This is a view from the “Honeymoon” suite at a hotel in Florence, Italy. It was beautiful.
This is a view from the “Honeymoon” suite at a hotel in Florence, Italy. It was beautiful.
The end of our holiday break and the beginning of a new week. School and work began today, but what a glorious way to start the morning. The sky looked more pink when I woke up, but when I finally found my camera, this is what the sky looked like. Gorgeous! It is now cloudy and gray so I am grateful for capturing the beginning of my day and sharing it with you.
I recently experienced two diversely different feelings about my age within minutes of each other, the situation made me realize how influenced I am by people’s views of me. Actually, these were strangers’ views…so I am slightly ashamed that they could have both affected me the way they did.
The first exchange occurred when I was purchasing a piece of art as a gift for my husband, and I was chatting with the saleswoman about an oversized painting I have in our media room. It is a painting by Norman Sunshine that I grew-up with. I was expressing my fear of it getting torn or damaged by kids running around next to it. (It hung in my dad’s home for a few decades with kids, grandkids, parties, etc. and was never damaged; I am not sure why I feel our home is more reckless.) In any case, I digress, the sales woman looked at me and asked: “well how old are your children now?” In a tone that insinuated that they should be old enough not to damage a painting by the looks of me. (Or was that my own insecure interpretation of her question?!)
Immediately after leaving the art gallery, I went into a boutique across the street. The French saleswoman and I were chatting about France, the French language and how my son is taking French in his first year of High School. We talked about marriage, divorce, and the acceptance of infidelity in France. It was the first time we met, but we felt a freedom and comfort to discuss very personal matters. I mentioned how I always wanted four children. She retorted, “it is not too late for you, you are still young.” I walked away thinking about the dichotomy of my two conversations within minutes of each other. Fortunately, the comment in the boutique came after the one in the art gallery. But both comments resonated in me many thoughts about age, the aging process, and how relative & personal it all is.
My mother is from North Carolina and it is known that southern women do not divulge their age. In fact, out of respect, you never ask a woman her age. Her mother, my Mama-Helen (I called her me-ma), actually lied on her tombstone! She was one year older than my grandfather, so she didn’t want that to be written in stone (literally) on her headstone. Mama-Helen was a natural beauty as she aged; she never resorted to plastic surgery. I did, however, observe her doing facial muscle exercises in the mirror emulating steps from a book she had. She was a very organized and methodical woman. She had her Masters in education and taught elementary school until she was in her late seventies. She hatched this plan without disclosing it to any of her six children and twenty-one grandchildren. She was a southern lady to the end.
My paternal grandmother was the antithesis of my maternal grandmother. She never lied about her age, in fact, she embraced aging like nobody else I know. She lived to be ninety-nine and never did one cosmetic procedure. She was pragmatic, a girl who was raised on a farm in California. She married a spoiled man who was an only child, as a consequence she had to work hard for her children and their livelihood. When she passed away she was completely lucid and still living on her own. Each year our family would come together to celebrate her birthday. What an honor it was to celebrate her life.
Where do I fit in between these two beautiful women? Maybe the southern roots run a bit deeper in me. When my children were younger (preschool/kindergarten-age) I never told them how old I was. In hindsight, it is quite humorous because I was the same age as their peers’ parents and often times younger. But I remember working in the classroom and listening to some of the children reveal very personal information about their parents, I realized I didn’t need my children sharing my age. I’ll never forget when my husband said in jest about me laughing so hard that I could pee in my pants. I didn’t pee in my pants – it is just an expression. Well, the next day my son told his friends that I laughed so hard I did pee in my pants. Fortunately, one of the moms told me about the conversation, so I was able to clear that mishap up! Thus I used those excuses for not disclosing my age. Inherently I think I wanted to be younger. Ironically when I did share my age with my children it was liberating.
Yet I still feel uncomfortable when people ask me my age. I don’t think we should judge people by how old they are. Out of respect, I don’t ask people their age. It is almost as offensive as asking someone how much money they make. Besides there are ways to figure out how old someone is like asking, “how old were you when you got married, and how long have you been married?” Do the math. Perhaps wait awhile between the two questions so it is not obvious. Or ask the age difference between the person and their siblings when you know the age of the siblings. There are all sorts of subtle ways to find out. Surprisingly, I recently flat out asked a friend her age! I didn’t mean to ask her but I couldn’t believe my math could be correct. I have only known her for a few years through our children’s school. She certainly makes a presence wherever she is because she is tall, with olive skin, lustrous long auburn hair and bright blue-eyes. She is stunning! Fortunately she is beautiful on the inside too. My daughter actually thought she was the sister of her oldest son (he is 13). When we were chatting at a party, she mentioned how she had been pregnant at thirty-nine with her youngest son. This son does not go to the same school, but I did know he was around the age of ten. My jaw dropped because I thought she was currently thirty-nine. Without thinking I blurted out how old are you? It turns out she is turning 50 in 10 months. Has that changed my view of her? Do I think she is over the hill? Not at all, I feel the opposite – she inspires me. Last year when she posted a photo of herself in a bikini with her boys on Facebook, was I jealous? Not at all, I was motivated to go to the gym more often!
I think the people who embrace aging with dignity and grace are the most beautiful people. As attractive as Demi Moore and Jennifer Lopez are, I find them looking a bit foolish the older they get. I find women like Carolina Herrera and Aerin Lauder both classic and elegant role models for aging gracefully. One of my favorite quotes is by Coco Chanel: “Nothing makes a woman look so old as trying desperately to look young.” I agree and I hope to embrace getting older. One of my dad’s favorite sayings about aging was “it’s better than the alternative.” That is the truth!
Sigh…I feel like I made it to the finish line in a month long marathon race. By mid-November I felt a tremendous amount of anticipation, pressure and excitement towards the countdown of the holidays. As I reflect back on the time, Thanksgiving seems to have blended into our Christmas holiday. We hosted large groups of family and friends for both holidays. Between the two celebrations were a series of parties, luncheons, dinners and special school events. During this period my mind was consumed with the gifts I needed to purchase and all the tasks I needed to accomplish. My normal routine of making lists seemed to have fallen by the wayside in December. Which added to my stress level. My mind swirled with all the “to-dos”.
By the time our family said good-bye to our last family house guests, and we ourselves packed up for our trip up to Sonoma, I was finally able to breathe deeply and feel a sense of accomplishment for making it through another frenzied holiday season. Sonoma was a perfect respite. Here are a few of my notable favorites from our getaway in the wine country.
On our first night in Sonoma we went for a late dinner at El Dorado Kitchen. As much as we love the girl & the fig, we wanted to go somewhere we haven’t experienced before. The atmosphere was warm & welcoming, and the food was tasty & satisfying. Their “Detox Mojito” with cranberries and blueberries was refreshing & yummy .
Some of my favorite shops in Sonoma Square are Chateau Sonoma and Tiddle E. Winks Vintage 5 & Dime. I always find unique treasures at both places.
On New Year’s Eve day we ventured to Yountville, or as some people refer to it “Kellerville” after the world-renowned chef Thomas Keller. It is the home of his landmark restaurant The French Laundry and several others of his ventures. There is always a line out the door of his Bouchon Bakery, and for good reason the sweets are a delight for any gourmand. The night before we were planning to try Thomas Keller’s homey restaurant Ad Hoc for the first time, but a trip to the emergency room with one of the children warranted us to stay home and BBQ. I have eaten at Keller’s The French Laundry twice, and both times were defining moments. But since we were having a chef come into our home for NYE to cook us a substantial dinner, we chose to eat at another favorite of ours, Bistro Jeanty. I had the Crėme de Tomate Croute which is a tomato soup in puff pastry, and for a starter Salmon Rilletes layered with frisse & crème fraîche. Our table shared pomme frites and Brussels Sprouts with bacon. All paired with a tasty Sauvignon Blanc.
On our way to toast the New Year with a group of friends at their home in Sonoma, we stopped in for wine tasting at Opus One. The setting is beyond beautiful and the views are outstanding.
Below is our New Year’s Eve dinner with Chef Nick. Welcome 2014…the countdown was worth it!
THE THINGS YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT ARE NOT RANDOM, THEY ARE YOUR CALLING.
– FABIENNE FREDRICKSON
I recently took the kids out of school mid-week to play hooky in New York. I was so excited for the opportunity to be alone as a family and break away from our community. We have an amazing community and I truly feel blessed to be a part of it. Our friends are loyal, caring and inherently genuine people. But sometimes it is important to step away from any situation and be exposed to other environments.
The energy in NYC is unlike any other major city in the world. My children have been to Rome, Los Angeles, London, Paris and San Francisco. Those cities are all unique in their own way, but nothing compares to New York’s spirit. The energy was infectious and stimulating. We met so many people on the streets and in the shops that we knew we would not see again; nevertheless we enjoyed the present moment with them. We ate out at restaurants, visited museums, took carriage rides through Central Park, saw a Broadway show, cheered for the Knicks in Madison Square Garden (even though they lost) and visited the 9/11 Memorial. We met a few emerging rappers and witnessed the “naked cowboys and cowgirls” playing their guitars in Times Square. Most importantly, my children were not on their phones.
It dawned on me today, Thanksgiving, why it was so meaningful for me to bring my children to NYC. We were outside from morning into the late night. We ate dinner at 10:30 pm at the Palm and then danced on the top floor of the M & M store. There was no time for my children to look at their phones, unless they wanted to capture the moment on their cameras. The smartphones have become all consuming for my children’s generation. It was liberating not being tied to the devices, and to truly live and breathe the environment that we were in. My children may have been missing a few days in the classroom; even so they were exposed to a great amount of culture in those five days.
Ironically, my phone was stolen at the airport when we landed in San Francisco. I was without a phone for five days until my new one arrived. I was overcome by frustration. The smartphones have become our lifeline and in reality it was holding me back from being productive. It is hard to imagine life before these devices; still it is imperative to step away from them.
I am truly grateful for the time I had with my family. Today we will have twenty-one people in our home celebrating Thanksgiving. We are blessed for the people in our life and the technology that can bring us closer together.
Unexpected. The world is an interesting place: we stumble upon unexpected things each day, like signs that are unintentionally amusing, bizarre sculptures, or even strange evidence of a miniature world on the side of a building.
So, your photo challenge this week is to capture something unexpected. You can also interpret the theme in other ways: a street scene or landscape that just doesn’t look quite right, an impromptu portrait of a loved one, or any other image that reveals a sense of surprise.
– Inspired by Cheri Lucas Rolands
It was completely unexpected to come home from five fabulous days in New York City to our home decorated in toilet paper! This is the life of a mother with teenagers.
A man’s usefulness depends on his living up to his ideals insofar as he can.
It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.
All daring and courage, all iron endurances of misfortune-make for a finer, nobler type of manhood.
Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life.
– Theodore Roosevelt
This photo was taken today at Rockefeller Center. This shows the many layers it takes to build the famous Christmas tree. It will be lit on December 4th!