author moments, awareness

Parts Unknown

My radio in my car was on the fritz. I was missing my Sirius XM something fierce. Finally, at long last, it was all fixed up a couple of weeks ago.

What did I miss most? The 80s channel? Yacht Rock Radio? I love those. But both can sort of be replicated on Spotify. Honestly, what I missed the most, what I couldn’t replace, was the CNN Originals channel.

More specifically, I missed listening to episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown. On a long car trip this week, I listened to his travels through San Sebastian and London.

It’s a travel show, about food. Originally presented in a visual medium. So sometimes there are long stretches of listening to people just eat. Plates clanking. Sipping from glasses. Mouth noises.

Then there are the paragraphs in other languages. I’d bet there are subtitles on TV. On the radio, just the original language.

Why would I listen to this?

Honestly, it’s for the writing. The passion in Bourdain’s voice. They say when you lose one of your senses, the others can become heightened. Listening to his description of foods, of people, of places…you hear his thoughtful, meaningful, often funny and insightful words even more clearly. He is just so damn smart.

When I taught writing to future teachers, I would often use examples from Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows that stunned me with their clarity, their originality, their sheer impact. He would make jaw-droppingly smart comparisons. I often felt like I was sitting at the table with him, enjoying a meal, even though we were separated by a screen.

Now we are separated by much more than a screen. His loss still stirs emotions in me. Listening to his voice, his perspective on life, culture, and food, is still something I savor.

Whose writing or perspective on life do you admire?

working women

Inspiration Over the Years

I was inspired by International Women’s Day and a generation competition I competed in recently. It made me think of all the powerful women I have in my life representing different pockets of time. This led me to this inspiration post dedicated to all the powerful women out there in the world.

Meet LT. A gorgeous teen who works hard to find her place in life. Exploding athleticism but the explosiveness she works hard to earn daily. She leads her friends with her spunky personality and drive. I’m always amazed by the resilience in others. Looking forward to seeing how she conquers this crazy world we live in. Living through a pandemic and finding ways to redefine herself has been much of her growing recently. I’m definitely of fan of this girl.

Meet EO. A young mom in her 20’s working hard to support her family. Always finding time to work on herself even when that means juggling life to balance it all. She is a strong woman who inspires many each day in her role in the school system. She tends to chickens on the home front to provide nourishment for her family. She is also extremely fit as shown in this picture. She is a great representation of a strong Latino woman making an impact each day. 

Meet TF. This is one mighty and fierce girl in her thirties who likes to show that she can lift way more than her body weight. Raising two boys on her own. Climbing the corporate ladder by day, parenting 24/7. Putting in work to keep herself physically and mentally fit while showing her boys what hard work looks like and how it pays off in the long run. Dynamite does come in small packages and she is living proof. She is also my tribute to strong Asian women as we live in a world where so much hate is passed on to different ethnicities for some reason. 

Meet SM. Aka “Hooker” for most of her life, although that was never her occupation! Her upside down picture shows her flexibility as she grew up as a dancer for many many years. Current day, this gal is smart, funny and super supportive to her family and her friends. She has a heart of gold and is always up for fun adventures including pretending to be a nurse on occasion. She is always bending and flexing to adapt to the changes we face daily thanks to pandemic life. She is my tribute to being amazing and flexible in your 40’s.

Meet KW. Kim is one of a kind. She is a grandma, fitness enthusiast, motorcycle-riding badass and so much more. Rolling in her 50’s she works hard as a hairdresser making many look beautiful. Spending hours on her feet listening to her clients. An art of sorts but a craft that brings joy to many. No surprise for this girl as she is super caring and has great listening skills. She is my 50-something tribute girl. She wears it well.

Meet AK. She is my super sixties girl. Hard working corporate girl who has left the working world to tend to her ailing husband who happens to be a Marine Veteran. She is prideful, spunky and not shy about speaking her mind. In her words: “I try to be someone who isn’t afraid to share her opinions and speak her truth. I listen with sincerity and don’t allow others’ problems to bring me down, though this is not easy at times. My heart is filled with kindness, generosity, compassion, integrity, a willingness to be vulnerable, and authenticity. Life sometimes throws a curve ball, which sometimes I swing and miss and other times I score a home run.  My priority is my family, my God, my friends, and then everything else that comes my way. “

Meet VS. She is feeling special at her recent 79th birthday bash. Look at her sass and shining personality showcased in this photo. She is here today celebrating 79 years on earth. A mom, a grandma, and a fighter. Battling the odds of her age, her health and her environment. So far she is staying strong during this crazy corona time we have been stuck in for over a year. She is my tribute girl of the 70’s. I hope to be as spirited at her age.

Meet EM. She is my saucy eighties girl. Strong, courageous and beautiful. A mom, a widow, a nana, a great grandma, and so much more. She is a bright light in a room with a story to tell. Living on earth for 83 years lets you see the world through a unique lens. I am happy to say I hear those stories and share them whenever I can. Happy to end this post with this dynamo. 

Throughout the years I have many that inspire me. This reel is a glimpse. A snapshot of inspiring women. Most who have no clue they inspire others. Some have physical strength. Some have mental toughness. Some have years of wisdom and experience. Some have just begun making their mark on the world. Some share their smile and giggles and that can be enough.

I am along for the ride. May all these women inspire you to inspire others. This is a female power post but that doesn’t mean a male can’t appreciate the beauty of it.

Celebrate the strong women in your life today. Maybe it’s your mom, your daughter, your girlfriend, your teacher, your doctor, your dentist or other significant person in your life. Do me a favor and let one of these women in your life know how special they are today. 

Inspiration over the years. This post makes me grin from ear to ear.

family

The Busy Week

It’s Monday night. A long day at the office already. It seems like it should be Friday but the week has just begun. The busy week. As if every week isn’t already busy, this one is extra busy.

Three games for the teenager. 5 days of carpool or riding in circles as I call it. Work. Consulting. Research. Taxes. Oh how the list goes on and on. I wouldn’t be happy sitting idle but a breath of fresh air is good for the soul. As the workday ends, I go into the Monday mist.

As the sun sets the air becomes chillier. The rainy mist on this Monday made it just a bit cooler outside than I like. I was off to game one for the teen this week. I didn’t mind at all. A good break from the crazy. A chance to catch up with and socialize with other families. Just a night in the community with good people.

What makes my evening special is I get to watch and observe my youngest hit the field in a sport she loves to play with some of her favorite pals. Sometimes even playing against pals from across town. The big stage. High school varsity sports. Which at her age is a big life experience. I enjoy being her biggest fan.

I watch her run. I may giggle when she falls. I silently smile when she makes a big play. I celebrate her without looking all crazy in the stands. For a teen it’s not really cool to have that mom who stands out in the stadium. It’s better to just be in the stands, present. Sometimes the silence is what’s needed. No directions just support. I love to be her support in the stands. A security blanket of sorts for the times she gives the stands a glance, if at all.

I have already watched her evolve. I’ve watched her conquer fears. I watch her handle adversity and difficult situations. I watched her smile and cheer on her team. I see her potential. I am super proud of her.

She has talent.

She has guts.

She has strength.

She has fun.

The season has just begun but she is growing through her experiences. She is adapting to whatever is thrown at her. She is training consistently and her efforts are paying dividends. I can’t wait to see where she pushes herself in the years ahead.

I will be watching. I will be cheering. I will be celebrating her. Oh how thankful I am that she can enjoy this season in the midst of pandemic life. One game down for this busy week. Two more to go.

I am and always be her #1 fan. I am always ready for the next game. 

#fangirl

anonymous letters

Graduation Day

 

Recently, someone close to me reached a huge goal. She called me, a mix of relief and joy in her voice, to tell me the news.  She celebrated a graduation day of a special kind.

Not everyone knew what she went through.  Not everyone could see her struggle. Most didn’t even know she was on this path. It was a kind of schooling that she took on not because anyone said she had to.  It was the kind of schooling she took on just for herself. When the time was right, she volunteered.  She committed. Invested. She did the work.

Not many people knew what brought her to the doorstep of that school.  She was pretty quiet about the learning she had to do, the lessons involved, the tests she brought upon herself.  She found her own teacher, someone she thought could help her find her way to her goals. And she worked with that teacher faithfully to learn what she needed to know. She did the work. There is no substitute for doing the work.

Life is full of schools.  Some are official, with bells and class rosters.  Some schools are of our own making, when we decide it’s time to level up, or maybe level out.  There are schools of hard knocks and schools of higher learning. Schools for driving and schools where we learn to be a passenger.  Lessons from classrooms, lessons from the streets, and life lessons that we have to learn over and over again, sometimes the hard way.  But for the most part, once we get past the tweenage years, the schools we attend are by choice.

It takes courage to take ourselves to school when we know we need to learn something but it won’t be fun or easy.  These kinds of schools aren’t required.  No attendance officer is going to call you if you don’t show up.  Holding ourselves accountable can be one of the biggest challenges we face when the topics are tough and the lessons are long. Homework is the deep challenge of learning, unlearning, and relearning how to think and live. We may not get grades, but we know when we’ve failed and when we’ve passed.

It’s not the kind of graduation where she gets a cap and gown. No cords for clubs or uncomfortable seats.  No one is sending her gifts or cards. No diploma will hang on her wall. But she does wave at the crowd, whether you recognize it or not. She smiles with a deeply confident face and a fresh mind. She doesn’t stride across the stage and shake hands. Instead, she treads a quiet victory, walking her new walk every day.

There may be no certificate, no tassel, but still…she tosses her hat into the air in an inspiring way, sharing her journey and her learning as she sees fit.  To witness her journey and her graduation brought me to a new, deep level of respect for her. I celebrate her today and every day, as she bounds toward her next classroom.