5 Days to 55

October 25, 1959.  That’s the day I arrived, all five pounds of me.  Mother only gained five pounds with her pregnancy, she says on Doctor’s orders but I think perhaps also because she liked her figure and feared getting fat.  (I gained 45 pounds with my first and 50 with my second.  Clearly I didn’t fear looking like I’d swallowed the largest pumpkin grown in any patch.)

Tiny Toes

Tiny Toes

October 25, 2014 is only a few days away and if I’m lucky enough to live through them then I’ll celebrate 55 years of being on this earth.  I have a feeling this is the year I’m going to start looking old.  I’ve been blessed genetically with few wrinkles and cursed with a high, girlish voice and in some ways I’m still surprisingly naive so for that or other reasons most people guess I’m years younger than I am.  But in the past few weeks I’ve seen the grey start creeping into my hair and for no reason in the world two weeks ago my lower back started aching so that one afternoon I could barely even make it up the stairs and for some reason my eyes have been feeling tired and irritated lately.  So basically I’m apparently falling apart.  And I pretty much have to consider myself middle-aged now, unless I’m planning to live a lot longer than 110 years.

But I still have a long way I want to go along the path of my life, into the beautiful unknown, taking the wisdom gathered over all these years, the relationships built, the sorrows and the joys and setting out on this next phase of my life taking more risks, laughing louder, singing, dancing, crying, loving, more, more & more.  All in glorious abundance.

My Life's Path

So yes, I’m feeling kind of old, but I’m ready for the way ahead whether I get there running or walking or crawling or being carried I look forward to all that lies ahead.


Surf and Sand in Laguna Beach

My practice group has its annual retreat at Surf and Sand in Laguna Beach each year, and there is nothing better than having a room overlooking the ocean.  They even provide ear plugs in case for some crazy reason you want to block the roar of the surf crashing into the sand below your balcony.

Surf and Sand

Surf and Sand

As if.  There’s something about hearing the surf pound the sand and then retreat, the sunlight glistening on the waves and melding into the blue of the sky on the horizon that makes it hard not to be at peace.  I’m supposed to participate in a scavenger hunt with my team members this afternoon but I can’t drag myself away from the balcony of my room.

FullSizeRender-2

Surf and Sand

Surf and Sand

Laguna Beach is one of my favorite Orange County spots, with funky boutiques and more art galleries than you have time to visit and, of course, the gorgeous ocean and beaches.  It also makes you want to reflect and inspires you … well, inspires me at least … to write.

When there are many other things, including participating in the Scavenger Hunt, that I should be doing.  But that’s been my problem as long as I can remember … I feel obligated to do what I should be doing or guilty that I’m not doing what I believe I should be doing and who came up with this “should” anyway?  Why is it easier to deny the things my heart and soul want me to do to choose instead the things my head says I must do regardless of whether I enjoy them?  No matter how many O Magazine articles I read or TED talks I view or things I know to be true.  No matter that my 45-year-old friend was killed at lunch a few days ago and an 18-year-old classmate of my daughter at SDSU who was fine on Monday and thought she had the flu on Tuesday died of meningitis on Saturday — two tragic reminders that I may not live through this evening, so shouldn’t I at least try to live my best life now, today, right this minute and not some vague future year when I’ve got it all figured out — I still keep on plodding along as if I had all the time in the world.

I don’t. But I’m going to enjoy the view from my balcony this afternoon and soak in all the beauty around me without even a tinge of guilt, at least for today.


Adding A Blavatar To My Blog … And How Hopeless I Really Am

I’m so hopeless when it comes to anything touching on coding, or requiring any computer skills What So Ever. Eons ago I even took a Fortran programming course in college. Clearly my college counselor who, looking at my background, advised me to include that class on my schedule was inept, and I was even more clearly insane. I had only basic math and that from horrid teachers who hung on only due to the school district’s complete inability to fire anyone. I’d never had calculus and barely any algebra and now I was in a course in which I was to write a program to perform calculus, or some such thing. My Fortran professor was incredibly frustrated that I showed up at every Office Hour, asking what I’m sure were inane questions attempting to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing.

Why I did not drop the class I will never know. Finally, fortunately, I found a guy who liked me and was willing to help. But he preferred just to do my work rather than attempt the probably hopeless task of actually teaching me how to do it (which of course wasn’t his job, anyway). So yes, I’m embarrassed to say I somehow made it through that class with his help, scraping by with a D. But I learned nothing about programming other than how precise and perfect you must be in writing code if you want to avoid having the entire thing crash and how incredibly frustrating it is to work for hours and then have to start all over because of one typo that it takes forever just to find.  I guess I learned one more thing, which is that computer programming is not for me.  One possible career choice down, one million more to go!

Although I couldn’t do Fortran programming, the old pre-windows DOS computers communicated with you, giving you, the user, some indication of what was going on.  So that I could sometimes figure out what was wrong and, on occasion, even  do something about it.   But then came Windows and I couldn’t see how things worked and all these years later I have absolutely no idea how to do even the most basic thing. All of which is a long way around to my topic of attempting to add a Blavatar to my blog.  Which requires me to find a photo I like and then figure out how to get it into my blog.

So I searched Getty Images which I just learned had images that could be used, except I cannot figure it out.  I can’t just download a photo instead I have to “embed this text,” and somehow a photo will appear. But if it isn’t already looking like a photo I can’t figure out how to make it appear as a photo in my “Customize Header” page.  There’s no option there for “embed text” it’s just “upload image.”  I give up.  But I do like the photo and I can figure out how to embed text into the blog itself so it’s not a complete waste.  And it created my blog post for the day.  Here’s the photo that started it all …

Embed from Getty Images

Since “they” say Practice Makes Perfect I won’t give up. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get the hang of this blogging thing!


Life Can End In An Instant … My Friend’s Did, This Week

Life is Short

Life is Short

Each of us gets a limited number of days.  Tuesday was the last day Melissa got.  That morning she woke up, dressed, dropped her three children off at school, went to work, then ran some errands before lunch … never knowing it would be the last time she’d ever do any of those things again.  She was having an ordinary day when an extraordinary tragedy took away all the wonderful things she had yet to do.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove

It was close to noon when she likely thought herself lucky to find one of the diagonal parking spaces on Girard, in the heart of the village of La Jolla, near the shop where she needed to drop something off before grabbing lunch.  Did she hear the revving engine of the car across the street when she reached into get something out of the car?  She had no reason to suspect she was in any danger.  It wasn’t dark, she wasn’t in a sketchy part of town, there was no reason at all for her senses to be on alert.  But seconds later she was hit, by a 91-year-old woman who inexplicably gunned her car when backing out of her space on the other side of the street, speeding across two lanes of traffic and ramming straight into my friend, pinning her between the two cars.

Before the lunch hour was over, Melissa’s life ended. This beautiful, talented mother, killed on a sunny street in an almost-perfect village on the Pacific Ocean.  Because someone was driving when they shouldn’t have been, Melissa couldn’t pick her children up from school, cook them dinner or help with their homework. Now she won’t see them graduate from high school or help them pick colleges or dance at their weddings or babysit their children. She can’t share her recipes with her daughters when they move off to live on their own, or tell her son how proud she is for the man he has become.  She can’t give me brilliant advice on communicating ideas or hosting events.  She can’t wake to the beams of sunlight streaming in her window or walk along the beach, toes in the sand, watching the sun set as the sky glows orange and purple as she listens to the surf pound against the rocks.

What a sad and brutal reminder that life is short and unpredictable.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately of the importance of living each moment well, of appreciating every day I get to spend on this earth, of leaving my many computer passwords accessible and updating my will and making sure my children know how much I love them. But this week the lesson that I must be mindful and appreciative of each moment came home to me in the worst possible way.

Ocean Beach Pier

I will miss you Melissa. You are loved.

Melissa's Smiling Face

Melissa’s Smiling Face


Ramblings

55 Years

My birthday is still 21 days away and yet my age has been much on my mind.  I’ll be 55.  “Still Alive At 55” with the almost-the-same BeeGee’s “Staying Alive” playing softly in the background would be the theme for this year’s birthday party, if I had the energy to throw one.  I’d have folks come dressed in the fashion of any of the decades that I’ve lived through.  Since I was born with two months left to run in the 1950s, that gives everyone lots of choices when it comes to attire, from bobby socks and saddle shoes to hippie to disco to goth or punk or anything goes.

But almost all of our furniture is staging our home in Poway to help it sell, so we’re “glamping” at the new house and I’m not sure the lack of places to sit is conducive to hosting a party.  On the other hand, there’s lots of space to spread out and mingle, if you don’t mind standing or sitting on the bare floor!  I go back and forth and will let the time flitter away until it’s too late to send out invites and then I’ll wait for another year.  At some point I need to get my act together!

I’m feeling very much my age today.  For some reason out of the blue my back has started killing me this week — so I’m typing this at my stand-up desk and I took two Tylenol but I’m still much worse for the wear.  My husband and I explored our new neighborhood this morning, walking down to the beach that gives Ocean Beach its name, strolling through a little street fair and down to watch the dogs thoroughly enjoying themselves at Dog Beach, then a long walk up and down the OB Pier.

Ocean Beach Pier

It was almost as beautiful during the day as it will be tonight at sunset, and I forgot all about my hurt back while I soaked in the ocean spray and rolling strength of the ocean.  I’m so blessed to live here, where a five-minute drive takes me to this gorgeous gift of nature and a crazy mix of people and stores and bars and apartments and peace and craziness rolled into one.

Yet despite all my blessings I keep finding myself in a funk these days.  I have no energy or passion for what I’m doing and the feeling that “Life’s Too Short” weighs heavily on my mind.  But I know this time in my life is preparing me, pressing me, moving me forward into the next phase of my life, and I just have to reach out and grab hold and GO!


Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It)

Beautiful story of how writing and community worked together to help someone identify and get treatment for a stroke and then focus on what’s important. My 43-year-old friend and fellow big firm attorney had a stroke — one morning she went to log into her work computer to check email before work and couldn’t type in the password. Her husband got home from dropping off the kids at school and she tried to tell him about her difficulties but she couldn’t form the words. Not being able to write or speak coherently is scary for anyone and I imagine that for her– an attorney who depends on her written and verbal advocacy to support her family — it was especially frightening. She has since recovered, left the big firm to work in-house and all is well. But I hadn’t previously thought of stroke happening to someone so young.

The WordPress.com Blog

Christine Hyung-Oak Lee suffered a stroke when she was 33, and she has written about her experience in an inspiring personal essay for BuzzFeed.

Before that, she was using a pseudonym on WordPress.com to blog about her experiences, share details about her life, and practice her writing. In 2007, shortly after New Year’s Day, Lee wrote the following in a blog post:

something in my brain burped. most of what i want to do is just out of my grasp. i feel like i know how to do them, but then when i go to do them, i just…CAN’T. day by day, i’m regaining my abilities, so i hope this is just temporary.

Lee’s commenters urged her to see a doctor, and the next day, she responded to them from a hospital bed: “I had a stroke! Will be better.”

I spoke with Lee about her experience, and…

View original post 837 more words


Stuck Inside

Howling at the Moon

Howling at the Moon

want to feel uninhibited enough to howl at the moonlight and now worry that folks within hearing distance will think I’ve lost my mind.  I know that if I could get in touch with that wild woman inside me, my writing would be more authentic, more interesting, more raw.  Knowing and doing are, of course, two very different things.  And what could seem simpler, on its face, than letting what’s inside you out?

I signed up for Judy Reeve’s Wild Women writing class and went with eager expectation and no small degree of fear to my first class with the hope that being in the class would allow the part of me that had built up so many walls over the years to relax, and let the “howling at the moon” part of me flow out.  But I couldn’t do it.  Judy light a candle, and we talked, and the mood was right … but the words coming out weren’t from the wild woman, they were just the same old staid expressions of the surface level and I could dig below.

The frightening part was thinking maybe there wasn’t any “wild” inside me to come out.  Maybe I’d never had it.  Maybe it had slowing starved to death.  So I never went back to class.  I had excuses — a busy schedule — but the truth is that I could have made it work.  But to sit there week after week and hear the other women so freely expressing themselves while I was constipated and seemingly unable to get in touch with that part of myself was too daunting a challenge, too depressing for words.

But I live to fight another day.  To fight to dig out under the surface layer and reach the juicy parts inside, to free myself to howl.