Thursday, October 22, 2015


Life once again threw a fast ball. After four years of life pondering, recovering from loss, living alone in a foreign country that I now call home, I was constantly searching for the next chapter and feeling restless.  Nonetheless every day I woke up and did my best to seize each day as I am thankful for what I have.

A few weeks after my return from the past winter spent in California the doorbell rang. I opened the door to see a grown man in tears. He (who was part of the reason I no longer saw Yves kids) came to me to spill his sorrows. Normally a person who has been so greatly wronged by another would slam the door shut. But his tears hit my humanity. I stood there listening and letting him vent his problems. Through his distress he conveyed enough information that things were changing and the children may be needing help.

When he finally left, a strange mixture of sadness and joy overtook my being. Was he just being emotional and things would return to his “normal” or was there going to be big changes?

Two months later, the phone rang. The woman calling identified herself from social services and wanted to talk to me about the children and their situation. I was once again all ears. She gave me a very brief synopsis and we decided to make an appointment to meet for further discussion. In the back of my mind I knew the outcome but it was going to be a matter of time.

I weighed the pros and cons, my fears and inadequacies but knew that integrity and need outweighed any selfish excuses.

The past three years, I had ridden my bike incessantly, pondered my next steps as well as “reconned” both living in France as well as returning to the USA. Alone and starting over at age 55 is not as charming when one has done it repeatedly . I decided to take my time to make any definite decisions as big moves are difficult and I felt financially unsure. I had enough change for a while.

A month passed and the woman from social services called again. This time to discuss the possibilities and logistics. My heart pounded as well as trembled. How would the kids react? Three years passed since they were allowed to see me. Three years since they were allowed in the house their father built for them and me.  They are three years older. I knew they would not forget the energy and love that once was but perhaps the memories also brought pain from loss.

Now, here we are: two months in and yes, love is mixed with frustration. Establishing routines, laying down laws, having to be the bad guy as well as trying to be as present as possible with the homework, endless laundry, cooking, cleaning and chauffeuring. It is a thankless task. However I did not go into this with the unreal expectations of instant gratitude nor appreciation. Providing a home with stability and integrity with the hopes they can grow their worlds larger than the small one they know. I learned a long time ago that life throws it’s own plays and nothing is permanent. However influences and role models play a huge role in development thus if I can impart any of my old school ways I will have contributed to a greater good.

It’s all a work in progress so please excuse me it must be time to do some more laundry then play football! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers Day for the Spinster

Happy Mother's day! And to all you brave women who are moms, I bow. 

 Motherhood is something that I do not take for granted. We women are blessed with the ability to grow,  give birth,  nurture a baby and guide him or her to adulthood. Beyond this miraculous biological feat which almost any female can undertake, I have always regarded the responsibility with huge respect.

Although I made the choice to be childless, it was not an easy one as there were certainly times of natural hormonal pangs. In my 20's I was certain that I wanted to experience pregnancy and motherhood. However I just knew at that age there were so many things I wanted to do before dedicating myself to being a mother. Oh, I had the youth, a strong body and a husband I loved BUT I knew I did not want to ever regret looking at our child and thinking, I could have.......

When I was in my early 30's my husband decided he was through, so in addition to  building a new life alone, I took full use of the time to experience all sorts of new things, meet new people,  and develop who I was (not only who I was with him).  That life was finished and I needed to create experiences and raising a child alone was not my intention. Starting over was hard enough.  

Some people may consider this selfishness, but I saw it as having a life before I could produce another. I was fortunate that my parents never pressured me, but most of society looks at a childless women as strange. Even though this was the era of women choosing careers and waiting until their late 30's to have a family, there still is a bit of a stigma when one chooses not.  When I traveled to foreign countries and explained I was childless, it was routinely looked at as a problem and "poor me".   And it was not about infertility, which is a completely different circumstance, mine was by choice.

So when I met Yves and he had his 3 and we were to become 5, I was already 48.  The opportunity to be a mother came at a time where I was content to back down form the career, sports, travel etc. I embraced the new role as "Step Mom" with passion.  The children and I bonded easily and it did not take long to understand and give the unconditional love of a mother.  I truly understood the bond of the family and when my world came tumbling down, I grieved the loss as hard as the loss of their father.

Nonetheless in the wise words of my mother, who passed away 5 years ago "It is what it IS" thus I do not look back nor do I want sympathy. After all, I chose during my earlier (fertile) years not to propagate.  I always battled the thought that I did not need to pass on my DNA, that life has so many ups and downs, as well as unwanted children, then why add more beings to this overpopulated and sometimes chaotic world?

Therefore, I am at times an outsider. I cannot share stories of my children with the Moms, proudly boasting of  their antics,  accomplishments or sorrows. I will not be a grandmother or recieve Mothers day card . I belong to that childless group of aging women that when I was a child, always wondered why. Now I understand... Life differs for all and with that we must embrace what we do have and cherish the relationships we make..

So to all my women friends (mothers or not) Happy Mothers day!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hei Matau - friendships

Memories/past chapters -  this one is set in bone and is called a hei matau. It is a common traditional necklace worn by the Mauri people of New Zealand and represents strength, good luck, and safe travels across the water.

This hei matau was given to me before I boarded the plane back to the USA after living in Auckland for  nearly 2 years by a young Maori colleague who apprenticed with me. At the time,  I was surprised and honored that she came to the airport to say goodbye. As I frantically tore through my suitcases at the airport to make the allotted weight allowance, I began to throw out all unnecessary items. She stood by watching me discard anything I thought could go and as I motioned to throw out one of my bodybuilding trophies, she took it. "Just filler" I thought yet  kept the one I earned with the Maori carving. After the suitcases were closed and the weight limits met, she then gave me a big hug and a small package. As I unwrapped the paper, I smiled when I saw the hand carved fish hook necklace. At this time in my life, I needed to wear one, so the timing was brilliant.  My life had turned inside out and only a few people knew. She was one.

Jenny Hawraki was a sturdy, lively, and  kind Maori girl who grew up in rural Rotarua but came to Auckland to learn sport studies, teach classes and try to assimilate in a "non" Maori world. She was a solidly built woman with disheveled locks that framed her round face and with a genuine smile.

When I arrived to take my job as director of the fitness programs in a private Women's only gym in Auckand, New Zealand in 1992, I knew very little about the Maori culture. What I quickly learned and witnessed was that there was segregation and tension similar to the Native Americans in the USA. There was government housing areas and lands that non Maoris were not welcomed.  I lived near a Marae and walked past it regularly. I was told it was for Maoris only so never dared to explore on my own.

At that time (1982)  their were two Maori instructors at the gym. The first was Tessa: a soft spoken woman with a thick black braid who had a subdued demeanor, full of manors and treated everyone with respect.  She taught with a gentleness that many of the ladies embraced.

The second: Jenny H, was an intern bouncing with energy. She was new to teaching but had passion to soak in and deliver it back. She was rough around the edges but once she began her lesson the sweetness shone through. She would come to my classes with huge enthusiasm and afterward we would talk for hours about choreography, muscles, class designs etc. Her drive to learn sparked mine and we shared many hours.

Although there was no outright discrimination at the gym, it was evident to me that she and Tessa did not "fit in" the same way as the ladies who frequented the facility.  There was no hostility nor incident that I can recall but the looks and innuendos I will never forget. Tessa was quiet and only responded when prompted and tended to take a back seat. But Jenny was rural, a bit brash and from a poor family so her clothes and outfits were not the latest fashion. Her car was old and she arrived a bit disordered, but anyone with insight could see her genuine heart and full spirit. She may have not "fit in" like the others but she certainly did not care. I liked her from the moment we met.

When my mother and sister came for a visit from the USA , I unfortunately did not have a lot of extra time to take them sightseeing. Jenny stepped in and took them to Rotarua. She gave them the "homegirl" tour which included meeting and having lunch with her grandmother. When I heard how great of a time they had, I was a bit jealous! Somehow work, training and stuff got it the way.

It was a busy time in my career and I juggled the full time work with training for my first bodybuilding competitions.  My energy was full on, as I taught classes, co-managed the facility all while lifting, training  and dieting with 100% focus. Then my husband of 12 years dropped the news he was leaving me (he did not disclose for another woman, but apparently everyone else knew) I was shattered. I was 34 and now alone in a country that was not my home. I had no choice but to return and rebuild. The hei matau was welcomed.

So here I am 21 years and many chapters later, and I finally took the fishtail off my bedroom mirror. As I hang it around my neck, I feel another era is closing, and I embrace the new me. Jenny, wherever you may be,  I once again salute and thank you your gift !
Ka mate te kāinga tahi, ka ora te kāinga rua -  When one house dies, a second lives 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Embracing change....

As our cells are constantly renewing themselves on a daily weekly and yearly basis, why is it change can be so difficult to accept?

Time heals all wounds is what we are told yet that is not a complete truth. The wounds become scars and in many cases the scars and repercussions of the deformities create compensation. We have no choice but to do the best we can with what we are dealt but that is also not an easy task.

It appears the journey takes time, contemplation, movement,  confrontation and acceptance. For those of us who have been taught to strive for being the best you can and make full use of your time,  standing still is like a prison. I have been an inmate for four years. I kept myself busy, did outrageous bike events, traveled with abundance, trained my ears out and dreamed for a future. But what I did not realize was that idleness is important for the process of change.  Slowing down and simplifying expectations can also be a symbol for change.

I am learning to appreciate the power of nothing and  to enjoy the moments of change. I am a new me: the reinvention of the the next life, one with more compassion and openness to build upon the wisdom I have gained from the last five decades.  Live life!  

no words...found this unpublished post from Jan 2014

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Perspective and daily outlook has come 360 degrees since that fateful day of August 13, 2011. Once again on that day, impermanence slapped me hard in the face. However,  this time when I was able to stand up and the birds stopped flying around my dizzy head, I saw a new light. It was not that the light hadn't shone in me before, it was only brighter and clearer then ever. It pointed stronger than ever that nothing REALLY matters except the moment and what you choose to do with each one of them.

After all, each one consists of  huge gambles based on choices, passion and then luck of the draw. Being in the right  time at the right place coupled by decision.  Even in tragedy, it is apparent that the right time/moment for that particular story is that particular ordeal.

I'm convinced that some of us are destined to be battered emotionally more than others and our role is to endure and re surge with more strength, empathy and compassion. Hence to reinvent the next chapter and make it  simpler and purer than the previous. Others choose to wallow in the mire and live a life with internal hell but that is NO life for me!

After all, is is all impermanent. All things will and must pass but why as humans do we struggle with letting go? It seems to be a process that eases as time and experiences weather one's soul. Not that is is ever easy as that would show lack of emotion but instead the ability to pick up and move forward with less weight.

Perhaps when that point is reached and detachment is truly attained , then it is the end of the story on this plane..Until then, I shall keep moving with little regrets and much appreciation for every beat, joy and pain and with eyes wide open for more.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Today I vow to take a step backward

I am not a person who needs a lot of "stuff" and literally can wear the same clothes, eat off the same plate, etc etc.  I appreciate nice things and have had periods in my life where those things had greater importance. And of course, like most women enjoy buying a new outfit and unlike most, a new bicycle. However I tend to do both things in moderation.
Perhaps my experiences with loss have given me a different perspective. I am not really sure why but that does not matter.

The older I get the more I forget details of decades past.  Trying to live in the present as well as setting sights on the tomorrows take precedent. But every once in a while, a piece of times long ago surface, and as always I am humbled with the memories that they clearly evoke. It is only then, that I truly can mark my age.

Although I try not to be attached to material things, I do have a habit for saving certain things and as it turns out, these things are practically obsolete. Today while looking for some blank note cards that I had put in storage boxes , I stumbled on a few bundles of letters and cards that were bunched together with old rubber bands. Curiously I looked at a few. There were birthday cards from 20+ years ago, a wedding invitation and a number of photos. What really drew my eye were the aerogrammes and letters. Letters!!!! A wonderful thing of the past. Life before the web, internet, email, smart phones and instant messaging. It instantly brought me back. The blue papered aerograms especially bought warmth to my heart. How beautiful it was when we actually took the time and thought to pen a letter then send it via post, knowing it would takes days or even weeks to be received. The excitement of waiting for a reply brings back a wonderful time of innocence and patience.  As much as I use and appreciate the conveniences of having so many communication options, I sometimes think we were much better off when we had less "connectivity". We had to make more of an effort and we had to think before we wrote. Instant gratification did not apply.  When was the last time you received a note, card or letter via post?  Well look out!  you may find one from me.... but be patient, snail mail is slow..