While I was researching activities for Sara’s 40th, I remembered the quote “Do one thing every day that scares you”. It’s incorrectly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, though I think she was a pretty awesome lady anyway.
I did some digging and found that it was coined by a columnist from the Chicago Tribune named Mary Schmich. She wrote a graduation commencement back in 1997 and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. Full text below:
Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.
Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who’d rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there’s no reason we can’t entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.
I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.
We lost our dear Pearson on Friday, May 26th, 2017 at 11:10am. I bought him as a puppy birthday gift for Sara back in 2005. Pearson had been with us through thick and thin ever since.
He stopped eating on Tuesday(not even Shake Shack!) and I brought him into the clinic on Thursday. He spent the night in the ICU, as they tried to rehydrate him and spur his appetite. When I arrived on Friday morning at 7:30am, he was in very rough shape and after discussing it with his Vet, we both felt it best to relieve his suffering. While his lymph nodes were showing improvement, consensus was that the cancer had spread to his stomach/intestine. I absolutely regret him not spending his last night with us and not euthanizing him at home. He hated vet hospitals. 🙁
At least Sara and I were with him when he passed. It was very peaceful and it broke my heart to see him go. He was a link to our past, he was family, he was unconditional love and he was a reminder of our own mortality. A painful reminder to always live in the present.
Some might say that he was just a dog, but he was one of my best friends.
I’m very grateful we got an extra year together while he received treatment… and he took it like a trooper. He didn’t seem sick at all, right up until the very end.
I’ll cherish our 12 years. We had a pretty good run.
Pearson Anhorn. March 21st, 2005 – May 26th, 2017
I’ll miss my old friend. Rest in peace, little buddy.
“We are mothers. We are caregivers. We are artists. We are activists. We are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology. Our potential is unlimited. We rise.” – Alicia Keys
This post is fresh and raw and not very well curated at all. Obviously.
But I wanted to get it down while here, in Washington, D.C., with my amazing daughter. And my amazing sister-In-law and niece, and hundreds of thousands of other people marching today to send a message to America’s 45th president and those who elected him- we are not okay with this, this is not normal, and we are not going to go quietly. We’re not.
When we decided in December to come here, we were hesitant- safety for our girls ranking highest in our concerns.
And yet having the opportunity, no, responsibility, to expose them to these issues, to teach them what values we needed to stand for and protect, to set the example by taking steps and shouting out that love and kindness were the way forward. And hate, sexism, bigotry, and racism had no place in our world. And sure as fuck had no place in the world of our daughters. Our sons. No way. No how. No.
I have never been in a setting with this many people. Before arriving we had written down safety number cards for the girls. We debated using sharpies to put phone numbers on the girls’ arms. We drilled it into their heads to be careful, to always ‘have a hand’, to let us know if they felt unsafe at all at any point. We were nervously excited. But we did have fear. And we were given well wishes of family and friend to ‘have fun. Be safe.’
I can’t count how many ‘oh, I’m sorry. You go ahead’ exchanges happened today. Hundreds of thousands of committed and inspired and determined and ‘not going anywhere’ people all graciously aware of our common space and purpose. And making room for each and every one of us to have a voice and a presence today.
It’s also important to note that the original ‘plan’ for today evolved. The route morphed and merged and kind of went all over. Because there were so many people. So many more people than expected.
Never ever will we forget this. We are inspired.
And we were nowhere near the celebrities who spoke at the ralley before the actual march- we didn’t stand a chance due to the crowds. Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Moore, Alicia Keys, Madonna…(the friends from Sacramento that we made at the bar after the March filled us in on the details…!). But we heard the cheers and were held together by the cheering around as as we waited for the movement.
But it can’t stop here. We need to continue to hear the words on the signs today. We need to take those words and participate. We need to continue to stand up, to take steps, to speak up, to protect our rights and our children’s rights.
The son of the new National Security Advisor tweeted something along the lines of ‘yes, they already have equal pay and equal jobs. What more do they want? Free mani and pedis?’ Horrific and offensive. And exactly what we are not going to be ok with.
And finally- today I had to/ got to (?) explain to meaning of the word ‘Pussy’ to my daughter. Didn’t ever imagine that happening in a positive, powerful way. Especially at the age of 7. But fuck it. It’s on. Let’s do this lady. Pussy hats ordered from Etsy while having our celebratory beers and fries.
I’m doing it again. I’m encouraging, scratch that, forcing Brett to do something that he could easily read about, or look at pictures of, or never know about for that matter. But I have a good feeling about this one…
It was our first Christmas here. I was stunned and overwhelmed and desperate to take in as much of this holiday magic as I could, as though this was most certainly the very first and last Christmas to hit New York. It was very… memorable..: and I did manage to find a better balance and allow for the necessary holiday chill out time, while also taking advantage of all of the truly special festivities this place delivers.
One late night at work I decided to walk the streets home vs retreating to the subway. Our office was in midtown at the time, and the energy there at this time of year takes on a special glow that I wanted to enjoy.
Wondering down 3rd avenue readying myself to finally hop on the train after 30 minutes of strolling, I looked up and saw Christmas barfed all over a bar. Spewing, splattering, and dripping off of everything. And I loved it. I knew nothing about this place, and soon forgot about it, reasoning that there were only so many bars that I could comfortably take my kids to in one holiday season.
Alas, it seems to have arrived onto Instagram and I was determined this year to get a real glimpse into this mayhem to see if it wreaked any less of christmas vomit from the inside than from the frosty bobble-filled windows.
Kids are in school today. Work is closed. I am second in line. At 11am. And Brett is enroute. This should be interesting. Saving grace ( for Brett? For me?) is that it is a German bar, known for its schnitzel and schnapps.
While waiting, it’s an appreciated opportunity to recall how fortunate I know that I am. Thank you, captain obvious, for recognizing the holidays as a chance to reflect on one’s good fortune, to give to those much less fortunate, to remember those near and far, and to miss those even further.
While walking here there’s a timely buzz in the air today- families are arriving, little ones are holding grandparent, aunt, and cousin hands, while their parents stroll a little slower, catching up with their visitors. The excitement of togetherness is apparent.
The line has grown. Brett has arrived and is strolling the neighbourhood taking pictures. While I firmly secure our spot in second place.
Dark, solemn, rainy, overcast. But, this blog post helped. A little.
We’re waiting for Hillary’s concession speech at work.
We made it until midnight last night. Nothing had been called officially, but numb with shock and disbelief, we resigned to turn off the TV and wait for the final results that would greet us this morning. Rolling over at 5:45 this morning, I know I held out hope that the BBC, Globe, and CBC alerts on my phone would have a different name, the right name, announced as the next President. My stomach sank. And it remains there.
Shock, disbelief, dismay, and utter bewilderment. Fear, and sadness. Shame.
How has a nation willingly and freely chosen this man to lead them? To represent them. To protect and defend and advocate for them?
How have they decided that what he stands for is the example that our children ought to be following?
How are they proud to have him stand on the national and international stage, spittle spewing from his racist, sexist, fear-mongering, antagonistic mouth, telling our children that this is the man that we can confidently follow; this is the man who represents our common values. This is the man that should inspire us all to be better and to make this planet better.
So many smug little comments I’ve made over the last few months about ‘being thankful that I have my Canadian passport to fall back on.’ That’s hardly the answer. It sure as shit makes returning there a hell of a lot more real. But we are all in bed with this moronic elephant. We are all going to feel his every roll. And for the first time, I feel a a real unease. An unease at the choice this nation has made. An unease at what this reveals as the guiding values and principles that such a powerful nation upholds in electing this man. An unease at the impact this poses on our safety living in New York.
Anxious in going to sleep last night, for the first time asking ‘if we’d be ok’, I reassured my daughter last night ‘not to worry. There’s no way Trump will win.’ We’ve talked a lot about the election over the last few months- the signs and the talk has been visible even to a 7 year old, and just on Monday the playground erupted into a ‘Hil-ar-y’ chanting party…(it’s New York. and it’s a certain part of New York, where the blue flows).
I don’t know what to tell her this morning. I don’t know what’s going to happen. And I don’t know if we’re going to be ok.
What a colossal disappointment.
Just a quick note on our current photography gear.
Sara is still running her tiny, awesome, easy and insanely capable Sony Rx100m3.
I’ve purchased a new Panasonic G85, to compliment my older Panasonic FZ1000. Most of my shots on instagram are now with the G85 rig. Along with the body, I’m using a 12-35mm Panasonic F/2.8, a Panasonic 35-100mm F/2.8, a Panasonic 25mm F/1.7 prime, a Panasonic 42.5mm F1.7 prime and the mighty Leica 100-400mm F/4-6.3.
Pearson was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma on April 1, 2016. Somehow, we’ve made it through 4 full chemotherapy cycles in ~6 months. It’s been a lot of added stress , financial cost and gross diarrhea, but we finally got some good news yesterday.
“No evidence of residual lymphoma microscopically.”
What a relief. We weren’t sure how we were going to continue his treatment, as he’s actually finished the normal protocol.
He had only reached partial remission on chemotherapy alone, so I think the addition of the lymphoma vaccine might have done the trick. I’m very glad we took the chance on treatment AND that our pet insurance covered everything.
We have no idea how long this will last, but he goes back in a month to check everything out once again. He’s getting a shake shack cheeseburger this weekend for being such a good sport.
I really should listen to the Earth, Wind and Fire song again- it’s got such a great peppy little chorus, and their moves are so damn happy… I have absolutely no idea what words they’re singing other than ‘September’ but based on the upbeat groove of the song, they must be singing the praises that so many others seem to be at this time of year.
I absolutely adore summer. I love the pace, the heat, the permission it grants for kids to be kids, and for adults to slide into playing a bit more easily… Grab a ball, lounge on the grass, take a little bit longer to get to your destination, stay up a little later and sleep in a little longer…. Spend time with family and friends near and far. Listen and slow down. Take it easy. And enjoy.
There are other realities that present some challenges.
Juggling sporadic and pieced-together child care, filling in the gaps while shuffling from one camp to other, and accommodating summer start and end times.
Altered living conditions that compromise some usual comforts in order to allow for time together with those visiting for the summer.
Drying off after a sticky commute in the sweltering heat, and packing a few changes of clothes for those extra clammy days.
Struggling to fit in some sense of discipline and regularity, whether that be in working out, moderating food and booze intake, or ensuring that your kids’ previously respectable behaviour doesn’t completely unravel with the extended lack of routine.
But in spite of those challenges, I cherish the summer mood, and I struggle to not get the fall blues at this time of year.
My school stomache aches have started already. I am not in a classroom. I guess for some you don’t ever completely forget that anxiety, but I am doing my best to not transfer that to my kids who seem generally content to move from one phase to another, at this age anyway. I’m doing the same positive reenforcement to my kids that my Mom did for me for so many years, to get me excited and focusing on the good things that September represented… What made me feel better as a kid still makes be happy, and I enjoyed taking the kids on the ceremonial runner shopping trip (they call them sneakers now- blasphemy,). They also picked out some pretty flashy backpacks. We’ve been talking about their friends, and have chosen fun new lunch snacks together. And are eagerly anticipating the start of fall sports season.
So all of these comforts and routines will be ok. As will the fresh starts, with new teachers, new topics, new friends, new lessons.
Finding peace in the familiar , as well as inspiration in the new possibilities.
I’m going to treat myself to a PSL tomorrow.
Right after I join the spamming parents with adorable pictures of first days.
And I’ll also blast some E,W and F.