My father went to Vietnam with the first ground troop stationed in Da Nang. He ran search and rescue operations pulling artillery and the wounded from behind enemy lines. He was also a cartographer (the study and practice of making maps) in Korea. He parachuted into enemy territory and created models and drawings of the topography.

He holds a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He earned his masters degree in International Relations from Georgetown University, and served our country for twenty-five years.

He was also a wonderful father. Funny, intelligent and kind. He loved clothes. When I was a little girl he worked in London and had his suits made there. He wore crisp white shirts with gold cuff links and a grey flannel top coat and beautiful shoes. He was also a painter, and his paintings graced my childhood home, and now hang in our Truckee cabin.

My girls and I share many of his personal attributes and interests. We all gravitate toward art, culture, clothes and the outdoors.

As I overcome the many obstacles along my path to following my dreams I often think of him. I remind my daughters and myself to be courageous and fearless. I remember him telling me to be brave and never back down, but to watch out for number one. I’ve worked very hard to impart this to my children and model this behavior.

I was talking to my youngest daughter today about choosing a college and the anxiety associated with the many choices and changes we face right now as a family. I advised her to be fearless. Compared to the wars her Grandfather saw, this is nothing, but life of course is relative.

Step into your courage, I advised her with a smile beneath a smile, and I know she will. The apple rarely falls far from the tree.

Love and blessings.

Love Is a Privilege

Paris Thomas – Treasure Island

My recent past has not been easy, but these events have deepened my heart in a way nothing else could.

Yesterday was the funeral of my second cousin. She was a wife and beloved mother of two beautiful girls. She died of cancer.

Over the weekend, my daughter was home from college. We had lunch on Treasure Island and dinner at the club. We drove to Tahoe with friends and stayed up until 2 a.m. talking. She now has perspective on her teen years and did a good deal of apologizing for her antics. We laughed, we cried, and finally fell asleep.

We woke to the most perfect clear and crisp autumn day. I made breakfast. We went to the village and then walked the dog along the lake.

I’ve not been to the Tahoe house since Labor Day and it was clear it needed some attention. I scoured the downstairs bathroom, stripped the bunk beds and did four loads of laundry. I mopped the kitchen floor. Conditioned the leather chairs, and cleaned the windows that overlook the sunny meadow. The next day, I drove home and cooked everyone dinner.

As a mother there is always so much to do. Recently, I’ve enjoyed more freedom to work on my company and my writing. To read, think and plan. It’s been a joy to have time for myself, but love is a privilege and the years I spent tending to my family an investment in my future. Now, the unconditional love that comes back to me is often overwhelming.

As the next chapter unfolds I’ll be doing less cooking, less laundry, less driving, but the love remains. It’s not lost on me that my devotion is a privilege denied to many.

Love and blessings to all.