Thursday, March 17, 2011

Enjoying real life....

As I sit at my computer, with a hot cup of coffee and Ray LaMontagne crooning in the background, I can't help but to think how lucky I am. With all the destruction and heartbreak in the world right now, sometimes the only thing that makes me feel better is appreciating all the wonderful people and experiences I have in my life. This week, I spent three fun-filled days with a family that is very dear to my heart.  They are wonderful parents who have raised their newly 5-year-old and 6 1/2 year old to be such open, caring, accepting and sweet young girls. We spent the first day exchanging hugs, kisses, happy squeals and stories. The next few days were spent at the market, the aquarium, enjoying lunch on top of the Wheedle's Needle, swimming and exploring the Woodland Park Zoo. We were even lucky enough to have a sleepover! We spent the evening playing foosball and a few minutes of Rock Band before it was time to hop into our PJ's, make some kettle corn and watch Peter Pan. Wednesday morning, we woke up and celebrated a 5th birthday with chocolate chunk and lemon zest buttermilk pancakes with fresh fruit.... served in bed, of course! We spent the morning jump roping, blowing bubbles, dancing to the Chipettes and other kid tunes and playing on the monkey bars and swing set before meeting up with their parents. Our last day together was enjoyed to the fullest and the evening was spent celebrating birthdays, love, friendships and family.

Seattle Aquarium

Birthday pancakes
Getting ready to feed the penguins at the zoo
It was a bittersweet reunion as I was reminded of how much I missed the Saeterens. The girls have wild imaginations and spending time with them makes me feel like a kid again. Whether we're pretending to be baby horses, seal pups or dogs adopted from the shelter, their youthful minds always weave an interesting adventure. I'm not sure when we lose our imaginations and stop pretending, but at some point in my youth I left all of it behind in exchange for reality. Maybe we realize that life itself can be just as exciting, that we can create our own realities. Yet, real life is far more challenging than the make-believe world.

Last week, I watched in horror with the rest of the world as the clips and pictures of the catastrophic earthquake that rocked Japan spread across the news and were plastered all over the internet. And then the ocean raced in. My heart sank. With each passing day, the threat of a complete nuclear meltdown seems to be closer.
Residents describe spooky scenes of municipal cars driving down near-empty streets telling people to stay indoors, but they've seen few other signs of outside help.
Aid agencies are reluctant to get too close to the plant. Shelters set up in the greater Fukushima area for "radiation refugees" have little food, in part because nobody wants to deliver to an area that might be contaminated. And with little or no gasoline available, not everyone who wants to leave can get out.

Radiation fears mingled with a sickening sense of abandonment and now the United Nations reports that the movement of the radioactive plume could reach the west coast of the United States in days, but should be diluted enough to not cause any risk. The news is glum and  the sights are heart-rending. The pictures of the long lines outside of medical tents while people wait hours just to check the list of patients in hopes to find missing loved ones, and the man riding his bicycle around with posters of his wife's name on each side, showing her picture to anyone that would take the time to look, these pictures are their reality. I feel small and completely helpless, but this is our world and we are all in this together.

I don't know if it is last night's good-byes, the soulful music or my female hormones...but tears are literally streaming down my face as I imagine the pain they are going through. I reach out to my family, I strive to be a better person and I vow to help others when I can. I hold on to "hope" and through all of this I am reminded of what is truly important to me: love and my relationships with my family and friends. The bonds are irreplaceable and make me feel like the luckiest girl. Today, I celebrate the extraordinary people in my life, for without them, I would not be half the person I am today. I strive to be better for them. I am excited to be a parent and start my own family because I know that I have an amazing support system.  I cannot wait to introduce our children to all of them. From each individual in our life, we have learned something important to teach our children and for this, I am grateful.

As  I clean up the last of the Hello Kitty confetti from our dining room table, I can't help but smile. I am reminded that we were all children at one point and have been through struggles and challenges that have helped mold us into the people we are today. As I'm trying to wrap up this post, Tracy Chapman's "At This Point In My Life" comes on. We all have our stories and today I ask you to put your trust in people, to not judge, bully or put them down, but to simply give them a chance. Enjoy today and celebrate the blessings in your life. Much love <3

"Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed."   - Storm Jameson

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