Archive | May, 2016

It Wasn’t Just a Freeway Sign

30 May

I see his name every time we drive to Legoland. At first it didn’t mean much. I didn’t know him. Just some guy’s name on the side of the freeway.

But I realized later that this wasn’t some guy. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg made me aware.

Now granted Spielberg is a bowl of cinematic awesomeness, and when combined with the passion of storytelling that is Tom Hanks … man! They open your eyes and make you care about the lives of these people, people who shouldn’t be forgotten.

He had been awarded The Congressional Medal of Honor because of his courageous efforts during the Battle of Guadacanal, and was given The Navy Cross posthumously. United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone was killed in Iwo Jima during WWII. He had just been married a couple of months before.

I enjoyed learning about his strength and character in the story, but I imagine in real life there was so much more to this down to Earth guy who believed so much in doing the right thing. He probably had a favorite baseball team, a favorite spot on the beach, a favorite meal he liked to enjoy with his mom, a favorite spot where he found peace, or something that always made him laugh.

I was sad to learn that he had died on the battlefield, bravely, but nevertheless his life ended there. But I was glad that I became aware of his story.

 

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I had no idea who he was until 2010, and now every Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day I think of him and the sacrifices he made so that I could hang out with my kids at amusement park surrounded by Legos, or splashing in the waves at the beach. There were a lot of men, and boys, that died on the battlefield and today was one of the days that I’m reminded  … Be grateful.

There are a lot of people in history that have gone unnoticed, some have dedications and plaques, while others do not. But regardless of whether they’re famous or not, they all deserve to be remembered for trying to make our world a better and safer place, in between the hamburgers on the grill or sandcastles on the beach, remembering unsung heroes is important.

They provide us with opportunities of happiness that might not have been there.

 

 

 

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Lost and Found

28 May

Sometimes you give it 100% and feel like you failed anyway. It’s the Parenthood mantra.

People don’t like to admit their failures. I don’t know, they want to feel like they can be on the cover of Parents Magazine, looking like the weather chick on your local news with three kids in matching outfits, harvesting their organic produce and skipping in their garden. They want people to see them that way.

But it’s all good. I’m not one them. I’m a Failure Survivor. The gray hairs on my head are the scars that prove it. Parenthood is both a joy and a battle.

But most of the time at the end of the day you’re so exhausted that you forget about some of the joys that warmed your heart throughout the day. You forget about the small victories that took place during the day because the failures tend to overshadow such things, which is why practicing gratitude is so important when you’re a parent. Gratitude and finding the funny, those have been my compasses throughout these parenting years.

They help find things that get lost.

Whether it’s in the moment, or at night when it’s just you, Netflix and a cup of tea your compasses help you remember.

Moments of gratitude. They help when chocolate is gone.

 

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Celebrating at the finish line.

 

Like today … I remembered about the front-door parking at the stadium, the smiles of making it to the starting line for the first wave of the race, the laughter and dancing of the finish line party, and the hugs of knowing it was a good Parenthood day.

 

 

 

Discover Challenge: Apology

23 May

Two words.

That’s all it takes.

Some people are not strong enough, big enough, human enough to say it. They don’t know the power behind it, don’t know why.

It helps glue the pieces back together. It works like a Band-Aid. It doesn’t necessarily stop the hurt, but it stops the bleeding.

It’s not that hard. It really shouldn’t be, because it’s a part of love. When you break someone’s heart, when you fail to be there, when cross the line, when you let someone down, when you make them ache, when you make them cry, when you make them feel less, when you’re unkind, when you make a mistake, when you forget, when they look for a friend and you’re no where to be found.

They restore.

It’s a step closer to forgiveness, but it makes it harder to forgive when the words are not there or when they’re empty. Sometimes they never will be there. It happens to a lot of people. They’re left there waiting for it. They deserve to hear it, but sometimes it never comes and what’s left is a hole that keeps getting bigger, and a struggle to keep going and push through.

But eventually, you come out the other side even if you didn’t hear it. You pushed through with the hole in your heart and know you were worthy of those words. You were worthy of them, and you move on.

You let go.

But it would have been so much easier had they said those words …

I’m sorry.

Yup, like a Band-Aid.

I’m sorry, works better than chocolate and wine.

 

Discover Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Face

18 May

 

 

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The  Guilty Face … I miss it.

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post.

 

 

The Orange Dictionary and One Page Left

16 May

I remember taking a moment and thinking I should keep it. I should keep it.

And I did.

But in my early 30s, after having moved for the third time in four years, it didn’t survive. It got tossed around in boxes and then eventually tossed in the recycling pile. I remember pausing for a moment, thinking I should keep it. It was Erick’s. I should hold onto it just in case, but I didn’t and I remember feeling a little twinge the next morning when it was gone.

That orange hardcover dictionary with the word DICTIONARY in bold white courier font. He used it during his high school years to look up words he didn’t know, then look up those words in his Spanish-English dictionary, and then finally have an A-ha! moment after twenty minutes because he had finally figured out what they were asking him. He could finally answer.

My uncle Erick … he was more than just an uncle, he was the brother I never had, my role model growing up, my compass when I lost my footing. He showed me education can definitely create change. He was the first one in our family to graduate from college. He was there for me when I was learning my ABCs  and stood by me when I crossed the graduation stage myself. I knew when he had his own family he would be a great dad.

And he was …

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Uncle Erick … very proud of the pumpkin skills that took place here with his daughter.

So when he died of cancer, when his daughter was only 10 years old, it broke my heart. I knew he was scared, not of death, but of not being in his daughter’s life, watching her grow, dancing at her quinceanera, and clapping for her as she crossed the stage in her cap and gown.

I knew he wanted to be there. So I made sure a part of him would be there with her for all those milestones. I interviewed him and made a scrapbook for her. Quotes, advice, stories, pictures. Messages and things he’d want to say to her when life happened, he was able to do that, to say some of those things.

I’d been giving these pages to her throughout the years, and now 11 years later, after her college graduation I only have one page left. One, and I so wish I still had that dictionary, because it was more than just a book of words, it was a part of his road to success. It was part of his work ethic.

But I didn’t know he was going to die when the dictionary got thrown away. I didn’t know he was gonna get sick. Nobody did. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink. He got the cancer just because he got it. And now I only have one page left.

I gave her the college page this weekend, followed by a hug and the I’m-proud-of-you speech, and the I-know-your-dad-is-proud-of-you-too whisper in the ear.

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My uncle, who helped raise me, was there that day too, sitting in the audience with me. His words were there, in black ink, scribbled in his slanted handwriting written during the last days of his life. He wanted to make sure he was there, and I was glad to have made that possible, because he was always there for me.

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Discover Challenge: Chance Encounter

11 May

I don’t run into anybody by chance, while clocking in at “the office,” because there is no office. I don’t run into anyone while I’m my lunch break, because I don’t get breaks. I’m not on a 9-5 schedule so most of my chance encounters happen with words.

I hear something that someone says in a movie, song,  book, lecture, Netflix, or in a documentary and it sticks.

It stays with me and changes something in me. It helps align things that are off-center, or gives me an A-Ha! Moment, or makes me feel like I’m on the right track. Sometimes it just opens my eyes when I had no idea they were closed. Sometimes it happens with people during unexpected moments in life, but most of the the time, it happens with words.

 

“The predicament that you are in right now does not define your destiny … You otta look at every negative situation in your house and say … you’re a liar! I don’t believe you.”

— TD Jakes

 

That was a good chance encounter.

 

 

Discover Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

6 May

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post

 

IWSG: I Didn’t Think Sushi Would Be Inspirational

4 May

Always … look ahead and above yourself.

Always try … to improve on yourself.  Always strive to elevate your craft.

That’s what he taught me.

–Yoshikazu Ono (Jiro’s Son)

 

I never thought I’d find inspiration through Sushi … to continue the writing journey, to see room for improvement, to keep striving and walking on the yellow-brick road … never saw it coming.

It’s fish, right?

Jiro would probably say … you don’t get it … if you just see fish … you don’t get it.

And he’d be right.

This story is not for you.

I have a different vision of it and of the chefs who take the time to create this art.

Always try …

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It’s a story that caught my eye … been in my Netflix queue for some time now … but I pressed play and gained a new perspective. It’s good as a writer to refresh your perspective even after an accomplishment. It’s good not to settle too long on a stepping stone, remembering those gold stars. Looking ahead on what else you can create, what you can improve upon is on deck.

Here’s this 80-something year-old man, whom I’ll probably never meet, and his 50-something year old son, teaching me something about craft, about striving, about persistence, about trying to be better than you were last time.

Commitment to passion.

I didn’t think Sushi would inspire.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi was the documentary that kept the inspirational spark burning. It touched a little on failure, but didn’t say things were epic fails, just said apprentices would keep trying until they got it right. Keep trying to master your craft.

That’s the thing about writing, sometimes it may feel like a failure because you can’t get the story right, or it wasn’t received well, but you can’t look at it that way, just have to keep trying. Even when things go great and the story is published or the play is produced, you’ve got to keep trying. The effort to improve continues. Always try …

It stuck with me … that simple message.

As a writer there have been many times when things didn’t look great from a creative or financial perspective, and I’d voluntarily or involuntarily place myself on hiatus. But after watching Jiro’s story and that of his sons, I think those self-imposed breaks will no longer take place.

I’ll just have to keep trying, trying to do better, because cultivating your passion takes undeniable effort and continued pursuit. Even when you’re insecure at times, like all writers and artists are from time to time, passion should outweigh insecurity in the end.

Always try … I’ll keep Jiro and Yoshikazu in mind.