Rest & Relaxation

Jan
21

This May Seem Out Of The Blue

by Christine


{Hout Bay, South Africa}

January is the month for making plans. Sales teams, teachers, wedding planners and people partial to making New Year's resolutions are working hard putting together plans for 2014. This may seems like it is coming out of the blue but January is the time to plan your vacation. Yes, we have just come off a season of holidays, parties and days off from work but that is not the same as taking a vacation. For most of us the end of the year is tons of fun but it can be overwhelming and tiring. That's why we look forward to returning to the routine in January, we need the rest. Additionally, you may be thinking about that American Express, MasterCard or Visa bill that is coming you way next week; the holiday's can be expensive fun and February is the month to pay the price. I hope you avoided a financial hangover by intentionally planning for the holiday season. 

Vacations are important to your health and your relationships. Here are three reasons why you should take a vacation this year.

1.) Taking time away from work and the busyness of your life reduces stress and allows your body and mind to recharge. If you resist the urge to over schedule and over plan, taking some time to decompress can improve your overall physical and mental health.

2.) Time away gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with your spouse, friends, family or if you want to be alone outside your everyday environment. Sharing vacation time alone or with others can deepen relationships or allow you to get to know yourself better.

3.) The biggest reason I think we need to take vacations is that it makes you more creative. Getting out of the day-to-day routine gets the creative ideas flowing. Every time I visit an arboretum or famous garden, I come home with one new idea for my garden and 10 more ideas for different areas of my life. I find vacations help me open up my mind to new ideas. 


{South Africa Wine Country}

You're now convinced you should take a vacation but why plan it in January? I have three reasons why you should be planning now. 

1.) Your time can get away from you if you don't declare a date and plan. Before you know it, the calendar will reads August and you still haven't taken a vacation so the default time is at the end of the year. A time of year that is already jam packed with expectations and requirement. 

2.) The planning and anticipation is part of the fun. Whether traveling overseas or staying in your own backyard, doing your research will enhance your trip. Marty and I had an opportunity to go to South Africa for work. We decided to take some vacation time after the project was completed. Because the project came up so quickly, I didn't have enough time to research Africa and as a result didn't plan time to see Victoria Falls in Zambia. We had flow 7800 miles to the continent of Africa and yet, we missed visiting one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World because we didn't have time to do our research and plan.  

3.) It saves you money to plan in advance. Airline tickets, hotel rooms and travel tours all give price breaks to those who plan early. Scheduling early means you have more options when you redeem your reward points. You will have more choice and better financial options. 

Take the time now to visualize and plan your vacation. You won't regret it. 

Hugs,
C


{Hippos in Botswana}

 

Jul
03

Admit Reality And Move On

by Christine

{Vampire Chase}

"The best laid schemes of mice and men go often awry." Robert Burns

The summer after my grandchildren turn five, they are allowed to begin a yearly sojourn in New York with Marty and me. This past couple of weeks my three Florida grandboys were here to spend time with us to swim in the lake, explore local sights in and around New York City and generally enjoy "sleepover camp" with Marty and The Mayor. We have movie night with a ton of popcorn, host swim parties for friends and work on our yearly "monster movie". It is a joy for me to have them here sans parents and we are all eager for adventure. 

During their visit, I had planned to rise early, write and post my blog and then begin the day with the boys we now call El Destructo. Sounds good so far right? For those of you who regularly spend time with 3 children under ten, you are smirking and chuckling about now but I really did believe that I was going to do this. First week, I was so tired that I was falling into bed at the same time the boys went to bed and only getting up 10 minutes before they did. By the second week I was just keeping ahead of the cooking and laundry duties that go with having 3 boys. Did you know that they really want to eat three times a day plus have snacks? 

We had such a wonderful time and I wouldn't trade that time for anything but I learned I could only do so much. I write about intentional living and I intentionally made the decision to spend time with my grandsons and let everything else wait until they were gone. But I did miss writing the blog and chatting with you...next year I need to rework the plan. By the way, the picture of me is from our 2013 movie Vampire Chase...not the first morning after they arrived. 

Hugs,
C


Jun
12

Intentional Living Series Week Twenty-Seven: A Change Of Scenery

by Christine


{Marty & Christine On The Circle Line}

"When you're on a merry-go-round, you miss a lot of the scenery". ~ Neil Diamond

In Weeks 24 and 25 we discussed how boredom and exhaustion could zap your energy and cause you to lose focus on the important priorities in your life. This week I am going to write about how to change your scenery and increase your energy. 

I was driving to a meeting last week when I made the decision to try a new route. I had driven a couple of times to the site but I kept thinking there must be an easier and quicker way than I had been traveling. The new route had been suggested by my GPS and I figured why not...same distance, same time. The route seemed simple enough but as I traveled along, it became clear I had no idea where I was, nothing looked familiar. Instead of my normal panic about being lost and the possibility of being late...I view being lost and being late as personal weaknesses...I embraced the journey. The scenery was lovely as I traveled this new route. I arrived at my destination a few minutes behind my colleague and we went right to work on the new project. But I felt a difference...I was energized in a new way. Traveling the new route had shown me a change of scenery that resulted in a burst of energy. 

I like many people, work to create a routine in life. Having a routine is kind of like using short hand to take notes. It is quicker and doesn't require quite so much of your attention when going through a process. Think about getting up each morning. What if you had to consciously think about each step of your morning routine? Do you really want to say, "Now I brush my teeth"? No you just do it. But a routine over an extended period of time can lead to boredom or even exhaustion. A routine life just dampens your energy. One of the reasons companies insist that their employees take vacations is they know taking a break from the routine of work is beneficial to both the employee and the company. Companies have found that most of the time the employee comes back to work with their "batteries recharged". Kathy Gottberg at smart365.com writes passionately about The Joy And Benefits of Travel. Once you read her blog post, you will immediately begin planning your next trip. 

But I am not just talking about vacations. I am suggesting that a change of scenery in your own community will help you rejuvenate your attitude. Whether taking a new route to work, trying a new restaurant or exploring a new part of town, just getting out of your routine will have a positive effect. A couple of years ago Marty and I made a pact...every New Year's Day we were going to do one new "tourist thing" in the City. Candidly, we immediately had to make an adjustment to that pack. New York City maybe the city that never sleeps but a whole lot of businesses are closed on New Year's Day. So during New Year's week we have taken the Circle Line around Manhattan as well as visited the Empire State Building to have our picture taken on a green screen girder. Even though it is as cold as all get out, we have a fabulous time. We laugh, we freeze, we spend time together and then head back to work ready to take on the world.

Life is a balance between the ease of the routine and the joy and challenge of exploration.  It is not necessary to pack a bag and leave home to change the scenery in your life. As you reflect on your life this week, are you in balance? Do you need less routine and more exploration? Is it time for a change of scenery in your life?

Week 27 Assignment: This week explore a place you have never been to in your community.

 

 

Get caught up on the entire Intentional Living series:

 

Apr
29

How Do You Know It's Really Spring?

by Christine

For months I have eagerly waited for spring because I wanted to share the beauty of this tulip garden with you. In April and May it is a fantastical nook of color and fanciful clusters of tulips, tucked between two building on 89th Street. It is also my official bellwether for spring. When the tulips bloom in the West Side Community Garden, I know spring has officially arrived. The garden is designed and cared for by volunteer gardeners and artist; this garden is a true work of art.



 I always thought tulips were native to Holland but they are native to the Middle East and Central Asia. The introduction of the tulip to Holland started in the Seventeenth Century where the Dutch immediately fell in love with the flower causing an outbreak of "tulip mania". Some really smart Dutchman sold them far and wide to other tulip lovers and today, I and others believe spring is not complete without tulips. I am sure one of the reasons the tulip is so beloved here in New York City is that the Dutch established New Amsterdam...now called New York City. But enough of the history lesson...tulips are about creating and enjoying a sensory feast. 

What flowers mean spring to you? Or is there something else that says spring to you?

Hugs,
C

 

Oct
05

Welcoming the Weekend: Alone Time

by Christine

The weekend is ahead and wide open. Marty and I both travel for our jobs but this weekend I will be home while Marty will be away. I truly value the occasional solitary weekend, as I know Marty does too. When I was younger, the thought of being away from the man I love was torture. I would mope around counting the hours until his return, desperate for a phone call. Today I shake my head at that young girl and think “girl what a waste!”

With a solitary weekend, I am allowed to do whatever I want, guilt free. It’s my fun time. But keep in mind fun time is not the same for everyone. Marty tends to do guy stuff like not showering after exercising, watching endless hours of sports on TV in between working on his computer and eating take out, pizza and Chinese are two of his favorites.

My guilty pleasure is putting the house in order on Friday evening confident in the knowledge that it will stay that way.  Saturday morning is a blast because I can get up early and make all the noise I want without worrying about disturbing Marty. In good weather I make a cup of tea and sit out by the lake want watch the morning light change.

This weekend I plan to continue work on the Somers History Project. I have set-up a table in the yellow room and it is already stacked with photos to be scanned. I looked into professional scanning companies and while a little pricey they sure make the process easier. I may use a service on the slides but right now I am enjoying going through the old photos and remembering.

I am also going to “do something” with the apples we picked last weekend. I have built quite a reputation with my children and my grand children through my apple pies and “killer” macaroni and cheese.  I enjoy baking and preparing good food for the people I care about in my life. It is a labor of love.

I may also take in a movie or even go into the City to see a play. Or just snuggle up on the sofa and finish that book I am reading. So as you can see, part of the fun is in the dreaming and planning. What are you doing this weekend?

Sep
21

What’s on the books for the weekend?

by Christine

“Do you want this? Yes, I’ll take it.” That is how it started. My mom died this past June and in July I loaded a dozen boxes of family photos, slides, film and videos into a Budget rental a truck. I agreed to a sort through 80 plus years of images that I would organize, scan and share with my sister and brother. And they agreed I should do it. That is what I get for being the bossy and organized older sister.

I promised myself that for a “thing” to live in my home it must be beautiful or useful. If the object can fulfill both criteria, I am overjoyed. But the dozen banker’s boxes in the yellow room are not beautiful or useful. Yes, we name the rooms in our house. I will have to rethink the name if we ever paint the room another color. This weekend I am going to get started and while it feels part scavenger hunt and part HGTV’s Mission: Organization, I am a little concerned that I won’t be able to get this done before the year 2025.

The other challenge is that fall is fast approaching and apple picking is kicking into high gear here in New York. For the past 3 years I have headed out for the day to enjoy the weather and pick a variety of apples. One year I made a killer applesauce that moved me up on the grandmother scale with my granddaughter Lucy. I will let you know what activity wins but in the mean time, do you have any advice for the family memorabilia project? Please share if you do because I know I am not the first person to under take this task nor will I be the last. I would welcome the opportunity to learn from you.

May
20

It’s Cherry Blossom Time!

by Melanie Taylor

What’s amazing about trees is that all of us have that childhood special tree that we just loved. Being around memorable trees arouses the feeling that we are around something special.  Something heartfelt. 

Around Wooster Square, a community near mine, children of all ages love this time of year for the cherry blossoms. 

Now, if you want to experience an enchanting walk, drive or bike ride, enter Wooster Square through narrow Hughes Street. Although Hughes Street is only one block long, it’s lined with 18 pink cherry trees, 9 planted on each side of the street.  You’ll love it! Next, walk around the square itself; it’s surrounded by hundreds of cherry trees with white blossoms.

Blossoming trees not only create joy and instill an appreciation of beauty; they can help strengthen our connection with our neighbors. When we share appreciation, it unites us.  Also, just seeing that someone has taken special care heightens our sensitivity and receptivity. We know that those who planted the trees were devoted to their neighbors and to future generations. Maybe they cared for humanity as well. 

The closeness of the trees creates a sense of intimacy and being in a special place. It gives people something to talk about, generating the sharing that is at the heart of what makes a community.

The processional if not communal power of planting trees in pairs was not lost on Kate Middleton. For the Royal Wedding, her landscape designer paired six English Field Maples and two Hornbeams to line the aisles of Westminster Abbey. Lining the abbey with trees was a warm and friendly way to make the large space feel inviting. 

This works equally well in a church, a field or in a city. When sheltered ‘neath a leafy bower, people tend to feel more intimate, more connected to one another.

Here in New Haven, Bob and Susan Frew have started lining Little Nash Street with blossoming crabapple trees.  The Frews have taken the initial step with under-planting their trees with flowers that bloom all summer long. Since they own most of the houses on Nash Street, they have added to the unique sense of place by blessing the houses with unique light fixtures and cool mailboxes.  The amount of pleasure added vastly outweighs the additional expense of these elements.

You don’t have to own a street, if you have just a few like-minded neighbors, blossoming trees and shrubs can enhance your community. 

Here’s How:

1. You can easily create a special gathering place within your community by planting as few as two trees. Position a pair so that it frames a vista. 

2.  Plant two rows of trees that you create a beautiful alley or a walkway. Be certain to line them up in matched (not staggered) pairs. It feels much more special when you walk under the pairs of trees that frame the Hughes St. than it does to walk under the single line of trees that encircles Wooster Sq., so why not maximize your investment by giving people the greatest pleasure. 

3. It is important to consider the “adult” size of the tree. You want the branches of the trees to cross over and touch and overlap just a bit.  This creates the feeling that the trees are reaching over for each other are lovingly touching. Remember, the smaller the tree the narrower the space that it can define.

4. Pick your street. The cherry trees work at Hughes Street because the street is narrow.  For wider city streets you would need larger trees. However, why not stick to smaller passages where people move slower and appreciate their surroundings as they talk with one another?  There is really nothing that surpasses of flowering trees or colorful foliage arching over a pedestrian walkway where neighbors can greet each other. 

 

Apr
07

Spring Blossoms!

by Melanie Taylor

Spring blossoms forth in an annual cycle; so do the other environments that nurture your mind, body and soul. Now, as nature is beginning to flourish, won’t you join me in noticing the blossoming of some very important environments: our communities.

I’m a transplanted Floridian and one of the things that keeps me going during dreary New England winters is considering that the environments that make up our lives tend to rejuvenate along with the earth. I have to remember this in the dead of winter. Winter here is like going through hard times in Florida. During dark days of any kind, we rely on our innermost environments to sustain us: our spirits, our conversations with friends and family, our homes and our winter classes / activities. 

Thankfully, along with spring, the outer environments: community, gardens, nature and will return and ease your every step. During the spring, summer and fall, when life feels dull or lonely, I can always walk a few steps into my community and feel stimulated, inspired and uplifted. My neighbors are so warm, that many are now friends. Walking about and exchanging greetings can be so energizing. I soon feel loving and maybe even loved. How does your community affect you?

This spring, in a celebration of communities everywhere and in reverence for the communion we have with the glories of the earth and all of its creatures, I would like to chronicle the flowering of my community in a series of brief writings. I’d also like to hear about the coming of spring in your community and in your country. 

As an architect and urban designer, I’ll notice the subtle physical cues that make a life-altering community. Along with the blossoming of our communities come special rituals and activities of spring and I can’t help but appreciate these. I’ll share simple ways that you can bring these things into your community or reinforce what is already there. I hope that you’ll repay the favor.

Now, its time for me to step out into the sunshine. I’ll head over to my local coffee shop and savor my community. I’m pleased to think that we may exchange thoughts on these simple joys.

Mar
01

Away from the screen and into the woods

by Raeford Dwyer

Do you ever get the feeling youʼre spending way too much time sitting in front of a screen? I did about 10 years ago and resolved to do something about it, initiating an unexpected journey of transformation and discovery.

Growing up in the suburbs of the South African metropolis that is Johannesburg, City of Gold, I enjoyed a climate similar to Phoenix, Arizona; a short mild winter and a dry hot summer punctuated by massive rolling thunderstorms. This was very conducive to being outside, so as a child I was very active in nature and our family would go camping and hiking a fair amount. I grew a strong connection to the wilderness.

Around 1984 my mom bought me my first computer and I used it to play games and write very basic programs that created patterns or graphics. It wasnʼt till years later after studying design and photography when I got my hands on a Mac Classic computer that the possibility of a career as a graphic designer became tangible. After a lucky break in New York and a few years of hard work I found myself with a solid base of clients and on the cutting edge of computer aided design. Being my own boss I was able to schedule plenty of travel out of the city and back to nature; camping in Redwood National Park, hiking the Grand Canyon, rafting the Colorado, scuba diving in Puerto Rico to name a few.

By the time my 30th birthday rolled around I was noticing (along with the graying of my hair and a decrease in my physical flexibility) that I was spending more time working at my computer and less time enjoying ʻthe blue and the greenʼ. I loved the work I just wasnʼt committed to spending the rest of my life sitting in front of a computer screen. This was when I decided to take my passion for photography to the next level and go pro.

After 5 years in one of the most competitive markets for photography in the world, and many lean months with concerns about whether I had made the right decision, my time time and income split roughly 50/50 between my photography and design businesses. This new venture facilitated increased travel, physical exercise and interaction with people - all positive outcomes, but the thing about running a photography business that no one tells you is that you only spend 10% of your time actually taking photographs. The other 90% is spent marketing, invoicing, estimating, editing, photoshopping, bookkeeping ie sitting in front of a computer screen! I needed another idea.

A couple years prior I had funded and taught a photography program for middle school students in East Harlem as part of a leadership workshop I was attending at Landmark Education. I had learned that I enjoyed teaching, I was especially drawn to that age group (as they are becoming young adults but not yet ʻtoo cool for schoolʼ) and it felt good to be making a difference. It was at this age that a teacher had inspired me in art class, altering the trajectory of my life forever.

It occurred to me that perhaps I could combine my passion for the wilderness and my newfound interest in teaching. The following year I hiked 100 miles over two mountain ranges in Arizona on a National Outdoor Leadership School course learning education, expedition and survival skills. 5 years and many expeditions and courses later, It is with great pride and anticipation that I am beginning the second year of INTO THE WOODS, and outdoor education and ethics program (cleverly disguised as a hiking and adventure club;) for 30 middle school students at PS214 in The Bronx. In 2009 I wrote a curriculum and was awarded a grant from The Sierra Club as part of their ʻBuilding Bridges to the Outdoorsʼ initiative. We teach leave-no-trace principals, group leadership skills and expedition behavior while exploring local green spaces and community gardens. Once we have a safe cohesive group we ramp up the action; paddle the Bronx River, hike a maze of trails on Hunter Island, and summit Bear Mountain. My vision is to end the program with a 3 day backcountry camping excursion once sufficient funds are available (hint, hint).

One of the rules we established out on excursions is that the students are not allowed any personal electronic devices. I had expected resistance to this, but after a couple of initial murmurs in protest the screens were not missed. In fact by the second trip the students were so engrossed in their experiences, they had to be reminded to collect them from us.

A growing movement of parents and educators around the world are pushing back against indoor screen- time to create a healthier balance. There are plenty of recent studies that point to the multiple positive impacts on mental and physical health unstructured play time in nature has on young people. Not to mention the value of raising a generation that feels connected to and responsible for the environment that surrounds and nurtures them and will determine the quality of their childrenʼs lives. Access to unspoiled nature is every childʼs birthright, and itʼs in all of our best interests to provide it to them.

People ask me if I was concerned about the changes I was making in my life, and honestly on some level I must have been, but being self employed for over 20 years I have learned to live with uncertainty and embrace change. It also matters how one defines success and failure, if you donʼt achieve a specific intended outcome but have fun and learn something along the way, is that a success or a failure? I have found the need to fight the tendency to stand still, frozen by fear of failure. I also try to remember to give myself a break.

On a journey for more outside time for myself, I discovered I had a passion for the wilderness, and a drive to share that passion with young people. Moreover in pursuing a truth, my life was transformed into a healthier, more engaging and ultimately a more meaningful one. It feels like the journey is only just beginning.

http://www.intothewoodsonline.org/

http://www.sierraclub.org/youth/

http://www.facebook.com/childrenandnature

 

Jan
17

The Plan

by Christine

 The plan started to take form after sitting quietly at dawn for several days listing “things I said I wanted to do when I grew up” and “things I like”. In our family we are big list people, a trait we learned from my father. At the time of his death, we found a list of all the books he had ever read and I was able to compare it against my list of all the books I had ever read.

List making in general has gotten a bad rap over the last 10 years. List makers have been accused of being tactical thinkers while non-list makers are said to be strategic thinker. Only strategic thinkers are said to have the “right stuff” to be leaders of industry so thousands of CEO wannabes shunned their Franklin Day Planners as they worked to appear more strategic. For a short time I went underground and secretly kept a list on my computer that I could email to my iPhone. Today I proudly proclaim I am a list maker who as long as I can remember to check my list is highly organized and can systematically accomplish my strategic goals!

But I digress; the plan took form over only a couple of days. It was time for a road trip to see family and friends with the ultimate destination being Alamance County North Carolina. Why did I want to end up in Alamance County North Carolina? I want to write a book. The seed of the story I want to tell comes from an episode from my father’s childhood. My objective was to stay at the farmhouse on Granny’s farm where my father lived as a young boy and write the book.

I decided to pick-up I-95 beyond Yonkers and head south. I would stop in DC to visit friends, Savannah, Jacksonville, Lehigh and Charlotte to visit family before heading to the farmhouse to write. I was also going to work against type; I was going to stop when I wanted to stop, eat when I wanted to eat, actually stop to take roadside pictures and generally enjoy the journey. I would not try to beat my best time ever on the drive between New York and Jacksonville.

As I reached the DC Metro area I was struck by the amount of activity and energy everywhere. New construction along I-495, road improvement at I-395 and I-495 and the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project is under way creating a sense of prosperity for the region. Forbes.com reported New York City and Washington, DC housing prices were on the rise. It did occur to me that Wall Street and the Federal government created the crisis that cripples many communities today but they don’t seem to be suffering the consequences of their actions.

My trip continued south with a brief stop at South of the Border to take pictures. SOB, located on the North Carolina and South Carolina “border”, is what my mother would call a Tourist Trap. But to a kid it’s fun painted neon. For hundreds of miles brightly painted billboards build anticipation with corny copy such as

Pedro’s Fireworks, (does your?)
Or
You never sausage such a place (You’re always a wiener at Pedro’s!).

You know you have arrived when you see the 165-foot Sombrero Tower.

I asked a native New Yorker what was the difference between Coney Island and South of the Border and his response was that Coney Island had class. My first visit to Coney Island was on a brutally hot summer day and candidly; it did not feel much different than being at SOB on a brutally hot fall day. Coney Island was developed to be a major resort and amusement park where New Yorkers would come to play while South of the Border was built to be a Tourist Oasis, a pit stop for Snow Birds heading south and North Carolinian who wanted a beer. They both showcase iconic images of the business aspirations of the past.

My next stop was Savannah, Georgia to visit with my nephew and his wife. Savannah is a your quintessential southern town. Southern live oak trees draped with Spanish moss shade civil war cemeteries, and old antebellum homes. Unlike Atlanta and Columbia, General Sherman spared Savannah during his March to the Sea so touring Savannah is like taking a step back in time.

Today Savannah’s genteel Southern past is jexu positioned against the creative energy generated by SCAD The University for Creative Careers. My nephew is a student at SCAD; he is studying to be a graphic novelist. Together we walked the streets of Savannah as he proudly pointed out SCAD buildings and projects. According to Savannahnow.com, in 1978 SCAD established itself “in Savannah’s declining historic district” and over the next 32 years “bought up the priced-to-move schoolhouses, vacant homes and dilapidated office buildings that were rotting away downtown and developed its campus.”

You can see SCAD’s thumb print everywhere. Like Columbia University in New York City, the college is interwoven with the city. SCAD’s Jen Library on Broughton Street was formerly the Mass Brothers department store and down the block is a three-story art supply store that caters to students and the general public. Tattooed and pierced cyclists weave through traffic on the main thoroughfare.

My nephew and I had an opportunity to eat at his favorite breakfast place and spend some time talking. I am hopeful when I talk to my children and niece and nephews. They are excited about life but at the same time they are realist. They want to build something whether it is a career, a family or a life. The children of the Baby Boomers are the children of divorce and for many, the lesson they took away from watching their parents was to choose wisely and commit. To quote the Ed Harris character from the movie Apollo 13, “failure is not an option”.

Our discussion jumps for current events to family to dreams for the future. My nephew is clear about the choices he is making and what he wants for the future. His energy is buoyant and positive.

As I reflect upon our conversation, I see that his clarity is age related not generational. All my friends are struggling with making decisions for aging parents, transitioning out of high-powered jobs into a more “meaningful life” or reinventing their small business into sustainable entities that will support employees for the long-term. In other words every decision feels like it must be researched, pondered and weighed in order to come up with the “right” answer. My nephew and his wife have not yet reached the age where every choice feels so critical.

From Savannah I drove to Jacksonville to spend time with my grandchildren. I am blessed to have 5 grandchildren, 3 boys and 2 girls. The 3 boys and one girl are my son and daughter-in-law’s children and my daughter and her husband are the parents to the youngest granddaughter. I was surprised at how much I love them particularly after the reaction I had to learning that I was going to be a grandmother for the first time.

I turned 50, learned I was going to be a grandmother and received my first invitation to join AARP all in the same week. I could not even say the “G” word for about two weeks...it took four more months before I could utter the number 50. It sure challenges the perceptions of your own image when your children have children. Today I proudly claim the title Grandmother though my grandchildren call me “The Mayor”.

The Mayor was a title that my daughter gave me. Actually what she said was I could be called the Grand Meré, which is French for Grandmother. I did not hear the Grand part and thought she said I could be called The Mayor. I was ecstatic. I explained that in fact this was perfect because when my grandchildren got older they would tell their friends they were going to go to the Mayor’s house for lunch and their friends would say, I did not know you were related to the Mayor. I laughed heartily as I envisioned this future exchange.

Fast forward 7 years to where my number 1 grandson is answering the question posed to him by first grade teachers, what is the name of and where does your father’s mother live? The teacher asked the question three times, getting the same answer each time before finally writing down, The Mayor of New York City.

After several delightful days with my grandchildren, I traveled to my sister’s home in Lehigh Acres, Florida. As I was crafting my time-out, I was thunderstruck by the realization I had never visited my sister’s home. While we talk on the phone daily, even several times a day and see each other at least once a year at the “family home” in Jacksonville, I had not been to South Florida in 14 years. Needless to say, that became a key destination for me on my journey.

http://www.thesouthoftheborder.com/history/
http://www.coneyisland.com/
http://www.scad.edu/