You might be wondering where I’ve been in the last month. Long story short. We moved back to California, moving company was 2 weeks late in delivering our stuff and all 3 kiddos began a new school year while my husband transitioned to a new work setting. As for me? A million crazy, outlandish things happened and at a certain point all I could do was laugh. So many great stories to share and I will at a certain point. For now, I am relishing in being home where I belong and creating my new normal. Work has picked up and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do meaningful work with nonprofit organizations that are changing lives.
On this Labor Day, I’m thinking about my husband and one of the greatest journeys I ever embarked on- getting married 18 years ago. I literally had no idea what I was doing but in a way I think that’s the way it should be- that’s life- stepping off the ledge- hoping for the best and knowing you’ve got to prepare for a little turbulence. So- here’s to new beginnings- that we never grow so comfortable that we are afraid to step off that ledge. I’m off to push my family into joining me for a hike in our beloved canyons this morning. In the meantime, while I catch my breath- I leave you with this piece written during my last week in St. Louis. Many blessings to you all…
The cicada’s song has returned and serenades us upon dusk. The out of nowhere monsoon thunder and lightning storms have resumed as well.We chase the fireflies around the yard and marvel at their lights. The ground smells strong after a good storm and the birds and bunnies remind us of how much life there is in the world.
I’m not scared anymore.
One year ago we landed in St. Louis, ready for an adventure and yet so sad to leave California. Also scared because I knew this move would bring so many changes and I was afraid of how those changes might affect us.
The past few years had caught up with us. My father-in-law’s stage IV cancer diagnosis and subsequent passing along with the aftermath. Ever watched a person die before your eyes? It’s a frightful thing and as you watch the horror unfold in front of you, control is slipping out of your hands and you realize this is how we all end. Life and marriage and kids and problems had turned us into shells of what we had been in our younger days, we found ourselves scrapping through, with no gusto for life- our feet heavy upon waking and hitting the hardwood floor most mornings. And then out of nowhere- poof- we were moving to St. Louis! Everything you thought about your life and what you knew about gone in that instant.
Although we didn’t know it at the time- we had just hit the re-start button for our lives. What an incredible gift. People entered our lives that we didn’t even know we needed. Experiences were had that we didn’t even know we needed to experience. But most importantly- our most valuable lesson is that we learned to laugh and find the joy in life and in each other again.
It is time for this family to go home back to California. We will pick up where we left off but from a different place. Continue our adventure we will- seeking out those people who are a bit different- the outsiders if you will- realizing how hard it is to be the person that no one talks or relates to, the person that doesn’t quite fit the narrative. Always looking for new places to discover, new journeys to travel, new experiences to have so we can continue to learn about ourselves. We will challenge ourselves to be more empathetic, caring, loving and open. We will try our hardest to protect our sacred family time and space amidst the crazy of life and not overburden ourselves with outside commitments.
I’m not scared anymore.
After leaving San Francisco, we drove up highway 101- through Marin County, passing Novato, Petaluma, and lots of dairy and cheese farms. Cows, horses and goats dot the landscape- we always joke around about how these cows have the life- unlike the ones off of the 5 freeway in Coalinga. The beauty of the California coastline in this area is exquisite as you drive through redwood forests and small, quaint towns like Fort Ross, Jenner by the Sea, and Bodega Bay (great place to buy and fly a kite, picnic and eat saltwater taffy).
The first time we visited the Sea Ranch was in 1999 and we have visited frequently since. First as 20-somethings, then as newlyweds and then as parents of a growing brood. Although we’ve changed, the Sea Ranch has remained exactly the same. Bones and muscles feel strong and weak at the same time- sort of like when you step into a hot tub or get a massage. The wildflowers, coastline and dried grasses all combine together to produce this scent that permeates everything- you inhale deeply and it’s in your soul, your clothes and hair. We sleep deeper and more profoundly here. Deep to our core, at the Sea Ranch, we are the best that we can be and we hold it and the memories we have created over the years close.
That first day we hiked, cooked yummy food, ate too much of the smoked like bacon monterey jack cheese and spent quality much-needed lazy time together.
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Friday, Feb. 26th, 2016
1 p.m. Arrive from Chicago to Mexico City Airport. Waiting in customs line.
3 p.m. After a frustrating 2 hours of trying to get my phone to work, finally connected with cousin Christian who picks me up from airport and off we go driving through city streets to funeral parlor. Suitcase in trunk.
4 p.m. Arrive at funeral parlor amidst a gigantic celebration pilgrimage to the Basilica de Guadalupe. Thousands of people walking around, firecrackers going off that make you jump every other minute. An explosion of noise, colors and smells.
Once inside, I see relatives I haven’t seen in 40 years, 20 years, and a few months. We embrace and kiss each other on the cheeks. I walk into the parlor where Tia Chica is laying. She is wearing her coat and clutching her rosary and looks at peace. Her hair is still speckled black and white – just like the last time I saw her. Floral fragrances penetrate the air. We wait for the priest for what seems like hours and finally he arrives. He proceeds to give a full mass in spanish. I am glad that my parents made me go to mass in spanish a few times as a child but it is still not enough. All of us American mexicanas are completely lost. My sisters and I walk up to the casket together and cry and pray and embrace. Everyone cries as they weep their final goodbye and we console one another. We are united in our mourning. Dad goes with her body to the crematorium and we don’t see him again for hours.
6 p.m. Cousin Christian drives us back through the city so that we can check into the hotel and clean up before dinner. None of us have eaten anything in over 12 hours. We laugh and cry so hard we almost pee our pants. We fall back into our sisterly roles and pick on one another- taunting and teasing and loving each other only the ways that sisters can. We feel sorry for Christian for having to put up with us.
8 p.m. We are on fumes but refuse to eat hotel food and lay in bed. Christian takes us to La Casa de los Abuelos for dinner. Mom asks for a drink and I’m thinking that’s a great idea, I could really use a good drink. The waiter says they don’t serve alcoholic beverages at La Casa de los Abuelos. Somehow this leaves us in hysterics. Poor waiter. We inhale our food. Meet up with Dad after dinner back at the hotel and yell at him for not eating anything (he is diabetic). Around 1:30 in the morning, we fall asleep and I get the big bed all to myself while my sissys share one. They tease each other about eating too much dairy and what might happen as a result. Ah- good times with sisters.
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After 7 wild and crazy years, my journey as a Cub Scout Mom is coming to an end.
It all began when Big Boy was in second grade. I opened up his backpack and amidst the lunch bag leftovers and homework assignments, I saw a flyer- “Would you like for your son to join the Cub Scouts? Come to the information meeting!”After asking the boy if he was remotely interested and he was- I decided I needed some co-conspirators and set about rounding up a group of moms whose sons could join us and together we all decided to take the scouting plunge. There was only one problem. Who would step up to take on the coveted position of THE DEN LEADER? Cue scary music and happy face.
Faster than you can say Cub Scouts and together with one of my biggest partners in crime- Jackie D.- the next thing you knew I found myself wearing khakis. For those of you unfamiliar with Scouting- all den leaders must wear the khaki uniform shirt complete with sewn on badges to all scout meetings, outings and ceremonies. After some going back and forth and hours of den leader training and several trips to the Boy Scout Center it was decided that the meetings would be held twice monthly directly after school. So there we were, Jackie and I- lugging bins of arts and crafts, balls, marbles, training manuals and flags – in our khaki shirt to and from school. Other moms on campus would see us and shake their heads and laugh, “the things we do for our kids- you won’t catch me wearing that shirt!” It was humbling at first but you know what- looking back now- it was one of the best parenting experiences of my life.
Jackie and I took those boys from 2nd Grade Wolves Scouts to 5th Grade Webelos. We even managed to add another den leader – Dad of the Year- Brent to our crew. Over those four years together and along with a great Cub Scout Pack and involved parents, we learned how to camp, fish, hike, tie knots, build pinewood derby cars, sort canned food at the Food Bank, clean river beds and hiking trails, sing campfire songs, put on puppet shows, cook eggs in a plastic bag in boiling water, earn a multitude of belt loops and make cakes in the shape of rockets and boy scout emblems. We saw these boys grow from crazy, silly 7 year-olds to slightly more mature, respectful and honorable 10 year-olds who learned with time the proper way to fold the U.S. flag and participate in a flag ceremony.
Along the way and through the years, personal changes continued in my life. Read the rest of this entry