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.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"That's How the Light Gets In"

On Sunday,  I attended the graduation of the University of Vermont Class of 2014.  It was a perfect Vermont spring day, with bright sunshine and cool air gracing the morning ceremony outside on the UVM green.  My daughter, Kerry, was one of the graduates.

The commencement speaker was Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.   I have to admit that I didn't have high expectations for her speech.  But I also have to admit that I was captivated by her words and the message she delivered to the graduates.  It was a message that was not only applicable to them, but to each and every one of us.

In her address, she quoted a song by Leonard Cohen:

"There is a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in."

All weekend long,  I watched Kerry and her friends.  I watched and remembered.

I remembered how much I loved my years in college, graduating from UVM myself back in 1981.  I remembered too well all that I was feeling at my own commencement: excitement, fear, hope, sadness, pride...  I would be starting my first job at the Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford, CT on September 11th.  Life was about to change.  I would leave my family, friends and home for the unknown.  Was I up to the challenge?

Samantha Power also acknowledged "When I sat where you sit, I was convinced everyone else had it all sorted out, and I was the only one who had no idea what would come next...When you get out into the real world, it is easy to believe that you - and only you - are the one who doesn't belong".

"One must never compare the churn you're feeling inside to the calm exteriors of those around you. "  In reality, everyone has these insecurities, but we are all so good at hiding them from others.

"There is a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in."

Isn't it so true that change and growth most often come from "cracks"?  Ms. Power  suggests "the people who succeed in changing the world are those who simply acknowledge their insecurities and forge ahead".

From our difficult times, we learn empathy for others.

Unless your heart breaks, you will never know love.

In the midst of ugliness, you can always find beauty.

If your universe doesn't collapse, you'll never learn anything about the world.

"Even when you reach the pinnacle of your career, you will know your own weaknesses better than anyone.  You will have a unique insight into all you haven't mastered."

In my 55 years, I've come to know my own weaknesses very well.   In spite of those weaknesses, and maybe because of them too, I've developed many strengths.  I find myself drawn to those who don't paint a perfect portrait of themselves.  The "cracks" are what makes them human.  The "cracks" are what we all have in common.

"I am confident that you will do great things in the years ahead.  But you also have it in your power right now to do good things.  To notice what is going on around you, and to undertake small acts of kindness that will change someone's world."

"Every day you commit even a small act of kindness, you are changing someone's world.  Start there.  But please don't stop there."

"The world is plenty messed up; but you can help change it."

"You have lived in the shadow of the Vermont peaks for four years, and I urge you to make it your task to overcome mountains that others have found too high to scale."

"There is a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in."

Monday, May 12, 2014

To My Lorelai Gilmore

To My Lorelai Gilmore

A blog post from your daughter- I'm glad you use the same 3 passwords for everything! (: 
Happy Birthday and Happy Mother's Day!! Love, Annie                                                    
P.S. I'm not sure why certain things are highlighted and others are not... or why this title    
won't stay in big lettering...but I can't ask you for help.... so, sorry that this doesn't look too
pretty! I love you!!                                                                                                                 

Back when I was in middle school, my mom and I began watching a show called "Gilmore Girls." I remember that she was sorting laundry in the foyer and had her laptop open on the cabinet so she could watch an episode as she worked, and I ended up staying and watching it with her. The show revolves around a mother and daughter, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Lorelai had Rory when she was 16 and raises her on her own, which has given them a very close, fun, "best friends first, mother/daughter second" relationship. My mom and I ended up going back to the beginning of the show and, over the next year or two, watched every single episode of the show's 7 seasons together. 

We laughed "like hyenas" (as my Dad would tell us) at episodes, we cried at episodes, and most importantly, we strengthened and changed our relationship as the episodes went on. Besides the fact that it was something we consistently did together, for me, it was an enormous change in my perception of what a mother/daughter relationship can be. Watching Lorelai and Rory interact on the show made me realize not only that my mom could be my best friend instead of just my mom, but that I wanted to have that kind of relationship with her!

I learned and became comfortable with the fact that my mom could be my friend, too, even though she had the title of "mom." Contrary to my previous beliefs, I could talk to and hang out with my mom like any of my best friends. Furthermore, her being my mom didn't detract from our ability to be friends; actually, it added to it! What other friend would deal with you and all of your absolute worst, uncensored qualities, and still love you unconditionally and forgive you without batting an eye? In addition to giving you life? I think that's a pretty good deal.

It wasn't an immediate change in our relationship after watching "Gilmore Girls," but now I say without hesitation that my mom is one of my best friends. And sometimes I think we've both fallen a bit into the ways of our beloved Lorelai and Rory without meaning to... (or maybe meaning to, a little bit)...

We frequently think that we're hilarious, and will be laughing at something one of us or both of us said much longer than anyone else is (more often than not, we're also the only ones laughing to begin with...).

We've spent many, MANY hours in the car together going on college visits, trips to VT, and back and forth between Rochester and home, and once we get talking, the trip flies by. Sometimes causing a little bit of alarm when we stop talking long enough to realize that we haven't stopped for gas in far too long...

(No worries- we made it to a rest stop in time!)

She's always there to talk to me when I call home from school, whether I'm stressed, excited, or if we haven't talked in a while and need to catch up on all of each other's gossip.

(the screenshot below is from a recent lengthy phone call in my last few weeks of school- we hadn't caught up in 2 or 3 weeks...)

It's no longer embarrassing to color coordinate with her- actually, I kind of enjoy it! 

She's always there to support me and make me feel loved- whether it's emotionally...

or by coming up to Eastman to see me perform in various concerts and recitals...

or physically, i.e. my senior year poison ivy infection, or after I got my wisdom teeth removed, was slightly loopy on medication, and needed company...

My mom is one of a kind. And even if I get grumpy with her and need reminding...

I know that at the end of the day, she will always be there. To hang out and watch an episode of Gilmore Girls with in her hotel room in Rochester...

To have consistently blurry pictures with on the few occasions she's not behind the camera, because that means my dad is the one behind the camera...

And to lean on when times are rough, and I just need my mom. 

(pictured above- a much needed Parents' Weekend of Freshman year at Eastman)

In my 16th Birthday card, my mom wrote, "You are my Rory." It meant more to me than she knew, and more than any other elaborate things she could have written.

Well, Mom- you are and always will be my Lorelai Gilmore. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

It's OK to be Sad

One week from today, we'll be in Burlington, Vermont for my daughter Kerry's graduation from the University of Vermont. I know she's been getting sad about leaving Burlington, UVM, and especially all of her friends and the life she has built there.  I read a link on Facebook this morning which described what she and other graduates must be feeling.

This is a link to the entire post, but I will be quoting from sections of it from this point on.  I couldn't possibly say it more eloquently or beautifully!

"Others think the reason graduation is going to be so hard for you is that for the first time in your life, you don’t know what’s next. And you’re scared. You have to start over. "

"You knew you’d have to get a job someday. And you knew that getting a job might be really, really hard."

"What you weren’t prepared for was this unshakable feeling that you don’t belong anywhere. At some point in the past four years, while you were busy giggling from exhaustion as you and your best friends ordered pizza to the library at 2am, this place became your home."

"Not just because you live here, but because every corner of campus has a different memory attached to it. But mostly because the people here –the faces you see every day– make you feel absolutely at peace. And you’re just now realizing that when you cross that graduation stage, you’re not just leaving your home. It ceases to exist."

"The people you know are leaving. Your friends. Your roommates. The acquaintances you are stoked to see at the bar.  The familiar faces of random people on the way to class. Everyone who made this place home. "

"They won’t be here anymore. The storefronts will change. New restaurants will open. New buildings will go up. And a fresh new batch of students will arrive. Your home is constantly changing. You can never go back to it, just as it was."

"Your friends will move to different places."

"Some will move back home. Some will move to new and exciting cities. Some will be just an hour away. Some will be a flight away."

"But you know for certain that it will never be the same. You’ll never all live in the same place again."

"For the rest of your life, you’ll have to travel further than across the hall to see the people you call family. You’ll have get togethers, and brunches, and weekend getaways, but you can never go back “home.”

"And that leaves you feeling…kind of homeless."

"You know it will get better. You know you’ll eventually be happy in your new life. You’ll have close friendships and relationships. You’ll get that dream job. And you’ll fall in love. And even though it seems impossible, you know you’ll find a new home some day."

"But that doesn’t make it better. That almost makes it worse."

 "It scares you. It scares you, because you’ll miss your life so much it hurts. "

"There’s nothing anyone can say to make that feeling go away. And it’s okay to be sad."

"It feels truly unfair –cruel, even– that you were given the most amazing experience of your life, just to have it taken all away."

"I know it’s hard. I know it hurts, but remember this: you are one of the lucky ones. "

"You were lucky enough to have something in your life that was wonderful enough to make it this difficult to leave it behind."