Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I took my daughter to the library early Saturday morning. This was my second trip in a very long time. I almost hate to admit it had been years since I had stepped foot in our local library.

I have a million excuses, some reasonable ones like their hours and my work hours don't coincide, I like to keep some of the books I read; others are not so reasonable: I simply have not made the time.

My daughter loves the kid section so she quickly settled in her space at the library and suggested I find something for me "to read" if I felt so inclined.

As I was walking amidst the rows of books, I discovered why I love libraries and how much I had missed them. There is something magical about that place, so much knowledge contained within those pages. As I browsed through the books, I began to wonder the history of each volume found on the shelves. Was it gift? Who donated it? What were they like?

I managed to find a couple of books and a couple of CDs to bring home with me, as did my daughter. We are making plans on going back next Saturday to get more books, and so she can get her very own library card.

I hope her love for books will remain as she gets older. I wonder if she feels the magic of the library the moment we walk in. I hope that magic remains with her forever.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


It's funny how a simple word can be defined in so many different ways.

Out of curiosity, I went to Merriam Webster to see how it was defined. The first definition listed said " a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head".

In reality, there are so many definitions of family, each of us has a different one, taught to us by our parents, and grandparents. There are blended families, single parent families, multiracial families, the list goes on.

So what do you consider family? What's your definition?

In all honesty, I can say I hadn't thought about what family really meant to me until recently. And it wasn't until recently that I realized that it doesn't mean the same to everyone. I guess when it came to "family" I am still a child, I still believe that everyone has a family just like mine.

Even more surprising I have realized that even two people, who have shared the same parents and somewhat similar upbringing (one raised in one country, the other in a different one) can have two completely opposite ideas as to what family is, and what roles family plays in your life.

Family to me has always been sacred. These are the people who know me best, and who are the closest to my heart. They include my parents, my sisters, my cousins, my aunts, grandparents. The bonds we share cannot be shattered, they are the ones I go to when things are going great and when things fall apart.

Inside that family core, there is that bond of sisterhood I share with my sisters. These women are my best friends, the ones I can say anything to, and know they will love me in spite of my mistakes. When I needed someone to stand up for me, they have been there. When I needed someone to share my happy moments, they have been there. When things have gotten rough, they are ready to listen, and offer advice. When I am making a mistake, they are the first ones to point it out, even when they know I will get mad.

There is no other relationship like the one I share with them. There are no other people in this world who could understand what we've shared, the struggles we have seen, the triumphs we have achieved. These women, all in their own ways, have helped me become the person that I am.

Even when we allow weeks to go by without a phone call, even when we get wrapped up in our busy lives and we don't talk often enough, I always know they are just a phone call away. I never hesitate to call if I need them because I know they will always be there. They are part of that most intimate part of life I call "private".

Not everyone feels that way about their family, or their siblings. Funny how I'm just now realizing that.

I believe that my children will probably define family and brotherhood based on what we teach them. They will follow our example and our teachings. I just hope they can always feel they are important parts of each other's lives. I hope they always feel comfortable talking to each other, sharing their most intimate thoughts, without fear. I hope they know that when things get rough, they can count on one another. I hope they can be honest with each other in the good times and the bad.
I hope they remember to love each other unconditionally.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The call of the pavement

If you have known me for a while, you probably know I trained for a marathon a couple of years ago. I was not a runner, I just read an article in the newspaper and thought that was something I wanted to add to my list of accomplishments.

Training was rigorous, but fun. I made great friends, and learn a whole lot about myself and about how much I can achieve if I'm willing to push myself beyond my known limits.

I didn't get to finish my first marathon. I didn't quit, the marathon quit on me. It was extremely hot in Chicago and they had to cancel the race after one death and several wounded.

The months after the marathon were very disappointing. I kept trying to tell myself there was nothing I could have done, but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking: what if my pace had been faster?, what if I had lined up towards the front of the pack, would I have been able to finish? Even though my family and friends kept telling me I had accomplished my goal because I had completed a 22 mile run, it just didn't feel the same.

The past two years, I've been trying to talk myself into getting back in the race. I've been trying to convince myself to lace up my running shoes, and go out and run. I just have not found that motivation inside of me that makes me want to run.

The last few weeks, I've started to feel that little flame inside of me. I've begun to remember what it felt like to run, to feel the rush of adrenaline, to just enjoy nature.

I can hear the pavement calling me. I am starting to feel that urge that only runners can understand, that need to get out and push yourself beyond the limit one more time. I've actually read my Runner's World magazine, rather than putting it aside because I felt it's meant for runners, and I'm just not one of them.

I can hear that calling. I am ready to lace up my shoes and just run. There will be another marathon, another chance to prove to myself that I have what it takes to finish 26.2 miles.

But right now, I just want to feel like a runner again.

Friday, March 6, 2009

What I hope to teach my kids

There are times when I wonder what my children will remember about me when I'm gone. Will they think I was fun? Will they remember our vacations, and the times we spent watching their favorite movies over and over again?

More importantly, what lessons will they have learned from me? What do I hope will be my legacy in their lives?

I hope to teach my kids to:

Respect life, all life, big and small, rich or poor, human and non-human. Every living thing deserves to be treated with respect.

Respect yourself. Your body is a temple, treat it as one. Respect your ideas, and the person you are and never sell yourself short.

Love life, laugh often, and learn at every opportunity.

No one can put you down unless you let them. Believe in the potential hidden inside of you.

Have faith in something bigger than you. Call him God, or whatever you like, but believe in something bigger than your imagination.

Believe in the power of your dreams. Never give up, no matter how unattainable they seem, never stop believing.

Stay close to your siblings. Even if they drive you crazy, they will defend you against anyone and will stand by you when things are not going well.

Never forget your ancestors and the sacrifices they made. You are able to dream bigger because of the foundation they laid for you. Honor them by going one step further than you think possible.

Travel as much as possible, and respect other cultures. You are not better, embrace the differences.

Check boxes in a form do not describe who you are. Race doesn't matter, neither does gender, religion, or money. Integrity is what counts.

Everyone has a gift. Find yours and share it with the world.

Keep an open mind. Even if you disagree with someone's religion, political views, or philosophy of life, show them respect. It's our differences that make this world interesting.

And when the times come to share your life with someone, and raise kids, make sure love is what guides everything you do.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's just hair

As you have probably guessed, today's blog is about hair, and also about lessons learned, and knowing what's truly important.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an appointment with my regular hairdresser to get a haircut. She wasn't there when I showed up, and I ended up making an appointment with a new hairdresser. I figured it would be ok, after all it's just hair and I didn't want anything out of the ordinary.

I arrived at the new place on time for my appointment, only to be met by a stare. I guess I wasn't what they were expecting? Whatever. Sat down and waited. Finally, after 20 minutes waiting, it was my turn. I showed the hairdresser the picture, she got ready to begin, and then it happened. She cut the first piece. As I felt the razor go through my hair, I knew this haircut would be a disaster.

She cut that first piece really short, shorter than I wanted it. There is no way to fix that mishap except to cut the rest of the hair the same length and let it all blend in. I walked out of there with the worst haircut of my life, and mad that I had to pay for it.

If you saw me, you'd probably say it looks fine. Except this is not what I wanted and paid for.

I was feeling pretty blue last night after I washed the bottle of hairspray off my head. I looked in the mirror and realized just how bad it really was, how much styling it would take to make the hair look ok (at least to my standards), and was about ready to ask my husband for the clippers so I could finish the job and join him in the world of baldness.

That's when the voice in my head whispered something to me: Think of the women who are battling cancer, who have lost their hair, who are wishing theirs were as long as yours is right now.

I felt pretty ashamed. There I was, dwelling on my stupid hair, worrying about what people are going to think of it, completely absorbed in my own pity party.

I said a prayer for all those women who are cancer survivors, who are currently fighting cancer, and those who lost their battles. Many of those women are family, friends, coworkers.

I decided to make a donation in the same amount I paid for this haircut to the American Cancer Society, in honor of all women who have lost their hair during their battle with cancer.

I am still mad at the hairdresser for messing it up and still expecting me to pay for it. But I'm no longer upset over the hair I lost. I am thankful because I'm healthy and before long, my hair will grow back and all this will be just a bad memory.

I'm also thankful for the lesson I learned: it's just hair.