For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Best Day Ever

Sometimes we have one of those days that we know we will always remember.
No doubt about it.
It's life-changing.
You just know it.

My daughter, Kerry, had a day today that she described as "The Best Day Ever."

As a nursing student, she is now in the midst of her clinical rotations.
Since the beginning of this school year, she has spent time in Labor and Delivery.
She saw babies being born.
She witnessed firsthand what a newborn baby's first days are like when born to a drug-addicted mother.
She got to hold newborns, rock them, comfort them.

Then she had the opportunity to witness what it's like in the Psych ward.
She talked at length with a patient who described in great detail the other life
he leads inside his own head.
She got to see psych patients on their good days - and their bad days.
She came to understand how tragic life events can lead to mental illness.
And she saw patients changing over the weeks she was there as medications took effect.

But today topped it all.
She was in the operating room.
She watched a spine surgery to remove a herniated disc.
Since this procedure didn't take very long she got the chance to watch another.


The next surgery was to remove a brain tumor!
It was amazing to be able to see a real live brain up close
and watch the doctors and nurses work together to remove
the tumor.
Some people might be queasy watching this.
But Kerry was not.

It was the best day of her life - so far.

I'm sure there will be more.
But this one will be hard to top!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

She Did It!!!!!

 One year ago I took a road trip to Rochester, NY with my daughter, Annie, to visit the Eastman School of Music.  It was a cold, dreary day, but I got a good feeling driving under the welcome sign.

The city of Rochester was not impressive in itself.  It was run-down.  There weren't very many people walking on the streets.  Then we got to the school.

Annie wanted a picture next to the Eastman sign before we went inside.  Annie had an appointment the next day with the saxophone professor, Chien-Kwan Lin,  and we wanted to scope it out and make sure we knew how to find his office.

We entered new wing of the school, which was very bright and modern.  It seemed very intimidating.

We told them we were visiting, and they let us into the Kodak Theater to watch a performance of the Rochester Philharmonic.   Annie's face lit up in awe at the beautiful theater and the wonderful music.

and we couldn't keep our eyes off the spectacular chandelier suspended from the ceiling!

We came back the next morning for Annie's lesson with Professor Lin.  While I was waiting for Annie, I walked around.  There were many students and workers around, and what made the biggest impression on me was how friendly everyone was - and how happy they were.  It may have been cold and dreary outside, but there was a feeling of warmth and excitement in this school.

The inscription on this sculpture says "Music is Essential".

Her lesson went well and she liked Professor Lin.  He even invited Annie to come to his Summer Saxophone camp, waiving the need to audition.  Before we left, we checked out one of the smaller recital halls in the new wing.  It was so beautiful!  I made Annie get on stage for a quick picture!

Annie never told me this at the time, but she thought her chances of ever getting into Eastman were slim to none.   Over the following weeks, I kept asking her if she wanted to go to Professor Lin's summer camp and she didn't seem interested - until Professor Lin sent Annie friendly email wondering if he should hold a spot for her!  Then she was excited about it.

This picture was taken last summer with the students at the camp - high school and college students.  Annie is 2nd from the right in the front row.  This is the same stage where she stood alone on our visit.
And here is one song from their performance at the end of the week:

Annie had a GREAT week!  She got a taste of what it would be like to go to school there and study under "Chien-Kwan".   She liked him as a teacher and as a person.  He has so much joy for music and radiates energy and enthusiasm.

Chien-Kwan is in the center of the group next to Annie.

This past fall, Annie applied to five schools:  Central Connecticut State University, University of Connecticut, Ithaca College, Hartt School of Music, and Eastman School of Music.   Auditions took place during the end of January and most of February. Eastman was her last audition.

Here is a note that Adam wrote on Annie's white board in her bedroom:

It says "Dear Annie, Good luck, Love, Adam"

She was accepted into the first four schools, but was waiting to hear from Eastman.  Ever since we visited a year ago,  I always pictured her in my mind at Eastman whenever I thought about her college life.  I was hoping and praying that she would be accepted!

Tonight, surrounded by her high school music friends, she got a phone call from the admissions office at Eastman to let her know that she has been accepted into Chien-Kwan's saxophone studio! (Annie is the one who is crying!)

This fabulous school will be where Annie spends the next 4 or 5 years.  She plans to double major in music performance and music education.

Thank you, Chien-Kwan!  Congratulations, Annie!  You deserve it, and I know you'll make the most of all Eastman has to offer!  We will be making many treks to Rochester during the coming years to hear you play and visit!  We are soooo proud of you!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Specialized Parental Training

I have lived with cats almost my whole life.
In fact,  I've lived with cats over 3 times longer than I've lived with teenagers.
And that's a really good thing because I believe cats provide the perfect  training for parents with teens.

My cat, Maddie, is energetic, spunky, and very curious.

At times of her choosing, she can be very affectionate and lovable, purring and rubbing up against my legs to be picked up and cuddled.  At other times she will jump at me and bite my foot.  So whenever she walks into the room, I survey her face, eyes and demeanor to try to determine her mood.

Maddie is not a lap cat.  She doesn't sit with you to watch TV.  Sometimes we wonder if she's in the house or if she is outside somewhere.  When it's gets dark and she is not home, we worry about her.  And then she comes sauntering in like it's no big deal.

When I'm working on my computer, she often walks back and forth across the keyboard to annoy me - and get my attention.  The times she chooses to desire my company are not always the most convenient times for me, but I'll stop whatever I'm doing to spend some quality time if she's in the mood.

Maddie likes to walk on the counters and push things off onto the floor.  Sometimes I let her when the consequences are not bad - like when it's just a pen or a paper clip.  But I always have to be watchful because she cannot always anticipate which things will be a disaster - like a glass of milk or an iphone.

Sometimes Maddie will just sit and stare at me without making a sound.  This can be very disconcerting and I wish she would stop and be friendly again.

Just a few weeks ago, she jumped off the deck into some really deep snow and sunk down wayyyy over her head.  Then she popped back out with a panicked look on her face.  I secretly laughed and got great enjoyment from this - but I would never tell her!

When I call her, she often doesn't answer.  She will answer texts most of the time though.

She is friends with me on Facebook, but not on Twitter or Instagram.  There are limits to just how much she wants you involved in her life.

Cats and teenagers are so much alike!  I've begun to blur the two.

But no matter how they act, you still keep coming back for more because you cherish the good times when they make you feel so special.  You love them no matter what. You also know that with time they will mellow out and be happy to be with you whenever they can.

But for now I just have one request.

Will one of you watch the finale of the Bachelor with me tonight?  It's not as much fun watching it alone!

PS.  I love you.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Family Ties

Growing up, my cousins were a HUGE part of my life.

My mom had 4 brothers and 1 sister, all living in the same town.
And they all had kids - one brother had 9 children!

We spent many fun and happy times together as children - holidays, camping in the summer almost every weekend,  caravans from Vermont to Florida every year during winter break, and a very memorable trip to Washington DC.  Due to the wide range of ages, the older cousins  tended to be close, as did the younger ones.

The years went on.  Many of us moved away.  We got married and had our own families.
My limited time when I went home was focused on spending time with my parents.

My parents are gone now.  So are many of my aunts and uncles.

Last week,  my cousin Danny died unexpectedly.  He was only a year older than me.

I drove home for the wake and funeral and stayed with my cousin, Kevin.
During the day that I was home, I got a chance to talk with quite a few of my cousins, remembering old times and catching up a little on our lives today.

But there was one cousin that I got to know a lot more during my stay.
I knew him as a child.  I got to know him as an adult.
I found out how loved he is by so many people.
I discovered what a difference he made in the lives of his nieces and nephews.
I learned about his love of music, and got a chance to listen to some of his favorite songs.
I met some of the people that call him their friend and brother.

I came to realize what a great man Danny was.
Only it was a little too late.

As the luncheon after the funeral was winding down,  there was much talk among the cousins about getting together this summer during happier times.  With so many of us living in many different parts of the country,  it will be hard to pull off.

But I really hope it happens.