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Karina and I in NYC April 2015

Karina and I in NYC April 2015

Every year on their birthdays I write my kids a letter.  I don’t think either of them have ever seen them.  I’m not sure any of them are legible to a generation accustomed to typeface rather than sloppy cursive.  They are tucked away in baby books and old photo albums and who knows where around the house.

Since today is Karina’s birthday it seemed appropriate to write this year’s letter here.  The “photo essay” is for you guys, but the letter is for her.

Karina appreciated good food from an early age.

Karina appreciated good food from an early age.


Dear Karina,

Wow!  This has been a year of unexpected changes and challenges for you.  You continue to impress and amaze me with your ability to maintain a level head and make good decisions in the face of adversity.

I started your year out with the challenge of my bariatric surgery.  Growing up with your brother, I know you have issues with spending time in the hospital.  Even so, you stepped up for me.  Your calm (eye rolling) reminders kept the surgeon from canceling the procedure all together.  You celebrated the outcome and assured me you knew it was going to be fine all along.

Her fearlessness and determination have always been evident.

Her fearlessness and determination have always been evident.

Only you would have found the best way to manage your time while I was in the hospital was to include walking the puppy with your visits.  You arranged to work through the system and get permission to bring Minnie in to visit.  It was a treat to see her (and you) and I’m sure it got me released faster.

You were so stressed you quit a job, which was a good decision.  It was definitely time to move on.  But I know it was hard for you to regroup and decide what you wanted to do next.  The ups and downs of early 20’s relationships didn’t make it easier.  I’m not sure I did either, but I always believed you’d figure it out.

She has an artistic bent that comes out in her cooking.

She has an artistic bent that comes out in her cooking.

Then you took on the family dynamic and held Christmas at your house.  Family holiday dinners are a huge undertaking for anyone.  Given your family, and all its extensions, the potential for disaster was huge.  You were determined.  Everyone would show up, feel welcomed, and have good food that suited their dietary needs.  It was impressive.  I know that post party feeling of exhaustion and wondering if it was worth it.  Now you know you really can do anything you set your mind to!

My having cancer and a second surgery threw you for a loop.  It didn’t help that you were just starting a new job, that looks like a perfect career move.  Again you managed to juggle all the pieces and perform above expectation.   Karina’s Korner was launched to rave reviews and I managed to attend my birthday dinner with very reasonable portion accommodations.

She makes the hard stuff look easy - even that awkward age!

She makes the hard stuff look easy – even that awkward age!

This last month has been yet another challenge with moving, and then having the apartment you were moving to fall through.  Most of the people I know would have spent a week crying under the covers.  You picked up, kept packing, arranged for a storage space and have already found a new, new apartment.  Chances are you’ll like this one better in the end.

This year begins for you with a fresh start.  You and Minnie will be settled into your new place before the end of the month.  You’ve left your 2nd job behind and moved to a full-time position in your career field.  Your creativity and management skills are being utilized and challenged in productive ways.  You are ready to shine.

I can’t tell you how proud and impressed I am by you this year.   You have an astounding resiliency.  You have learned a lot about yourself through these trials and have a new appreciation for your own independence.  Even when you’re hurting you are kind, and generous, and dependable.

I'm so grateful that she still enjoys spending time with me!

I’m so grateful that she still enjoys spending time with me!

I love you so much!  I only wish you the best for the coming year.  May all the hard work you’ve done bloom into joy and fulfillment.




Little Stories

I watched I Remember Mama the other night.  The accents are off.  The audio was a little rough.  The movie itself is in black and white.  I loved it.   It struck me that this is a little story. I Remember Mama clip

from I Remember Mama

from I Remember Mama

I remember little stories growing up.  Rascal is a little story about a racoon.  There was another with pet skunk named Betelgeuse.  Erma Bombeck wrote simple stories, funny ones, about being a housewife.  The Little House on the Prairie series is really a collection of  little stories about growing up.  Even Profiles in Courage, whose author goes on to a large and dramatic life, tells a story simply.  (If you’re not smiling click the link and find out who that author is.)

We don’t see these little stories much any more.  There is still a human need for them, a demand.  The Chicken Soup for the Soul books are filled with stories that could be little, if they weren’t so dramatic or inspiring.  Reader’s Digest still prints an occasional “I’m just a normal every day person” drama with a rescue or recovery at the end of a great trauma.  Memoir has become a publishing niche.  That’s what I Remember Mama is, a memoir.  But the memoirs I have read seem written to highlight the unusual rather than the ordinary.  Every day, even painted with vivid colors and glorious language, is just not enough any more.

Are we part of someone else's little story or have we made it our own?

Are we part of someone else’s little story or have we made it our own?

But we all have our little stories and we still want to know we are not alone with them.  Where do we turn?  To the bloggers.  It is on-line in these blogs where our little stories play out.  They may not be as carefully crafted.  Time moves at a different pace in the blogosphere and the pressure to put something, ANYTHING, out there on a regular basis is pretty high.

The blogs we choose to read let us know that we are not alone in the world.  Other people have struggles, just like we do.  Other people have wonderful insights and moments of clarity, just like we do.  Other people can make us laugh, or cry, or reach out in sympathy.

The advantage of the blog is that most of them allow for comments.  The dialog is short.  But over time friendships form.  This is especially true when bloggers read and comment with their fellow bloggers.  There are several that I read regularly, a few I comment on pretty often but only one or two where I feel I’ve made a real friend.  That’s typical for me of friendships.

I know other bloggers who count everyone who’s a “regular” as a friend.   I feel that way too, but that’s a different kind of friendship.  Those are friends like a good book is a friend.  They are there to snuggle up with when I need a reminder that maybe my life isn’t so different from everyone else’s after all.  They are there to make me laugh or to remind me to look at the sun shinning through the clouds.  There are days when those commenters, those other bloggers, are my lifeline to the world.

I treasure the little stories.  I am grateful to share them, as well as my own.  I only hope that I can be that ray of hope, or little laugh, or small reassurance for someone else sometimes.  I like the idea of giving back when I have gotten so much from this blogging world.  So check out the other bloggers on my blogroll, and leave a comment here and there like breadcrumbs to a possible new friend.

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