When I was young, I had the distinct feeling that time was somehow standing still. Yes, the sun rose and set but the days seemed longer, experiences felt more heightened, and time itself seemed to stretch out so graciously that it was barely noticeable. Now that I’m older and busier, time seems to race by faster than I can measure. Weeks and months go by in a blink. This same phenomenon seems to be true for most people I know, which makes me wonder; if time hasn’t changed (a day has been 24 hours long whether we’ve been nine or forty nine) then why has our perception of time changed as we’ve gotten older? The short answer is – It may be because we’re not paying attention. Continue reading
A few days ago, my daughter was listening to music. Passing by her room, I stopped dead in my tracks at the sound of some comforting lyrics by Jessie J (someone I’d never heard of before). The profound phrase that wafted through the crack in the door was surprising in its simplicity: It’s ok not to be ok.
When Teresa Thaman heard how bad the storm was going to be, she, her daughter and her husband closed themselves in their bathroom and hid under a mattress, just like they’d done every other time a tornado warning had been issued. This time, though, was terribly different. The storm didn’t pass. The windows exploded before the roof tore off, piece by piece, and the wood in the walls cracked apart. Teresa and her family clung to the toilet and tub, unable to comfort one another or even hear each other scream. And as debris pounded the mattress and the suction intensified, she was sure they were going to die.
When the storm passed and the family emerged from a pile of wood and rubble, dirt filled their mouths, eyes and pockets, and the once varied skyline was leveled flat for miles. Family heirlooms, photographs, every piece of furniture and clothing they’d ever owned were all gone – taken in a matter of minutes by the 2011 Joplin tornado. Continue reading
For a long time I’ve had two identities. Most days I’m a working mom: reliable, responsible and professional. I go to work, pay the bills, and do the things most mothers do to run a home and raise a child. But then there are those few nights a month I let go of all of my inhibitions and get in touch with the deepest part of myself. It’s a place I’ve never been able to describe, but have always needed to access to feel whole. With emotional hunger and a sense of abandon, I shed any trace of convention, walk into a crowded room with the company of four men… and pick up a microphone. The next few hours can only be described as transcendent, an amazing exchange of energy, expression and passion between musicians and an audience. People express their good-natured envy all the time; I’m a mom who gets to be a diva.
But all good things must come to an end. Continue reading
Just two weeks ago, the world watched in awe as Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West, in shark-infested water without a protective cage. Throughout the 100 mile trip, the endurance swimmer contended with harsh wind, exceptionally cold water, fatigue and jellyfish. Hardly a novice, Nyad had attempted the crossing four times before, each time dealing with storms, asthma attacks, a swollen tongue and lips, and even vomiting due to excessive intake of salt water. But all of this isn’t even the most impressive part to me. Her fifth and final attempt took 53 hours, resulting in a historic achievement, all at the tender age of 64. Continue reading
As my daughter nears her sixteenth birthday, I’m noticing that her growth as a person is increasing exponentially with each year. In the old days, her maturity was happily and easily measured by annual report cards and steadily increasing clothing sizes during each year’s back-to-school shopping spree. These days, her rites of passage are tougher to measure because her maturity and eagerness, like her longer legs, make for bigger steps at a much faster rate. First steps and words have given way to her first job, later curfews, excitement for driving, SAT’s and saving to travel abroad (without a parent, mind you). And as we discuss plans for college, a career and a life of her own, I’m full of pride and anticipation. After all, my little girl has grown to be a passionate, intelligent and independent young woman. But as she approaches the mid-point of her high school career I’m also struck with a bit of melancholy, because despite my long-held belief that children are only on loan to us – I never understood how quickly that loan would be due.
In the midst of the challenges and chaos of our day to day existence, it’s easy to forget that there’s a world of opportunity out there. Sure, we dream of alternate careers, travel, starting a new business, moving to that distant place we’ve always dreamed about, learning to play the piano. We even imagine how rewarding it would be, but at the end of the day we often file these cravings away in folders labeled Someday, Pipe Dreams or Impossible. The reality is, many of our dreams don’t have to be “out there” at all. They’re not only possible, they’re attainable with some planning and work. And the only things stopping us are two little words…. “I can’t.” Continue reading
There’s a section of the Alps between Austria and Italy that’s so incredibly steep and high, that it was considered impossible to cross years ago. Because it was treacherous even for pack animals, travelers had no choice but to take the long journey around it. It was inconvenient. It was costly and it was time consuming. And even though people wished for a path through the mountains, they also said it couldn’t be made. Carl von Ghega built one anyway. It took twelve years and 20,000 workers, but the determined engineer designed and oversaw the construction of a railway that consisted of 41 kilometers of track, 14 tunnels, 16 viaducts and 111 bridges.
But the most amazing part? He built the railway before there was a train in existence that could make the trip.
They say “change is good” and, for the most part, I agree. After all, without a healthy dose of change life would be boring and spiritless. But what happens when the force of change doesn’t knock on the door but, instead, knocks down your whole house? Continue reading