Forty for Forty

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Proofs from my HS senior portrait

My fortieth birthday is in two weeks.  Am I freaking out?  Absolutely not.  Since I was in high school, I have felt like a forty-year old in my head.  Stick me in a coffee shop with the Sunday New York Times or a hefty historical biography and I’m on cloud nine.  That was me at 18 and that’s me today….  Still, for whatever reason, it’s an American tradition to make a big deal out of 40th birthdays.  So, deal me in.

Grand Emancipation

A few weeks before my 39th birthday, I sent my youngest child off to kindergarten.  I called it my Grand Emancipation.  In the months since then, I’ve been on a journey to figure out who the hell I am (when I’m not wiping runny noses and going to Mommy and Me music class) and what on earth God wants me to do with my life (I think it’s more than Pinterest inspired chore-charts for my kids and a full BSF schedule for me).  I wasn’t one of those moms with a lot of extra help during those years in the trenches, so these have truly been transformative months.

I have learned, for example, that my Micah 6:8 journey is indeed the path that God wants me on….that my faith is best expressed in a life built around love, justice and mercy – particularly to those who need it most.  Living with a Trump president.  Coming to terms with my own white privilege.  Confronting a faith that has been complicit in the face of racism and injustice.  These months of wrestling have not been easy.  But, questioning (and sometimes discarding) old ideas has been both healthy and liberating.  The more I learn, the more confident I am that this – the path of God-inspired social justice – is the right direction.

So, in the midst of all this heavy soul-searching, I’m launching my Forty for Forty campaign.  Put simply – it is a list of forty fun activities or treats that I’m proactively pursing in celebration of this milestone birthday.  Is it super cheesy?  Absolutely.  Is the nerd in me totally psyched?  You bet.  Am I done with justice?  No way.

What the hell do I like?

A few days ago, I started making my list.  I whizzed through the first 10-15 items. Then, I started running out of ideas.  Crap.  What the hell do I like to do?  Has it been that long since I’ve let loose and had fun?  Confession: You know you’ve not engaged in extensive ‘self care’ when you’re struggling to think of more than a dozen things you enjoy doing.  As silly as this exercise is, I AM learning a thing or two about myself in the process.

Realizing I needed some inspiration, I googled….’forty things to do for fortieth birthday’.  I had no idea whether the internet would come to my rescue or not.  Sure enough, there were tons of websites, blogs and even entire books!  I doubt that my list (which we will get to eventually!) will appeal to many, but can I just say to Estee Stanley at MyDomaine, you lost me at #4 on your list: Take care of your friends’ kids for the day.  Are you serious?   That idea is even worse than my daughter’s suggestion that I run a marathon.  To both of these, I say, I’m trying to treat myself – not punish myself!

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MyDomaine.com – Forty AWESOME things to do when you’re 40

So, back to the drawing board.  I clicked on another link, this one for Best Life.  Is that a men’s magazine?  I’m not even sure, but I needed ideas….ANY ideas that did not include killing myself with exercise or going insane watching other people’s kids (remember, I’m just barely out of the mommy trenches – maybe the idea will appeal more for my 50th….maybe).

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Best Life – 40th Birthday Ideas 

As you can see, we barely got past #4 this time, when the dudes at Best Life tossed out ubering a private plane as a legit suggestion.  I’m sorry…does that idea come with a winning lottery ticket?  And, if I may: THIS, friends, is a perfect example of the aspirational privilege of white men.  Anyways, back to the list….

Suffice to say I clicked through many blogs and articles, finding little inspiration.  I had no choice but to simply think about what brings ME joy.  So, here is what I came up with.

Dayna’s Forty for Forty List

  1. Eat a Mademoiselle Colette Chocolate Croissant
  2. Have a nice birthday dinner with husband
  3. Have tea or coffee with friends
  4. Schedule a lunch date with a good friend
  5. Get nails done
  6. Take a long walk with friends
  7. Go to a coffee shop, order a grande cappuccino and then just sit and read the Sunday New York Times or a historical biography
  8. Treat myself to Tinpot ice-cream
  9. Listen to live music
  10. Eat Mexican food (Can you ever have too much chips and guac?  Seriously.)
  11. Visit an art gallery or museum
  12. Get my hair done – maybe even try a new style
  13. Plan a spa day/get a massage
  14. Watch one of my favorite movies
  15. Spend an entire day in PJ’s
  16. Get a realllllly good, dense chocolate cake – like a flourless chocolate cake
  17. Look through all my photo books
  18. Buy a new lip gloss
  19. Go to the movie theater while the kids are at school
  20. Drink a really good red wine
  21. Take a bubble bath
  22. Enjoy my favorite Asian dishes
  23. Eat Chicago style pizza
  24. Spend an entire afternoon reading
  25. Drink a root beer float
  26. Enjoy a super long Skype chat with my Irish BFF
  27. Go to a bookstore without a ‘to buy’ or ‘to do’ list – just look at books (maybe buy a few)
  28. Yelp ‘best eggs Benedict’ and then go eat it
  29. Give myself permission to do NO CLEANING on my birthday
  30. Try a new food
  31. Update my will (I know, it sounds morbid but it’s truly reassuring to know your life, family, estate, etc., are in order)
  32. Reassess and possibly change where I give my time and money
  33. Take a family photo (okay, like the will, not so high up on the ‘fun factor’ but still something that’s worth it in the long-haul)
  34. Make plans to see friends who live further away
  35. Write down blessings
  36. Create a bucket list – things I want to do in my next 40 years
  37. Take time from all the spa days and indulgences to go to the homeless shelter, remembering that I am always so happy when I spend time there
  38. Spend a weekend away with my hubby 
  39. See Hamilton 
  40. Write a birthday blog post 

Sure It’s Grand

In the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, Abraham Lincoln changed the federal legal status via executive order of more than 3 million enslaved people in the designated areas of the South from slave to free.  For many abolitionists it was cause for “grand emancipation jubilee.”  Frederick Douglass even called it a ‘death blow’ to the slaveholding rebellion.  But, the devil is in the details, which headlines and tweets often miss.  And, a quick review of our Civil War unit from American History class reminds us that ‘grand’ is far from ‘complete’ or ‘total’.  In fact, the 1963 Proclamation applied only to the 10 states still rebelling – it did not cover nearly half a million slaves in border states.  Other states under Union control, namely, Tennessee, as well as most of Virginia, West Virginia and Louisiana were exempted.  Though African-Americans gained the constitutional right to vote in 1870 via the 15th Amendment, the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, allowed Southern states to effectively disenfranchise black voters. Thus, it wasn’t until 1965 – just 12 years before I was born – for full participation to be guaranteed with passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  

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Or not????

#WTF

So, what the hell is a civil war history lesson doing in the middle of my otherwise lighthearted blog post about my 40th birthday?  Well, once a history buff, always a history buff.  That’s why I love to use witty phrases like ‘Grand Emancipation’ – which connect my life to fascinating historical topics.  But, here’s the problem: this last year of studying racism and bias has taught me that it’s only through the lens of my white privilege that I can casually employ euphemisms like, ‘Grand Emancipation’ to describe my transition from ‘stay at home suburban mom’ to ‘still stay at home suburban mom….with more time’.

If you are one of the millions of African-Americans in our country, not only is it highly probable that you remember FINALLY getting the right to vote, just 52 years ago, but it is almost certain that you still live with the remnants of America’s ‘original sin’ which lives on in the form of daily encounters with racism, bias and privilege.

Who’s Rescuing Who?

Yesterday, I finished a book titled, Rescuing Jesus, How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism.  And, it is true…..the margins are where revival will happen.  The trenches are where the holy ghost is alive and well.  And, it is in loving the least that we are most likely to see God at work.  In the pages of books written by an Asian woman and in the lyrics of rap songs sung by a black man, I am rediscovering Jesus and with it, a whole new view of the gospel.  One of my favorite songs to blast in my minivan, as I run around town, is Tell the World.

Now, I’mma tell the world, tell the world, tell ’em
I’mma tell it everywhere I go
Tell the world, tell ’em
Yeah, I’m a billboard
Tell the world, tell ’em
And I’m broadcastin’ like a radio
Tell the world, you ought to know
I’m brand new

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Rewriting the ‘church clothes’ rules 

I’ve been thinking a lot about that…..  What does my billboard say?  What does my life say about my faith?  There is indeed much about me that is largely the same – from that 18 year old me in the senior portrait, to the nearly 40 year old me now.  I still love history and coffee shops.  I still love chocolate and root beer floats.  I still love Ralph Lauren (I know, I know, so very preppy but I now also have a Black Lives Matter hoodie – progress!).

 

The line from Tell the World, I’m brand new, references a verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that says: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Folks who knew me back in high school probably would have described me as ‘nice’.  God, I hope that’s largely still true.  But, what’s also true is that (to borrow a phrase from Lynne Hybels) nice girls don’t change the world.  And, nice is not a spiritual gift or heavenly calling.  And, in my next 40 years, I pray God would continue remaking me.  I want to be the kind of person who not only knows the past history of racism but is presently working to tear down organizations and institutions that perpetuate systemic injustice.  I want to ruthlessly look at my own attitudes and assumptions, figuring out both where my privilege gives me a platform for helping others, as well as where I can learn from the oppressed and marginalized.

American culture offers a tradition 40th birthday celebrations that includes everything from private airplane rides to big birthday bashes to running marathons or watching your friends’ kids (well, according to one blog).  Americans weren’t the first to give special attention to the number 40.  As I wrote in my Lent post, 40 has special significance in the Bible, occurring 146 times and generally referring to periods of trial or testing.  Another confession: I think eating my favorite foods and hanging out with my favorite people sounds much more appealing!  But, I also know that a life limited to superficial niceness is no life at all.  So, if trial and testing mean leaning more intentionally into the life God created me for – I say, bring it!  Forty, here I come….holding my ‘Micah 6:8 Mission’ in one hand and my cheesy ‘Forty for Forty’ list in the other.

P.S.

With this blog post now published, I’ve officially crossed off an item from the list.  And, my husband justifiably argued for the inclusion of our SF weekend (last month) on the Forty for Forty list – it was pretty awesome.  You can read a bit about that weekend away, along with some other reflections on Year One of my Micah 6:8 life, here.

 

 

How NOT to raise a ‘Little Donald’

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 3Last night was something, huh?!?!  Trivia question for the history buffs out there:  who said, “our long national nightmare is over”?  Anyone, anyone ?  Bueller?

Okay.  It was Gerald Ford, during his inauguration speech after Richard Nixon’s impeachment.  Ford went on to say,  “Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.”

Even in periods of national turmoil or disappointment, in moments of upheaval and uncertainty, we survived thanks to our constitution and the rule of law.  During the third debate, you had to scratch your head when Trump said he’d leave us in suspense, when asked whether or not he would concede if he lost.  He doubled down at rallies today, saying his concession was contingent upon him winning.  Honest to God, this post is not about the 3rd debate; it is about how we hqdefaultraise the next generation to not be a bunch of spoiled brats who have little regard for people or the policies that govern our companies or countries….it is about how we can actually come back to love, justice and mercy.  Lord knows, the world does not need any more ‘Little Donald’s.’

NO GIFTS

About six years ago, we received our very first ‘NO GIFTS’ invitation for a birthday party.  I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that’s really impressive.’  I fell in love with the concept of making a birthday about something other than the gifts….that is, until I walked into the door.  OMG.  You’d think you had entered FAO Schwartz in NYC.  Not only did everyone bring a gift, but the bags and boxes all seemed to be on Hallmark steroids.  I felt like such a complete moron, walking in with nothing.  Nana.  Zilch.  Empty-handed.  So, believe me when I say that it has not been a cake-walk (pardon the pun) in adopting a ‘no gifts’ approach to birthdays for our family.

MY BABY TURNS 6 TOMORROW

14117776_10154452592693794_6351464695881975103_nMy little guy celebrates his birthday tomorrow.  I swear that he’s been asking how many days till his birthday, for the last 6-9 months.  He is the 3rd child, and he just can’t grow up fast enough (in his mind).  So, this cutie patootie WILL get gifts.  Dear Lord, I think he look for a new family if we took away the promise of those very specific Lego Bionicle sets on his wish list.  But, the clock is ticking.

BIG GIRL EXPERIENCE

eviteWhen our eldest turned 10, we decided it was time to adopt a ‘no gifts’ for birthdays approach.  We explained that when you cross the ‘double digit’ threshold, you are entering a new phase of maturity.  And, part of growing up, is to look beyond yourself in the way you see the world…to see not just what the world can give you, but what you can give back (I know, very JFK).  We didn’t want to just say the words – we wanted her to experience the joy and see the virtue of giving over receiving.

When we sent-out the Evite to her friends, we explained the reasons why we were making this a ‘no gifts’ party.  In addition, we provided links to charities that our daughter really liked, because of their work with education and helping girls.  What a pleasant surprise when friends actually respected our request and donated to the organizations we had suggested.  This was not like the party from preschool!

Full disclosure.  We did the same thing when she turned 11 and we did get some gifts.  But, with two years under our belt, we are now committed to a personal party policy (for age 10+) that says our kids will make birthdays a time to celebrate friendship.  Period.  And, to the extent that folks want to give, we will channel that generosity towards causes our kids are passionate about.

MAKE IT AGE APPROPRIATE

Looking back to the preschool party (where I walked away with a bit of PTSD), I think it’s hard to enhance-7explain to preschoolers why there are no presents.  Maybe it was a tad early to try ‘no gifts’…..maybe that’s why parents went ahead and brought something….or, maybe they didn’t want to end up like me, empty-handed.  Whatever the case, I think it’s possible that trying this when kids are too young could back-fire.  Ten seemed like the right age for our daughter….old enough to understand, but still young enough to make an impression.  Our middle child will celebrate his 9th birthday in 2 months.  (Note to self: better start talking about the policy so he’s not shocked in a year!!!)  So, we shall see how this plays out, in terms of gender and maturity.  Our plan is to stick with the ‘no presents after 10’ approach.  But, I think you have to be smart and reasonable about these things.  Every kid is different.

MAKE IT REASONABLE

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#classic

I keep saying ‘no gifts’.  Let me be more specific….no gifts from friends attending a birthday party.  Mom, dad, grandma, close friends, aunts…..plenty of folks STILL give gifts to our kids on their special day.  And, let’s not forget the broader context here: this whole birthday party thing can get a bit crazy.  You can spend a ton of money, on the celebration and then on gifts.  And, truthfully – most of our kids don’t need anything!  Right?!?!?  Tell me I’m not the only one who loves half the gifts, but then wonders what the heck we’ll do with the other half??? This is truly a #FirstWorldProblem.  Why not turn it into an opportunity for something better?  Especially, for my boys, who have fall birthdays, they indulge in two months of non-stop birthdays, holidays and gifts galore.  Want to raise a child that doesn’t feel entitled?  I do.  And, I won’t know for sure till they’re grown, if I’ve succeeded.  But, reorienting birthdays around relationships and shared experiences seemed like a good place to start.

CHARITIES THAT ROCK

So, there are tons of great charities.  A few of them have gotten pretty savvy in this area of facilitating donations in lieu of gifts.  Their websites are set-up so that you can make a donation in honor of someone, and then print a special card, to take to the party.  Here are some of our favorites:

Water.org

  • Kids understand that water is essential to life.  2016-09-28-about-us
  • Water.org not only helps to provide clean water to those in need, but they have a ton of educational materials on their website, including videos that help explain the problem and the solutions.  This really helps kids to understand the issues better.
  • Link: https://my.charitywater.org/birthdays/

Heifer

  • My kids like this organization because you give an animal to someone for whom logoheiferducks or rabbits could be a life-giving and income-generating resource for their family.  We have some interesting conversations, talking about life in other places or how you can build a family business around raising chickens or goats.  At the same time, it is a perfect opportunity to teach them about poverty and hunger around the globe.
  • Link: http://www.heifer.org/gift-catalog/occasion/birthday.html

Second Harvest

  • Most kids are shocked to learn that kids in their own communities are hungry. child-hunger-300x300-exp0519 Second Harvest is an amazing organization that provides food to families in need.
  • I have recently learned that Loaves and Fishes, who provides the meals we serve at the shelter in Palo Alto, gets roughly 80% of their ingredients from Second Harvest.  So, not only is Second Harvest working direction with individuals, but they’re supplying shelters serving meals.
  • Link: http://www.shfb.org/birthdays

 

MAKE IT PERSONAL

Agros

  • A good friend of mine, Birgit, has been involved with Agros for years.  She introduced me to this organization, which works to break the cycle of poverty in South America by helping restore hope and prosperity through agricultural villages.  These villages labenedicion_fbsized1incorporate everything from infrastructure to pathways to land-ownership and more.
  • When picking a charity organization, it is MORE meaningful when you share a compelling story that’s linked to a person or family your kids know well.  Kids naturally want to help their friend.  So, when you say, ‘hey, we get to give to this organization Birgit works with to help people in Nicaragua!’ – it feels much more local, even as it teaches them to think more global.
  • Link: https://www.agros.org/do/oneseed

My New Red Shoes

  • Another one of my favorite people on the planet, Heather, founded an organization my-new-red-shoes-0016called, My New Red Shoes.  They help kids in need, especially the homeless, to start off the school year with the basics – like a solid pair of shoes that fit.  Since their founding, 10 years ago, they’ve helped roughly 45,000 kids.
  • This is about as local as it gets.  Not only do we know Heather and her team, but we know they are giving to children in need RIGHT HERE in the Bay Area area.
  • When you’re talking to kids about giving or charity, sometimes you can point to a 3rd world country across the globe.  But, it also helps to talk about the world they know, and to pull back the curtain on suffering and brokenness that is just down the street.
  • MNRS makes gift giving easy.  You can either donate on their website, or if your child likes the idea of actually picking out a pair of shoes, you can look them up on amazon.  Just search for the My New Red Shoes wish list.
  • Link: www.mynewredshoes.org.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU…….JOY FOR YOU

I am on this journey….not just for myself, but for the sake of my kids.  It’s been proven time and time again, that kids learn best through experience.  If we want them to truly understand joy and compassion…if I want them to practice love, mercy and justice, it makes sense to leverage life-milestones, like birthdays!

When we place that birthday cake in front of our kids, tradition mandates that we sing ‘happy birthday’.  But, the song our lives should sing is one that is more about joy than happiness.  Not trying to splice hairs here, but there is a distinction that matters.  David Rast and Henri Nouwen explain the difference in their book on gratitude.

Ordinary happiness depends on happenstance.  Joy is that extraordinary happiness that is independent of what happens to us.  Good luck can make us happy, but it cannot give us lasting joy. The root of joy is gratefulness. We tend to misunderstand the link between joy and gratefulness. We notice that joyful people are grateful and suppose that they are grateful for their joy. But the reverse is true: their joy springs from gratefulness. If one has all the good luck in the world, but takes it for granted, it will not give one joy. Yet even bad luck will give joy to those who manage to be grateful for it.  We hold the key to lasting happiness in our own hands. For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

As unnatural as Donald Trump sometimes seems, his tendency towards looking out for #1 is not that unusual.  Young or old, the decision to look for joy outside of ourselves is not intuitive, even if morally right and psychologically true.  But, I think we’d all agree that THIS particular national nightmare is not one we want to relive.  I don’t presume to know yet the recipe for cultivating love, mercy and justice in my kids.  But, I sure as hell am going to try.  And, birthdays are a logical ingredient, with which to start.  You gotta start somewhere!  Why not here?

 

The Day After

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Menlo Park Fire Station

Last night, I was driving my daughter to a birthday party when we passed a fire station.  In honor of September 11th, there were literally hundreds of flags on display.  ‘It must have taken them a long time to put out all those flags,’ she commented.  ‘Tomorrow, they’ll have to pull them up and put them away’.  There are anniversaries, and then there is the day after.

It’s been a season of anniversaries.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I celebrated my 14th wedding anniversary on September 6th.  This weekend, I reflected on multiple anniversaries; it 15 years ago that the towers came down in NYC and it was one year ago that a pillar in my life became a little shaky, shall we say.  It was on September 10th that my mom went to the ER with abdominal pain, only to find out that in the ensuing hours that she had Stage 4 cancer.  I caringbridgecan hardly bring myself to go back and read those CaringBridge posts from the early days; it was and still is, so scary – I could not wrap my mind around losing one of the greatest towers in my life.  But, I am relieved and incredibly happy to report that my mom has responded well to the immunotherapy treatment.  She is not cured, but she is alive, and she is inspiring me with the way she has approached life in the days after her diagnosis.  She fights but she has peace.  It is a motivating combo…to be resolved and yet surrendered.

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Menlo Park Fire Station

Not all anniversaries are sad.  This weekend, I got to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday.  As we sat on the patio at the Rosewood Hotel, looking out over the mountains, we went around and shared a special memory related to the birthday girl.  Let’s all be honest for a moment: often, we are going through the motions as we commemorate a day or a person.  But, what made this exercise meaningful was the multiple stories of how this gal had quietly shown up in someone’s life, to be a pillar in a time of need.  There were accounts of her single-handedly unpacking an entire house when a friend was 9 months pregnant…or caring for kids when another was with a husband in the hospital.  Actually, come to think of it, I think she helped two friends unpack after a move!  We can talk about hands and feet – she’s them.

Being married to a Singaporean for over 14 years, I’ve gotten an up close and personal view of Chinese culture.  One of the things I’ve learned, is that they tend to be less verbally expressive than Americans.  Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate this commitment to not just saying the right thing but DOING the right thing.  Or (since it seems everyone is copying this phrase), another way to put it would be:’Your word is your bond’.  Quick aside, the origins of this phrase are actually in the Bible, when Moshe says to the tribes of Israel: “When a man … swears an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”  More recently, the phrase garnered an entirely new meaning during the slave era.  According to Rachael Ferguson, an ethnographer and professor from Princeton University, the principle “word is bond” allowed merchant traders in the late 1500s to make agreements legally binding before the advent of written pledges.  Your word was as good as a contract.  But, I digress.

credit-ny-daily-news-zadoga-act-extension-front-coverMy point is that actions matter and words should not be meaningless.  When these ladies gathered, their words were full of emotion and gratitude because they articulated a truth we already knew, and now merely repeated in order to bless this friend on her special day.  But, this is not always the case.  We may ask first responders to stand in our church services on 9/11, and we swear to never forget, however, reality is that it was an uphill battle to secure passage of the Zadroga Act, Federal legislation intended to provide health monitoring and financial aid to sick 9/11 workers.  In fact, for a long time, the hashtag, #WorstResponders was trending online in response to congressional resistance; even celebrities like Jon Stewart went to testify, in order to essentially bring attention to and shame legislators who opposed the bill.

Yesterday, our pastor talked about the distinction between ‘Christian’ and ‘Disciple’, pointing out that the word ‘christian’ appears only 3 times in the Bible while the word ‘disciple’ appears 269 times.  The best synonym for disciple would probably be apprentice.  To be an apprentice implies work and commitment – it is more than a label.

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Chicago Symphony Orchestra 125th Year

Fun fact about me: I play the flute.  When I was in 5th grade, at Grove Avenue Elementary School (go Grayhounds!) in Barrington, IL, I joined the band.  I was lucky enough to live near a lady, who was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and editor of Flute Talk magazine.  I became her student, her apprentice.  And, I can assure you that you cannot bullshit your way into being a good flutist.  I remember, she used to make me play with big chunks of carrot between my back teeth, so I could learn how to keep my mouth open – not fun, especially after several hours of practice.  Even attending Chicago Symphony concerts was did not make me a musician, although they were fantastic for inspiring a young flutist like me.  You had to commit yourself to the trade.  You had to embrace the carrots.  It was more than a title – it was a life.

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All of this leads me to believe that THE DAY AFTER is almost more important than the DAY OF.  You see, it is the day after the birthday party that we get be a real friend who shows up to help with a move or take care of a sick kid, even when it’s inconvenient.  It’s the morning after the candlelit dinner when we acknowledge love is hard but we vow to daily recommit to cherishing one another.  It’s the day after a diagnosis when we find a new way to live.  It’s the day after the concert we get out the carrots and tuner, and spend hours practicing.  It’s the day after the parades, when we are putting away the flags, when we decide whether to be there for our national heroes, the way they were there for us.  It’s the day when we decide whether we are content with a label or we want to be an apprentice.  It’s the other 364 days that make the one day matter.  That’s not to say that parties and memorials and ceremonies are bad; it just means that they’re that they’re that much more meaningful when our word is our bond…and, we actually know what that means.

Here’s to September 12th.