Saturday, January 22, 2011

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

When I am in Trader Joes, I love to check out the 99 cent greeting cards. One of the cards jumped out at me, with the question, "When was the last time you did something for the first time?"

I purchased the card and it sits on my desk. I am guilty of doing things the same, safe way. As I get older, it gets even safer. This is bothering me. I think this may be a key component to the aging process.

When I lived in Manhattan, I made the decision to move to a little farmhouse in Connecticut. Oh a whim, I fell in love with Westport, a charming little town on the sound. I packed up my Manhattan apartment and bought a used car from a friend. I was all set to start a new chapter, new experience. Only one problem, the car was a stick shift and I had no clue how to drive it. I called my mom and dad and told them about my plans, my purchase. When they expressed concerns about the car, my response, "it's no big deal, I'll just learn how to do it."

One of the mover guys drove it out to my new home. I sat next to him and watched him drive my car. I realized it was a bigger deal than I thought. Especially when we got into Connecticut and there was this little rolling action while you waited on a hill at a stoplight. Yikes.

I had a few days off, so I unpacked my belongings and began to make this sweet little house with a wraparound porch, home. There in the driveway sat my Honda Civic station wagon and I had no clue how to drive this vehicle. I took cabs back and forth to the train. I knew I couldn't keep this up for long, I needed to learn how to master the stick shift.

My friend at Clairol, Adrienne offered to be my teacher. That weekend, she came out and gave me my first lesson. We went to a parking lot where I could stall, lunge and roll, without inconveniencing anyone. She was a great teacher, but I had a ways to go before I could set out solo on the hills of Westport.

I got up early the next morning to practice. I put a big sign in the rear view window, "please be patient while I learn a stick shift". The sign worked, people stayed far, far away. Soon, I could do it! What fun it was to whiz around the backroads of my new town. It was such a great feeling to learn something new.

Check out my picture of Gracie taking her first steps. The expression on her face is one that says "wow, look at what I can do!". So, I am going to make my list, of things to try for the first time. There is a big hill outside my house that is perfect for sledding. Gracie and her friends are on it all the time, while I watch safely from my kitchen window. Today, I am pulling on my snow pants and boots and going down that hill. Hopefully, no one will be watching as I make a total goof out of myself.

I'm going to keep the card on my desk and challenge myself to step outside of the box and try something new. Even if I fail miserably or make a fool out of myself, I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that I'm open to possibilities and willing to take a chance on the unknown.

And if I live my life this way, who knows...I may have discovered the secret to staying forever young.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

For Christina Taylor Green

I am often asked, "what is your favorite image in the book...what sound do you miss the most?" Until last night, I never had an answer. I would tell people, I love them all, how can I pick?

Now, I know. It is the sound of sheer joy. Children laughing, playing. Surely, of all the sounds, nothing is more precious than the sound of a child discovering his world.

Our role as parents, as aunts and uncles or simply if you love a child, our role is to watch, guide and protect. Is there anything more wonderful than the curiosity, the wide eyed wonder of my daughter and her friends? Even at 15, she still amazes me as new experiences unfold day after day. And through it all, I watch, I guide, I protect.

So, this beautiful girl Christina, who had her life taken from those who love her, how do we make sense of this? For me, it isn't a political discussion, it isn't about the guns or mentally unstable. It is about loss. This time, even though I do not know her, I have been crying for days. I know I am not alone. It makes me realize that my ability to protect has limitations. Life is so fragile, for all of us.

I believe that our children, they represent all that is good in this world. They remind us of living in the moment and all the possibilities of the future. So, dear, beautiful Christina, you have become one of ours and we will mourn you like we knew you. We will pray for your family and for time to heal broken hearts.

I know that I will do what President Obama suggested. I will be a kinder and better person. I will thank God often for Gracie, this incredible miracle that sleeps down the hall from me each night.

When the President referred to "jumping in puddles" in his speech last night, then I knew...the best image, the best sound, is the one that shows the spirit and joy of our children.

God Bless You Christina.

Image Copyright William Huber, 100 sounds to see

I made a donation to the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona in Christina's name. Here is the link: