The cool night air in Tahoe over the weekend alerted me to the changing seasons. I went home, packed up, and now I sit in a hotel room in Los Angeles, California.
I’m here to drop my daughter off at college and to attend meetings for my company Ocean SF.
On my last night with my daughter she told me I was the love of her life. I think there are some unusually companionable mother-daughter pairs and we are among them.
My younger daughter and I have a similar relationship, but together we are more like water. We rarely disagree and she infuses even the most mundane situation with her charming and unusual sense of humor. My older daughter and I are fire and ice. We test each other. We debate. Then, come back together stronger than before. Her teenage years were difficult, but I can already see in her the woman she will become. Strong, intelligent and confident, I can’t imagine what she will do. I know the experiences of my own life limit my vision for her. She will do things that I don’t now know exist.
Recently, I’ve been very thankful for the women who have shaped me. My stunning mother Joan, and my grandmother Nellie Cody Burke. I can now appreciate their courage, their deep love, and the lessons they imparted as I too have now raised a daughter.
I strolled through the bookstore on campus before I left. The shelves were lined with so many books that I have already read, but many more are left to read. There is always so much more to learn.
After checking out, the love of my life hugged me in the warm sunshine, and I turned and walked away. It seems impossible that I could leave someone I love so much behind. Yet, it is necessary that we both turn the crisp white page to a new chapter.
On most days I walk my dog Polly to the park in the late afternoon. It’s been a refuge for me during this very stressful time and allows me to decompress from my busy days. Finding a work/life balance can be the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur.
I’ve been extremely focused and because I love what I do it’s possible for me to sit for 10 hours straight writing or managing my other companies. It’s not unusual for me to work from 8-6 without a break, and then sadly to work for another few hours after dinner. It won’t last forever, but that’s what it takes to start a company and get it off the ground.
This short walk gets me outside and I am able to witness the changing seasons. There is nothing better than fresh air and exercise no matter what you’re doing, however, this is especially true in my situation.
Over the past year, I’ve dedicated myself to my clothing apparel company, my nonprofit, and I’ve written two books. I’ve been blessed to be able to work at home on projects that are close to my heart, as well as having time to mother and guide my two daughters. I am also grateful for my beautiful home and the community that surrounds me. It’s been especially fun to write my column for News 24/680. I’ve enjoyed the comments and having people stop their cars in the street to tell me how much they enjoy my articles. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that would happen.
During my walks I always see a few friends along the way. I love socializing with my neighbors, they are from varied backgrounds and have so many interesting stories and insights. Everyone has an expertise and are always helpful in sharing their knowledge and wisdom. Because of them, I need never be lonely. On Saturday nights they BBQ and everyone brings food to share. If I’m home, and am able to attend, I make a point to drop by the park and say hello. I’ve been doing this for the past 10 years. It reminds me a little of Europe where there are always locals sitting in the park playing checkers.
The other day, I was sitting on a park bench and this adorable beagle came running toward me. I picked up my phone to take his picture and before I knew it he was licking my face. I have no idea why he targeted me. It was completely random. No matter what else happens there are always unexpected blessings, and nevertheless joy.
When I was a young girl I would occasionally meet someone and think they were misnamed. Their name didn’t suit them, and it would be hard to remember, or the opposite; some people were perfectly named, like my childhood friends; Hilary, Rosalee, Misty and Holly. I also saw names as colors. Emily was decidedly blue, Sydney was red. Paris, my daughter, is the perfect light parfait pink. My mother Joan was green.
Recently, I’ve met a Nick and a Jen. These are yellow names. And the people are not. They are more light blue or green.
When I was pregnant I met a woman who told me her daughter, Amanda had chosen the name. She came to a red light and hit the brakes and knew that was the right name for her unborn child. I felt the same with Paris. We had a short list of names we liked: Lauren, Madison and Isabell. One day, I told my husband we should just name her Paris if we were thinking of a city name. He agreed and that was it. It was perfect for her and she has loved it. We often call her Pari, or Pari Ann, or even just P.T. When we named Siena it was a giant challenge as Paris was a tough act to follow. I was sitting in an investor meeting at work one day and the investors had just returned from Siena, Italy. I told my husband, and then he added the middle name Annalise. Annalise was our neighbor when I was a tiny girl living on the Air Force base. She was the most stunning nordic beauty you could ever imagine with light blond hair in a french twist and tan skin. She was from Sweden and she was sweet as well as beautiful. I spent a good deal of time in her sand box with her kids. Annalise is periwinkle blue of course. And Siena is ruby red.
Color is a fascinating subject. My daughter Siena was just at the Color Factory in San Francisco and said it was amazing.
I’ve wondered if anyone else sees names as colors?
There have been many highs and lows as I travel along this path. One of the low points came over our stormy post drought California winter when on a conference call I had difficulty hearing due to the sound of chain saws. After my call I walked outside to find two of the most beautiful redwood trees topped and pounds of their branches floating in my swimming pool. I ran out my front door and knocked on my neighbors door. If you know anything about trees, you know that groves of redwood trees share a reciprocal system and even though the trees have been cut down the redwoods on my side of the fence will continue to keep the roots alive on the other side of the fence for decades to come. Trees operate as family structures and share nutrients and water.
My neighbor told me they were worried that the trees would fall on their house and they wanted more light. I was polite, but left heartbroken. All of that day and the next they cut and ground the trees into dust. My peaceful grove of trees was gone leaving only the five trees on my side of the fence. Redwoods typically do not fall during storms due to their very deep root structure. The many pine trees that also surround the creekside location where I live will topple as they have a life span of only 30 years, so over the years these are often removed, but never the redwoods.
Although I was distressed I decided I would be hopeful and make the most of it as now I too had a bit more sunlight. I wouldn’t trade a tree for more light, but sometimes we have to except things as they are. Since then, I’ve been cultivating what will be an herb, flower, and vegetable garden. I’ve been working very hard on it with my pick and shovel and I look forward to basil, cilantro, lettuces and flowers this summer.
As someone who believes everything happens for a reason I was not surprised when I walked into my kitchen last night to a room full of tiny rainbows.
The tree that had been cut down obviously obscured the setting sun from coming through my kitchen window. I have a beautiful crystal chandelier hanging over my nook table and it caught this light and turned it into a thousand little rainbows covering the opposite three walls of my kitchen. It didn’t last very long, but I just stood there in wonder.
It’s the last thing I would have expected, but there it was. An unexpected blessing.
My uncle used to call my mother and her five sisters “frustrated actresses” meaning they were all capable of being movie stars, but decided to be mothers and housewives instead. And it was true they were the most beautiful group of raven haired blue-green eyed beauties you could ever hope to encounter.
Black Irish is the term used for this combination of fair skin, dark hair and light eyes that they all shared.
As a result of this genetic good fortune I grew up around women who kept their mirrors and makeup in their kitchen pantries. I myself was a tree climbing tomboy, but I would sit and watch my mother paint her nails and put on her makeup with a lighted mirror at the kitchen table. The makeup alone took one hour. The hair another hour. Nails another hour. She never left the house looking anything less than flawless.
As for myself, I don’t have this kind of time. But, I benefited from their knowledge and have devised a beauty routine that takes about ten minutes.
Today, I’m sharing this wisdom in memory of my Irish relatives and the beautiful women I grew up with.
I wash my hair, spray it with a shine product, and twist it into a bun. In about an hour, I take it down and it is wavy and shiny. I rarely use a hair dryer or heat on my hair.
I do my makeup in the car at the stoplights. And this is what I use:
Maybelline, Fit Me Foundation, in Classic Ivory, SPF 18. This is good stuff.
Chanel, Healthy Glow Sheer Color Powder, #20. I don’t know what’s in this, but it’s awesome.
Chanel, Powder Blush, 72 Rose Initial. Perfect light pink. Love it.
Revlon, Color Stay, #30. They are not kidding when they call this color stay. I put it on once a day.
Chanel, Rouge Allure, Create #142. Love the color, but it doesn’t last as long.
Chanel, Rouge CoCo Shine. In Monte Carlo #62 and Adventure #57. The long wearing lipstick dries your lips, so these sheer hydrating lipsticks are nice to touch up with.
Essie, Ballet Slippers. A classic white for hands and toes. Perfect sheer coverage.
Jo Malone, English Pear & Freesia. I wear this in winter. It’s a very warm floral. In summer I wear Grapefruit and Lime-Basil in the same brand. In the shower I use the Pomegranate Noire bar soap.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy Birthday to my beloved and beautiful Auntie Pat.