When I was growing up, friends and family members were always pulling the jealousy card. In my opinion, it was not always a case of jealousy, they were sometimes simply rude and unlikable.
I’ve taught my daughters not to pull the jealousy card. And to make sure that they demonstrate integrity and fairness in their dealings with other people. After all, there are many talented and beautiful people in the world, but kindness is a rarity and goodness worth the effort it takes to cultivate.
I’m not a jealous person, the only thing I have been jealous of was the parents of other people. I’ve been known to become friends with, and seek out, the mothers of my friends. If there’s a party, you will find me chatting it up with the generation of my own late mother.
“It’s a whole lot harder to shine, than undermine.”
That’s a line from a song. And it runs through my mind often as I make my way along this path.
I’ve been insanely busy with Ocean SF, and on top of that I picked up a well paying modeling job with The Blackwell Files again.
The shoot was for a giant software company, and my stylist put me in a gorgeous green dress, but, fitting in a photo shoot at their headquarters at the mouth of the Silicon Valley made my day very long.
Ocean SF, after a lull, due to the New Zealand wool issue, has been heating up. Luckily, my former boss, has stepped in to assist with our funding initiatives. Between that, and the operations side, it’s been nonstop emails, phone calls, and text messages.
However, I am still a mother, and I still have to go to the grocery store and buy my children food, and my arm is still broken, so groceries are a one handed, time consuming effort.
I also wanted to make my children cookies. So, after the photo shoot I stopped in at my favorite store, Whole Foods, and bought the ingredients for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
With days this busy, I feel like a warrior preparing for battle. At night, I sharpen my weapons and think about what I can do to ensure my success.
I am in bed early, I am eating right, my bills are paid and my office is clean and orderly. I surround myself with positive people that I can trust and rely on. I surrender to what I cannot change or control. And I ask for help.
What I’ve learned most recently is that defense is the first act of war. I love war metaphors, and what this means to me is; we must ask for what we need, and ask other people what they need. All discord is caused by pretending we don’t need anything, and then putting up our walls and defenses when we don’t get our needs met.
If you are in conflict with anyone, ask for what you need, and in turn, ask other people what they need from you.
In the future, I will have to stop pretending I can bake. I can not. I burned several batches of these delicious cookies. Alright, I burned at least half of them, maybe more…
My husband was the most generous person I have ever met. When we first began dating, I asked him to join some friends for my birthday. My girlfriends made the reservation in the city, and we all showed up with our dates.
When the bill came, my friends pulled out their wallets, but my husband insisted on picking up the tab. The bill was $1,200.00, he did this sort of thing all the time.
After we got married, a check could not hit the table without him picking it up. But, on the reverse side money rolled in from all directions and soon, as a couple, we had more money than we knew what to do with.
I began to expect this, and understood how money flowed both in and out of our hands. One day, after Paris was born, we went to the jewelry store, I had Paris in my arms. My husband bought me a 5 carat princess cut diamond in a hand carved diamond platinum band.
He would buy cases of good wine to share with friends, and when we bought our Tahoe house we loaded it up with the neighborhood, friends, and tons of kids.
When the bottom fell out of the stock market and commercial construction imploded, we spent more time at home, ordered pizza on Friday nights, and had BBQ’s and camp outs in our backyard.
When we first moved to Moraga, I would be approached in the grocery store, by older women, collectively, they would tell me to enjoy every moment. I would think to myself, “they must have amnesia.” I was so exhausted by my newborn and two year old, it was hard to enjoy anything.
However, I heard this so often that I believed it had merit, and I made a conscious decision to savor sitting in the stuffed cow and pig chairs with my toddlers watching Disney Princess movies, among the other activities of a busy mother.
The only thing that ever really mattered was that we had each other. And now we don’t. We only have our memories, and the ring, that now sits in the bank.
My little Siena is mostly an angel, but sometimes she is not. And on these rare occasions, I have to decide how to punish her.
As an easy going, and live-and-let-live type of person, this is the most difficult aspect of parenting for me.
Mostly, I turn a blind eye to Siena’s antics, as they are relatively harmless, compared to her sister, who at the same age, attracted car accidents, like flies to honey.
However, on a recent occasion, Siena crossed the line, and it was time to send a message, and teach her a lesson. So, I grounded her for one month. But, I gave her the option of going to church with me every Sunday for the entire summer instead. I sold her on this by telling her that it was only 12 hours, compared to 30 entire days, and being a bit of a math wiz, she agreed.
Because she has integrity, she hasn’t missed a Sunday yet, and it’s been four weeks.
This past Sunday, there was an elderly gentleman behind us, and during the Lords Prayer, Siena and I reached out, and held his hands between us. His skin was as thin as paper, but I could feel his spirt through his hand, and the even and measured tone of his voice as he recited the prayer in a clear strong voice.
I’m starting to feel happy again, not just sometimes, but all the time.
Even though, I’ve had some major obstacles, throughout my life, I am very much an optimistic person with a calm and level spirt.
My internal strength makes me more of a warrior, rather than, a survivor.
And I’ve never minded doing things on my own. Being self sufficient and independent are qualities that I’ve worked hard to instill in my own daughters. And anyone who knows my children would agree, I’ve been successful.
When I was twenty, I went to the University of London, and in the summer between semesters, I traveled alone, it didn’t start out that way, but early in the trip, my travel companion, proved so unpleasant, I left her in the post office in Rosa Spain, and took the next train to Vienna, Austria, by myself.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone very long, and I went on to meet many kind, easy going, and fascinating people, who I remain friends with to this very day. Including, my friend Lisa pictured above.
As my broken heart heals, and I see my daughters thriving, I feel saddened for my husband who is missing so much.
And I am nervous and afraid, in the same way I was when I walked out of that post office in Spain, and stood on the platform waiting alone for my train.
Like then, I am alone, not knowing what the future holds. But, as the past informs the future, I know it will be good.
Since, or even for a while before, my husband died, my life has had a magical quality.
I started praying a lot then, and asking for help and guidance, as I made my way through the transition from, “stay-at-home” mom and part time work, to finding what would be my life purpose professionally, of course, at first I didn’t think of it this way.
Honestly, I just wanted a job. But the universe had other plans, I found jobs, but they were crazy interesting like working for a rare art dealer, or an online designer furniture company, or teaching at UC Berkeley. I was seeing people chasing and unapologetically living their dreams and doing what they loved.
Then, I started sailing. And I met amazing people, who would only do what they loved. Anything less, wasn’t even an option. The idea of working a job you hated was an obsurdity.
I would watch and listen for what each new experience had to teach me. And my life and my path would magically unfold. People and opportunities would present themselves and I would take them.
Yesterday, I was on the Committee Boat, for the Yacht Racing Association. There were three past Commadores on the boat, and they had all raced to Hawaii multiple times. One of them, nine times. They said, the first four days were hell, then the rest of the trip was heaven.
I thought, well, this is interesting…
I almost did the race to Hawaii last year, but it didn’t work out, and thankfully, or I would have been on a sailboat, in the middle of the Pacific, when my husband died.
Now, there’s Pacific Cup 2018. A nice even numbered year for an adventure.
It’s been a very long and busy week, but the good news is, Ocean SF, finally recieved the angel funding needed to order our beautiful New Zealand wool. Our production was funded earlier in the year, but we were left to cover the material costs ourselves. I already had as much skin in the game, as I could reasonably stand, and still be able to sleep at night, so finding another investor, for this large expense was crucial. Plus, it’s also been nice to add some new players to the game.
Luckily, most of you will never know how hard it is to buy wool fleece from New Zealand. First of all, they sell to Patagonia and don’t talk to small designers, or better put, they talk to us, but to everything we ask, they say, “No.” But their wool is the softest in the world, and it is spun with the most technologically advanced equipment made, making it both very light and very warm, and we love it.
At first, we thought it would be easy to find a comparable fabric, and we scoured the world and all of our friends helped us, from Asia to Chille, for six months. I admit I found one that was close, but it was Italian Cashmere and it sold for $375 a yard. Like many attractive things, it was gorgeous, but impractical, our Merino is more durable and can be washed, both necessary attributes for outdoor adventure. And after watching my business partner wear his jacket everyday since early December, I can attest to the fact that it really is durable as well as beautiful.
Starting a clothing company is like a giant game of Twister. And I have so many people to thank that I will have to put that in another post.
I’ve been reluctant to talk too much about Ocean SF until I felt comfortable with delivery of the product. Which I finally do.
It’s been a long road, and not an easy one, I might add, but everything else in my life felt that way too. However, Ocean SF has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done professionally, except for teaching at UC Berkeley.
Our T-shirts are for sale now, and pre-orders are being taken for our jackets for delivery in the Fall, because it takes that long to make the fabric.
My husband died on a random, Tuesday. He was 54 years old. He went to work one morning, and we never saw him again.
After he died, a neighbor started walking by our house, and he would whistle a Beatles song.
I’m an early riser, and am awake typically by 5:30 a.m., so I would be awake to hear him, as he walked beneath my window, whistling on those early August mornings.
Conversely, if you’re an early riser, you are often to bed early, but with teenagers this is often not the case, so I would rest and read for a little while before dinner, and would hear this man whistling outside my window again, as he walked by in the evening.
It’s a synchronizity, of course. I’m still not sure who the man was, but he did this off and on for several weeks that summer, then he stopped.
He would walk under my window, and this is the song he whistled:
I LOVE HER by The Beatles
I give her all my love
That’s all I do
And if you saw my love
You’d love her too
I love her
A love like ours
Could never die
As long as I
Have you near me
Bright are the stars that shine
Dark is the sky
I know this love of mine
Will never die
And I love her
Bright are the stars that shine
Dark is the sky
I know this love of mine
Will never die
And I love her, ooh
Songwriters: John Lennon / John Winston Lennon / Paul Mccartney / Paul James Mccartney
My daughters were very nonchalant about Fathers Day, and I realized it was probably my own sadness on the many Fathers Days that followed the death of my own father, that made me dread this holiday for them.
In church, there was just one moment when the eyes of my daughter filled with tears, and she asked if we could leave, and even though it was the middle of the service, I stood up, and we all filed out.
From there, we headed to Napa with friends, and sat in the private tasting room at Darrioush Winery, then had an early dinner at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, where the food is beautiful and fresh farm-to-table. The restaurant is in a converted barn, and everything they serve is grown and raised by them.
Siena and I started with the roasted beet salad with chimichurri and goat cheese. She said it was the best salad she had ever had, then she said the exact same thing about her entree. And it truly was delicious.
After this, we got an iced coffee and walked through the gardens, and then on our way out of town, we stopped at A&W for floats and hot fudge sundaes.
With the exception of the missing fathers, the day could not have been more perfect, making me very aware of my many blessings.
As we were leaving, my daughter looked at me and said, “I could see you living here.”