Tag Archives: Parents

#WorldAdoptionDay

Borrowed kindly from Instagrammer Mvolz8
Click for source

Sunday, November 9th was the very first World Adoption Day and people took to the technosphere to share their stories of adoption and family. Sponsored by Adopt Together, an organization that helps families crowdfund a process that can sometime price in the neighborhood of $25,000, they asked that in honor of the day, people draw a smiley face on their palm and share it via social networks. What started with a team in Los Angeles turned into an explosion of more than 10,000 photos on Instagram alone from all over the world including Patagonia, Kuwait and the Duck Dynasty. Continue reading

A Taste of England: Yorkshire Pudding (Recipe)

yorkshire puddingMy mom grew up in a small village 45 minutes south of London. Having a British mom has awarded me a lot of things in life that a lot of kids never get to have – true English Christmases, the ability to fake an accent better than anyone I know and getting the inside jokes on Downton Abbey. My favorite thing about being a half-brit though is yorkshire pudding.

It’s a running joke in our family that there are so many things to love about England, but food isn’t really one of them – outside of fish ‘n’ chips of course (and I don’t eat anything that comes out of the ocean – so bust.) I mean, would you be willing to be try a plate of spotted dick (that’s a real thing. Least appetizing dessert name ever)? Or maybe some steak and kidney pie? Didn’t think so. However, there is one delicious morsel usually reserved for Sunday roast dinners that make hearts appear in my eyes and the kickstart automatic drooling. Contrary to the name, yorkshire pudding are more like bread rolls and muffins had a baby than American pudding. As I said, they work as a side dish with a bit of gravy for roast dinners or can be eaten with jam for a light dessert.

Whenever I had a rough day at school or wasn’t feeling well my mom would whip up a batch of these delicious morsels to go with dinner and it was always the best surprise. As I’ve been trying to experiment more in the kitchen I decided to try them out for myself. Luckily, they are the simplest thing in the world to make! So get out your union jacks, put Monty Python in the DVD player and get in touch with your Brit side with this easy Yorkshire Pudding recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (It also works with water instead if trying to cut down on fat, but milk makes them fluffier)
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Cupcake pan

Directions:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 450˚F
  • Mix together flour, salt, milk/water, butter and eggs in medium mixing bowl until mixture is cohesive with no bumps
  • Pour mix into cupcake pan, filling each well about halfway (they rise a lot so be careful).
  • Place in the oven for 10 minutes (or until golden brown)

The recipe makes about 12 medium yorkshires so prepare accordingly. I was so

How to Live with Questions Instead of Hunting for Answers

questionsI am a child of the West. More specifically, I am a child of the United States and the mentality of answering a question is deeply-ingrained in me. I often think back to when I was in school, third or fourth grade and the teacher asked a question. I can still see the class, all boys, in sport coats, dress shirts and ties as we collectively raised our hands, we knew the answer. We wanted our teacher to know that we knew.

Someone was picked and the answer was given and then, it was on to the next question. When I worked on presidential campaigns, John Kerry in 2004 and Bill Richardson in 2008, I would sit at the edges of the rooms as the press asked questions. Q&A sessions are the core of journalism. You couldn’t possibly just have a “question” session where a question was left to float and linger; nor have there been many great ‘answer’ sessions where everyone gathers around and shares an answer to a question that was never asked.

We grow up and we want the answers. Why does she love? Why did she stop? Why did this happen or that? We hire therapists and read the books. We seek answers in the stars, our friends, and our family members. Today, in the world of electronic connection, there has to be an answer to every text; there has to be a response to every post and every email.

Not only that, we often read the simplest of pieces of communication over and over for an answer. We want to know why the person sent it; what’s the logic for the use of wink and not a smile. We pull layers off of layers and try and see what lies underneath. We need to find the answer.

Almost two years ago, I set out on my own journey to find out what happened to my father who had died in Southeast Asia in 1984. This was also less than a year after my mother had died in my arms in a hospice in Arizona. I set out with a mission. The impetus for my leaving was  a dinner I had with two close friends in Cape Town, South Africa while on a business trip there. “Go” they each told me, “go find out. It’s what you need to do.” I remember sitting at restaurant, as the waiters bustled about. I remember the feeling of the crowd and the room. I remember thinking, ‘yes I will go.’ So I went.

I learned an enormous amount on my journey. The journey concluded with me being back in that same restaurant last week while back in Cape Town on another business trip. I sat there and thought about what I had learned and what I hadn’t.

I left on my journey with my Western sense of “I need to find the answers” fully intact and front and center. I thought if I worked a bit harder, if I went to one more place that my father had gone to back then, if I stood on one more street corner where I knew that he had stood, I could find the answer. Any answer. An answer to how he felt when he was there. An answer to how he felt when he died. Something.

What I learned is that you should always go on your journey. We each have something that we have either always wanted to do. A place that we went to when we were young that we have wanted to go back to. Or perhaps we want to see where our parents were from, or where they met. We could want to see where someone near and dear to us lived, or died. It can be as far reaching as traveling Southeast Asia as I did, or as simple as wandering an old neighborhood where you grew up at night.

Go on the journey.

But go, not as I did as Westerner looking for the answer, though I suspect that you will leave that way. Go as the Burmese and African friends that I met along the way would go. Go knowing that the answers are elusive and not only are they elusive, the questions travel with you.

When you learn to live with the questions all day and all night, you realize that the answers don’t matter nearly as much as you once thought. When I was in Burma, I would get emails from my friends from the States, ‘did you find out what happened to your father?’ But no one there ever asked me that. They knew that it wasn’t the answers that mattered so much, but the journey itself. And living with the questions.

I wish I could go back to the classroom of my youth and when the teacher asked a question, instead of shooting my arm up and seeking to be the one with the answer, I would be the boy who sat there and just thought about the question.

 

photo by: paul bica

Teach Your Children to be Grateful with a Family Gratitude Journal

gratitude journal pic monkeyBy Ali Katz

I feel lucky every day. There are the obvious reasons like my two healthy, beautiful boys, my supportive and loving husband, and my cozy, comfortable house that I adore every time I walk in the door.

Then there are the less obvious things like having exact change in my wallet at a cash register, finding boyfriend jeans that are so soft they feel like pajamas, and a great morning run.

The list goes on and on, some big items and some more insignificant: my wonderful family and friends, losing myself in a great book, and getting that perfect family picture where everyone is smiling and looking at the camera. Rich dark chocolate, dates with my husband, and a long phone call with my best friend. Seeing my kids’ faces in carpool and knowing that I will be hugging them momentarily, homemade pasta and an amazing blowout that lasts for days.

Memories are treasures, even the horribly embarrassing ones that I can’t even bring myself to write about yet. My life is comprised of the laughter and fun I have had in my first 37 years, and the hard times that have made me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t be as resilient and strong without learning how to navigate some really difficult situations and still hold my head up high.

I am constantly striving to create opportunities where my kids feel gratitude. Of course they have learned to say “thank you” when they receive a gift, but what I am going for is from the heart thanks for just the little things. I know that children are egocentric, and I don’t begrudge them those precious years where it is all about them. However, as they grow I pray that every year brings them a deeper understanding of the world around them, how they fit into it, and how they can make it a better place. As a mom I can only hope that they do become aware of all the insignificant wonders of the world that make life so sweet. You can look for problems, or find joy, and I hope with all my heart that their outlooks on life steer them in the direction of joy at every turn. And of course they will face hardships. I wish I could shield them from every heartache, but I wouldn’t be doing them any favors. My goal is for them to learn that difficult situations can teach you lessons without hardening you.

As a parent I think that we have to lead by example, take responsibility, and help our children form certain habits. Being grateful may take some practice for the little ones in our families. With this belief in mind, I started a Family Gratitude Journal. This small notebook  sits on our kitchen table with a pen. Every night at dinner we all write a quick note in it marking something we are grateful for that day. It could be a fun playdate, liking the meal, or not having any homework. It could be gratitude for a lovely family walk (that would be mine!) or scoring a goal at practice.

Getting started is super easy, and I know you will feel great about encouraging your family to notice the little pleasures of every day life. This is also something you can keep private, or do with a spouse. Keep it next to your bed if that works for you, and jot down one tidbit at the end of the day.

***

Ali Katz, a native of Philadelphia, has lived in Houston for fifteen years. She enjoys reading, cooking, running and yoga, in addition to spending as much time as possible with her husband and two young sons. Ali started the website Daughter-in-Law Diaries with the intention of sharing her personal journey, and to help other daughters-in-law strengthen the bond and improve the relationship they have with their own 
mother-in-law. Please visit Ali online at www.daughterinlawdiaries.com

Elephant in the Room: I Can Only Be With My Boyfriend If He Proposes

Gay-MarriageDear Cora,

I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 5 years.  I am 23 and he’s is 30. I am from a religious family so my mum and dad won’t allow me to live with him without being married. He lives quite a few miles away from me and works a lot so I only see him once a week and being away from him is breaking my heart. After  five years I want him with me every day and not just to see him 1 day a week for a few hours. I feel as though all I have done for 5 years is miss him. Do you think he will ever propose? He has been married before and maybe that is putting him off.  I don’t know where I stand, please help. 

Sincerely, 

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Oh, babe. We have a lot going on here and I think we need to break it down step by step to see what we can come up with.

The first thing that pops out at me is that you’re 23, stop talking about marriageYou especially shouldn’t be talking about it when you approach it as a method to see your boyfriend more often. That’s not what it’s about. Marriage is a serious commitment – it is promising to spend the rest of your life with someone. That means when things aren’t fun, when they aren’t paying attention to you, for better and for worse. Real marriage is about accepting that making a life together is hard work, and that you’re willing to commit to sticking it out together. It’s not a quick fix for missing someone. It’s a life-long, very serious, situation. If your boyfriend has already been married and it ended then he probably knows this better than anyone and his hesitation may be because he knows you two aren’t ready for that level of commitment.

Speaking of your boyfriend, let’s talk about him for a moment. Actually, no. Let’s talk about you, and your feelings for him. I agree that a few hours a week isn’t enough to maintain a serious relationship – especially after five years. How well do you two really know each other? How do you build something solid and lasting on mere glimpses of time? That is a conversation you need to have with him instead of asking when is he going to propose or if he wants to get married. You need to ask what do we need to do to make this really work? Your words and emotions are serious but the level of the relationship seems casual and I think it would behoove you to make sure that you are both on the same page before you continue on writing the rest of the novel.

Now here’s the tough part, but I think if you are able to take advantage of this last piece of advice you’ll find that the rest of it gets easier. It seems the deepest root of your troubles comes from the rules of your parents. While I think you may be too young to be thinking about marriage (at least in your current situation) you are old enough to be making your own decisions. I have no doubts that your parents want the best for you as only they know how – however, they can’t live your life for you. You are old enough to be making your own decisions about how you want to live your life. The hard part of that is finding a way to make your parents accept that, or having the strength to move on by yourself even if they don’t. What I think you need Anonymous is to start thinking about moving out on your own instead of with your boyfriend. You need to learn to stand on your own two feet – that’s what your 20s are for! To figure out who you really are as a person by making your own decisions and your own mistakes. With your own place you not only get the chance to figure out for yourself what you believe but it should allow you more time to see your boyfriend. You two can get to know each other on a serious level, figure out how you work as a couple that has to function with the rest of the world and whether it really does work.

Don’t sell yourself short of this opportunity to grow into your own skin by moving from your parents to your boyfriend. You need time to grow, lovely. Unburden yourself from those shackles. It’s a tough world out there and you have to dig deep to find the strength to choose and hold on to your own happiness. I’m afraid if you keep sitting around waiting for your parents or your boyfriend to hand it to you that you’re going to miss out on the wonderful things you deserve.

Best wishes,

Cora

5 Ways to Transform Regret into Healing

Love Shines Through The Darkness free creative commonsRegret is like clutter. It can mess up your mind with tiny cumulative details creating cobwebs in the brain which darken your thoughts. Similar to managing physical clutter, periodically you take inventory of regrets to let go of what weighs you down, obscures your space and makes you feel stuck. Moreover, as soon as you throw out the first element of clutter, you feel better. This immediate gratification spurs you to continue.

However, don’t regret that you feel regret. Your regrets serve a vital purpose: They bear witness to your personal evolution, how you have grown from your past mistakes. You are now a better person with more experience to overcome and succeed. Note that every stressor which you conquer makes you stronger. The goal is to go stronger, longer.

5 typical patterns of regret which can power up your personality:

1. You regret breaking up or losing touch with a previous love because of bad timing or an error in judgment. The good thing about love – whether lost or won – is that you can always hold it in your heart. And your heart is big enough to love many people, expanding your spirit with their best attributes. You are sure to encounter another love with whom you will inevitably connect. Your regret will make you ready!

2. You regret not telling a loved one who has passed away how much you loved him or her. You feel guilty not having done enough for this person, particularly a parent. Challenge these irrational thoughts. Your regret is actually grief. No one teaches people how to lose, only to amass and possess. Consequently, loss is hard. Give yourself permission to grieve without a time limit. When I feel regret about my parents’ death, I dedicate a good thought, recall a funny conversation or anecdote from my parents to recall their memory in a positive frame.

3. You regret a career road not taken. Perhaps, you did not pursue a higher education, or make a bold career change. Most people put too much emphasis on being extraordinary and often have unreasonable expectations about success. If it is feasible to pursue a passion or longing, do so now. My friend Delia left a career in computer science and took out student loans to become an ER physician. If you cannot take a new career path at this point in time, reinvent and revitalize your job to see it in a larger context. For example, my friend Antonio loves his job as a postal clerk because he gets to greet and say something nice to the people tired of waiting on line. He feels like a spiritual transformer.

4. You regret not having your say. You feel that you should have said “___.” Most likely you were trying to please others. What a relief to remove your mask, and speak your natural truth! Unleash your natural energy to get back in balance between doing for others and yourself.

5. You regret cheating someone. Often people who cheat, lie, or fool someone feel happy that they got away with it. However, when your cheating causes hurt, then you will most likely feel regret. Confessing and making amends are the ultimate spiritual cleanse. The next best thing is learning from your mistake and changing for the better.  Undoubtedly, you will be vigilant about acting with integrity and will find a way to give back to your community.

How to Survive Tickle Torture Like a Yogi

FamilyThis summer the ever-expanding internet has been saturated with self-help titles. This year’s ubiquitous How-to columns are last year’s Call Me Maybe. 5 Ways to Know You Have a Sunburn, How to Match Your Socks to Your Underpants, The Best Way to Break Your Andy Cohen Habit. I admit, I’ve cast out a few How-tos of my own. So move over Carly Rae, here’s one more.

Okay, okay, so this isn’t the most serious article you’ll ever read, but I’ll bet my kids’ weekly allowance that mastery of this survival skill will save your butt the next time you’re hand to bellybutton with a ferocious tickler.

You’ve got to admit, being tickled is downright torturous. It’s juvenile, it’s flirtatious, it’s downright… painful? Uncomfortable? Breathtaking? Invasive? Creepy? I don’t know how to describe the feeling of being tickled, actually. But it ranks very high on my least favorite interactions specifically involving my neck, armpits, ribs, thighs, and feet.

Tonight I had an encounter of the tickling kind. My four-year-old was in big trouble. He kept pulling the puppy’s tail and laughing whenever I disciplined him. So I carried him upstairs and pinned him on his bed to keep him from wriggling away while I lectured him. I imagine that his four-year-old mind processed my words like this: “Wah wah wah-wah waaaahhh.” (I am officially a Peanuts cartoon character.)

He laughed hysterically while I spoke. At first I was offended but he kept laughing wildly.  He broke me. I started laughing, too. Then I started tickling him and he responded with relentless retaliation. Before I could run for cover he was jamming his little fingers into my armpits and I was curling into fetal position to protect my ticklish parts.

I’m four times the size of him so it was easy for me to squeeze my arms into my ribcage and protect my goods. But I noticed something while he was relentlessly searching for a way under my arms. More so than the tickling itself, the anticipation of the tickling made me crazy. Cracking up, tears rolling, chin pulled into my neck, hooting with laughter. Isn’t this the way? The anticipation of the event produces more emotion than the event itself. (Note to self: Please remember this next time you begin obsessing over your impending mammogram.)

“Why are you so ticklish there?” my son probed.

“I don’t,” snort, “know,” chortle, “Can you stop,” giggle, “pllleeease?”

He wouldn’t stop and I was frozen with red-faced breathlessness so I decided to put my meditation practice to work. I began to draw that discomfort away from my underarms and neutralize it. While he squeezed and poked, I separated my thoughts from my body and somehow extracted the discomfort from my field of feelings. The fingers were no longer tickling, just poking. I don’t know how I did it really, but it worked. And when he realized that his little paws no longer had a dazzlingly humorous effect on me, he stopped.

My torturer was outdone by my amazing power of equanimity. Take that How-to little man. Until next time…

 

More by Vanessa:

Why Kate Middleton’s Natural Childbirth Should Inspire Us All

5 Tips to Survive Summer Vacation With Wild Kids

This One Goes Out to All the “Nobodies”

 

Wordplay Wednesday: Good

good_2
I always gravitated
To the girl
With purple hair
Eccentric style
And an attitude
Like she didn’t care
I acted like I wish I felt
So strong
And self-assured
To cover insecurities
Skin too thin
For this world
But now
I just want to be good

I never liked to listen
Or be told what to do
Parents
Coaches
Teachers
Boyfriends
It didn’t matter who
You were or what you said
I’d still do it my own way
Always stating my opinion
Never short for things to say
But now
I  just want to be good

I always gravitated
To the boy who sat alone
With darkness and intensity
That seemed to match my own
We’d stay up for hours talking
About our passions and dreams
Play our favorite songs
And get lost by any means
But now
I  just want to be good

Written in November of 2011:)

5 Questions Every Modern Parent Should Be Asking

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 1.00.44 PMDo you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re sort of uncomfortable but you don’t complain, don’t leave, don’t speak up because you don’t want to cause a scene or make anyone feel bad?

Even when we have concerns that are legitimate, sometimes we hold our tongues to avoid awkwardness or confrontation. We don’t walk away because we believe our departure implies criticism, judgment or lack of trust in another’s decisions or lifestyle.  We take care not to step on anyone’s toes. We don’t want to be rude or offensive by questioning what folks are doing. Maybe we assume that the other person knows better – or knows something we don’t.

Of course we know just fine ourselves. Our little voices whisper to us, “Get out of here. This feels wrong,” or, “This guy has no idea what he’s talking about. We’re in danger.” And our little voices are usually right on target. Those voices become especially useful when it comes to our kids. But sometimes, just as we ignore it when it comes to our own safety, we ignore it when it comes to theirs.

Even though we like to think that we’d never put our babies in harm’s way, it happens to every parent at some point. That moment when we know we should be changing course but we stay put instead because we don’t want to make waves. At times like these it’s important to remember that there’s nothing rude or offensive about being a good advocate for our children. After all, our kids trust us implicitly and believe that when we send them off into the world that we are sending them off to safe place with responsible people. They never say, “Momma, will I be safe?” They move through the world with confidence, knowing for certain that we have their little backs.

We are our children’s best advocates. We are responsible for our children’s safety. And knowing about the world and how it spins in 2013, we can initiate some pre-emptive, full-disclosure conversations that will provide us with comfort and trust as our children explore the world independently. These are five “little voice” questions that every parent should be asking without hesitation or fear of imposition:

1. “Can you please not drive and text or talk on the phone while my child is in the car?”  

We all know the stats. Distracted drivers hurt people. Carpools being a vital part of parenting, often times we toss kids into minivans assuming that the drivers are responsible behind the wheel simply because they are responsible for children. Do you know if the parents or guardians in your carpool are texting while driving? I admit, while I’ve asked this question to friends on occasion, for the most part I assume that people are doing the right thing. But there’s nothing wrong with asking. We have every right to protect our kids.

2. “Do you keep a gun in your house?”  

The Newtown tragedy was not lost on anyone, certainly not parents of small children. Let’s use this tragedy as a lesson to us all when it comes to gun safety. A few weeks ago, my son was eagerly anticipating a play date with a new friend. The night before the big day, I received an email from the boy’s mom, “Don’t take this the wrong way. But in light of everything that happened this year, do you keep guns in your house?” I was so happy that I wasn’t the only parent asking that question. There is nothing intrusive about ensuring our children are playing in a safe environment. I assured her I don’t have any weapons in my house and we cleared the way for a terrific conversation about modern parenting.

3. “Will there be any other people in your home during the play date?”  

Listen, I’m not a paranoid parent, but when I drop my kids at someone’s house, I want to know about older siblings, friends, visiting uncles or handymen hanging around. When we are alert, we pass this awareness onto our children and we give them a beautiful gift called confidence. When their heads are up, they are better prepared to protect themselves if placed in an uncomfortable position. Abusers seek opportunity.

I always tell my kids this: When you go to pick out a puppy, do you want to take home the puppy who is nipping and barking? Or do you want to take home the puppy that curls up in a ball in your arms? Of course they vote for the snuggly puppy. And then I tell them that abusers think this way when they pick out victims. They want easy prey. When we are confident, when we look people right in the eye and use our strong voices to tell them when we don’t feel comfortable, we are unbreakable. Knowing who is in the house, we can prep our kids with an easy conversation and remind them that if they are ever in a place where they don’t feel right, they should go to a parent and ask for help.

4. “Will the birthday cake have nuts in it? Will nuts be offered at the party?” or, “Does your child have a food allergy?”

According to Food Allergy Research & Education, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy – that’s about two kids in every classroom. With this in mind, the likelihood that an allergy sufferer attends your child’s birthday party is pretty darn good. Peanut is obviously the most prevalent allergy in children, though lots of other issues are out there – eggs, shellfish, gluten, dairy, soy… how can we do the right thing? Some kids know enough to ask the right questions. My son, for example, has been asking, “Are there nuts in this?” since he was two years old. He has a genetic allergy and knows to be vocal. Other kids might just trust that the food is safe. So it’s important for us parents to clear potential danger out of the way by asking about allergies ahead of time. This way the party host has a chance has full disclosure.

But even though the party host may not have an allergy kid, it’s also important for her to ask guests ahead of time. Because the last thing anyone wants to do is serve a strawberry cake with almond extract to a kid with a nut allergy and sit there helplessly while the child breaks out in hives and gasps for air. This is the world we live in now, and these are the precautions we need to take. We can no longer take the “I didn’t know better” approach. Because we do know better. Ask the questions. Protect the child. Protect yourself.

5. “Can you please not use your cell phone or go in my bedroom while babysitting?”  

We may be comfortable assuming that our babysitters know better than to text, play “Words with Friends” and chit-chat on their iPhones while caring for our children. But most likely, this is not the case. Very rarely do teens log out. But it is absolutely acceptable to ask them to turn off electronics while watching our kids. We are paying them to give their full attention to our children, after all. And if there is an emergency, they can use the house phone.

We may also assume that sitters respect our privacy when they’re in the house. But I’ve been shocked to hear many adult friends confess that they used to rifle through bedside goodie drawers and personal spaces of parents for whom they sat as teens. If it’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss casually, write down a short list of expectations for the sitter like this:

  • chicken soup for dinner
  • PG movies only
  • no texting or phone calls while kids are awake
  • be sure toys are put away and kitchen is clean
  • kids in bed by 9pm
  • my bedroom is completely off limits
  • we’ll be home by 11 but call for any problems

By taking time to create clear boundaries, we are letting others know that we value ourselves and our families. This is a good thing. And really, when we share our expectations we are helping everyone by avoiding uncomfortable situations. It’s okay to speak up. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to advocate for our kids’ safety. Safety is the last thing on their minds so it needs to be the first thing on ours.

A Story of Fatherless Daughters and God’s Grace

Screen Shot 2013-06-30 at 5.05.19 PMPreface:

I haven’t seen my Pop in 20 years or so. I’ve forgiven him for skipping out on his fatherly duties and have accepted that he walks a path that leads him far away from home. His dreams were always much bigger than the reality his small suburban family could provide him. He wanted to change the world. And he did so through education.

He taught English through a bilingual program he developed at Boston English High School. He lectured passionately and positively about the growing Latino movement in Boston. He was even invited by Harvard University to do a lecture series about his work. I remember attending one of his lectures and was completely shocked when a swarm of undergrads rushed the lectern after his presentation, praising him for his work and his passion. His students loved him, his teacher community praised him, and his family thought he was nuts.

Pop walked down the street pinching a joint in one hand and flashing a peace sign in the other. His signature look was a “No Nukes” sweatshirt, overalls and long curly hair wrapped up in a red bandanna. No apologies. Crazy genius, I like to call him. I respect him for achieving some pretty amazing things as a teacher and advocate for the Latin community in Boston, though as a father he pretty much sucked.

Today’s story…

In 2001, my husband MG introduced me to Dorchester’s Mother Caroline Academy and Education Center, a tuition-free inner city middle school for bright girls of limited financial means. He’d been involved with the school’s fund-raising mission for some time and brought me to their annual spring event in Jamaica Plain. I remember being greeted by a bunch of smiling girls in plaid kilts, knee socks and over-sized red blazers with shoulder pads – all singing, chattering, laughing and doing double dutch. Suddenly an nun came out of nowhere and jumped between the ropes. She was really good. A couple of other nuns ran in and did the same. It was absolutely adorable. I laughed out loud. And so the love affair with MCAEC began.

After a few years of attending MCAEC’s Spring Gala, their annual fundraiser, I joined the planning committee, eventually co-chairing the event for 3 years. As my family grew, I’d take my babies along with me to the school for meetings. I would sit and breastfeed at the conference table and hand off my full-bellied baby to a friend when it was my turn to speak. I enjoyed the experiences, but longed for a real connection with the girls for whom I spent so much time raising money. Plus I was knee-deep in diapers and nap schedules. So in 2009, I took off my co-chair hat and signed up to mentor a student.

My girlfriends KF and CP also decided the time was right to reach out to one of these amazing Mother Caroline girls. So the three of us attended a meet and greet with the entire 8th grade class at a swank football party in a private box at Foxboro Stadium overlooking the 50 yard line (provided by a generous donor, of course). After a few awkward conversations, I came upon a charming girl, LR – well, “came upon” might be an unfair way to put it. Honestly, I practically gave CP the Heisman to get to her, interrupting their conversation and shoving myself between them. The reason for my boldness, though unknown to me at the time, would be revealed later.  ;-)

LR and I chatted easily for a long while, sharing some pretty personal things about each other and discovering lots of commonalities between us. She’s an old soul. Thoughtful, inquisitive, interesting, genuine, beautiful. I cornered the head of the mentoring program at the end of the game and gushed to her that I had a great conversation with LR and would love to have her as my mentee. As it turned out, LR liked me, too. So we were matched and spent the next few months getting to know each other.

The program head shared with us that typically mentor/mentee relationships start off slow. And I think that’s true for LR and me. Friendship and trust grows over time and as LR has told me, “We have a lot of years to do that.” So we’ve been sporadically setting up outings and getting to know each other. A couple of weeks ago LR and I were in the car together, talking about high schools. I mentioned that my Pop taught English to bilingual students at Boston English. She said, “My Mom went to Boston English.” Some quick math led us to realize that our parents were there at the same time. And LR’s Mom being Puerto Rican, the likelihood of her knowing my Pop was good. Really good. Really really good.

About 8:30 that night LR called and told me that her Mom had class with my Pop, “Mr. Cronin”, and remembered times staying after school with him when he’d tell her about my family and his days living in Honduras with the Peace Corps. Not only that, but she also spent a couple of years as a counselor at Pop’s summer camp “Campamento Hispano Internacional” in Waltham. I had also spent a fair amount of time at that summer camp as a kid, visiting with Pop. Weeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrd.

I’d just spent the last couple of days blogging about coincidences so I was certainly conscious of the ones happening in my life and was well-studied on synchronicities. And right there, on my family room couch, I was living through a pretty major one. I hung up the phone with LR and chewed on the idea for a minute. Then I proceeded to burst into tears. Fat ones. A full-on contorted-face-heaving-chest ugly cry.

I surveyed my mind to figure out why I was having a fit and realized that I was feeling the loving presence of my Pop for the first time in 20 years. I felt our intangible connection through the Universe. I saw the parallels between us, our mutual desire to make the world a better place, and the genetic gifts he gave me that have allowed me to be where I am today. I understood in that moment that God’s power is great. That there are no coincidences. That LR is my karmic gift, one that I am so happy to accept.

The things that had to happen and the timing of which those things had to occur was perfect. Divine. How on earth could something like this happen without God? God is perfection, organizing events in just the right way, even though to us it looks like total chaos. But it’s not total chaos, it’s divine chaos.

For me there has been a paradigm shift. LR fell away from my Mother Caroline family and neatly settled into my soul family. We are part of each others’ weaving labyrinth of life and always have been. And now we know. Now there’s no question, no surprise that I practically gave my dear friend a black eye to get to her at that football game over a year ago. Everything is written.

I thought about the series of events that had occurred over my lifetime and decided this…

Change (in some cases loss) is inevitable. Embrace it. Everything will be okay. And sometimes, what you think is lost forever is really not lost at all. God will bring it back to you in one form… or another.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...