Two years I began this post, each time getting lost in the power of the words and beautiful imagery – “Alan Watts & David Lindberg – Why Your Life Is Not A Journey.”
No words yield justice to the perspective garners from the video. The difference, when I take time to listen and open my heart to hear. Far beyond the cliche, “I hope you dance”, “Life is a Journey”, “Success”, “Heaven After Your Dead”.
“If we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played. “
A few you YouTube comments that resonated with my essence.
The beautiful words of Sleeping at Last Song.
The existence, the physical universe is basically playful there is no necessity for it whatsoever.
it isn’t going anywhere, that is to say, it doesn’t, have some destination that it ought to arrive at. But it’s best understood by analogy with music. Because music, as an art form is essentially playful. We say you play the piano, you don’t work the piano. Why? Music differs from, say travel. When you travel, you are trying to get somewhere.
In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition. If that was so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest, and there would be composers who wrote only finales. People would go to concert to hear just one crashing cord. Cause that’s the end. Say when dancing, you don’t aim at a particular spot in the room, that’s where you should arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance.
Now but we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our everyday conduct. We’ve got a system of schooling that which a completely different. It’s all graded and what we do is put the child in the corridor of this grade system with a kind of “come on, kitty, kitty.” And you go to kindergarten, and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade, and then come on first grade, leads to second grade and so on and then you get out of grade school you’ve got high school, And it’s revving up, this thing is coming. Then you’re going to college, by joe, by then you get into graduate school. And when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world.
Then you get into some racket, where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’ve got to make that. And all the time the “thing” is coming, it’s coming, it’s coming, that great “thing,” the success you’re working for. then when you wake up one day when you’re about 40 years old, you say my god I’ve arrived , I’m there. And you don’t feel very different from what you always felt. Look at the people who live to retire, who put those savings away, and when they are 65, they don’t have energy left, they are more or less impotent, and uh, they go and rot in an old people senior citizen community.
Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line. We thought of life by an analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end the thing was to get to that end, success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.
But, we miss the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.
Flying home from New York (JFK) to Atlanta I notice two people seated one before the other along the aisle. Each in deep focus, broad, yet one can see, a different approach.
The woman in 25E, MacBook powered up, PowerPoint open, scrolling through presentations, spreadsheets, listening to her air buds, frequently pausing, raising her hand to her face, searching graphics, tapping backspace, edit and delete.
The gentleman in 26E, leather-bound journal open, fine point ink pen, listening to Spotify on his AirPods. He often runs his hands through his hair, looking up, biting the end of his pen, flipping to the back of his journal, test the ink, and flipping back to continue where he left off. Many times, looking deep into the words written out before him in the journal, many times appearing to be lost in thought. He strikes through words deemed unnecessary, looking up something on his phone, in the underlit halogen lighting of the plane (764). A glance up, pause, the pen back to the paper, he continues letting his consciousness flow.
What perplexed me? I gaze at them both before me, he with his head resting on the palm of his hand, looking deep in thought at each word scribed in his journal. She was adjusting the font size and placement of graphics in her PowerPoint. These two individuals are capturing ideas, yet in stark contrast. His deleting and edit is a scribble on paper, bleeding through to the back of the page. Her creativity is adding a graphic or icon to a template. One can presume, her diligence on this late night flight is to deliver a work power point while the gent is capturing some thoughts in his journal. Looking outside, one can never know.
The art of handwritten notes, letters, lists and much more is losing its base in the world. An avid owner of custom stationery, fountain pens, and a typewriter, yes, a typewriter. Why? I wish I could, but I don’t really know other than I know how I feel when I receive something tangible, holding in my hand versus an email, text or Facebook post.
I will never know what 26E was scribing, but between the two seatmates, I’d prefer being lost in my own thoughts. That challenge of looking back with an attempt to decipher my words, the scribbles. At this point, this second, the ink has been placed on his page, it doesn’t change with a backspace, or delete. The ink dries. I ponder what 26E scribed, but alas, he continues to write, I remain in nostalgia.
In life, each second that passes, the ink dries. We aren’t afforded a backspace, edit, delete, new document. We can look back on the journey, learn from the mistakes, the scribbled out moments. Perhaps a moment we attempt to scribble out, we know deep inside will always be a big impression in the paper. The instances in life where we can’t change the past instead of taking time to understand the learning. Each day is a new page, each hour a new line, each stroke, a new second. We afforded to determine what is written before us, too often we opt not to yield time to pause. The world is moving around us, yet, it’s not the world around us, it’s the world that is before us.
Quote by the brilliant Anthony Bourdain;
“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
I continue to walk the earth today on my relentless journey to define The Human Element.
Returning to Yoga last month has improved my physical but even more, my spiritual health. Each journey was concluding with food for thought leaving my mind racing. Yesterday, Tricia shared the intention, “Clarity.”
Clarity defined as; the quality of being clear, in particular. the quality of coherence and intelligibility. The quality of being easy to see or hear; sharpness of image or sound.
With each movement, I continued to remind and reinforce, Clarity. The class ended, but the journey concluded in a night of restlessness. In the still of the night, I awoke around 1:45 with the word clarity emboldened in my mind. Tossing and turning, telling myself to try to get some sleep. The word continued to be present, closing my eyes, seeing it spelled before me. I saw a child bouncing a blue rubber ball in the distance, with each toss closer to me, the imagery became clear. I began to whisper the word, Clarity, in pursuit of understanding why this one word was reverberating. I could feel myself exploring the deepest parts of my mind. Unable to dismiss the word, a focus, why can I not stop thinking of clarity?
Acknowledging, and ownership for improving additional aspects of my life. A new sunrise, own the journey.
Acceptance, thinking through recent engagement from others, more often, asking favors. A relationship can sunset, it does not mean the end, it was good but not intended to last.
Apology, those in my life that I have lost and those fortunate to still be a light in my life. Extending empathy to those I have hurt, those who are in circumstances of pain beyond their control. People who are unable to step into moments of light, energy; limited by restraint, emotional and physical.
Humility, reflecting on what I consider critical in my Bucket of Importance. Charging through some of the most challenging times with an enormous worry for those impacted by my outcome. A time to sigh.
My takeaway from Tricia; When you have CLARITY of intention, the universe conspires with you to make it happen.
Despite very little sleep, the compelling self-exploration of self-awareness outweighed the much needed; I will walk the earth today on my relentless journey to define The Human Element.
Another day of self reflection prompted by the events in Orlando. The onslaught of political views on the tragedy. In one post someone proclaimed that they would unfriend anyone that incorporates religion, politics or sexual orientation into a post about Orlando. I respect their concept that it should be about the loss of lives but to see sexual orientation included left me perplexed. At the gym yesterday morning I overheard someone in their late 20’s, “If they had chosen to not be gay they would still be alive”. Regardless of your view of sexual orientation, it has absolute relevance to the dynamics. My thought, unfriend me.
The surfacing of the painful last communications from those lives all taken too soon brought the word Acceptance to the front of my mind.
Acceptance? Third grade is when I can recollect the first moments I felt I was “different”. I pushed these feelings deep inside my heart out of uncertainty to what made me different. Throughout my education I felt taunted for not playing sports like the others, not openly dating someone and whatever else someone viewed me as different. I found myself turning to school related volunteering activities during and after hours not in the pursuit of acceptance rather every effort to avoid the empty feeling of rejection.
I further engrained myself into school activities as my mother’s illness continued and her passing. Spendingmost of my sixth grade lunches with Spanish speaking kindergarteners. These kids came from very low income, spoke little English, taught me Spanish and often were the highlight of my day. Not wanting to go home to my family situation, I volunteered everyday assisting teachers until 4-6pm. My time with the students and teachers was when I felt accepted for myself, I didn’t have to give much thought to mannerism, sport ability and is my voice deep enough. I was allowed to be me and feel immense reward for helping out others.
I came out to my family when I was 16 years old and a senior in High School. I shared that I was bisexual in thinking it would be easier for others to accept and not reject me. I am extremely fortunate that of all of my friends and family only one family member voiced strong opposition of “my choice” and has stood by it for twenty years. I commend him for standing by his beliefs even if it caused incredible anguish and awkward family gatherings. My father being accepting of me was a pivotal moment in my life. With mom gone, I did not want to look into my father’s eyes throughout life as unworthy or a disappointment. To this day my father takes special moments like birthdays and holidays to tell me how special and loved I am, with the most powerful words, how proud of me he is for creating my own career path.
I have heard the question, why do people go to gay bars or PRIDE events with society so accepting now. Growing up in California, Georgia is quite a different place with the Atlanta bubble in 2016, just short of 30 miles out to the mid-west and northeast is 1996. I have witnessed the concept of PRIDE evolving from a time to join as a community to push forward equality to now showing cohesive, family, commonality, acceptance, and for many place to publicly share affection. Enjoy a slow dance, a hug, a kiss, hold hands, the things I grew up to be taboo. I’m very hesitant to publicly display affection which Nick early on had a hard time understanding. Whether good or bad, my actions are guided by ensuring I don’t make others uncomfortable which I find myself constantly referring to Nick as “they” versus “he” or “my fiancé”. Having only gone to a small amount of PRIDE events, at each I remember that feeling of heightened alert and discomfort before finding calm in being surrounded with others “like me”.
Thinking of the lives cut short in Orlando, Acceptance? Not from the perspective of the souls lost rather from their family members. Not all parents are the mother with the intuition to frantically look for her son Christopher at 3am unfortunately hearing the news later he and his bf were both lost. The journey of coming out varies so much by generation, geography, religion and culture background. Without a doubt some family members lost their loved ones with words unspoken. Perhaps the last conversation being strong enough rejection for them to move away to pursue a life where they felt they could be accepted for who they love. Days, months, years may have passed since they last spoke, but now grieving loss and the reality that words will forever remain unspoken. Family feuds occur but I believe when family members love one another and without malicious activities, the unspoken words can be overcome by acceptance even when they ascend into heaven to watch over us. For the injured, this may be a time to start to rebuild or strengthen relationships with loved ones.
During these difficult times I pray for peace for the injured and the survivors left behind.
To my father, my hero, I love you. Be humble, be grateful, be true to you.
First thing this morning Nick began updating me on the Orlando news before getting out of bed. Thinking to myself, the counts have to be wrong, and once it’s confirmed it won’t be that bad. Departing the city and the connection online to kayak was a blessing.
The Magnitude Factor of 49 (excluding shooter), victims that lost their life in Orlando early this morning. I believe those that lost are souls we lost, not simply victims.
49 – People confirmed as of 18:53.
77.9 – Average Life Expectancy in the US
30 – Average Age of the Victims (Rough Guess)
47.9 – Years cut short by each soul lost in Orlando
2,347 – Years of life lost by the 49 souls
857,290 – Days of life lost by the 49 souls
20,574,948 – Hours of life lost by the 49 souls
1,234,496,880 – Minutes of life lost by the 49 souls
74,069,812,800 – Seconds of life lost by the 49 souls
To put this in perspective for the 49 souls:
2,347 Birthday’s missed out
37,034,906,400 Breaths of air
98,759,750,400 Heart Beats Missed
Catching up after kayaking I clicked on the initial list of those identified as souls lost. I was perplexed, why did the first person, Edward Sotomayor look vaguely familiar.
Scrolling through his wall I could see the pivotal change in posts from a video 23 minutes before the shooting a friend shared seeking his status to sharing of his loss of life. The still of the video below, probably one of the last moments of his life captured but of happiness.
I’m not going to say he was an in person friend, rather just an online friend that belonged to an online frequent flyer group (DDMF) that I once belonged to. Edward was 34 years old, loved to travel, fellow Diamond Medallion, loved seeing world, and those attributes hit home, hard to my heart. I believe in God Moments, and his actions to have me to explore a name, a list, and of course, feel the warmth of the sun as I type this.
Love willconquer all, let’s not dwell on the loss but on the love that these souls gave to the world and celebrate 2,347 birthdays lost by living life to the fullest, loving those around us and chasing our dreams.
The below post was shared on his wall, isn’t it all about love in the end? For the first time in 15 years I wish I could put up a rainbow flag but living in the south, I know just how poorly that situation could go. May Edward Sotomayor rest in peace, may the photos below remind us of love, may we relate to how being gay, straight, pink, purple, we are all like one another. How if we spent less time focusing on our differences and that of what we have in common, the world would be a better place.
I have been struggling over the past 10 days on coming to terms with the passing of my best friend, Jasmine the beagle. I felt it fitting to share the story of Jasmine in my life, how she chose me, and her final few minutes with me last Monday.
In early November 2006, Victor and I were casually walking along Mag Mile. We entered the shopping center to visit Nordstrom, along the path we ran into a baby beagle rescue available for adoption. The scent of the puppy, nibbling on my fingers, my heart melted before this dog. My rationale brain of the heavy travel kicked in but Victor was so passionate on how we could make a dog in our lives work. We made each other a deal, if we finish our errands and the pup was available, we would adopt him. Upon the return, they were packing up but he had not been adopted and would be available the next day at another shopping center. It was meant to be, the next morning we called and he had been adopted.
Out of intrigue, I clicked through the puppy profiles for the Chicago Animal Rescue, filtering out by beagle, down to three full bred, and two mixes. Off to the shelter we went knowing it would be gut wrenching to see so many puppies available wanting to be loved on.
Walking through the shelter, the first dog was a female beagle, the fine print “doesn’t get along with males”, that explained the growling. Next dog up, a beagle russell mix, adorable, until it began to jump 3 feet high, scratch at the crate, nope, not a fit. Next dog, a 6 year old beagle that was noted “needing to lose a little weight before the summer season comes upon her”. Opening the crate, this gentle dog walked out, sat down and licked my hand. We instantly thought this could be the one. Last dog up, I don’t remember as dog #3 won our hearts.
The shelter has an outdoor area where you can walk with the dog, bond, see if a fit. This 6 year old beagle was house trained, knew how to sit, heal, and she stayed within 2 feet of my side. We sat down on the bench where she sat beside us, we felt whole. We finished the paperwork and purchased all the needed dog supplies for this new addition to our home. This beagle had been in the shelter for three months after the original owners opted for a pet restricted high end apartment over their pup of 6 years. She was scheduled to be transferred to a kill shelter in the upcoming week. Jasmine picked us.
We opened the door to our flat in Chicago, she explored every inch and quickly realized it was her home. Having heard beagles are extremely loyal and demonstrate separation anxiety we crated her the first night. Our lack of sleep the first few hours allowed us to rethink that strategy. We moved Jasmine to her bed in the master bedroom where she quickly fell asleep, we chuckled to realize how loudly she snored. Since that first night Jasmine slept within a few feet of me when not traveling. The sound of her snoring was soothing, something I still have a hard time not hearing in the still of the night.
One early morning while being let out to the back of our flat in Chicago a neighbors pit bull dog quickly latched on to Jasmine’s neck. I heard her yelping, Victor fighting the dog to get the jaw to release. I ran downstairs, a very severe wound in her neck. I carried her upstairs, her licking my hand to tell me she was okay, always such a strong pup. My neighbor felt horrible, how was she to know this would happen. Jasmine was on crate rest for several months.
Over the ten years we experienced several times where we thought we were going to lose her. Luckily we found alternative medicine, acupuncture and laser therapy helped to reduce the lingering damage done on her discs from her attack in Chicago. If a cat has 9 lives, Jasmine had 10. Though my dad quickly sad when we adopted, she will probably only live until she is 9. In October 2014 Jasmine went into the backyard, did her nervous pant and laid down in the grass and grew slightly unresponsive. Recognizing it could be her neck pain flaring up, on this cool fall morning I surrounded her with toys, blankets and laid next to her for several hours. Jasmine visited Dr. Hayley Grove at Trusted Friend who opted to deviate from the normal steroids and put Jasmine on less evasive medication that would not impact her liver and restart laser therapy. Within a week Jasmine began to return to her normal self, tail wagging constantly.
Jasmine brought joy to my life everyday. She never growled, snapped and always was a good sport whether it be how she let Victor dress her as a lady bug for Halloween or her velcro shoes she grew to appreciate during the snowy days in Chicago. Of course, the highlight of her life was time in the car, window down even in freezing temps. Nick grew incredibly fond of “Miss J” over the past 3 years. Often he would speak third person about Jasmine and her wanting to go for a quick ride around the block. When Nick traded in “Old Blue” he was devastated to see that the seats in his new car were not high enough for her to rest her head out the window. A pursuit for a pillow commenced, she grew to love every second in Griswold.
I dropped Jasmine off of Trusted Friend Vet Clinic on Thursday (4/21) just 1.5 weeks since her annual check up and teeth cleaning at Banfield (PetSmart). After returning from our weekend in San Diego, I went to pick her up on Monday (4/25). I settled my boarding bill and they gave her bag of treats, stuffed animals, blankets and food bowls. In minutes the vet returned asking if she could do an ultrasound on Jasmine as something wasn’t right and her health drastically changed. I was allowed to be with my baby girl, Jasmine. She was doing her nervous pant, gums lost color and her tongue almost the color of turkey. Something indeed was wrong with best buddy Jasmine. The ultra sounded indicated internal fluids in her abdomen which prompted an x-ray. Sadly, the results revealed a tumor in her stomach the size of a small bowling ball that most likely put pressure on her organs and was causing internal bleeding. I was faced with a tough decision, Jasmine needed immediate surgery that would have a 50/50 chance. With no cell signal in the building I tried Nick but he was in meetings, luckily Karen answered. I wept, thinking of the reality of losing my best buddy, my shadow, who was her normal self just minutes prior.
Jasmine was put on oxygen and resting on her side. I made the tough to decision for the vet to prepare Jasmine to go to heaven. Unfortunately her blood pressure had dropped that they could not locate a vein and she looked adorable with four legs shaved, luckily one leg became a viable option. Dr Hayley Grove stroked Jasmine’s head telling her that she was a good girl, showing such compassion for my best friend. I crouched down low, kissing her forehead, rubbing her side, and stroking those soft beagle ears. I knew in my mind surgery wasn’t an option for my buddy, and she would decide her own fate.
Nick arrived at the vet and froze as he saw Jasmine lying on the table with an oxygen mask. Nick came up to her side and wept, telling her how much she meant to him, how she changed him, and how he adored her. Within minutes of Nick arrival Jasmine made a whimper and groan, she began to pass on her own. We took her off oxygen and Dr. Grove provided us an exam room. She delicately explained the process of when a pet passes; her gasps of breath further apart, heart slowing. Dr. Grove brought in Jasmine’s blanket to place on my lap allowing me to hold her tight against my chest. Jasmine gave one final gasp for air, her heart slowed and she passed away in my arms, her heart close to mine. My dear friend Karen immediately left work, arrived and spent time with J, Nick and I. This turn for the worst was so unexpected. Dr. Grove explained options post passing, it was so tough to place my best friend in her arms. Jasmine fell ill within 3 minutes of me arriving to pick her up, died 3 minutes after Nicks arrival, all of this happening in just 45 minutes.
Karen, Nick and I shared a round of drinks at the pub. We laughed about goofy memories of Jasmine and Tink and other random things we had grown so accustomed to. The finality of Jasmine’s passing hit me when I returned to my car to see in the rear view mirror the seat cover without her. Below is a photo when I dropped off Jasmine on 4/21 and the gut wrenching day when I had to head home without my buddy on 4/25.
It has been an incredibly tough 10 days. I found myself placing food in her bowl in the mornings and calling for her to come downstairs to go outside. On returning from work, I often found myself unable to walk in the door as I felt the house was no longer whole. I take peace in knowing that Jasmine chose to wait for Nick and I to arrive, and left this world on her own. In texting Victor we both have so many funny memories and shared photos with us both feeling the gap in our hearts.
Jasmine was cremated on Wednesday and today I picked up her ashes from Paws, Whiskers & Wags. I cannot say how kind they have been to ensure that everything is taken care of right, the first time. In calling Trusted Friend to settle my bill, they insisted I not worry about the bill for now as I was going through a tough time and part of their family. A card from Trusted Friend arrived on Thursday full of heartfelt sentiments from their team, and some incredible words from Dr. Grove that allowed us to put our minds at ease of should we or could we have done something different.
Nick lost his dog Bailey several years ago, last night he confessed that losing Jasmine was harder then losing his own dog and his grandparents. More so, that he loved Jasmine over any other dog in his life. He has taken the lost of Jasmine hard, each day he finds himself thinking of the funny habits of Jasmine that we absolutely loved. When we went to the zoo in San Diego we would identify which animal in the exhibit would be Jasmine based on it’s actions.
Just a few things I will miss…
Body slamming against my feet under the dinner table
Raising my voice to “Jasmine get out of the kitchen” for her to appear on the opposite side of the kitchen
The scratch at the back door when she was done outside
Whimpering at night, me following her to find she sits at the door of the pantry for a treat
Her pointing on command, this had Nick on Day 1 when she picked the habit up and he could never say no
Car Rides and Plane Rides, she always did so well in both
Her snoring and not wanting to get out of bed on my early gym days
Standing in the backyard with the rays of light from the sunset on her face
Frog legging, frog legging, frog legging…
Frito feet, toughest for Nick right now
Her laying in Aunt Karen’s backyard enjoying the warmth of the sun
Hiding in my closet whenever I put my shoes on
Secretly sleeping on the couch to try so hard to slide off when I would come home early
Work From Home days, they were her favorite, she would be within 4 feet of me all day long
Walking downstairs in the morning, she would hear “get in your crate”, use her paw and open the door of her crate, turn and sit
Making her howl by her neck resting on my vocal cords as I would howl
Snapping photos or videos of her
Face timing when overseas and she hearing my voice, head turning
Laying upside down by the fireplace, tail wagging
All of her nicknames, Tech-tard, Dumb Dog, J-Dogs, Jazzy, Jasminia, Piglet 2, Baby Girl, The Boodle and countless others
Her ability to come close to me when I would be shedding tears and assure me everything would be alright.
We adopt dogs knowing we will most likely out live them and have to deal with them departing. Jasmine was part of my life, but to Jasmine, I was her life.
Her bed and a bowl of water are the last items of Jasmine in the home. Eventually this bed will welcome another pup, but for now I can’t imagine any other pup then my Jasmine.
Jasmine returned home today, a memory box being built for her. She resting in a tin next to Cooper (ceramic beagle we found along the street one night), a sign Lo made while dog watching and the fireplace that she loved.
While nothing could have saved her the comprehensive exams completed by Banfield clearly leave room for improvement. After spending $500 on the annual dental cleaning and comprehensive exam, receiving a 3 year supply of medication, upon cancelling her wellness plan I had to pay the remaining commitment due for services completed 10 days prior. I will never use the Banfield Optimal pet plan again, nor recommend to anyone.
Post dental cleaning, tuckered out
April 2016 – Not wanting me to pack for San Diego
April 2016 – Happy as can be
Little dizzy after the teeth cleaning
The joys of the car ride
Puppy sun dial
Helping with laundry
Cousin Tink at Karens getting bathed
Enjoying Aunt Karen’s
My buddy and I in Chicago
The protest of me packing luggage to travel
When it’s too sunny, just hide
McD’s Ice Cream
Pointing to the carrots in the fridge
Never happy I’m going to work
The trooper on spin cycle
Chicago dog beach
Always looking outside
Chicago Dog Beach
At Aunt Karen’s, digging through the trash, gnocchi and flour, too funny to scold
Road Trip to CHO
Brooklyn and J
Tink and J
Christmas in CHO
Of course sneaking in time on the couch
One of her dads favorite photos, Jasmine at the top of the stairs
Struggling to see my monitor with the vibrant light of the sun blinding me as it begins to set over the rooftops. I hit mental roadblocks in adding to this blog when too many topics cross my mind; Life, learnings, friendship, quotes, love, sadness and my journey exploring the Human Element.
A rollercoaster of a Sunday, two friends added rich context to the fragile nature of life, and in response to the warp speed of life my adopted mom said “Yes it does. Never realized it when I was 36”. The “milestones” we pass; birth, graduation, first job, engagement, marriage, children, divorce, retirement, grandkids, death of spouse, and the inevitable departure from this beautiful earth. I gave thought to my feelings of retirement for the loved ones in my life that will enter it many years before me. No doubt a well deserved milestone but a celebration for those people in which will be painful in my heart.
I remember my father as a child. My dad knew every answer, why is the sky blue, when will the light change, why do planes fly, but the toughest question of all, why did mom take her life. Since the young age of 13 I can never forget that overwhelming feeling of loss, the void and accepting that we all are here for such a limited time. My father was strong, he could pick us up, he was loving, he would rock all four of his kids to sleep every night, place our bowls out in the morning, and after mom died, never missed a beat. Dad got married, retired, and it seems he has aged double the time span since that day. The comfort of an airplane seat may outweigh the willingness to take an adventure to new places.
I thought about my adopted mom, Kathy, didn’t know I was adopted did you? Kathy, a Delta flight attendant, adopted me when I was 35 on May 1st (Jet Drag). After arriving from Europe, she caught up with me at the Renaissance Atlanta Airport. While we sat, a club of retired flight attendants gathered in the restaurant. Casual conversation with one of the members had me standing before them to share the journey. Kathy stood behind the group, hands clasped, navy blue dress, smiling, radiating a sense of pride as I shared the accomplishment achieved over the past 23 days. The guests all generously donated and signed the banner, Kathy stood with that smile. Later that evening, she texted me how proud she was of me, and that she while she could not be my mom, she would be happy to be my adopted mom.
On my birthday last year, she made dinner at my house after spending much of the earlier part of the day preparing. She checks in with me if it’s been a day or two. She encourages me to write, listen to others, captures stories and cherishes my ability to connect with people. Conversation over breakfast is always the best, and if my mother was alive today, I think that it would feel like this.
People deserve the rewards of retirement, Kathy celebrated 47 years with Delta on November 26th. Sitting here, choked up, I can’t imagine this incredibly special, beautiful spirited person not in the skies overhead. When I fly with her, I feel like I am home. Though, if anyone in this world deserves a break, it’s her. She gives all she can to her family, friends, peers and customers while asking for little or nothing in return. While she isn’t retiring soon, the day will come, I will look forward to our journeys ahead in the skies and the path of life.
On January 29th, 2015, with a craving for empanadas and beer, I boarded a flight to Buenos Aires from Atlanta. I met a flight attendant aboard named Kathy. On May 1st, she became my adopted mom. Thank you and love you.
Be humble, be grateful, be true to you.
Downtown Barcelona to the airport
Atlanta to Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires to Atlanta, Jan 2015
Dinner an Argentina on 1/30/2015
(Featured Photo: Arrival into Buenos Aires, 30-Jan-2015)
My adventure to Europe with my sister is coming to an end, posting this from Delta 170, CDG-MSP. Heidi with Delta has been top notch, a great trip back to the US. Trump, that’s the Apprentice… am I the Undercover Boss… say what? Over the past week I had three interactions which made me reflect on my journey in life and give thought to pivotal moments that changed me. A quick search through my site, I found a post from July 2, 2011, Helping out a Stranger in the Armed Forces, Reflecting Back on my Day where I first openly shared my goal in life in quote I discovered in 2009.
Each day when I awake I know I have one more day to make a difference in someone’s life.
Time to circle back to this trip. My trip began with an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn Express SF Airport North. In the morning I met the breakfast attendant, an elderly woman named Jackie. In lieu of dashing to the airport to wait for my sister’s arrival I wanted to get to know Jackie.
In sitting down, I thanked Jackie by name which she was perplexed, “you are the second person to do that today”. Jackie joined the hotel 12 years ago under a different brand but is a fan of the brand, and an ambassador. Jackie works two mornings shifts a week to allow her lunch money the other days . The more we talked, the more she was intrigued, who was this stranger listening to her. What appreciation I had for Jackie’s walk of life when she posed an interesting question.
“Have you heard of Undercover Boss, are you from that?” I frequently watch the show, more enlightening at it’s series start, I was stumped by the question. “You used my name, asked me about working here, not many people care that much, I am thinking to myself, you must be Undercover Boss”. A chuckle in my response, I confirmed I was not connected to the show, but was also an employee of IHG. I shared how much I appreciated her, a genuine thank you, and she wished me a wonderful day.
Now that we are leaving reality TV behind us, let’s join the clergy? Barbara was the flight leader on our Delta flight to Atlanta from San Francisco. In passing through the galley, Barbara asked if I was a member of the clergy. Clergy? Perplexed, had alcohol, traveling with my sister, unsure why she would think that. We talked for a bit, she explained she thought I was potentially in the church because I expressed a genuine interest in her, appreciated her, used her name and engaged with her directly. In passing, my sister explained that I was in the hospitality industry which for Barbara, that explained it.
Now that we have walked away from Undercover Boss, opted to not pursue the clergy, let’s revisit California. A young french mother of two young kids was boarding the Eurostar to Paris. The steps were high, the bags were big, and her hands were full. I retrieved her bags from the platform and stowed them away. I brought her other items to her seat. as full, another rider of 3 had luggage, two young kids, and in need of settling. I thought nothing the more of it, mid travel she pardoned to interrupt us with a question, “Are you from California?”
This being my third moment of inspiration in just the first 3 days, she explained, “I was in California last year, the people were so nice, you were so helpful, you must be from California. People in Europe don’t do that for others”. My sister and I briefly talked about chivalry and the world we are in. While being originally from California I don’t believe that’s the connection.
Each day YOU have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other, if you miss that moment, it may not come around again. Pay it forward, use peoples name and never assume peoples walks of life, never discount them and appreciate everyone you come in contact with.
At 12:26 am Gretchen’s soul took flight to the heavens above, leaving behind her husband, two baby girls, and her mother Jane. From the time it took me to write that sentence, I have stared at my laptop, from 46% to 5% still can’t articulate.
I recall our many phone calls, the most gripping before today was when Jane texted me that Gretchen was ill again, I had to pull over as I became numb while driving home, staring aimlessly at my surroundings. Thinking of that moment still brings me to tears as I type this. I began to type, Jane was… but Jane IS strong, optimistic, loving, and persistent. Jane held tight until the end that Gretchen would be okay even as optimism began to fade, I can still hear her southern charm accent talking about her baby’s girls.
The news today brought back heart tendering moments in my life of the crushing feeling that loss brings. My mom took flight in 1993 when I was 13, I have tried to overcome my fear of abandonment and rejection but it’s a battle each day. My close friends understand how I look forward to things, the opportunities to build memories and when they end I solemnly reflect, even on the happiest of occasions, a vacation, Jet Drag, or company flying back home to Chicago. Everything ends, but it’s the journey we take that makes all the difference.
My Tuesday Takeaway, our time on earth is finite yet everyday we must take advantage of every opportunity to make a positive lasting imprint on the world around us. For then our lives become infinite.
While Gretchen is no longer with us this evening, she soars above us free of pain and suffering. Part of Jane died today, I love you Jane, you are in my prayers, text from May.
Celine Dion wrote a song called Fly about the loss of her niece Karine from Cystic Fibrosis. I saw her perform this haunting song live, it especially holds true for a parent who lost their child all too soon. Takes about 30 seconds for the story and her singing in this 1997 video.
Fly, fly little wing
Fly beyond imagining
The softest cloud, the whitest dove
Upon the wind of heaven’s love
Past the planets and the stars
Leave this lonely world of ours
Escape the sorrow and the pain
And fly againFly, fly precious one
Your endless journey has begun
Take your gentle happiness
Far too beautiful for this
Cross over to the other shore
There is peace forevermore
But hold this mem’ry bittersweet
Until we meetFly, fly do not fear
Don’t waste a breath, don’t shed a tear
Your heart is pure, your soul is free
Be on your way, don’t wait for me
Above the universe you’ll climb
On beyond the hands of time
The moon will rise, the sun will set
But I won’t forgetFly, fly little wing
Fly where only angels sing
Fly away, the time is right
Go now, find the light
Walking the toy aisle doesn’t resemble my time as a kid, picking out the right puzzle. The electronic gaming ushered a different experience, engaging with others yet more solo.
I have been giving thought to my life over the past month, being quiet in my posts and hopping off social media briefly. What does my life resemble most to me?
1000 Piece Puzzle – Immediately out of the box I am overwhelmed by the number of pieces. ,Similar colors in the photo, unsure where to begin. I can build the frame first or perhaps from the center out. Daunting, question, where to begin?
Operation – Like the scene in the Delta Safety Video, turbulence in life can make this game a tough one. The slightest twitch, the patient dies. This game seemed incredibly stressful, high risk, and often I questioned, why would anyone want to be a surgeon? Perhaps I have things that are out of place that just need to be removed for my life center to return?
Jenga – While the stress of Operation is greater, from the buzzer and light, Jenga is also a nerve racking strategy game. The foundation is strong in the beginning but as the game progresses, I have to take risk determining where to sacrifice strength to continue to build. My life is built on a foundation, will jiggering things differently collapse my foundation or help me climb higher?
Rubix Cube – The ultimate puzzle that consistently made me feel defeated especially when some can solve it within minutes. Though not quite as bad when a former boss gave me a MENSA calendar, talk about deflating my balloon. Can I figure out the Rubix Cube, get the colors aligned?
Walking down the toy aisle, I connect with the Rubix Cube. The design of the cube is set, I need to give greatest thought to how to solve the mismatch. I find this familiar seeking calm to the chaos in life, getting the right colors unified. Solving the cube doesn’t require others, many may have an opinion but it is something only I can do.
In giving thought to my core, I know I have the potential to solve the cube, get my life in order in all aspects but I need to develop a strategy. Not move too much at once, give thought, and continue to adjust. I continue my journey to define the Human Element, solving my Rubix Cube.
Calling it a night, sometimes the greatest hurdles in life can be solved with a good night of sleep.