn’t matter because it was clear that not one of the husbands or boyfriends trying to follow along was getting it. It looked like a parking lot scene from a bad zombie movie. By the time the club opened for dancing, dozens of impressively unattractive single men appeared from some sort of crack in the space-time continuum. They were salsa nerds who knew they would be the only skilled male dancers in the place, and they had their pick of the ladies. I pushed Shelly toward the first salsa nerd who came our way and said, “Go nuts. I’ll be over there.”
     I also took up golf this year because I figured that it would be a good challenge. So far, the only problem is that in every foursome, there’s always one jerk who gives me a hard time for wearing a helmet.
    
My year of Living Dangerously is now drawing to a close. It turns out that some people handle adventure better than others. Shelly and her relatives, for example, are good at navigating through dangerous and unfamiliar situations like fearless gazelles. I’m more like a zebra with a limp who wonders why the other zebras are edging away from him at the watering hole. But now I’m a zebra with better stories, at least until I become lion food. I’m happy about everything I tried, and I’m happy about all the things that I plan to try in the next 90 or so years of my life.
     My advice for the coming year is that before you say no to an adventure, make sure it’s you talking and not the woodchuck who bent the front fork of your motorcycle. You won’t enjoy every new adventure, but I promise that you will enjoy being the person who said yes.  

 (Wall Street Journal, 12/31/11-1/1/12)

 
…it’s for sure adams and i…are made of the same stuff…pock, pock, pock  …said the scared chicken as she laid her egg…in the pan on top of the warm stove…where she went…to escape the icy rain…

…adams…dilbert…and me………hugmamma.

Cover of "The Year of Living Dangerously&...

Cover of The Year of Living Dangerously

a year without fear…

Dilbert (character)

Image via Wikipedia

…written by the creator of the cartoon character Dilbert…Scott Adams…and reprinted in its entirety below.

WHEN I WAS 15, a woodchuck that lived in a rock-strewn field in upstate New York taught me a valuable lesson about risk assessment. He was like an accidental Yoda, and I’ve thought about him often over the past year–which I’ve dubbed My Year of Living Dangerously.
     The woodchuck taught me to approach life cautiously–perhaps too cautiously. As I coasted into the second half of my life, I decided that it was time to unlearn the woodchuck’s lesson and loosen up, take some risks, face my fears and enjoy the fullness of life. Perhaps you have a woodchuck of your own that you need to shake off. Maybe 2012 will be your year.
     Here’s what happened: One summer, long ago, I was barreling through a field at about 25 miles an hour on my ancient Bridgestone motorcycle when the front tire decided to visit the foyer of a woodchuck’s underground lair. I’m not sure if anyone else in the world noticed, but while I was airborne, time slowed down for a few seconds.
     In the first stage of my flight, while I was still facing toward the sweet, sweet Earth, I noticed that there were many large rocks in the direction that gravity preferred. As my flight continued, I reminded myself that I’m not an adventurer. Some people are born to take one physical risk after another. They thrive on the adrenaline rush. I’m not one of those people. When my body feels adrenaline, it means that I just did something extraordinarily stupid. This was one of those times.
     About three-quarters into my aerial rotation, I accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and personal savior, just to improve my odds. And I made a promise to myself that, if I lived, I would follow in the footsteps of my ancestors and lead a timid life, far from danger’s reach. As far as I know, there has never been a hero in my bloodline–not one soldier, police officer or fireman. I don’t know what that implies about my genes, but I’ve never lost a game of hide-and-seek where I was the hider.
     By pure luck, or maybe because of my just-in-time religious conversion, I landed flat on my back in a rock-free patch of dirt. I was wearing a helmet and had no lasting injuries. But for about a week I could taste my brain. It had a cashew flavor.
     From that day on, I kept my promise to myself and avoided all unnecessary physical risks. My strategy got easier when I became a syndicated cartoonist; I told anyone who would listen that I couldn’t risk injuring my drawing hand.
     My danger-avoidance lifestyle worked, and I enjoyed a long string of injury-free years. But I always had a nagging feeling that I was missing out. How can you know if the chance you didn’t take was the one that would have enriched your life versus, for example, something that would have ended up with you chewing your own arm off to escape? Enrichment and arm-gnawing look roughly the same when viewed from the start.
     My low-risk strategy got more complicated when I met Shelly, the woman I would marry. Shelly comes from a family of adventurers. In the final months of World War II, when her grandfather was 19 and the oldest surviving officer in his unit, he got the order to liberate a POW camp. So he did what anyone would do in that situation: He crashed a Nazi staff car into the front gate at high-speed while his men laid down suppressing fire. I asked him if he was scared. He said, “Nah. Wasn’t my time.”
     The whole family is like that. They lack the fear gene, and they like doing new things no matter how good the old things are. Compounding this situation, they mate with people who are just as fearless. If you eavesdropped on a typical holiday gathering, you might hear the following snippets of conversation:
     “The Taliban were all over that area, but our helicopter only got shot up once.”
     “It didn’t hurt too much until the doctor scraped off the top layer of my skin to get the pebbles out.”
     “The second round hit me as I dove into the truck. I guess we shouldn’t have gone to that bar.”
     I noticed that all of Shelly’s relatives seem to be living life to the fullest. Did my brush with a woodchuck-related death in my formative years make me too cautious to enjoy life?
     Experts say that people need to try new challenges to keep their minds sharp. That’s especially important in my case because I plan on living to 140, and I don’t want to spend my last 60 years trying to find the TV remote.
     As 2011 approached, I wondered what would happen if, for the next 12 months, I said yes to any opportunity that was new or dangerous or embarrassing or unwise. I decided to find out.

If this whets your appetite for more…

…settle in for…part 2…

………hugmamma.  😉 

live your own life…not someone else’s…

Water ripples

Image by mcconnell.franklin via Flickr

Simple advice from the man who is touted with changing the world in my lifetime…Steve Jobs. While he may have touched upon my life like the furthest ripple from where a pebble hits the surface of the still waters of a lake, Jobs words are more in sync with who I am, than those of family and friends who think they know me best.

Determining that they have my best interests at heart, siblings have, from time to time, made suggestions as to what I might want to do. That we’ve not seen one another in years doesn’t seem to matter. The old adage that “blood is thicker than water” may have something to do with it. And while that may be true literally, figuratively…I’m not so sure.

In striving to live healthfully I’ve learned that water is essential to my body’s machinery. Supporting me in this assertion is the following from the website USG.

The movement of water around, over, and throug...

Image via Wikipedia

Think of what you need to survive, really just survive. Food? Water? Air? Facebook? Naturally, I’m going to concentrate on water here. Water is of major importance to all living things; in some organisms, up to 90% of their body weight comes from water. Up to 60% of the human body is water, the brain is composed of 70% water, and the lungs are nearly 90% water. Lean muscle tissue contains about 75% water by weight, as is the brain; body fat contains 10% water and bone has 22% water. About 83% of our blood is water, which helps digest our food, transport waste, and control body temperature. Each day humans must replace 2.4 litres of water, some through drinking and the rest taken by the body from the foods eaten. …

There just wouldn’t be any you, me, or Fido the dog without the existence of an ample liquid water supply on Earth. The unique qualities and properties of water are what make it so important and basic to life. The cells in our bodies are full of water. The excellent ability of water to dissolve so many substances allows our cells to use valuable nutrients, minerals, and chemicals in biological processes.

One brother suggested I author a story about a little, Hawaiian girl discovering the world beyond; a sister liked a recipe I’d posted and encouraged me to include more in my blog. I thanked both but felt neither was what I wanted to write about. And now in my 60s, I thought I had a pretty good idea as to who I am and what I want.

Fower and bud of yellow chamomile (Anthemis ti...

Image via Wikipedia

It took me a long time to throw off the mantle of others’ expectations of me. Only when I became a mother, did I realize I didn’t want others meddling, however well-intentioned, in how I parented my only child. I was determined to raise her to be who she wanted to be, knowing that my husband and I would always support her with unconditional love.

Handing over the reigns of control to my daughter hasn’t always been easy. But I reflect on the long and difficult path to finding my own voice, and I’m grateful that my daughter has found hers at 25. She speaks to us almost daily, detailing things she wishes to share. We ask questions, but we don’t prod. We express our opinions, but assure her that she knows best because it’s she who lives her life, not us. We affirm the value of her decisions. And we empathize when things don’t occur as she thought they would.

Even in middle-age I looked to others for guidance. I called them role models, women aging gracefully. I thought for sure they had the secret to peace on earth. But I’ve come to realize that I can’t model myself after anyone. What works for another, probably won’t work for me because we’re different people. We’re the result of different parents, different experiences, different strengths and weaknesses, and different life views.

It’s uncanny how a man I never met, an icon, Steve Jobs, knew what was best for me…and millions of others.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

 Steve Jobs’ life should be a beacon for those who know in their heart what feels right for them. And my daughter is an example of someone who took up that torch…

…living her own life…with our love and blessing………hugmamma. 

amanda knox…the lesson

The Ugly American

Image via Wikipedia

When I was a schoolgirl, I’d hear the phrase “Ugly American” mentioned in and out of the classroom. That deprecating phrase would be tossed around in the news, and in conversations that attempted to ascertain what was meant.

Among natives of the Hawaiian Islands where culture was suppressed as we were ushered in as the 49th state in the union, prejudice against the white man simmered. A double-edged sword, statehood. There are those who would like Hawaii to secede and become a self-governing entity, just as some Texans envision happening in their state. I’m not one of those; I’m a little more pragmatic. I opt for the advantages…over the disadvantages.

What I am…is respectful of other cultures. It doesn’t mean I am without criticism of ways different from mine. We’ve all got a bit of the sinner and the saint in us. However when I walk among people on their turf…be it a neighborhood, a town, or a country…I’m wary. I’m mindful of my p’s and q’s.

Cosa mi fa ridere

Image by redbanshee via Flickr

Amanda Knox’s treatment at the hand of the prosecutor in the Perugian courthouse, is proof that the age-old stereotype of the “Ugly American” survives to this day. Americans and our western lifestyle are not always admired. A dose of humility should temper the overwhelming pride with which we seem to view ourselves.

Ugly Americans poster

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

…something we might want to teach our children…to help them…as they travel…and live…among others…

………hugmamma.

life lessons…from a ballerina

I’m always amazed by the wisdom of my ballerina daughter. Not that I should be, but she is after all, still a young ‘un at 25. I’ve no doubt that her personality and her chosen career have proven a winning combination.

For a long time I’ve maintained that my daughter is well-suited to her profession as a dancer. She’s selfless, always has been. Envy isn’t something that sits well with her. She battles the green-eyed monster every chance she gets. Granted, it’s not always easy. But my daughter chooses to like, rather than dislike, people. And that goes a long way in keeping her out of the clutches of “Mr. Green.”

Moms always want the best for their children. I’m no different. I’m worlds away from being a stage mom, but that doesn’t make me invulnerable to wanting everything for my daughter. She’s taught me that not every great dance role should belong to her. That’s not to say she wouldn’t love to grace the stage as the lead now and then…Juliet to her Romeo…Cinderella to her Prince Charming…Maria to her Nutcracker…or even the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Miyako Yoshida and Steven McRae as the Sugar P...

Image via Wikipedia

What my daughter has learned is that each dancer has her strengths and weaknesses. My daughter also understands that the artistic director is looking at the broader picture when he casts roles. She gets that he’s the boss and that what he says…goes. She knows she’s free to leave if she desires.

The greatest lesson my daughter seems to have learned is…balance. Keeping the scales of life evenly weighted. No obsessions…about roles…weight…what others think…or say…or do. What keeps her so grounded? Her unbreakable love of people. Her desire to be a good friend…colleague…and member of society.

Religion is still a mainstay of my daughter’s life. She attends church as best she can. Kneeling in God’s presence provides her solace…a reprieve from life’s rat race…time to be thankful…the opportunity to shed any negativity that has attempted to undermine. I’m sure my daughter gets to church more often than my husband and me. That’s quite an accomplishment for someone educated in public schools, while her parents were born, raised, and educated as Catholics.

My beloved daughter is living proof that depression is manageable, that it need not sideline her from living life to its fullest. Perhaps the disease in itself is a lesson. Perfection is an illusion…not to be touted…and not something for which she should strive. Being the best she can be, given the gifts with which she was born and those she’s acquired, is my daughter’s life-long goal.

Having been allowed to travel with my daughter as she’s journeyed toward a career in dance, I too have wised up to life’s lessons. Along the way…

…the teacher became the student…and i’m still learning…from my lead ballerina…

Eadweard Muybridge's phenakistoscope

Image via Wikipedia

………hugmamma.

good advice…always welcome

Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb

Image by Save the Children via Flickr

Not one for morning TV, I seldom see Today with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford. Of the two, my favorite would be Hoda. She seems down-to-earth and sensible. Kathie Lee’s a little too flighty and chatty for my taste. But again, I don’t usually tune in to watch them. So my vote probably doesn’t count.

I read an article about Hoda Kotb in the USA Weekend insert of our local newspaper. It confirmed my impression that she is indeed a very likeable personality. Despite having gone through a mastectomy and a divorce 4 years ago, Hoda was able to rally, once again regaining her positive outlook on life.

I started  doing little things to help me feel better. I played music in the mornings; I wrote in my journal; I surrounded myself with only people who fill me. Suddenly you’re halfway up and fearless, because you almost lost everything.

Getting sick and divorced was probably the worst chapter of my life. I never would have imagined that the best chapter was right behind it.

Life is like that. One day it’s great, the next it’s terrible, and the day after you’re in love and on top, saying, “It’s great again.”

And so Hoda shares some very good advice about getting to that next chapter in life.

TACKLE ADVERSITY, HODA STYLE
1. Surround yourself only with people who fill you up. Get rid of the toxic ones.
2. Don’t sweat the little stuff–90% of what you worry about won’t happen.
3. If you’re still standing after surviving an illness or death of a loved one or whatever your cross to bear is, you get four words: You Can’t Scare Me. Use them.
4. Don’t hog your journey; share it to help others.
5. Allow yourself dark days to stay under the covers watching Law & Order reruns and eating junk food.

A Nine-banded Armadillo in the Green Swamp, ce...

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Now that’s my idea of a great BFF (Best Friends Forever). Hoda and I are in sync 100%. Chuck the sour grapes…too much vinegar. Don’t worry about stuff beyond your control; it’s probably somebody else’s baggage anyway. Grow an armadillo‘s hide…it’ll come in handy for those tough times. Blog so that others might learn. And sleep in once-in-awhile…

…the world can wait…until you’re fit as a fiddle again…

………hugmamma.  🙂 

 

 

 

 

the past…not a crutch…more like a slingshot

Many years ago I tried to apologize to an older sibling for some unkind words I’d said in a phone call. I wrote a letter explaining my unusual behavior. Her return letter still singes the far corners of my memory. I was told to get over the past and grow up. She threw in a stinging retort, for good measure, claiming she thought I’d always envied her. Why exactly? I don’t recall if she said. I tore up the letter…and took her advice. I buried the past deep within, only speaking of it with those who don’t judge me so harshly.

Jermaine Jackson‘s biography You Are Not Alone, Michael…Through A Brother’s Eyes, is a well written commentary about growing up as one of the Jackson 5. The 446-page, paperback tome caught my eye as my husband and I killed time while awaiting our homebound flight departing Heathrow Airport on the outskirts of London.

You Are Not Alone

Image via Wikipedia

I’d not known of Jermaine’s foray into authoring a book about his famous brother. I’d seen one for sale by sister La Toya. Never a fan of hers, I passed on it. I took a chance that Jermaine’s was not going to be as self-serving as hers seemed. I’m glad I did. The biography reminded me of things I’d known, but surprised me with other, lesser known facts. Such as…

Why anyone thought my brother was incapable of fathering his own children was beyond me, as was the idea he’d use a donor when it was his personal legacy that mattered to him. I think it’s fair to say that Debbie had a dominant gene (Prince had white-blond hair when he was born) but when I look into that kid’s eyes or catch his profile side-on, his similarity to Michael as a boy is obvious. But, to nail the myth once and for all, Michael has passed on his vitiligo to Prince. My brother’s paternity is irrefutable when Prince removes his shirt. What really matters, though, is that my niece and nephews know without a shadow of a doubt that Michael was their biological father and they were born out of love.

From day one Jermaine was protective of Michael. “Maybe it was because all I heard being shouted was ‘Where’s Michael?’…’Is Michael okay?’…’Is Michael changed?’ ‘Yes, Mother…We got it…he’s here,’ one of us shouted. ‘Don’t worry. Michael’s okay. Michael’s okay.’ ”

Jackson 5 - Michael Jackson

Reading Jermaine’s words I understood that he was his brother’s keeper. I don’t doubt that all the siblings felt similarly, but he demonstrates the same sensitivitiy toward life’s ups and downs as did Michael. High one minute, low the next. Giddy at having it all, complaining when dealt some unfair blows. No different from most of us really. Their lives just played out on a bigger stage.

What resonated with me throughout this biography, as with others, is that a child’s upbringing weighs heavily in the eventual outcome of his or her life. It’s not to say its course is inevitable. Obama‘s an example of turning one’s life around. To a lesser degree, so is mine. But Obama’s past will forever be a part of his present and future, as will mine. However they can be put into proper perspective, and to good use, as building blocks for a more hopeful life ahead. We are not stuck with the hands life has dealt us.

The Jacksons, children, parents and grandchildren seem to have finally made peace with their rocky road to fame and fortune. Their strength in family ties has served them well in spite of their oft-times perceived stranglehold on certain members. Sadly all the money and adoration in the world doesn’t ensure happiness. In fact the means to have it all is like an eight-legged octopus or a Medusa’s head. The sky’s the limit becomes the modus operandi. How does one stop oneself…short of chopping off a tentacle or a head?

Joseph Jackson provided his family the escape route from the steel mills in Gary, Indiana to the moneyed Beverly Hills of California. But on the fast train out of the ghetto, Michael Jackson never learned the necessary survival skills for life’s long haul.

…too much…too soon…no time to learn…very sad…very sad, indeed

………hugmamma.  

justin bieber…huckabee rival?

Image representing Mark Zuckerberg as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

Adults are apt to dismiss the young members of society as not having anything of substance to contribute. But I think that’s definitely changing. No longer can we admonish them with “children should be seen and not heard,” as was the golden rule in my younger years. Not that those approaching middle-age were ready to relinquish power without a fight. It’s more that upstarts like Bill Gates and Paul Allen at the tender ages of 13 and 15, respectively, began turning our world on its ear when they sought to create what became a global power, Microsoft. Others followed in time, Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and Facebook’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg. These of course are the more prominent among the brainiacs of their generations. I think it’s safe to say these young men who were probably considered “still wet behind the ears” by their elders, grabbed the world’s attention, never letting go.

I personally have witnessed the power of those younger than me. My 25-year-old daughter continually teaches me about life, its radical highs and lows, as well as its moments of calm and serenity. The tables have turned, where I taught her, she now teaches me. Although sometimes I wonder if she hasn’t been giving me lessons all along, ever since she was a babe in my womb.

As I’ve made my way through this, at times overwhelming, internet adventure, 20-year-olds have reached out to help me. Blogger Scriptor Obscura was the first to regularly “like” my posts and leave comments. More recently, author B.C. Young agreed to be interviewed about self-publishing, sharing insight into an area that’s still evolving. In turn he invited me to share a fictional piece of my own on his blog, introducing me to his readers. More than anything this young man gave this senior writer a “hand up.”

Thanks for giving me my first break, Ben. It’s heartwarming to know that there are published writers, like yourself, who will give a hand up to those of us still struggling to have our words read in printed form.

“mahalo”…thank you…millie aka hugmamma.

Yesterday when I volunteered at the office of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association, Trevor Barnes, the assistant director, shared encouraging words of support when I expressed doubt that I even belonged among such an elite company of published writers, as per the bios I viewed on PNWA’s website. Trevor assured me that there were thousands of members like me, just looking to write something that would someday be published and read. I left the office with hope. And I got that from someone in his 20s.

One Less Lonely Girl

Image via Wikipedia

So when I saw the following I felt inclined to share it. Why? Because quite simply I was shocked to learn that the young pop idol, Justin Bieber, had something going on under his blonde, mop of hair, than just hip-hop lyrics. I think you’ll be as astonished as I was.

“Go Ahead, America, Leave It to Bieber”
by Joe Queenan (Wall Street Journal, 2/26/11)

Justin Bieber got slammed good last week when he opened his yap about abortion in Rolling Stone. Some people objected to his views, others scorched him for the way he phrased them, still others questioned the very notion of a 16-year-old boy offering his opinion on any serious moral, political or legal question.

Susan Sarandon at the premiere of Speed Racer ...

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The apoplectic response to Mr. Bieber’s comments is not fair. As of Tuesday, when he will be exactly one year short of the age when he can legally vote, drink or kill Taliban, the diminutive Canadian has every right to express himself on any issue he feels passionately about. The idea that youth somehow disqualifies him from speaking out on issues is the very thing young people–now grumpy old Bieber-Bashing Baby Boomers–fought against in the 1960s. After all, Justin Bieber is at least as smart as Susan Sarandon.

But the worst thing about all the Rolling Stone kerfuffle is that it has drawn attention away from other opinions Mr. Bieber has offered on major issues of the day. And in his clear, articulate, reasoned analysis of these issues, Mr. Bieber has shown himself to be that rarest of creatures: the precocious youth whose opinions must be heeded.

It’s Mr. Bieber, for example, who was the first person to warn that spiraling commodity prices would lead to unrest in Bahrain and Yemen. Interviewed by the BBC in January, he said: “Once you see that disconnect between pork belly futures and 30-day wheat, look out! When food prices spike–and this goes all the way back to the days when Mark Antony had to import grain from Egypt–there is no way to put a cap on civil unrest back home. Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, maybe even Iran. It’s the domino effect.”

Mr. Bieber’s comments did not go down well in the futures markets, where copper and tin immediately tanked. Who died and left this punk in charge? Why should anyone care what a celebrity of any age, gender or height cares about anything important? Don’t you have to be at least as old and gray as George Clooney before anyone starts taking you seriously?

Gaga on The Monster Ball Tour in Toronto

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Generally speaking, this anticelebrity bias is justifiable. Sean Penn is an idiot, Madonna a dope, Christina Aguilera a nitwit. Lady Gaga never says anything that isn’t stupid, obvious or self-serving, and Martin Sheen should have spent less time protesting in the streets and more time in the home parenting. As for Bono, who definitely seems like a sincere, well-meaning sort, exactly how much wisdom can one impute to a man who wrote the music for the Spider-Man musical?

But in Mr. Bieber’s case, the animosity and condescension are not jusfified. Mr. Bieber, after all, was the first person–not the first celebrity, but the first personto warn that Ireland’s economy would implode because of a bloated real-estate market. More recently, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he was way ahead of the curve when he suggested that cash-strapped states like Illinois and California should simply threaten to default on their debt if it was the only way to get unions to come to the negotiating table.

“Trash the muni market and you’ll see unions fold like a cheap accordion,” he says, “Just look at the yield curve.”

Not everything Mr. Bieber says is astute or prescient. He was wrong when he told a Japanese TV reporter that 3-D TV would take off last Christmas, and he seriously underestimated the ability of Apple’s competitors to respond to the appeal of the iPad. His forecast of a 4.5% GDP growth rate for the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter was way off base. What’s more, he has a lamentable tendency to express his views on topics where he has no expertise whatsoever; whether the Knicks gave up too much to sign Carmelo Anthony, whether learning a second language can help stave off Alzheimer’s, why the next pope should come from Bolivia. But for every target he misses, he hits at least one bull’s eye. And when he speaks out on issues that pertain to the world of music, he is wise beyond his years.

Mike Huckabee's band at the Lincoln Day Dinner...

Image by IowaPolitics.com via Flickr

“If Huckabee doesn’t stop trotting out that stupid bass guitar,” Mr. Bieber told Rolling Stone, “he has no chance in hell of winning the Republican nomination. The American people are not going to elect a president who plays the same instrument as Sting and Flea. Not now. Not ever.”

i have to chuckle…but i also have to…wonder…if out of the mouths of babes?…hugmamma. 

(note: who the heck is “sting and flea?”)

“true you,” more than enough

Almost done reading True You: A Journey To Finding And Loving Yourself by Janet Jackson. Yes, she’s “the” Janet Jackson, sister of Michael Jackson. But I wouldn’t have read it for that reason alone. Interviews of her by Meredith Vieira, and then by Piers Morgan, piqued my interest. Prior to that, I really wasn’t motivated to know more about Janet. Other than her videos, songs and a couple of films, she wasn’t in the media, unless it was to do with her more famous sibling. The youngest Jackson, and second most celebrated, Janet favored living her personal life in the shadows. The reason, as revealed in her book, is that she has suffered low self-esteem her entire life.

True You is probably one of the best biographies I’ve read to date, although Janet doesn’t refer to it as such. She prefers to think of it as a spiritual and physical journey towards accepting and loving, one’s true self. The unique element about her story is its compassion throughout. There’s nothing narcissitic about the book, although the focus is obviously upon her. Janet bares her soul, but does so in relation to her commonality with all of us. We can all relate to her experiences. She’s one of us. And that’s where she seems most comfortable. She appreciates and is grateful for her position and wealth, but not at all like the other so-called “rich and famous.” While Michael remains my favorite performer, Janet is definitely my choice for BFF, that is if I had a choice.

One of the things I enjoy most is how Janet weaves anecdotes shared with her by others, whether personal acquaintances, or strangers who have written letters. Their stories are as poignant as hers, and she generously acknowledges this by featuring them throughout the pages of her book. I like that about Janet, her generosity and her humility too. Wish Michael could have been as balanced in his personal life. But his sister admits that it has taken all of her 40+ years to get where she’s at, and she’s still not done yet.

a lesson for all of us…True You …hugmamma.

empowering kids

Caught a portion of “Teen Kid News,” as I walked past the television. I’d never seen the program before, and didn’t even know it existed. Decided to google it. Looks like it’s worthwhile viewing for kids and parents. The general tone seems positive, upbeat, and empowering of kids. Raising children is the hardest job anyone can tackle, and the most rewarding. Getting help from valuable resources is a “no-brainer.” And kids helping kids seems priceless, in my opinion. I think you’ll agree.

Helping others by donating to research for the cure of diseases, with the added bonus of becoming an entrepeneur, is a great life lesson for the next generation. Where was Teen Kid News when I was growing up…on an island…before TV was a household item?

“teen kid news journalism,” a role model for adult journalism?…hugmamma.

life has an expiration date…

My busy elves have been trolling the internet for goodies. Thought I’d share a recent find.
PASS THE BISCUITS  
 

  When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then.  And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work.  On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad.  I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed!  Yet all my dad did was reach for his Biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at school. 

I don’t remember what I told him that night; but I do remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits.  And I’ll never forget what he said:  “Honey, I love burned biscuits.” 

  Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned.  He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your momma put in a long hard day at work today and she’s real tired.  And besides… a burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!” 

  You know, life is full of imperfect things… and imperfect people.  I’m not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else.  What I’ve learned over the years is that learning to accept each others faults and choosing to celebrate each others’ differences, is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

  So…please pass me a biscuit. And yes, the burned one will do just fine!  And please pass this along to someone who has enriched your life… I just did! 

  Life is too short to wake up with regrets… Love the people who treat you right and forget about the ones who don’t. 

  ENJOY LIFE NOW – IT HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE!

 
 


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Charles Whittlesey
C W Consulting
2301 42nd Street
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