Going It Alone

I’ve had a good deal of endings and many loses over the past 22 months. I often tell myself that it won’t last forever. This feeling of vulnerability, constant change and upheaval. I remind myself that the past always informs the future. I’ve had so many successes that my future will likely be full of the same.

At 22 I worked for the Senate, by 24 I ran my own ballot measure campaign, at 25 I was a Systems Analyst, at 26 I was a Product Manager in electronic banking, at 27 the Communications Manager for the Northwest, then a Channel Manager in mobile, a Marketing Director in software, and had a successful consulting career South of Market in tech working for four start ups.

I married the man of my dreams and bought my first home before thirty. I had two beautiful daughters. My paintings have hung in galleries and I’ve written three books.

That was my past. A beautiful past. The future is now undetermined, and I bring to it my hard won experience, talent and determination.

The past always informs the future, and I’m planning on it being even better than I can imagine.

Love and blessings to all.

The Side Hustle

At a recent investor pitch meeting, the speaker mentioned her side hustle. I hadn’t heard this term before, but every entrepreneur from Henry Ford to Steve Jobs had a side hustle on their way to success. Later at the reception I found many entrepreneurs have side hustles. These are typically wildly different from the main hustle.

As the English say, “a change is as good as a rest.”

On my way home I thought about this a great deal as I’ve many expensive and frustrating experiences with my main hustle (Ocean SF). I felt intuitively that I needed to stop what I was doing and find a side hustle. I needed a change of scenery and I needed new people in my life. And I wanted that right away.

The next day, I started looking for a side gig. I spend a lot of time behind a computer, so I needed something where I could meet new people and not have to sit at a desk. I saw an advertisement for the family run Treasure Island Festival and applied. Later, I learned my boss picked only two names out of a list of hundreds. Four days later I was on Treasure Island with my new boss surrounded by amazing food, music and art.

I enjoy young people and am used to them from my ski instructor and sailing experiences, but nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead. I met so many artist and entrepreneurs and was offered half a dozen other jobs. As it turns out I was good at directing traffic and telling people what to do. I even had a two way radio.

My Treasure Island job was the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and it helped me find my second side gig which has been amazingly enjoyable as well, and has given me great insight into some of my most pressing Ocean SF production issues.

I’ve already made new friends and have a steady stream of lucrative work when I need money or a distraction from my own often stressful main hustle.

It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Meeting new people and sharing new experiences is good for the soul.

I also think there is a little luck involved and as everyone knows, I pray every morning, and am often blessed in unusual ways. In no way has this been more true than now.

Love and blessings to all.

Attitude of Gratitude

2014

I can see the future I would like to have, but I still have a ways to go. Someday, I will have a calm secure life that is predictable. For example, I will not be raising teenage girls forever. There will come a time when I have socks in my drawer and my jeans will all be neatly folded on my shelf and not at my daughters friend’s house. My boots will be in my closet not under the bed in the guest room. My cars will be clean, and full of gas without dents or torn off fenders. But, most importantly I will have a hairbrush as this is one necessity that continually disappears.

I’ve been told I will miss these things and more, so I am enjoying the company of my children now and am looking toward to a shared summer together. We truly never know what the future holds, so I will keep my daughters close and share my things, and my heart, and my time.

As so many things have changed and not necessarily for the better, it’s important to be grateful for what we do have. I have a two page list of the top 8 things I’m grateful for and I try to read it everyday and then keep a daily list of small things that I am thankful for like the lilacs and roses from my garden that sit on my desk, or the penny I found yesterday with the year of my husband’s death as this reminds me that he is no longer here, but I am.

In 2014 when I started to think about my life beyond being a full time wife and mother I bought a hard bound book and started pasting in pictures of what I wanted for my future. Looking back, much of it has come to fruition. Especially, the no more boring text (above). As my life has been anything but boring for some time now.

I also have a larger vision board. These are more temporary. In January I wanted to cook more and eat healthy so my vision board was full of recipes and farm fresh produce.

All of these tools have helped me to live in gratitude for what I do have and for what is working while also envisioning the happy future I know I will one day have.

In January 2016, I had no idea how out of my comfort zone I would be. I certainly had to reinvent myself. As they say, be careful what you wish for…

Love and blessings to all.

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.