Thursday, December 10, 2015

Getting Up



Recently I spent a week
simply being Aunt Suzy,
babysitting my little nieces
(eight and four and a half)
and nephew (five and a half)
while their parents flew off
for a much-deserved holiday
together.  Alone : )

I arrived on the day that
Paris was attacked.

Something you forget when
your baby is 17 is that small
children get hurt.  A lot.

Falls, scrapes, bruises.  
Running into things.  Touching
things that are hot.  Accidentally
getting pinched by a sibling or 
closing a drawer too swiftly.

Little feet stumble and 
developing brains misjudge
corners, which can be
hazardous while zooming
around on bicycles.

But I'd also forgotten this:
After the ice pack is applied,
the scrape soothed, the hair
smoothed back from the
furrowed brow or the ouchie
kissed, kids get back up.

And off they go, again.

Very similar to the way our
sad, aching world has continued
to turn since November 13th,
despite the great pain that
was inflicted on our common
hearts after the devastation
in Paris as well as the awful
terror executed most recently
in California.

No Band-Aids or ice packs,
kisses or smoothed brows will
ever make these horrific acts 
okay.

However, we can get up.

We can brush ourselves off.

We can embrace life for 
those whose own lives were
savagely stolen.

We can love each other deeper,
hold each other tighter, and
with steely resolve move forth
into this new world, vowing
to never, ever, ever
stop 

getting 
up.


Be soft.  Do not let the world
make you hard.  Do not let the
pain make you hate.  Do not 
let the bitterness steal your
sweetness.  Take pride that
even though the rest of the
world may disagree, you still
believe it to be a 
beautiful place.

~Iain S. Thomas

Wishing you great peace
this holiday season,
and all year long.



xo
Suzanne



all photos my own




Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Spark


There is always something left to love.
And if you ain't learned that, you ain't
learned

nothing.

~ Lorraine Hansberry


(Pottery! ♥)


As I was ambling happily through a
parking lot this week, my eyes fell
on a bumper sticker, which declared
in bright, bold letters,

I love greyhounds!

I smiled to myself, because who
wouldn't love a greyhound, those
sleek dynamos with the soulful
gaze and regal bearing?

But to commit to a bumper sticker,
the driver of this car must not just
love greyhounds, but be passionate
about them.


(Dogs! Even wet ones!♥)

Which is great.  I'm very happy
that there are staunch greyhound
supporters on our planet.

There's a plethora of things to
love in this life.  So many, many 
hobbies to learn, passions to 
champion, whimsies to indulge, 
past times to participate and
to lose oneself in.


(Knitting! For trees!♥)

There's a spark inside each of us
that, for mysterious reasons, ignites
a fervor for an amazing variety of
things.  Consider what other passions
crossed my radar the same day that 
I saw the greyhound bumper sticker:

horses 
collecting Star Wars figurines
playing guitar
running marathons
fishing
trains
The Beetles
shoes
archery
gardening
live theater
sailing
baking
Boston Terriers
sewing quilts
baseball
reading

And this is just a tiny sampling
of what I saw or heard on that 
particular afternoon, or what I've
noticed since jotting down this
brief list.


(Pies!)


I'm not certain why I Love Lucy
memorabilia kindles deep devotion
in one person, while cat videos,
creating greeting cards or wood-
working is another's thing.

But I do know that the spark which
leads to our individual passions is 
a wonderful, magical part of
being human.


(Photography! Owls!)


Let's cherish and celebrate
that spark, in ourselves and
in others, too.

{What a dull place this world
would be if everyone's interests
were exactly the same!}


(Hearts!)


There is always something left
to love in this mysterious journey
that we call life, no matter how
far along its path we have come,
or how much farther we are going.

What's your passion?



xo
Suzanne
(Books!)


{all pictures my own}



























Friday, October 9, 2015

Too Much



Ever since I was a little girl, I've
been fascinated with the lives
of other people.

If my mom was having coffee with
her friends and I didn't have school
that day, I liked to tag along and 
listen to them exchange news and 
funny stories about their families,
and especially, to hear them laugh.

Playing outside at night (or trick
or treating on Halloween) meant the 
opportunity to view family rooms or 
kitchens that weren't normally visible, 
gathering new clues about those living
inside, which my young and vivid
imagination wove into what I guessed
might be their stories.




And my grandparents always had a
rapt audience in me when they
shared tales of their own childhoods 
or those of my parents.

Even now, I consider it a treat to arrive
early for a flight or to sit outside at a
cafe with a coffee, just observing the
people going by, conjuring possible dramas
and life scenarios for them.

So it's not surprising that on any
given day, my radio dial is often tuned
to National Public Radio, fertile ground
for this sort of fancy.




NPR's personal interest stories feed my
still active imagination, whether it's
a piece about Benedictine monks who brew
beer, the meaning behind symbols on our
Veterans' headstones, or the estate sale
of a 94 year-old Hollywood seamstress who
created costume patterns for legendary
movies and TV shows. 

Generally, these narratives leave 
me wanting more.  

But one particular day, when the
host announced that the upcoming story
would examine a new phenomenon found
on social media called revenge porn, I
quickly changed the station. 

Sometimes it's just too much.




Which got me thinking about social  
media, in general. 

Honestly, I struggle with it, even as a
person who likes to peek into others'
lives and learn more about them. 

How much is too much?

I've taken a step back in recent 
months from blogging and other
social media as I try to determine
what the proper balance is, for me.

I'm still figuring it out.




Is my world enhanced by viewing 
someone's perfect meal or new pool or 
hearing them rant about bad traffic?  
Am I improving my character by reading 
what antics so called celebrities are 
up to (you know,the crass stuff that 
pops up, unbidden, on FB), or learning 
about things like (ugh!) revenge porn?

No.

And yet....

I love the posts and pictures that
celebrate life and all that's good
and decent and beautiful about it.
The dog rescued from a roaring river
by people who cared enough to stop.
The proud picture of a great-grandma
and her family as she finally receives
the college diploma she began earning
decades earlier.  A glorious image of
the sun rising to greet the day.




Shared joy is a double joy; 
shared sorrow is half a sorrow
says a Swedish proverb.

While I truly believe that, what 
about all the emotion and daily
adventures that lie between 
joy and sorrow?

Does all the stuff in the middle 
deserve a tweet, a post or a 
picture, as well?

In the case of revenge porn I say, 
Thanks, but no thanks.

But beer-loving Benedictine monks, 
newly matriculated great-grandmas
 or local heroes?

Bring 'em : )



To share or not to share?
I'd love your thoughts.




xo
Suzanne


{All images my own,
except for the last
one, taken by my pal
HM of me trying to
capture a beautiful
NZ sunrise.}













Thursday, September 10, 2015

{Lovely} Chaos



I've been collecting small
antique picture frames for 
a few years, intending to
fill them with images of
my extended family's pets, 
 spanning several generations.

The lives of these creatures
are fleeting compared to our
human ones, their memories
often footnotes to our longer
and more complicated stories.




The idea of seeing all of
these little furry faces 
honored 
in frames of their own
truly makes my heart sing.

We were here.  We cuddled and
romped and napped and often,
waited for you to come home.

We loved you.




I'd gathered about eight
vintage frames and was eager
to sift through my parents'
archives on a recent visit this
summer, searching for pictures
of dearly-loved four-legged
friends from my family's past.

In addition to their own photos,
Mom and Dad have photos
they've inherited from their
parents, so there were boxes,
envelopes and albums of all
shapes and sizes to explore.

I barely scratched the surface.




When I came to some boxes of
loose photos that belonged to my
Gigi,  I found images from her
childhood (she turns 98 this
month) and adult life mixed up
with all the seasons of her
children's, grandchildren's and
great-grandchildren's lives. 

One moment a tiny GiGi was
peering warily at the camera
 from the early 1920's; the next
a glamorous grandma version
of her stood in front of the
gates at Graceland, her arm
entwined with my own, an
awkward 12 year-old.




Although I was on a mission 
to locate pet photos, my first
impulse when I found Gigi's
box was to sort her photos
chronologically, so that they
made sense.

But I hesitated, struck by the
beauty of the chaos.  This mess
of decades and generations very
likely mirrors the images which
{I hope} still dance through
her dear mind, trapped in 
the web of dementia.




A beautiful slideshow of
those she loved and who loved
her in return, including many
of the furry variety : )

As someone with years of photos
on her computer and a persistent
sense that I need to do something
with them, I felt a certain relief
at the idea that printing these
photos and then tossing them in 
a box might be all the action 
that's really required.



While my kids seem to prize
the scrapbooks I tenaciously
created to capture and document
their first decades of life, I
can also imagine their delight
in someday discovering an
unsorted box of photos from
their childhood; a mash-up
of who they once were as well
as a loving reflection of the
ones who captured the moments.

And yes, that chaos will 
definitely include wagging 
tails and fuzzy faces : )




xo
Suzanne



{All images my own.
The older ones are from my
family's collection.}











Thursday, August 13, 2015

If



If

I'd not rallied my sleep-
deprived self to join a Gymboree
class when my daughter was three
months old....

And if

I'd not asked another mom at
that class, wide-eyed baby hoisted 
on her hip, where she was from....





....then I wouldn't be sitting at an 
airport in New Zealand on this
August afternoon 20 years later, my
little notebook spread before me and
my mind filled with sweet memories.

For 12 days my Kiwi pal and her
family heaped their special brand
of love and hospitality upon me,
as we drank every last drop of
fun and life and laughter from 
each precious day we spent 
together.




It's the fifth time my friend and
I have connected in person since her
family moved back to their home
country after living briefly in the 
USA, but thanks to our correspondence
over the years, it was as if we'd
never been apart.




If.

It's a powerful word, one
often tied to regrets.

Forks in the road.  Hesitation.
Fear.  Decisions made or not made.




No one gets through life
without a few of these.

But just as often if is linked to
chances taken and moments seized.

A smile given, and received.
A leap of faith.  A now or never.





Thankfully, daily life is woven 
from a series of ifs, most of
them smaller, more mundane choices.

But sometimes, if we are lucky, one
of those everyday choices, such as
deciding to say hello or returning
a stranger's smile, leads to
something wonderful.

Like a life-long friendship, begun
at a baby gym class but still going
strong, even when those babies are
poised on the brink of adulthood.





Settled in my seat on the airplane,
taking a last look at the winter 
sun dipping low over this green,
green place, I vow to keep my heart
open to the possibilities of if,
the way I did so many years ago, my
curiosity about an accent {What
if she thinks I'm nosy?} winning
over my hesitation about asking.

I'm glad I was nosy : )

Do you believe in the power of

if?





Sometimes the slightest things
change the directions of our lives,
the merest breath of a circumstance,
a random moment that connects like
a meteorite striking the earth.
Lives have swiveled and changed
direction on the strength
of a chance remark.

~Bryce Courtenay


Aroha koe, sweet friend.


xo
Suzanne


{All pics my own, taken
in New Zealand:


1.New lamb in Cornwall Park, Auckland
2. Mt. Eden Park, Auckland
3. Flat White from Mojo, New Market, Auckland
4. Maori totem, Omaha Beach
5. Omaha Beach
6. Hobbit laundry, Hobbiton
7. Sheep in Matakana
8. Helga & Suzanne after walking
Coast to Coast in Auckland --
16 miles and still smiling!