Memorizing the snapshots of a very special week

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“Why do they not teach you that time is a finger snap and an eye blink, and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it, not wasting a single moment of its swift, breakneck circuit?” ― Pat Conroy

I don’t know what I was thinking. I honestly thought I’d be able to move through the month of January with ordinary rhythms. I don’t know myself as well as I purport.

My son is getting married this week. He and his bride-to-be have ambitiously coordinated events to bring their parents and siblings together in joint activities that have surprised me from the very first mention. He was born with an independent nature and I somehow missed many of the clues that would have prepared me for his desire to closely meld two families.

This hasn’t been hard for me.  We have known the other half of our now larger family, although there were large gaps of time when we didn’t, for more than two decades. I have a photo of the bride and groom that dates back to high school prom night twenty years ago. Sometimes it takes awhile for stars to align.

So back to my belief that I could be fully present for this special time and also share it. I can’t. Or maybe it’s really that I don’t want to. Every now and then I think about the joy of this union and I realize it’s impossible to capture it in photos. And parents take these things in with a special lens that doesn’t translate anyway.

So I don’t know what you’ll see or hear from me this week. I have every intention of sharing details later. But for now, my only awareness is to open up to the experience and be as conscious as possible through each small moment. We don’t get them back.

The big day is Thursday. The only detail I’ll share for now is that there will be sand under our feet. I don’t think he had his mother in mind when he chose a beach wedding, but he is my son after all…he loves the ocean as much as I do.

For this one week, life will not be rushed. No “break neck circuit” for me.

Breathing lighter…Debra

Have I told you about my Ninja moves?

I have been absent of late. November simply passed as one giant blur of activity with some added responsibilities that guaranteed blogging roadblocks.  Not that I didn’t try. I made a very important discovery, however. After 9:00 PM my mind turns to mush. You don’t need the details on that.

But to stay on top of an expanding schedule of activity I was forced to develop some flexible moves. My yoga practice has been invaluable in maintaining calm–well, calm for me anyway. But lately I’ve had to add Ninja moves as a form of independent study.

Even my closest friends and family have yet to actually see me practicing my Ninja moves. I’m sorry I don’t have photos. And if I could manage video, I’d be a YouTube sensation.

Autumn in Southern California offers a very subtle shift between summer and three more months of summer before we enter a mild winter. The colors do change, but not in the riotous fashion seen in other regions. It’s possible if you were visiting Los Angeles you wouldn’t even notice.

And the temperatures do significantly drop at night, but if you’re already experiencing snow, you probably aren’t interested in hearing how we ate our Thanksgiving dinner outdoors.

Gardens are confused.  Roses are still blooming, and in near perpetual sunshine, my mother’s zinnias are already sprouting in a false display of spring. Darwin is spending day after day without leaving his burrow. He isn’t eating. He knows it’s fall even if the temperatures still hover stuck in summer gear.

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Well, endless summer temperatures don’t dictate length of days, and in our latitude twilight is 5:00 PM–just about the time I get home from work. Let the Ninja moves begin!

Do you remember our poor anxiety-ridden dog, Zena?  Even with her twice-daily doses of more-expensive-than-I’m-happy-with prescriptions, we still can’t leave home without setting up a barricade to the back door. Here are photos taken before we figured that out!

We don’t know if she would continue to eat the door frame down to the metal flashing, but we barricade the door and set as many precautions in motion as we can. Each time we leave the house she’s given treats, toys, and provided shelter in our little backyard guest house. She’s treated like one of our children.

You know? As I hear myself, could it be possible that treating her like a child has created such a temperamental little creature?

Oh well. Too late for that. Back to my Ninja training.

So here’s how it works.

I get home a little before 5:00 PM and need to quickly change my clothes and head out to my 5:30 yoga class. I’m only home for a few minutes, but that’s long enough to get Zena all stirred up!  If Jay isn’t home I need to stealthily sneak in and do what I came to do without drawing any attention to myself.

Step 1: I park about one house up the street, avoiding our driveway and being sure I don’t slam the car door or lock it and sound the little alarm.

Step 2: It’s necessary to approach the house with the perfect trajectory. Although the roses are currently about five feet high and quite thorny, I creep through the rose bed skilled at avoiding injury to skin or clothing. Ambling in this odd pattern to my front door, I’m sure my neighbors aren’t aware that this is a well-honed Ninja move. Perhaps they are concerned for me.

Step 3: Finally at the front door, I very, very carefully open the door without making a sound, then crouch and crawl in my best Ninja–or home intruder moves, crawl through the house to my bedroom, careful to avoid being seen through any windows.

Step 4: The house is dark and I can’t possibly turn on a light without my four-footed friend discovering her playmate is home, so out comes the iPhone flashlight and I, with great skill, impressively manage to change my clothing and sneak right back out the front door, totally undetected.

I’ve only been discovered once. That time I found Zena peering into my bedroom window and it was she who scared me!

Step 5 of “How to Train to Be a Ninja Easily” says I need to practice walking quietly, rolling my feet and using my hips to allow wide steps, and to breathe evenly. I do eat healthy foods, as suggested, but my tree-climbing days are over. I can, however, be sneaky.

Is it any wonder that by the end of the day I’m struggling to string coherent sentences together?

Oh, and another Ninja practice strategy suggests that I use nature to my advantage. Apparently being in tune with nature helps provide camouflage during dangerous missions and helps mask noise.

That’s easy. I do spend a lot of time outdoors. And I’ve enjoyed a beautiful Southern California fall. I can’t share photos of my Ninja-moves, but I can share some photographs I’ve recently taken. See if you can find any evidence of Autumn.

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I have missed being more in touch, but December is looking hopeful. And for the last weekend in November, don’t forget your own Ninja moves–apparently breathing lighter is a key skill component. Be sure to exhale!

 

 

Meet Jack {a special 5-year old friend}

This post is a little longer than I usually include, but some stories aren’t easily made bite-sized!

Isn’t this a handsome (I’d say beautiful, but he might not approve) young man?

This is Jack, an active and charming 5-year old with an abundance of interest and little boy curiosity. He goes to school and plays on a soccer team and has a full and very active life. He loves his mom and dad, his twin sister, Scarlett, and his cousins and grandparents, aunts and uncles and a big wide circle of friends.

But I’m not sure Jack knows how many, many people love him!

 

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I doubt he’s even once thought about how many of us have loved him since before he was born.

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Jack’s mom, Dani, has been an invited member of our family since she and Aimee formed a special and lasting friendship that first day of Kindergarten so many years ago. And in the blink of an eye, here we are in 2014 and Jack, Scarlett and our Karina are that same age.  Kindergarten is such an exciting time in a child’s life as they transition from total dependence on family and begin to form separate friendships, not to mention establishing a special relationship with their teacher.

For many children and their parents it’s the first time, when at least during school hours, there is a perceived sense of independence. Often it is a parent’s initial introduction to “letting go”  and for the child, an opportunity to experience space away from the scrutiny and security of home.

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Type I diabetes throws Jack a few additional curves.

It surprises me how often I hear people confuse the facts and fail to distinguish between Type I and Type 2 diabetes. No lifestyle or diet change   will “cure” Jack’s Type I diabetes (T1D). He was diagnosed at 2 years of age and with all of his mom and dad’s vigilant monitoring he still has times throughout each day and during the night when his monitor alarm signals a warning resulting in the need to test his blood. Ouch!

If you had read Dani’s letter sharing a descriptive snapshot of their daily life and dedication to managing Jack’s care (HERE) I have no doubt you’d have signed up to join Aimee, Sophia, Karina and me as we followed with Team Jack’s Jiants for last Sunday’s JDRF flagship fundraising walk/event at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

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Dani, and husband, Mike, are very active fundraisers, spokespersons and supporters for JDRF--the leading global organization funding T1D research–together and individually volunteering hundreds of hours with support engagements throughout the year. For some of us, a once-a-year walk is the least we can do, and provides a time to reflect a bit further on what this disease means to children like Jack, and the many adults who have lived with T1D over most of their lifetime.

JDRF publishes these statistics;

  • As many as three million Americans may have T1D.
  • Each year, more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults—approximately 80 people per day—are diagnosed with T1D in the U.S.
  • Approximately 85 percent of people living with T1D are adults, and 15 percent of people living with T1D are children.
  • The prevalence of T1D in Americans under age 20 rose by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.
  • The rate of T1D incidence among children under age 14 is estimated to increase by three percent annually worldwide.
  • T1D accounts for $14.9 billion in healthcare costs in the U.S. each year.

At certain points along the walk route I really grasped the fact that each person, and there were multiple thousands at the walk, came in support of someone in particular. I paid a lot of attention to the messages and T-shirt tributes and thought about those individuals and their families.

 

Participants filled the stadium with hopeful energy. Even the dogs were encouraged to enjoy a quality day.

And it was a quality day. Team Jack’s Jiants raised more than $38,000 and that’s a considerable sum for one event.  And is there a reasonable expectation that research will lead to a cure?

Impressive bio-medical technologies offer hope in many areas. There is a race to produce the first artificial pancreas–one of my favorite t-shirts read, “Pancreas Shmancreas.”

Emerging results from stem cell research offer promising steps forward. Other technologies are nearing the clinical trial phase.

There is every reason to be hopeful that Jack, at only 5, will one day be able to manage his disease with simple and straightforward, non-threatening protocols.

I’ve previously written about another of our young friends, Aimee, and her experience with Type 1 diabetes. I have a dear friend from childhood who has spent a 60-plus year lifetime managing this disease. And then there’s Jack and his family who have taught me a lot about what it means to take those curve balls and throw them right back.

 

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I’m reasonably certain everyone knows at least one person hoping for a cure, and whether you can walk and support a team or not, we can all learn a little more and offer support in listening to what they might want you to know about their relationship with the disease.

It’s a lot to take in, but this was primarily a very hopeful event.

Recommended reading: One of the best articles about the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.