Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My motto for 2010. Beauty & Power

I love mottoes. If you know me at all, this is not surprising. I love quotes and sayings and Storypeople stories. I love the way words can come together to create beauty. And, as 2009 comes to a close, I came across a quote I had saved for myself some time ago and had forgotten. It's a good one. Very "Olivia" as some would say. I've adopted it as my motto for 2010.

"I have been waiting for so long to finally admit to myself that I am amazing, and I really am. Everyone is beautiful in their own way and they get even better when they decide to be powerful and they decide to rock."~Girls Rock Movie

My mom asked me the other day what my New Year's Resolution was going to be. And, to be honest, I really hadn't given it that much thought. I didn't want it to be the ever-recycled "I'm going to lose weight". I really want 2010 to be my year. To be a great year. To be a powerful year. So, I'm dedicating 2010 to loving myself. To finding all of those bits and pieces that make me amazing and celebrating them. Because life is too short to wait any longer. And life is too beautiful to not find my own inner beauty. I owe myself that much. I know I could be better, stronger, and more powerful if I would just give myself the chance to try.

I wish you all your own beautiful and powerful 2010. I hope this new year is all you want it be and more.

"Y aunque para las uvas hay algunos nuevos, a los que ya no están te echaremos de menos. Y a ver si espabilamos los que estamos vivos y el ano que viene nos reímos."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Yes, Virginia

Yes, Virginia

I thought it would be a good time to share this one....
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus?Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

From The People's Almanac, pp. 1358-9.Francis P. Church's editorial, "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" was an immediate sensation, and became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in the The New York Sun in 1897, almost a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Camp Sunshine Weekend: Sydni & me.

I believe in angels. I've met quite a few in my lifetime. I've been blessed that way. This weekend, I met several more. Among them, was Sydni.

A few months ago, I sent in an application to Camp Sunshine to volunteer for one of their weekend sessions. Camp Sunshine is a camp for severally ill children and their families. It's an amazing place and I have been wanting to go for some time, but their camp schedule, my work schedule and getting to Maine, had been making it difficult. I was accepted as a one-to-one counselor for their December weekend which was for children with brain tumors and their families. I had no idea what a one-to-one counselor did, but I didn't care. I knew I would figure it out when I got there. I've volunteered at Camp Sunshine and similar camps before and also volunteer fairly regularly at the Ronald McDonald House; I was confident I could handle it.

When I arrived at Camp late Friday morning, I received my volunteer information packet and was informed that my one-to-one camper was a 5 year old named Sydni. I was told that she was in a wheel chair and that she was non-verbal due to brain injuries during surgery. No problem!, I thought. I can totally handle this and I eagerly awaited Sydni's arrival.

Friday evening, Sydni arrived. I met her and her family at dinner. And to say I was unprepared for the extent of her disability is an understatement. I won't go into the extent of it here, it's not the place and not the point (I promise). But, that Friday night, I left dinner feeling completely overwhelmed. I was afraid that I had gone in over my head. For someone who has been in the "cancer world" for a long time, my fear and sadness and feelings of complete helplessness, shocked me to the core. I got to my room, closed the door and broke down in tears. I knew I would get through the weekend, but as I admitted to my mom, it was going to be a really hard one. And, as I admitted to myself, it was going to be a great deal more emotionally draining than I could ever have imagined. I was afraid.

And then, Saturady came. My first full day with Sydni. Mom told me she likes to be rocked and sung to. She likes you to be close to her so that she can see you (she's also visually impaired). She likes to laugh. She helped me lift her onto my lap as I sat in the rocker. And, my day began. We rocked. I sang (or tried to). Sydni laughed a lot and smiled and cooed along with my songs. I've met a lot of angels in my life. This weekend, I met a very special one. Sydni. She may not be able to talk, or see well or interact with the world as most people do, but her soul is beautiful. She smiles and everything is better. "Being with Sydni is the best therapy", her mom said. And I couldn't agree more.

Some of you will read this and think that I am strong, and brave and giving for spending my weekend with Sydni, but it's not true. Not true at all. I am weak and scared. Sydni is the brave one. She is the one with all the strength. I learned more about the human spirit from her in one hour, than I could ever have thought possible. She gave me the strength to get through the weekend. If Sydni can laugh and smile and sing despite all of the odds against her, I realized, that I not only could too, but I had to. That's what angels do. They teach you to go beyond yourself and your limits to something more. They are what makes the world beautiful. And, Sydni makes the world magnificent.

I spent this weekend rocking and singing and smiling and laughing. I could not have done any of this without Sydni to lead me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

PS, New York

PS- New York, love isn't something you vote on. If you're actually out of ideas, if you actually think this is a "problem", here's my list of projects for you: fixing our public school & health care systems, addressing crime & hate, helping the homeless & hungry, not to mention the less than stellar MTA I take to work daily. Tackle that. Leave love alone. Thank you.