A Rich Full Life

Many people wouldn’t think of me as lucky from the outside looking in, but every single morning before I get out of bed, I count my blessings. And it doesn’t take very long for me to feel grateful for the many good things in my life. 

First of all, I’m in excellent health. On most days, if I’ve not burned the candle at both ends, which I often do, I feel fantastic. Then, I have my wonderful family, and in particular my spectacular daughters. Then, I have the most hilarious golden-doodle, named Polly, and her two side kicks the black and white cats, Dash and Jam. 

Next, I have friends galore. And make more everyday. I have been spending time with my sailing friends this week. Especially, my business partner, and my sailing instructor Tom. There is nothing like a common interest to connect and deepen ties with people.

But, I especially love my neighbors and my beautiful neighborhood. I have so much love and support here that I feel blessed everyday. My neighbor Sandy, who brought Paris’ bedding to her college dorm in LA after we forgot it, my dear friends Craig and Denise who help me with everything I do, including building Ocean SF. My husband’s three best friends, and their families, that are always here for us. And, my neighbor Alecia, who made me the beautiful pearl and rose quartz necklace I’m wearing above. And Barb, who I met when our daughters were two, who took me to the polo tournament where the above photo was taken a few weekends ago. 

Recently, one of my neighbors sent me the following note. It was so generous and kind it brought tears to my eyes. 

“Dear Sydney,

I have been thinking about you a lot over the last few weeks knowing that a year has passed since losing your husband. I have not seen you in years nor spoken, but I do want you to know that I have always admired the woman, and Mother that you are. You have been a true role model from the day I met you. My daughter, has always spoken of you with admiration and your unconditional kindness towards her made her love being in your presence. Both Siena and Paris are so fortunate to have a loving, attentive, involved, active and beautiful Mother who truly loves her children. I believe Paris must be heading off to a College, and that must be an exciting yet difficult transition after your past year. These next two years will be very special for you and Siena. Time is precious as you are aware, and it’s never too late to tell someone how wonderful they are. So before I turn in I wanted to let you know how much I admire you and if you ever need anything I’m here for you.”

People like this, and the precious town I live in, give me deep roots, and a priceless sense of security. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Sydney on Motherhood – Misdiagnosed

As the year comes to a close I have taken time to look at my analytics and discovered some of my most popular posts are those that touch on the topic of motherhood, so I wanted to write something on this topic to close the year.  2015 has been one of the most spectacular for me.  I have learned so much and can finally see myself becoming the person I could have only dreamed of being.  It has been a long journey with many twists and turns along the way, but I am thankful for my experiences, good and bad, as they have shaped the person I am today.

 

Misdiagnosed

Ten years ago I was misdiagnosed with a fatal lung disease. My children were just four and six. I was given the news the day before my daughter started first grade. Nothing could have been more dramatic for a mother. I wore dark glasses and cried behind them on the first day of school. Luckily, all the other mothers and kids were crying too and no one noticed.

Huge epiphanies arose from the news. Everything I had valued up to this point was worthless. I was willing to give up everything in the world just to watch my children grow up. It took several months to go from, “get your affairs in order, Sydney” to “do you know how incredibly lucky you are?”

From that day forward I have really lived. When I was sick, really sick, I would lie in bed and wish that I was well enough to sit in my backyard and have a glass of wine. That was all I wanted to do. As time healed me (and an acupuncturist in Berkeley), I started to plot my future. I decided that I wanted to buy a house in Tahoe and be a ski instructor. I had always wanted to do that, but had thought that ship had sailed, but life sometimes hands us a second chance. So I took it and made it happen. I had always thought I would be a writer and I started to write. I had always wanted my children to have a dog, a black dog like I had growing up, so along came Polly.

I’ve continued to live my life through the lens that our days really are numbered and what we do with them matters greatly.  As I move through each day I am acutely aware that I am a reluctant role model for my daughters and all of the extraordinary young people I come into contact with.    I know I must do my best to be my best self.

I read once that the most important thing that I can teach my children is to tolerate anxiety, and I believe this is the single most important thing all of us can do as we attempt to live fearlessly.  Courage is necessary to attain our goals and dreams no matter what they are.   I wrote about this theme in my blog post on December 8th, Pacific Cup Race to Hawaii, and as out of my comfort zone as I am casting off from San Francisco to Hawaii – I am going to be fearless and do it.

When you are told you’re lucky to have six months to live, and you survive that, nothing else really bothers you that much.

Because of my illness, I learned that the simple things are the most important; the people we love, good books, cotton sheets, hot coffee, flowers in a vase, a loyal dog and of course, a glass of wine in the backyard watching my daughters turn cartwheels in the green grass.  These are things that money can not buy.  Be brave my friends, and wise with what you value, and with what you teach your children to cherish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Dogs & The Cypress Inn – Carmel-by-the-Sea

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Cypress Inn Carmel, California

 

There are few things in life that a day or two in Carmel, California can’t cure.  The Cypress Inn on the corner of Lincoln and 7th is in the heart of this seaside town.  Surrounded by quaint shops, restaurants and galleries and a mere few blocks to Ocean Beach it is the perfect boutique hotel experience.   For an additional $30 the hotel will allow your dog to be their pampered guest.  They provide dog treats, a dog blanket and water and food bowls for your room.  Established in 1929, the Cypress is beautiful and reminded me so much of being in Paris.  Our room was small, but the hotel had an elegant room with a stone fireplace to sit and read with your dog at your feet.  Later in the evening the hotel provided entertainment and a classical guitarist played into the night.  We had a wonderful dinner on their patio in front of a big fire with the waves crashing in the distance.

In the morning the hotel provided a delicious breakfast with eggs, country potatoes, fruit and a to die for pastry selection (this was amazingly included with your room).  The mini chocolate croissants were some of the best I’ve ever had.  Later that day we ordered pizza and ravioli  from one of my favorite restaurants, El Fornaio, at the Pine Inn, which is on your way to the beach. We had a glorious picnic looking out over the ocean with our dog.  There are also dozens of restaurants that take dogs and some even provide a dog food menu.

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Ocean Beach, Carmel

Carmel is definitely a dog friendly town and Polly Lou had a blast.  This was one of our favorite trips to Carmel ever.

When I started this blog about my favorite things I knew I wanted to write about dogs.  To say that I love dogs is an understatement.  I am in love with our dog.  Almost eight years ago I decided that a dog was the only thing that our family lacked.  I was warned by friends and family that once the dog was no longer a cute puppy the kids would want nothing to do with it.  The wise advised me not to get a dog unless I was ready to be the sole care taker.  I had grown up with a black lab named Sport that I loved, but was horribly allergic to.   I began my search looking for a Labradoodle which is a crossbred dog created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Standard, Miniature or Toy Poodle. The term first appeared in 1955, but was not popularized until 1988, when the mix began to be used as an allergen-free guide dog.

Over several months I researched dogs and looked at so many dog website that I saw nothing but dogs in my dreams.  White and fluffy, cinnamon and chocolate brown.  Little dogs in baskets and little puppy mug shots.  I was ready to buy a grey Labradoodle from Bakersfield when one last Google search put a beautiful black Goldendoodle on the screen.  This was the closest to love at first sight that I have ever experienced.  She had the most beautiful nose for a dog.  I started to read all of the reviews from people who had bought dogs from this breeder and the common thread in all of the reviews was how funny the dogs were.  As someone with a keen sense of humor I kept wondering how could a dog be funny?  Well, I was about to find out.

Along Came Polly

Polly has done nothing but make our lives happier.  We all love her and although I do spend the most time with her everyone participates in her care.

If you are in need of a get away, and would like to take your dog along, the Cypress Inn in Carmel provides a unique and magical experience.