Misnamed & Names As Colors

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?

Friends, Neighbors, Transformation & Easter

It’s been a time of transformation for me. My life looks nothing like it did two years ago. It’s not been easy, and I’ll admit that although I was surrounded by love, I was crying in my room on Easter Sunday morning.

Luckily, I have a sweet daughter and we sat together and I explained that I simply could not believe my life had turned out the way it did. I love Easter. I love having an Easter egg hunt, going to church, and cooking. I love hosting the holidays and making everything beautiful and special for everyone.

My daughter assured me that I have so many people who love me, and she’s right. I also have more wonderful friends than anyone deserves to have. So, my girl and I put on our dresses and went to brunch with friends where we had a wonderful time, then we came home and changed clothes and then went to a stunningly beautiful and elegant dinner at the home of our neighbors. In the end, it turned out to be one of the happiest and most memorable holidays I’ve ever experienced.

Last weekend, I was at a BBQ with my other neighbors and they told me that they watch over me. I never really doubted this, but it was nice to hear. Later, that night my house alarm went off at 2:30 a.m. and I wasn’t even scared. I was only inconvenienced to find my backdoor unlocked and blown open by the wind. That is how safe I feel. I know it is a blessed and lucky thing to feel this safely held in the network of people who surround and support me.

Today, I attended a women in business function followed by lunch with two of my favorite people. We ate our lobster salads and sipped our green tea on a rainy afternoon in Danville, California. We talked about our thriving careers and kids, and all of our exciting plans for our shared futures. It was inspiring to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs who are fearlessly living their passion and dreams.

I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life; married, safe and secure. Life had other plans for me. Life expected me to live up to my potential. The circumstances required that I step up in a big way. I’m so much more now than I ever dreamed I could be. Life is the master teacher clearly, and we either strengthen and rise, or we don’t. Now, I think of myself as nothing less than a warrior and nothing scares me, not even an intrusion alarm in the middle of the night.

Love and blessings to all.

Happiness Is A Choice

It’s been a busy few weeks, but finally I am home again in the evenings with my kids and pets. I’m excited about the terrific team we have built in Los Angeles for Ocean SF where our clothing is produced.  We’ve made eight prototypes of our signature jacket. It takes time to do things well, but it is paying off as we are now making some truly beautiful things.

My daughters have been busy too, and we are often more like ships passing then a family, but we are very close and throughout the day I am in contact with one or the other of them every few hours. I think our love for each other has continued to deepen and I am thankful for the close and loving bond that we share with each other. One of the positives of hardship is this type of closeness that is forged through difficulty. I doubt that anything could ever come between us.

Things are peaceful now like when the kids were little and we had predictable routines and the atmosphere was relaxed and enjoyable.

I walked my dog today, and Moraga is so full of beauty it is astonishing. I passed many happy people with their kids and dogs heading down to the park in the cool sunshine. I treasure my neighborhood and my neighbors. We had a wonderful Easter brunch with friends we met when my younger daughter played soccer a dozen years ago, and then a beautiful dinner with our neighbors around the corner that we met when Polly was a puppy a decade ago.

When the girls are home there is laughter, and when they aren’t home there is a happy silence as I walk through the rooms of our home. Our dog Polly is back to sleeping on the white sofa when no one is looking, and even she looks happy again. I feel like I’ve finally stepped into the happy future I so longed for.

Happiness is a choice. You have to choose it and you have to fight for it.

Love and blessings to all.

Sunnier Days

While in Los Angeles last week a homeless man approached me with a crow bar while stopped at a red light. My doors were locked and my windows rolled up, but he was inches from me. At any moment, he could have shattered my window, and pulled me out of the car. Andrew was with me, and the man moved around the car to the passenger side, and screamed at him as well. We couldn’t understand what he was saying, but he was menacing and terrifying. We were three blocks from our garment factory on Maple Avenue and we encountered him not once, but twice with the same experience. As much as he startled us, it’s hard to say what he might be going through to cause him to act this way.

Later, back in Berkeley Andrew and I stopped into Hoi Polloi, a peaceful place that brews beautiful beer. We both ordered a pint of “Sunnier Days” pale ale, and laughed about our recent trip to Los Angeles. We’ve had some challenges, but we expected them, not exactly as they arrived, but we knew what we were trying to do wasn’t going to be easy.  In some ways, I feel blessed that I will have so many funny stories to tell my students about starting Ocean SF as this has been such a great lesson in not allowing anyone or anything to deter you on your path to following your dreams. No one said this would be easy, but it will certainly be worth it, as it is the common experience of anyone who has ever succeeded at doing something that challenges them.

It’s called a challenge for a reason.  Looking forward to sunnier days.

Love and Blessings

Letting Go

It was an epic moment finishing my book, Love & Blessings. In many ways it was written as a love letter to the family I created, and loved, and my late husband who in the early years poured his heart and soul into this endeavor.

It’s time to let go now, although I will always hold him close in my heart.

This loss, felt very different than losing a parent. I think we expect our life partner to be there through the many challenges life has in store, and we are invested in a different way. Even if there is a divorce they are a constant in the lives of our children, and thus remain a part of ours as well.

Additionally, he was my peer, and often I find it hard to believe he’s gone, but alternately making it possible for this to happen anytime to anyone. I am very capable though, and I have handled things mostly with ease. I’m proud of myself and the progress I’ve made. I look forward to my future and my rich and full life.

My dear friend Jeff has left too. He’s moved to Tennessee to start again. Letting go isn’t always easy, but it’s healthy and it’s necessary.

Love and blessings to all.

Love & Blessings, Grief & The Hero’s Journey, now on Amazon

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After months of writing, I am proud to say that my book, Love and Blessings is now available on Amazon (click here).  As difficult as it was to write, I am happy it is done and hopefully it will help other people who experience similar losses. Grief is a tricky thing, but it can transform us into stronger and kinder versions of ourselves.  It was a tremendous learning experience and I am happy to have come through it with the support and love of so many kind people.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me write this book, especially my dear friend Denise Normura who edited it for me.  Love and thanks to my family and my beautiful community who have supported me through everything. I love and appreciate all of you.

Below is an excerpt from my Amazon Author Page (click here to read more):

 

“Sydney writes openly and eloquently of  the 12 months following the sudden death of her husband. She is transformed by grief as she struggles to raise her children, start a company and build a non-profit.

Love and Blessings, Grief & The Hero’s Journey, is her story of grief, mourning and eventual healing. With new content, journal entries, notes and articles from the author’s popular website, Sydney shares her inner thoughts on the meaning of wisdom and courage.

What deepens Sydney’s journey through the grieving process is that she is haunted by the loss of her own father as a young girl, and then her mother as a young adult. Then, without warning history repeats and her own husband dies suddenly leaving her to raise her two daughters alone and follow in her own mother’s footsteps. The story chronicles not just the death of a husband in the prime of life, but her inner fears as she comes to terms with the transformative power of love as she learns to trust, forgive and move forward in her life.

She shares her 12 month journey as a new widow, not just recovering from one recent death, but healing the unhealed trauma from the past with the transformative power of love and faith. This is a story of overcoming loss; it is haunting and lyrical in style and deeply inspirational for anyone who is grieving or mourning the loss of a loved one.

A must read.

“Sometimes, at night I dream of him. I’m following him down a snowy mountain. He is in front of me and I can see his yellow jacket as he carves each elegant turn in the white snow. His body is strong and athletic and handles the terrain with confidence and ease. The snow is falling and his coat is a bright yellow dot in the distance. The snow beneath my feet is fresh and crisp and I can see my breath in the clean air, but as hard as I try, he is just out of my reach. He disappears behind the trees as he makes one last sweeping turn, and is lost from view. When I reach the bottom the chairlift lines are empty and he is gone.”

Available on Amazon by clicking here.”

Love

Midwinter

Happy belated Valentine’s Day. I apologize for my recent lapse in writing. I’ve been writing a book titled Love and Blessings and it will soon be available on Amazon. It is a collection of writings from my journey. It chronicles the 12 months after the sudden death of my husband with an epilog at the end.

I often wondered why there were so few grief books and now I know. Once we pass through those difficult days the last thing we want to do is relive them, and you can not write about them without reliving them. However, I have been encouraged by so many people to do this, so I’ve taken the past six weeks and I’ve worked very hard on it. If it helps just one person than it will be worth it to me.

But, the book is not just about grieving, although it does cover a good deal of that, it is about using the challenges in life to strengthen our own character and to become better people through our suffering. If we do not do this then the sufferings is of no value.

Being a highly sensitive person who likes to think about things, the experience of this loss provided so many lessons that allowed me to grow. It has enabled me to deepen my wisdom.

Things that in the past I once thought difficult come to me now with ease. I am finally the person I always hoped to be. I feel incredibly fearless and this courage is not something I needed to develop to help me deal with further challenges, but this characteristic is helpful in achieving my dreams. I am confident that I can overcome the many obstacles that present themselves as I continue to pursue the things I love.

No one gets through life unscathed. We all have our heart aches. I am fortunate that mine are now far behind me and I can look toward the future with optimism.

I spent the past weekend at the San Fransisco Bay Midwinter Yacht Race. I was on the Mark Set Boat for the Berkeley Yacht Club where I am a member of the Race Committee. We were setting the marks for the race course. It was stormy with high winds and it could not have been more fun for me. I love the beauty of the water, the people and the competition. It has taken a long while for me to be in this place of happiness and calm and it didn’t just happen. I worked very hard at it and it took all of my faith and courage.

Now, I am doing meaningful work I love, I have a sport that I love, and I have so many people in my life to love.

A few days ago, I took the time to send friends text messages telling them how much I loved and appreciated them. The responses were more meaningful than I could have imagined. Then, I followed them up with Valentine’s Day messages. Gestures of appreciation, kindness and love are never a bad thing.

Last night for Valentine’s Day, my bf gave me a 17″ vintage replica model sailboat instead of flowers. That and red velvet and chocolate cupcakes surpassed any expectations I might have had. A perfect day with many more to come.

Love and blessings.

Moon Lit Path

Yesterday afternoon, I met up with my business partner, at our Santa Cruz 27 sailboat. I’m writing a book about my painful, although transformative first year of widowhood, making this meeting a welcome distraction.

Initially, we had little wind, but we put up the sails anyway, and as happens in life, the simple act of doing this somehow resulted in the wind picking up. It’s been a long time since I’ve rigged a boat to sail, usually the boat is ready when I arrive, so, it was nice to go through the motions of setting the lines, and raising the sail, especially since this is my own boat.

When we got out on the Bay we had the perfect circumstances for a sail and we headed north toward Tiburon at a fairly rapid pace. We listened to music and talked about all that we had accomplished over the past year. Our company Ocean SF is on track to have a very profitable year, our nonprofit The Trident Project has a year of events and activities planned, and our sailboat participated in her first race. Albatross, Andrews company, has had month over month of record sales, and my blog has a loyal following.

The book that I’m writing is my personal story about being strengthened by tragedy. The journey I’ve had is one of transformation. Undoubtedly, we are all transformed by our experiences. The choice is then ours to decide if it will be for the negative or the positive.

I’ve been reading my journals from the past eighteen months. It’s been anything, but easy, I only wish I could go back in time and reassure myself that everything would be alright, because I was full of so much fear. What I noticed most, however, was that although I was fearful I walked straight into that fear.

One of the authors I read during this time was Danielle Laporte, and one of her famous quotes is:

“Your life unfolds in proportion to your courage.”

As I sat on my sailboat I reflected on my courage and resilience, and the adversity that has brought me here to this perfect place of happiness, peace and calm. The word grateful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.

As we headed back to the Berkeley Maria the moon had risen and it lit our path. How fitting, to have a well lit path now after so much darkness.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way.

Love and blessings to all.

Solana’s First Yacht Race

If you’ve been following the story of Solana, or the “sunshine” boat, owned by our sailing apparel company Ocean SF, you will be happy to know she has her first race on Saturday. It will be a double-handed crew of Andrew Lacenere and Hawkeye King.

“The course is defined by the Golden Gate, Richmond, and Bay Bridges, and racers must pass by or sail under them in order to round each mark and head back to the finish line. Over the years it has grown from a modest gathering to the monster it is today, earning the title as the largest single- and double-handed race in the United States.”

I would love to be crewing this race but I will be at our nonprofit event for The Trident Project with Save the Bay.

It is so gratifying to see the dreams we created and the plans we made on a dark December night in 2015 finally coming to fruition. I am grateful for those who have helped us along the way.

Love and blessings to all.

Cultivating Lemon Trees

When my late husband and I bought our first home in Clayton, California the first thing we did was hire a landscape architect to plant the beautiful backyard we had there.

My husband was a commercial concrete executive, and he told me he could pour me a concrete patio that looked like a Persian rug and he wasn’t kidding.  He ended up designing and building the most gorgeous patio room that I have had ever seen before or since.  It had lights embedded in the stone walls with concrete and stone benches that ran the entire length of the house allowing us to have parties where we could accommodate 100 hundred people.  We did this a few times in the six years we lived there.  Plus, we had our wedding reception there, our first daughters Christening party, and her giant first birthday party there.

It was one of the most beautiful homes I had ever lived in.  We bought it before it was built and picked out the lot, the floor plan, the fixtures, the finishes, tiles and so on.  We moved in and were married six weeks later. We were very happy there of course, and we had a lemon tree.  My first Meyer Lemon tree. It took three years to bear fruit.  I watered it, fertilized it, worried over it, and gave it liquid chelated iron until it’s leaves turned a glossy deep green.  Eventually, it bore fruit.

When we moved to cool Moraga I was at a loss. The roses and lavender I planted withered and died. I could get very little to grow here as the tulle fog from San Fransisco Bay, just 15 miles away, would descend in the summertime in what has been called San Fransisco’s natural air conditioning. Because of this I finally turned to cool weather plants like; azaleas and hydrangeas and beautiful camellias in red, pink and white.  I am able to grow rosemary, mint and thyme and many varieties of annuals; pansies and violas, vinca minor and impatiens. Tomatoes and basil do not thrive here, nor do the five rose bushes I planted long ago.  And, of course I have two beautiful lilac trees as these have been my favorite since I was a little girl growing up on the farm. In Oregon they grow wild on the side of the road, but in California they are fragile, and must be protected and planted in cool locations out of the sun and wind.

We have a large planter off our patio, it’s a focal point of our .75 acre backyard. We planted a Japanese Maple there initially, because that is what my husband had envisioned, we did a lot of gardening together back then, it was one of the interests we both shared and enjoyed doing together.

When Polly our doodle came along she used the entire tree as a chew toy and it eventually ended up in the middle of the yard roots and all.  Our gardener, Jesus, planted it’s chewed remains on the Eastside of the house where it miraculously came back to life and now thrives.  At the time Jesus asked me what I wanted to plant in it’s original place after the Japanese Maple met it’s demise.  Since my husband wasn’t around, I chose another Meyer Lemon tree.  Again, it took years to cultivate. Four years in, we believed it would never thrive.  Then it started to bloom and now it bears hundreds of lemons year round.  I do not exaggerate when I say year round.  I always have lemons. This has been a source of joy for me.

Recently, however, I am beginning to wonder why I would cultivate just lemons almost exclusively over everything else?  Lemons are tart. Lemons are associated with things that don’t work like cars.  I love my lemon tree, but what about strawberries, or raspberries? When I was a kid we had a raspberry bush outside our backdoor, I could walk by and eat them off their branches.  What about lettuce?  I could grow all sorts of vegetables, berries, and even more flowers. My obsession with lemons and making lemonade must end.

I am again beginning to compost and I will start another smaller garden by my pool house, this space gets 4 hours of sunlight and no more, and I will start new traditions and grow and cultivate what is sweet instead of tart.  A metaphor for life.

Plus, I think I want another rabbit.  I miss my rabbit.

Love and Blessings to all.