New Dreams for MLK Day

Today is the solemn anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. I would like to use this post as a tribute to MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Given all that has transpired since the 2016 elections, I would like to add some clauses to the dream…
I have a dream that the leader of the US will believe in and uphold the principles of the Constitution that all men and women are created equal and have the right to free speech. This includes the freedom of the press- not the suppression or demonization of it.

I have a dream that children will no longer need to practice lockdown drills and people can freely walk their neighborhoods and attend concerts without fear of being gunned down because the Supreme Court will realize that the intentions of the second amendment are not reflected in today’s reality.

I have a dream that race and ethnicity no longer matter as we all recognize that we have immigrants in our near or distant ancestors; and that people do not come from “s…hole” countries, but are judged by the situation they are in which brings them to seek residence in the US.

I have a dream that healthcare and social security will become civil rights. With the prospect of artificial intelligence taking away our jobs and well-being, we need a safety net that puts human beings before corporate profits.

I have a dream that nuclear war is never again on the tip of our tongues. There will be no reason to panic that we are about to be attacked, because we have all signed a nuclear armistice and have plans to deactivate our warheads.

I have a dream that people embrace the truth of science and history and agree to accept facts as facts and not seek to find their own “alternate facts”.

I have a dream that we can come together and compromise through civil debate and drop our partisan leanings for the common good; because we are not influenced by money, hate or tweets.

I have a dream where voting districts are drawn fairly and do not give excessive advantages to one party over another. And where people can vote without fear of being called in by ICE or the IRS. There should be no hardships presented to voters due to identification complications.

I know this is a lot to dream about, and it will not happen without action on the part of everyday citizens like ourselves. So write to your representatives, speak out at local meetings and events and contribute to causes that speak to your heart. We should each do what we can to make this world a better place tomorrow than it is today. That would be a fine tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King.

Newest Family Member brings back old feelings

I remember feeling this way over 20 years ago, the night before my son was born. I was in labor and would soon be heading to the hospital- leaving my daughter in the care of her grandma. I recall thinking:”What have we done? Why did we think we should have a second child? How can I love another baby as much as I love this one?”

In hindsight, it seems naive or foolish to think our love is finite. Of course, the instant my infant son was places in my arms I fell in love all over again. All that dread and doubt were a waste of energy. However, today I have the same questions going through my head. I have been in a different type of labor: moving items I don’t want to become chew toys, protecting cords and outlets, setting up gates; all as part of puppy-proofing my house.

Tomorrow we will be driving to the home of the breeder and collecting our 8-week old bundle of joy. Our elder dog will stay home, even more clueless than my 2 1/2 year old was that by this time tomorrow he will have a sibling. This newest member of the family will mean a permanent sharing of attention with the human parents; but it will also give him an opportunity to be a mentor and role model, as well as someone to love or at least snuggle with when we are out of the house.

I know I will love the new puppy as much as I love my beloved Cockapoo, who will still be the King of the Hill. He will still be allowed special privileges for seniority and good behavior. Cooper will still sleep on our bed; puppy will sleep in the crate. Cooper can roam the house and yard; puppy is confined to puppy-proof areas. Cooper can enjoy some treats from our dinner plates; puppy will stick with his puppy food.

I am hopeful that Puppy will motivate Cooper to be more active and boost his energy level. At the same time, I hope Cooper will be a good example of how to behave, perhaps making our training a little bit easier. I really shouldn’t compare children and dogs, but it is kind of ironic that just as my daughter moves out and begins medical school, we add a new puppy to the family. So I can assure you that, contrary to what the term “empty nest” implies, our days of “finally empty nest” will be quite lively!

*By the time I was able to publish this post, Puppy has been named Dino (“Dee-no”).

Skipping over the Middle Generation

The image of my adult children sitting on the patio, sipping cocktails with my mother makes me realize that: a) I am getting older, and b) I am no longer a crucial link in their connections, so therefore c) I must have done something right as a parent.

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Cheers!

My son and daughter took their first extended trip together and flew across the country- taking a break from work and other obligations. Of all the exotic or exciting places they could have chosen to spend their vacation time, they desired to see their grandmother. None of us had seen her since my daughter’s commencement last spring. Since then, a lot of things have happened for the better or worse and it definitely felt like a visit was long overdue.

We have traveled as a family for an annual visit almost every year, but this time the “kids” took matters into their own hands and planned their trip without the Middle Generation getting involved. As much as I would have loved to join them, I knew this would be a wonderful way for the two of them to reconnect with their grandmother on their own terms and without any interference from me. In fact, if my husband or I had been there, the dynamics of the visit would have been much different.

By skipping over the middle generation, the grandparent and grandchildren had no competition for attention and knew exactly where they stood in relation to the members of their trio. From the limited text messages or photos I received during the week, I could tell they were enjoying each other’s company. They also felt they could speak openly to her and tap into her life experiences and non-judgmental personality. In exchange, she was able to form a new bond with her grandchildren as adults with their own goals and dreams.

While it would have been nice to be a fly on the wall, overhearing all the interesting conversations they likely had, I am very happy to know they had this special time together without me. It is nice to know that the middle generation doesn’t always need to be the mediator or facilitator to make things happen. And as I reflect on the thought of the cocktail hour on the patio, between a grandmother and her now adult grandchildren, all I can say is how grateful I am that our family has this strong intergenerational bond. I am content that I have done my job.

Here’s to Adventure!

At some point in our lives, we come to the realization that our kids don’t need us as much as they used to and our parents are thankfully still in good health and independent. We are semi-retired and have more time for vacationing than we used to. One child is about to graduate from college and the other is soon leaving to pursue his musical interests on the road. So, it seems like the perfect time for Husband and I to make our own plans.

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Home is where you park it!

For years we have been fantasizing about getting a camper and going on our own adventures around the country. He introduced me to camping and I fell in love with being out in the National Parks, away from the stresses of everyday life. Well, a few weeks ago we found the perfect couple’s trailer and dove in! Last weekend we took her on her maiden voyage at a beautiful state park on Otsego Lake. IMG_0902

The weather was less than cooperative, but we had heat, electricity and indoor plumbing- much more glamorous than tent camping. In fact, if we had been confined to a tent all weekend, I would have cancelled the trip. Instead, the rain gave us an excuse to curl up with our books and still enjoy the nature views without getting cold and wet.

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We were able to get out for some walks and use the outdoor fire pit and grill in the evenings. Our dog was very compliant and didn’t go chasing after any wildlife and the three of us had a very cozy and relaxing weekend away from it all.

On our way home, we wrote down a list of minor projects to make things even better (e.g. a place to store books, a permanent trash can, an outdoor rug and shoe storage). But we couldn’t have been happier. We ate well and we were very comfortable on our real queen size bed- no more air mattresses and sleeping bags for us.

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Part of me felt like this was cheating. My late brother-in-law would have certainly called it that. He enjoyed the rugged lifestyle we shared on our camping adventures. However, as I sat inside with my book and listened to the patter of the rain on the roof, I could imagine him knocking on our door and asking if he could come in out of the chill and have a cup of tea.

We are looking forward to many more adventures this year!

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Childhood Memories

I have been doing a lot of reading about memory and memory loss lately- probably a combination of my career and personal interests as my clients and my family age. The topic that I have found fascinating is how things related to sensory perception (e.g. music, art, tactile objects) can trigger memories from long ago.

I experienced one such flashback this morning. I had made myself a breakfast of two sunny side up eggs and an english muffin with butter and strawberry jam.  It wouldn’t seem like anything extraordinary at first, but once I sat down and started to take a few bites something happened.

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As I cut through the runny yolk and watched it spill onto the plate, I dipped my jam- covered muffin into it and swirled it around. All of a sudden I pictured myself sitting at a dark oval table with yellow country curtains on the window behind me. My grandmother had just served me two easy over eggs for breakfast and was trying to convince me to eat them. I didn’t like the gooey substance, much less the pungent taste.  Then I heard my grandmother tell me to put a dab of raspberry jam in the yolk and mix it together. It sounded like a weird enough thing to do that I tried it. Amazingly, I ate my eggs like that for most of my childhood. It was only as I got older that my tastes evolved enough to try sunny side up eggs with just some salt and pepper.

As I continued to savor my eggs this morning, every time I swirled the muffin through the yolks until it was soaked through along with the jam, I had the happiest feeling that I was in my grandmother’s kitchen once again and remembered how kind and loving she had been. Wonderful childhood memories!

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Caretakers of the Earth

As a member of the Middle Generation, most of my blogs involve stories about people- both older and younger than me. Today, however, I would like to point out that the Middle Generation is also responsible for taking care of our planet. We are the bridge between what was left to us by our parents and grandparents and what we leave to our children and grandchildren.

We may think our actions do not make a difference, but I saw something this afternoon that gives me hope…

Several years ago, the plight of the Monarch butterflies became a national interest. Their disrupted migration patterns and disappearance from their regular habitats  were showcased in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior”- which gave readers the beautiful image of what a wonder these creatures are!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch_butterfly

Shortly after reading the book, which consequently spurred multiple discussions and pleas for help in the news, I decided to take a small step and see if I could help save the Monarchs from extinction.

One of the trails in my neighborhood is a host site for Milkweed- the native food supply for Monarchs. I transplanted several roots into my garden in the hopes that I could attract the precious butterflies. Each year, the plants spread and produced more roots. This June, I saw beautiful flowers on them for the first time! Sadly though, even with the flowers in peak season, not a single Monarch came to drink. I was sitting on my deck a week ago, thinking what a shame and that maybe my efforts had been futile. I even considered pulling them all out at the end of the season.

http://blog.nwf.org/2015/02/twelve-native-milkweeds-for-monarchs/

 

Miraculously then, it seems, today I spotted a bright orange butterfly- which I can only believe was a Monarch- flitting around amongst my patch of Milkweed! I only saw one- but if she laid her eggs on one of my plants- maybe in a few weeks there could be dozens of caterpillars! And after that, another metamorphosis into fill-blown butterflies!

http://www.monarch-butterfly.com/

I didn’t dare go closer to disturb the process. Maybe in a few days I will check if there are any eggs, but for now you will have to accept these images I found on the web. And until then,  I am hopeful that I may have assisted this majestic species in its survival effort.

I can’t say that saving one butterfly is enough, but if that butterfly reproduces and its offspring reproduces and so on- it could make a difference in the long run. Just think what could happen if everyone was able to save one Monarch?

So my message to you is:  find a cause that you believe in and do your best to support it- whether it is for clean air or water, saving an endangered species or any other aspect of climate change. If we each do our part as caretakers of the earth, we can hopefully leave this world in better condition for the next generations.

UPDATE: 8/5/17

I spotted this caterpillar on the milkweed leaf this afternoon. I verified that it is indeed a Monarch.  The pictures  below show it’s parent laying the eggs a few weeks ago. Now I just hope it makes its way through the chrysalis stage without getting consumed by a predator.

  

Update 9/28/17

I do not have photos to back this 3, but over the course of the last 2 months I have seen numerous solo monarchs in flight! One at a time, not colonies, but every time I see one I get excited ! If everyone keeps doing their part, maybe we can help this magnificent species recover…

Celebrating Independence

On this beautiful day, July 4th 2017, I am taking a few minutes to reflect on the steps I have recently taken towards independence of a different sort…

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About 2 months ago, my co-workers and I were laid off due to losing our grant funding. It was not completely unexpected, but it still left each of us scrambling to deal with things in different ways. These ways were generally determined by where each of us was in our decades of life. We were all female, but we ranged in ages from our mid 20s to early 50s. Some of us were married or divorced, others were single; some of us had children, but they were between 5 and 20 years old.

One of the youngest of my colleagues, still in her 20s, had the greatest mobility. With nothing holding her down, she packed up and moved to another city before she even had a job lined up. She was fortunate enough that her parents were able to provide some transitional support.
The members in their 30s and 40s were at different stages described above- which determined how quickly they were willing to find new employment. These decisions were largely driven by the need to afford child care and health insurance for their families.
I was one of the oldest employees and was in a unique situation. My husband had retired a few years previously and my kids were almost full-blown adults. While it was convenient that my job had provided health insurance for all of us, it was not a deal breaker to finding my own path.
I did look at a few job possibilities, but I have long had the idea in the back of my mind of forming my own business. Well- what better reason than to give it try- here and now- than due to this upset to my career path? Thus, within a few weeks I filed paperwork for my own company, attended networking events and developed a business plan. In the next few weeks I hope to start contacting clients and setting up programs for this fall.
It may not go as smoothly as it sounds, but I am prepared for the challenges. Besides, knowing that this is completely self-driven and that I have the independence to make my own decisions, is both exciting and liberating!
I may not have had the confidence nor the time and means to do this when I was in my 30s. Now, however, I am ready to take the risks without knowing what the rewards will be. In my mind, it would be more regrettable to have never tried than to have failed. My new-found independence will not be an uphill battle; it will be an adventure!

To borrow from Brainy Quotes “Quote of the Day”

Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.
Daniel J. Boorstin

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes_of_the_day.html

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