My Very Groovy Time Machine

Hollywood Bowl
Dead and Company Concert

Places can be like time machines.

First stop, L.A. No big deal, we’ve been there before and did the cheesy tours.  But this time we were going to the Hollywood Bowl to see John Mayer and the Grateful Dead. As soon as we stepped out of the car, we traveled back in time to Woodstock. People in very colorful, psycodelic shirts, long flowing hair and groovy glasses walked about in a mild, happy trance.  Once in the stadium plumes of “loud smells” as my son calls it, fired off. The bowl glowed in vibrant colors, and then, John Mayer walked on stage.  I never knew he was so talented, and diverse a musician. And then, the crowd greeted the rest of the band whose many, many songs they grew up with. The couple in front of me euphorically lip syncing and snapping selfies while beach balls kept bouncing our way.   The whole package was a step back in time.

Next stop, Yosemite. The ride up the mountain area was a step back in time as well. As we approached the final stretch we were greeted with a prairie setting of long blond grass swaying, a train rolling through and an innocent group of baby goats. We were delighted when spotting whimsical, squirrel like prairie dogs darting about.  Being from Florida, I will admit, I felt uncomfortable making our way up to elevations of 6,000 to 7,000 feet on single laned roads. We got to our home base- a quaint town called Mariposa. Being of Spanish background, I know that means butterfly. This little town was established in 1850 and is dotted with small shops, restaurants and churches on hilly roads. We wanted to take advantage of the rest of the day and I was surprised that Yosemite was yet 45 minutes away, but as we went on I can see why. Again one laned roads along curvy mountain sides. The drive was well worth it.  A step back in time, and no one can spoil it! Not even the hands that have spoiled so many natural settings because of progression and greed.

Entrance to Yosemite
Entrance to Yosemite
Rainbows at Yosemite
Bridal Veil Fall

Our final night, we ate at the Gold coin back in Mariposa. A final treat, great live music from a one man band with a great selection of old cover songs. I savored the moment as a parent and traveler, or should I say “time traveler?”

 

Post note:

This trip was a graduation trip with my son.  ( I believe if the finances are there, every parent should take their son/daughter on a trip at this age.  They are young adults, but when they graduate college or go on to what they choose, there’s no guarantee they will have the luxury of time or even desire to travel with you, as their life truly begins.) I wanted this trip to be memorable, and I believe it was. And as I shared a few pieces ago I wrote a poem in honor of my son, who has come into his own, writing and producing music. I envisioned different things for my kids but as the saying goes, ” You make plans and God laughs at you.”

“FLIGHT” by natalie giasullo

I knew a boy who grew up to be a man

Of quiet strength and peace, he had an angel in his hand.

He had a gift of a smile that made the stars cry,

And the spirit of a dove, he discovered he could fly.

He didn’t have to listen and get approval any longer,

Disappointments and losses would make the man stronger.

It’s my turn, you’ve had yours, I’m gonna fly to the Sun.

But I’m smarter than Icarus, I’m gonna LIVE to have fun!

You can’t melt my wings, I’m in control of my flight.

I’m not afraid to fail a few times, cause I’ll get it right.

Winter comes quickly, ask any old soul…

They wonder where their youth went, lost sight of the goal.

Lost track of the time, lost time of the track-

Everyone knows they’ll never get it back.

 

I’m gonna pack my guitar, and play Life a song.

I’m gonna enjoy my springtime, and Life will play along.

And when Winter comes, I’ll stare him square in the eye

And I’ll just strum my guitar,

and continue to F-L-Y!

Just me and my angel and my new life ahead

I’ll never wonder “what if” of the life that I led.

I left behind kindness, a smile and a song

I didn’t waste my gifts, I passed them along…

Case at yosemite

What Love Leaves Behind

Image result for pictures of love

Everyone goes through the temporary moment of grieving a loss. It’s incredibly painful, trying to fall asleep as tears stream down the sides of your face. It’s dark and solemn and yet, strangely beautiful. Love is something that cannot be proven by science, but it’s there.  It’s proven by what it leaves behind.

I had a loved one die while holding my hand. That’s my memory anyway. It was probably the hardest day in my life. She was very sick and was in the hospital yet again.  I was with her just getting through another day. Oddly enough, each evening as we tried to fall asleep, we’d recall times of long ago, and laugh a little. One night I recalled how my parents would give us an elixir for stomach aches from a local Cuban pharmacy.  Amazing how it really stopped the aching right away.  Maybe it’s because it had a slight bit of opioids? My parents started going to commercial pharmacies after that. But it’s laughable now, or it was on one of those nights we were talking before falling asleep. But one night, she had trouble breathing.  I’d call the nurses, and one propped pillows on her lap for her to lean forward on. Suddenly the machines started beeping and she was rushed down the corridor to a better equipped room.  I looked into her eyes, she was scared, I was terrified.  Her last words to me were to call her husband. I did and came right back to her.  I held her hand, I was told I could stay then it all happened so quickly…she was intubated.  I heard her gasp, her eyes wide and full of fear. I held her hand as long as I could. That was the last interaction I had with my sister.

“Time heals all wounds,” but leaves scars behind. Thankfully the pain is temporary. Under the scars there are warm memories of summers with our kids growing up before our eyes and home based happy hours. My adult kids and my adult nephews now, look back and I see the warmth generated when we revisit those days.

Before starting treatment, she spent quite a bit of time putting photo albums together for her kids. Today, I have hundreds of photos in my phone, as we all do.  But to me there’s nothing like a hard copy photo to frame, display and remind us of a loved one and a memorable day. They are also a trace of legacy and background…roots.  I have a small collection of family black and white photos. I just love these because they spark wonder. Each frame is an invitation to meet family members I never met, if only through stories.

I am a person that loves to create. Believe it or not, I am already planning what it is that I am creating as gifts for Christmas this year.  I’m not sure what I will be creating just yet, but I do know it’s going to involve photos.  After a loss, after time passes, photos are all that we are left with. They serve as reminders. I will admit as I have in past writings, that nostalgia can hurt. But they only hurt me.  My kids love seeing photos of themselves when they were children. When people come over, they wander through the photos, smile and find interest in them. They ask questions and lead to some great conversation. They honor the people not with us anymore. They end up being what love leaves behind.

You Can’t Regret Regrets!

Special milestones often invite reflection and with reflection comes regret.  My two children are about to graduate and though this should be a very happy time for me, there is a sad echo inside saying I wish I would have been more, or done this. The truth is parenting is the hardest job in the world. And when people are touting about their adult children’s accomplishments the response that often follows is, ” Do you know what that means? You did a great job as a parent!” But what if that person grows up to mark society in a negative way or doesn’t measure up to what your idea of success is? Does that mean you were an awful parent?

I recently read of an interesting experiment that started off with a simple observation of rats and pups.  Scientists were pulling the pups out to observe their physical condition, then putting them back in the tank.  Randomly, they noticed sometimes an adult rat would rush to the pup and nurture it by preening and licking it. The pup would calm down. So the scientists decided to separate the pups they knew to have been nurtured verses the ones that did not.  The ones not nurtured would stick to the outside rim of the tank while the ones that had been nurtured would venture to the center. Then the scientists would put food in the tank. The ones not nurtured took longer to trust and eat. The nurtured ones were bold and just went to the food.  So they went on to study a group of kids that grew up below the poverty line through out their lives and concluded the ones that grew up in a nurturing environment were successful. This included studying the ones that were held more as babies.  They addressed how there was a period where babies were viewed as mechanical and parents were encouraged to leave them to cry, and they would eventually fall asleep. According to their study, this was not the best thing to do.

So I reflect and I have regrets of my parenting performance, like most people do. But then I quiet that echo by telling myself, “You can’t regret regrets.” No one has a baby and knows what the heck they are doing.  When the second baby comes along, you might have learned something, which is why the first one is often called the guinea pig. But if I never had that first one or any at all, I would have never have known the joy that comes with holding a pure innocent life in those aqua pink and blue blankets, and feeling that you are needed and loved by that soul. ( And I know friends that have adopted and get it because as children grow with you, the love does too.)

I am blessed because my two kids grew up to be pretty great people to get to know.  One is a college graduate, an English major.  The other is going off to college.  Can I take credit for it? I don’t know. What I do know was that their younger years were a tumultuous course because there was divorce and separation. Do I regret having them? Never! What I regret was that chaotic transition they witnessed as I settled into my new life. But if I wouldn’t have met the man I divorced, then I never would have met them. And that would indeed be the biggest regret of all.  “You can’t regret regrets!”

Ebb and Flow of Speaking Out

Speaking out can be freeing, yet frightening in today’s times.  Sometimes I think what great times we live in,  but other times I think , where did our sense of boundaries go? Where did our sense of looking at individuals as beings, without judging what they look like go?  A commercial for a luxury car came on this morning and a mother and daughter were talking about how the daughter liked to borrow mom’s clothes, that the yoga mats fit in the car, and the daughter says something like “You look hot mom.” Well for one thing I can go out and buy this so called luxury car, but am so turned off by the message that this car is only for the “hot looking ” I wouldn’t consider it. You may be thinking, ‘ But you yourself are making a judgment, aren’t you?” Well yes I am. I’m making the judgment that aging women are being set aside. Why couldn’t this company feature a very identifiable look that most aging women have or look like and come from a different angle, one of accomplishment verses entitlement? Because that message is being lost in our society.  Luxury cars are for the accomplished.  “What did you do in life that allows you the luxury of buying a high end auto?” That’s what I would be more interested in.  It’s as though success equals looking good period. Have we lost our sense of appreciating different views, different ages and the experiences we can learn from one another? How a person started at a certain level in life and worked hard to earn what they have? Women in their 40s and 50’s, like myself, are trying to figure out where they fit in exactly in today’s shallow, shallow world. I would love a real magazine about real women in their 40’s and 50’s without spraying off the crows feet. I have a magazine I have laying around the house and the back cover is a cream ad with a very flawless young woman and the ad reads “Aging is just a number.” Well then, if that’s true, why do we need this cream?

The irony is I have made a commitment to myself to lose weight and I work very hard to keep my weight in check so I can ,in turn, feel better about myself. And I do.  I’m able to visit my closet like my own personal little boutique of clothes that had not fit before. I’m more confident and have loads more energy. But sometimes I just want to embrace my age, and not deal with reaching my exercise quota for the day. It can be tiring.

The desire to be young again is a natural one. Even good ole Ponce de Leon was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he arrived in our lovely state of La Florida.  But at some point we have to accept it and be thankful for the right of passage aging grants us. We also need to speak out and get the message across to our young girls that you too are going to age, and it’s OK. Don’t be subjected to feeling that how you look is more important than what you accomplish in life.  The more you accomplish for yourself, the more beautiful life will be for you. The trick is finding grace in doing it.

post note: 145.6

Tried boxing at the gym this am.  I would have felt to self conscious to try 20 pounds heavier. Had great fun!cropped-audrey-hepburn-e1466259868975.jpg

 

Personal Transcripts

img_4089

As an elementary teacher, I always used to ask my students, ” How do we know this explorer did this or that?” I wanted to drive the point that they kept transcripts, more commonly referred to as journals, and how important and interesting they are to link our history. Old pictures and writings invite us to pause and learn something of our past.  I personally love going through old postcards to observe habdwriting and language of the day. Sometimes good, sometimes belonging right where it is- in the past.  My kids know that for each holiday I take all my regular house pictures down and replace them with old holiday photos of our family celebrating these same holidays in their youth. At first, I go through some quiet somberness as I pull them all together. With a familiar sigh , and small tug  at the heart  I quietly revisit their childhood photos. But then I go on to the other photos and wonder about the period they were taken in. When friends and family come over they are drawn to these wonderful images and great conversation ensues. Pictures today are random and over abundant I would say. But photos taken in the past were quite deliberate to mark a special moment, and it was a task to get pictures developed. It was a process that would just not be acceptable in today’s ” Give it to me right now times.

About the Picture Above:

The other day I was cleaning out some boxes in the garage, and I came across this great photo of my grandfather. I heard all kinds of stories about him as I was growing up, and he was a “feliciano”.  He was Chief of Police in Cuba in the 1930’s. It was a very prestigious position, and frankly a little shady at times as well- gambling and such topics of the era. As a matter of fact, I came across an old news paper article that read he had been shot 4 times in the stomach area and was fighting for his life in the hospital. After surviving that, he left Cuba, and lived his remaining years in Mexico.  When I was about 11 or 12, my father had his remains brought over to the states, so he could have a place to go, leave flowers and connect with his father.

When I found this picture I connected once again to this lively character that was part of so many stories as I was growing up. I love that he is in uniform, in front of this great old car and two story house, with his two Samoyeds  nearby. Anyone who follows my blog knows I love dogs a great deal. (They are part of my super power.) So to see these two dogs by his side softens his character for me (and he needs some softening from the stories I’ve heard.) But overall, he had a good relationship with my father, and when my father spoke of him, it was always with a lot of love and pride, as well as forgiveness, so I will carry that same attitude for him, in the spirit of family history.

More Cool Photos:

The picture on the left is of two famous Hollywood stars of the 1950’s.  Just kidding. That’s a photo of my mom and dad. The picture on the right is again my grandfather. You can see how similar my father and grandfather look and that’s something else I look for in these old photos. I try to pick out similar features and then try to see those features in myself or my kids. Small features make a powerful connections.

Post Note: Day 223 Personal Journey Growth

Body-

Maintaining weight, though sometimes a I very tempted to throw caution to the wind, and eat anything that calls to me. Then I remind myself how hard it was to lose 20 pounds and that this is supposed to be a serious commitment to ” Me.” Still need to tackle my closet…

Mind and Soul

I left teaching 7 years ago, and though I am running a business with my husband, I have the personal desire to read with kids again. So I walked into a tutorial center the other day and applied for a job so I can go a couple of nights a week and do something for myself. It’s a tiny step towards what I want to achieve, but every little step gets me closer to the my dream. Being a late bloomer is better than never blooming at all, right?