Friday, January 31, 2014

Z is for Zen

The last post for the Writers of Kern A-Z challenge is Z for Zen. No need to fret, my legs aren't crossed and there are no monotone hums vibrating from my lips. Whenever I try yoga (or any type of meditation) I look like a deformed duck or an uncoordinated toddler. My zen is a different type. It's the aura at the finish. The hours of contemplation after closing the cover of a fantastic book. The last sentence of a letter. The wiping of tears from a heart-wrenching movie. It's that moment when I became aware of the world around me and yet, the feel or the pull, the necessity to be alone and process my own thoughts and emotions.
That is where I am.
I finished The Fault In Our Stars which is a compelling story of two teenagers finding love and battling cancer. Yes, it's intriguing. Yes, it's memorable. But that's not what triggers the euphoria that lasts for days. It's the beautiful words laced together, the poetry found in simple letters that has me recalling the story. For me, great literature is when I can strip a few sentences from the novel and paste them in my own life. Something deep inside me changes, bit by bit from the beauty of the words.
It's the same with music. It's not the lyrics or the instruments, it's the feeling that wells inside of me. I remember reading The Giver as a child (several times over) and discovering  zen for the first of many times. It wasn't the beginning of my life-long love affair of books, but it was the trigger of a deeper, more meaningful approach to stories - the upgrade from girlfriend to wife.
The eternal search for zen propels me forward in my own quest for literature greatness. I want my story to stay lit in the minds of readers. I want them to discover words that speak to them, begging for eternal life in their hearts. I want them to find their zen between the pages of my manuscript. Unless of course they'd prefer to master the art of yoga, heaven knows I never will.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Y is for You

I have a confession. I tell my daughters why I love them. It's a problem - and here is why...
When my husband was out of town for two weeks my oldest daughter would wake early in the morning to make lunches for her sisters. She would insist on morning prayers and schedules kept. She is intrinsically motivated to do everything by the book. The world is painted in strict black and white lines. She wants nothing more than to be and do right. For three straight years she was honored with Student of the Year award. She out-read (by over 100 points) her entire grade last year. She strives for perfection and praise.

But sometimes I forget that perfection comes in many forms.

My middle daughter doesn't color in the lines. She rips the pages from the book and creates her own picture. She embarrasses her older sister with her imaginative stories and colorful ensembles. She doesn't march to the beat of her own drum - there is no drum, there is only her.

Charm rolls from her tongue, friends flock to her, and adults adore her. But her mother wants to kill her. As cute as she is, it's incredibly hard to teach (or discipline) a child who's never had her feet touch the ground. 

My oldest has thrown her hands in the air. She's frustrated because through her diligence she has earned her way at the head of the class. Yet her sister floats about from one fantasy to the next, coming down only when a teacher or parent demands her attention. She aces the task, and promptly excuses herself from reality.

Yesterday, I stood in my house wondering how to reach my middle child. I had a stack of papers from her teacher (she had stared off into space the day before and hadn't done her classwork). I walked from room to room and saw only her clothes scattered throughout the house, her written stories littered in various rooms, and her art projects plastered on several walls. 
I questioned why she couldn't be more like her older sister. Why couldn't she at least pretend she listened to me, or anyone.

Today, I would teach her a lesson.

She greeted me outside the school and slipped her hand in mine. I tried not to mirror her dimpled smile, that kid was too cute for her own good. She froze, pulling me to a stop.

"Today was the best day ever," She clapped her hands together. My heart sank. I couldn't discipline her now, her smile had reached her eyes. "____ got Best in the West today. I am so super proud of him. He so deserved it. I am like beyond happy!"

The boy my daughter mentioned had been struggling. I had forgotten her devotion to him. And to every kid that was different. In that moment she reminded me of when her older sister was being bullied and she intervened, not caring that she was a fraction of the girl's size. I had forgotten how she held my hand when my dog died.

Today, she had taught me a lesson I hope never to forget. 

She doesn't value the world the same way as her sister, or her mother. Nor does she value people in the same light. Everyone's a person. And every color has a purpose. It's not a black and white world but a colorful, fantastic world. And one day, I hope to see it through her rainbowed set of eyes.

I hope to tell her, I love her. Not because of what she does but rather who she is. I need to say, "I love you, because you're you" and nothing more.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

X is for XX chromosome

Ten years ago, after my hands gave out from gripping the bathroom counter, I told myself that although I was pregnant, I'd be a great mother of boys. Because that's what I  decided I would have. I even had the name picked out. It was done.
 I may, or may not, have been a wee bit wrong. Times three.
 Over the course of four years we added two more dogs and a cat to our brood of three daughters - and yes, they are female as well. Apparently, there's only room for one XY chromosome in this crib and that position is dutifully filled by my husband.
 Our lives consist primarily of the color pink along with braids and Disney movies.
 Babies (human and animal) are greeted with squeals, followed by unending requests to take one (or two) home.
 We don't simply "walk" from one room to the next. We glide, we dance, we skip, we twirl...and yes, you will be corrected if you lack a certain giddiness.
 There is enough hair in our house to make Rapunzel retire to that tower once more.
 Despite boasting eight bookshelves in three rooms, there are books littered from the living room and on down the hallway, the crumbs of devoured stories.
 Our laundry is heavy on the color and light on the black, these girlies want their outfits to "pop." Yes, that was a direct quote.
 But I wouldn't have it any other way. My daughters have taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible. I prayed for a son because I wasn't confident in my maternal and feminine side. But these darlings came with their own agenda. They sat me down and let me know how this life was going to be played out. There was going to be shopping, curling irons, and polished nails. I was going to be a mother of three girls - funny enough, I'm not half bad.

W is for Wedding

Nearly eleven years ago I spent a week blowing into a brown paper sack and whispering reassurances to myself - in other words, I got married.
This last weekend, I was able to walk my youngest sister through the motions (craziness) of becoming a bride.

It's a strange phenomenon. You meet someone, fall hopelessly (and somewhat foolishly) in love. You dance, you date and then he bends down on one knee. He slips a small metal ring on your finger. The invitations are sent, the flowers are bound and you've shimmied yourself into white dress.
And then...
You panic.
You analyze every moment leading up to the dreaded wedding. Every embrace, every conversation...down to the inflection of each word exchanged. Your hands tremble, your voice shakes - and then, you're a wife.
The building didn't implode, your hair didn't catch fire and the photographer isn't naked.
Life will go on.
And p.s., it'll be great.
I stood with my three children and husband behind my youngest sister with the sure knowledge, the ultimate comfort, that I made the best decision of my life nearly eleven years ago.
I wish all the joy (and the angst) for my sister and her groom. The late nights with crying children and the sweet kisses from those same adoring kids. Because just before every great moment is a hesitation, a question. The greatest athletes and writers alike analyze the seconds before their crowning moment. My "finish line" started an amazing journey through two states and three degrees, not to mention, a fantastic family of my own.
Cheers to the newly weds, may you have many moments of greats and finishes!

V is for Vernacular

Every family has a favorite movie or story, but it's the language that binds siblings and parents together. For instance, not feeling well means they'll live. Sick means the meds have been exhausted and the fever still won't come down - urgent care, here we come.
 Sleeping holds the record for definitions. If I'm referring to my husband or oldest daughter, it means a 9.5 earthquake couldn't shake the slumber from their bones. If it's in reference to my middle daughter, that means she's having a private conversation in her bedroom, with her eyes closed. If I'm referring to my youngest, I'm joking. Or cursing. The kid DOES NOT sleep. Ever.
 Freezing when referencing the weather means anything below 60 degree, at least for this California born and bred girl. There's a reason I couldn't survive in the snow.
Root beer means a quick run to A&W's drive thru for a gallon of their goodness (and if you're really lucky a dollop of home-made ice cream)
Running errands is my favorite little nugget. It means listening to my youngest daughter sing her little heart out to every song on the radio or on her Disney movies. Life doesn't get any better than this.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year's Race

(So sorry, Writers of Kern Challenge - this post is not part of the A-Z challenge)

Last year I ran the inaugural New Year's Race in downtown L.A. We ran through historic buildings and in Dodger's stadium. It was far too much fun to pass up when the invitation came for 2014's race.
 This time, we brought three of our friends to join in the fun. We stayed at the host hotel, The Biltmore. I love the history and the story behind the old buildings. 
Few things cement friendships like 13.1 miles. 
Happy New Year, my friends!

U is for Unique

I asked (or maybe yelled) down the hall for my middle daughter. For the fourth time. Why? Because she takes exponentially longer than her sisters to get ready in the morning. She isn't primping in the bathroom or trying on new clothes - she's trying on different characters.
Every morning is a new day, and a new person. It's much more of a revolving door than just a few years before. In Pre-K she refused to be called by her given name. Instead, she only answered to Toby, from the movie Astroboy. Her teacher finally succumbed and subsequently her classmates. Eighteen months later, she became Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.
I put my foot down, I was NOT going to yell "Toothless" at our local park. Not happening.

Today, she is Lily Potter (she conned Grandpa into taking out dark lens from the 3-d frames). She's complete with an English accent and a quirky tick every time she says her p's or t's. By tick, I mean her left shoulder circles along with her hip jutting out. She looks more like the victim of a break dancing session gone very wrong.
When her friends laugh and call her "weird" she responds with "I'm unique, you know, creative."
Her older sister tried to teach her how to dress properly. Her retort? "It's okay if you lost your imagination. I'll still love you."

T is for Tradition

I was born the daughter of an artist, a goldsmith to be precise. Before my elementary school days, I played for hours in the back of my father's jewelry store. It was only the two of us, day after day. When I turned twelve, the adoption of my siblings became finalized. I was no longer the younger sister. No more was I the baby of the family. I was now the second of six. But every Saturday after my horse back riding lessons, I was only one of one. I had my dad's undivided attention.
That year, while my family readied the house for Christmas Eve dinner, my dad and I spent the evening working side by side until the last shopper left. During the tumultuous teenage years I would find solace in the store on Saturdays. Dad had a knack for listening to my narcissist rants fueled by raging hormones and lack of perspective. He'd tease and grin but never - never would he correct or chide. When I was sixteen and attending the junior college, Dad closed his store to see my final in a colt breaking class. He snapped pictures while I beamed alongside an obedient horse. It was our last Saturday of the semester, my last month living in my parents' house.
But it wasn't sad. Why? Dad and I still had Christmas Eve.
I would fly home every year, continuing the tradition. Whether I was newly wed or swollen with child, I would work Christmas Eve. The holidays wouldn't hold the magic of Christmas or the sparkle of the season until that day. Time had always been my love language, and to have a whole day with my dad every year of my life is a gift beyond price.