New Memories With Old Friends

The Village at Northstar Tahoe, Truckee California 

It goes without saying, the holidays can be the hardest time for families that are grieving a loved one.  We are no exception and our time in Truckee has been bitter-sweet.

First of all, of the many family memories I have of my husband and children, the ones that I cherish most, involve snow.  I have loved nothing more than a day spent on a mountain and then coming down to share some apres-ski with my family and friends.  Or maybe, that isn’t really true, from the time I started skiing, I loved the entire ski experience, from packing the car, to the road trip, to unlocking the cold cabin door, and starting a fire, and waking up in the morning to snow.  All of it.

However, yesterday, as I came down the mountain and walked through the Northstar Village I was very nostalgic for all of the days my family skied together, then relaxed next to the fire with warm drinks watching the children ice skate, and the deep winter day disappear, and the stars come out against a black and velvety sky.

Luckily, this year as we mend our hearts and begin to move on with our lives, we are surrounded by the best and dearest friends imaginable.  And we are as the Beatles lamented long ago, getting by with a little help from our friends.  And the strategy that I enacted in July, when I promised my children that nothing would change, and we would go on as before, and that consistency acted as a cast on a broken bone, or in this case a broken heart, and would help us all to heal has proven accurate.

So, for those of you who are grieving remember to honor the traditions of the past, and to keep the lines of communication open.  I’m happy that my strategy has worked so well, I see my children smiling.  I see them laughing.  And I am both surprised and deeply relieved.  I can feel the healing process beginning as we make new memories with our old friends.

With love and gratitude thank you to those who have helped us along the way.

Mid-Moutan Northstar at Tahoe






Machiavelli & Mastering Change

Central Valley, November 2016
Several years ago a friend of mine had to move abruptly to Chicago for her husband’s career.  She absolutely did not want to go, nor did her three children. But, I remember clearly her telling me that she had to be fine with it, because if “the mother” is fine, than the children will be fine.  This little nugget of wisdom helped me on numerous occasions when falling apart presented itself as a reasonable, if not entirely, predictable option. 

    From the beginning, I’ve been prepared to guard the wellbeing and mental health of my children at all costs.  I think of it as protecting the castle, and I’ve revisited the classic writings of Machiavelli in recent days to assist me in this effort.

    In Machiavellian fashion I will do anything and everything to ensure my daughters not only survive, but continue to thrive.

    And one of the components of mastering this type of change, as a mother to daughters, who predictabky imitate and emulate their mother, is to model flexibility and adaptability, and my own ability to tolerate anxiety and overcome adversity.  Therefore, it is crucial that I think of and address my own happiness and well being. 

    In fostering my own emotional stability and mental health I symbiotically care for my children, so in the face of adversity I’ve reached out to my many friends and colleagues, my two brilliant attorneys and accountant, and most recently I’ve hired a business coach, Bridgette. 

     “A wise prince should choose wise men for advisors, and allow only them the liberty of speaking the truth to the prince, and only on matters about which you ask, and nothing else. But you should question them about everything, listen patiently to their opinions, then form your own conclusions later.”

    – Machiavelli 

    Blessings and thanks to those who have helped me along the way. 

    The Gap

    Drawing by my friend and neighbor Alecia Larson

    As many people know, I am a fairly religious person. I grew up in the Catholic faith that is the hallmark of my Irish lineage. My mother and grandmother went to mass daily and I would often meet my mother at noon to pray the rosary with her. As a child I prayed every night before I went to sleep and as an adult I pray before my feet hit the floor every morning.  I prayed to find the right person to marry, I prayed for success in my work, I prayed for a home and a baby of my own, and later a family to love and care for. And all of my prayers were answered. 

    Over the last few years as my family began a major shift, I prayed for God’s will because I could not foresee the outcome of my life at all. All I knew was that I had to employ perfect trust. When I would become overwhelmed by all of the changes ahead, I would place myself squarely in the eye of the storm, where it is perfectly silent and still, and allow it to rage around me. 

    During these intense moments I would take a deep breath and empty my mind of all of the fearful thoughts that plagued me and allow a gap where God could come into my heart and do his work.

    In the days after my husband’s death I would do this frequently and afterwards I would have perfect clarity on what was expected of me, and I would prioritize accordingly. 

    As things become easier and I find myself laughing again, my prayers are now of gratitude. I am thankful for what remains of the beautiful life my husband and I built together. I am thankful to see my children not just surviving, but thriving.  

    Although, I have a vision for a happy future, I no longer plan too far ahead.  I live in the present, and leave my life in God’s hands, which is where it belongs. 



    We own a beautiful house in Tahoe, it’s 2,450 square feet and built by a builder out of Santa Cruz, the ceilings are solid cedar and the cabinets were lovingly handmade of alder by his best friend, the counters are hand polished black local granite and the floors solid cherrywood and heated by copper.  

    We call it the cabin, but it is much more than that.  All of the windows are made by hand in the Sierras of solid wood. The craftsmanship alone is exquisite, and we hired a decorator and she made the home beautiful.

    The house looks over the Martis Valley and Northstar ski resort. We can see the snow cats at night, but mostly it is silent here.  The walls are 12 inches wide by law in the Tahoe basin, so with the silent radiant heating system and twelve inch walls and double paned windows a person could sleep through an intense snow storm and wake to six feet of snow. I’ve done this in Truckee and in life metaphorically, but that is another post…

    Since the sudden death of my husband in July, I go there as much as I can.  Tahoe can be very healing and is known as a spiritual place.  It is also the scene of our happiest memories making it a mixed blessing to be there.

    As many of my close friends know, the last few years were not the best, but it is still important to remember the good times, and they were spent there, so being there is intense and bitter sweet to say the least.

    Recently, I was there with my sailing friend and business partner Andrew Lacenere and his girlfriend Lara, and they offered to cook my daughter and I dinner.

    We sat in the kitchen and drank Italian wine and they made us the most beautiful eggplant parmigiana (Andrew holds an Italian passport), and I realized this is the new normal. 

    The sky was inky black and I walked Polly beneath the stars and could hear the music playing and Siena and Lara laughing…

    I can see this is my future, and regardless of the past, I am blessed by my dear friends, my children, a warm fire, music, good food, and the star filled sky that never changes.