Friday, December 31, 2010

The gift

The cold chilling days of December are slipping by. Christmas with it frenetic whizzing speed has come and gone. The good cheer mixed with bittersweet moments, and a longing for times gone by. You wonder at times how you got to this place. This new place where children are grown, parents have aged and you are suddenly the "grownup". You look around for signs and people from your childhood and find missing pieces of your heart left in memories that smolder softly. It's winter.

Still as you survey the landscape you can see and feel the possibilities ahead like a tiny bird hiding in the bush, waiting for the climate to improve so they can take wing. We often are waiting.

When I was little I thought if I could only be a teenager, then I would have that kind of excitement and freedom I imagined my babysitter had. I saw her as having the kind of life that was full of rides in convertibles, and dances to the Beach Boys. She didn't have to do homework, or clean her room. She was free and happy. Then I when I became a teenager, I had a ton of fun, but I never felt free. After all, my parents still had the ultimate say. If I broke the rules I was flooded with guilt. I began to wish for becoming an adult, when it all would make sense. When I could chart my own course in life. I entered college with enthusiasm because it meant I was on my own... deciding when and where I would be choosing direction.

But when I graduated from college, I didn't quite know which way I was headed. You feel as if you should know, but you haven't a clue. The door to your future stands shut until you decide to open it. You stand in a corner without any direction until you turn around. You want to find a reason for your uncertainty in life, or someone on whom the blame can lie, but you know it is really just you, and that time in your life. Even with my job as a sales person for Procter and Gamble, I felt lost. Then life opened a door I didn't ever want to have opened. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. The direction I was to head was as clear as day, I needed to go home, with or without a job and so I did. And there, I began to search once again.

At 23 I was jobless, in search of a career. I worked at a friend's dress shop as I spent time helping my Mom go to Doctors appointments. I interviewed with dozens of companies. Until I secured a job at Merck selling drugs. One of only 2 women at the time in sales for Merck, I found myself up against chauvinistic men, my boss in particular, whose goal I felt was to try and get me in bed. The pay and the stress didn't add up to my dream situation. At 24, my mother died. At 25 I left my job and headed back to school to get my masters in education. I was living in a foreign city depressed not only from no income, but from no direction. I didn't believe I belonged in Southern California at all. I wondered why at 25 I didn't have a special person in my life. And then, I wrote a letter to a friend from college. Glenn Youngling. At 26 I fell in love. I quit my masters program and planned a wedding. At 27, I moved home. Home to Glenn.

No one could have told me back in those dark "corner" days where I would be find my home. I had to find it myself. It happened by moving forward. It happened by taking action.

If I could give anyone a gift this December and for the new year it would be to realize that the feeling of being stuck is a sign you need to turn around and take a step. The truth is you will never know if that one step will be in the absolute right direction, but it will be through the movement, that you can start to see which direction you should be heading.

Each stage in your life will have its own challenges. It is what you do with those challenges that will define you.

When I was diagnosed with Cancer 16 years ago, I began another period of fear and doubt. Standing in the corner with Cancer standing at my back, I was trapped. I was a victim and unable to really free myself. Then in 2009, I turned around and stared Cancer in the face. I reached out and pushed it aside and started walking. With each step I began to free myself from my self imposed prison. And I will continue to walk in 2011.

Your life is waiting.... turn around and take a step.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone. If you read this and there are still hours left in 2010, consider making a donation to Susan G Komen for the 2011 3 day walk. You can take the deduction now, you will be helping me help them to end Cancer in our lifetimes. It's your basic win-win.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When Cancer wins.

Today, Elizabeth Edwards died from Breast Cancer.

I never knew her. I never voted for her husband. I remember when I heard she had Breast Cancer after the 2004 election, I thought how hard that must have been to deal with Cancer at the same time your husband is running for President. What I didn't know until today was that she hid her Cancer from her husband during this time. She didn't begin her treatment until after the campagin was over.

Reading about Elizabeth Edwards today, I find in her so much that is familiar. Especially the comment she made:

" Either you push forward with the things you were doing yesterday or your start dying" she said . "If I had given up everything my life was about... I would let the Cancer win before it needed to. But eventually it will win, I want to be sure it is not before it is suppsoed to."

And I suppose, someone would have to think Cancer needed to win now. But I do not agree.

We can and will find a cure for this disease. We will end this disease in our lifetime. Cancer doesn't need to win ever. It needs to be gone from the faces of women and men forever - out of our lives. The time has come for this thief to be banished forever.

The thing is, about being a survivor, despite your political, social, economic, philosophical background you know what it feels like to be told Cancer has plans for you. Women like Elizabeth Edwards fight a courageous fight. Each time another woman dies of Breast Cancer, I find that I feel I owe them a debt. As though I carry the story of their fight in me. It is a fight for all of us. And it is up to each an every one of us to carry the standard for those who cannot. The time has come for the war to be over.

DONATE today for Elizabeth, for Brittany the stage four survivor still fighting her fight with the funds from Susan G Komen. Donate for your children. Donate for yourself. Become a warrior pick up the battle standard of those who have fallen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks.

It's the season.

When the girls were little, we would go around the table and each say the one thing that we are thankful for that year. Sounds like a silly exercise. "I am grateful that I passed my math exam. " "I am happy to have two front teeth." But it is an important part of living life. Giving thanks.

This morning I had breakfast with my good friend Patti. I haven't been able to see Patti in a while since she is working two jobs while juggling life at home and checking in with and visiting with her 93 year old Mother in Colfax. Missing my dear gal friend with who I can share the daily ups and downs, I began to catch her up on the life and times of the Younglings.

I noticed the tone of what I said began to sound a bit like complaining - the girls are too far away - the plane tickets are expensive. Money is tight. I haven't been able to walk as much as I'd like. I feel like I am getting old...etc etc. You get the picture. I neglected to say this;

I love waking up to the beauty of where I live. The fog laying like a blanket covering the lush oaks of Tennessee Valley while the sound of the turkeys warble in the air. Glad that I can go outside and not have to scrape snow off my car. Thankful for my new little hybrid (even though it is really black not blue). Blessed to have a man sharing my life with whom I am still madly in love and who I respect deeply and enjoy thoroughly. I am thankful that my life is so bountiful, I haven't known true want ever. Thankful that our children are bright and beautiful and have a life of great promise in their hands. I am blessed that they still want to share some of that life with us. We are lucky to have extended family who like each other and even though miles separate us, we are strongly connected. I am blessed that whenever we do get together there is inevitably laughter and joy.

My friends are to me, such a gift. They are there with me through all of the trials of life. But they are also there when there is not much to say. They have stood by me, and me them. Throughout the 3 day, many have walked with me, more have supported me and all have inspired me. To them I am very thankful.

I am thankful for being born into a country whose core values of individuality are tempered by the common good. I am blessed to have a profession where I can help people reach the fundamental goal of owning a home. I feel lucky that people trust me to ease transitions and make the most of things for them. I am thrilled when I can provide the best for the best of my clients.
The ways in which I am blessed go on and on and on. Each day I wake up look in the mirror and remember just how lucky I have been.

So this Thanksgiving, even though it will be quiet and we won't all be together, remember this Thanksgiving, the one thing I am grateful for is you. Thank you for being a part of my life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The leaves of fall

Over this past weekend I flew to Washington DC to help my daughter Allison and Son in Law Chris look for a new place to leave. It took 5 hours to fly to see them. To go and see my daughter Katie would take nearly 2 hours up in Seattle. My sisters live about the same distance away and my brother Ken and his family are in Bend. That's a puddle jumper or a long drive. My father is in San Diego. My aunt is in New York. Glenn has family down the peninsula.

What happens when the leaves on the tree are clinging to the longest branch? Are those the first to fall when autumn hits? The ones what hold fast in the tree's center surely are protected from the wind, the cold and the changing climate, more that those at the edge.

We drove through piles of leaves in Virginia as we looked for a rental for Allison and Chris. I thought about how different their lives will be from mine. How exciting the change must be. How separated from them we are through the miles. How much I miss having all my family close. How I wish it were different. But what sustains me and keeps me from total depression is that we are made of the same stuff and even though we are far from each other, that will keep us from losing touch entirely. Staying close through the miles today is much easier than it was a generation ago. When my parents moved to the west coast, my father was separated from this family by a continent. I remember spending a few weeks at summer in the unfamiliar humidity of New Jersey. I remember the weekly phone calls (Sundays usually) to stay in touch. My sister Vicki's son Michael is in Maryland. Besides the occasional plane ride to be physically together, they stay in contact via Skype and blogs. Vicki can see Aubry's first tooth the day they first notice it. But still.... I know nothing is a good as being able to hug someone you love.

So this weekend was good. I was able to hug Allison and Chris. Walk with them on the Mall, strolling the Smithsonian, sit on backside of the Lincoln Memorial and watch the setting autumn sun. I could see where they will be living so it will help me feel more connected when they are away. I was able to use my "Realtor" card and instruct their agent how to negotiate. (I am sure he appreciated that).

It is exciting to me that there is so many adventures on the horizon. I only hope that as the winds swirl we will always find our ways to each other somehow.

P.S. I know in September of 2011 we will be walking DC in the 3 day. There's an adventure we can share. It meant the world to me to walk with both Allison and Katie this year. When walking in DC this weekend, I noted people have different strengths. Chris is a good reader. He spent a lot of time reading things in the Smithsonian exhibits. I on the other hand want to keep moving and see a lot...... Standing makes me nervous, and achy. Walking to Chris, too far, is not his thing. But Allison and I...we could walk to Timbuktu and back.

My heart is still touched by the phone call from the 3 day gal Brittany, who told me how the money we raised was paying for the study she was a part of. THAT my friends makes it all worth while. I hope you will continue to help making a difference. PLEASE Donate as much as you can ....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What believing can do...

I stood on the curb at the intersection of Market and 3rd, behind crowd barricades, amongst the faithful waiting for the arrival of the 2010 Giants. To the right of me was a Mother with her children, behind my left shoulder was the mother and granddaughter of a 92 year old Giant fan who could not attend the parade. To my left at my feet was his great grandson. A father stood behind me off my right shoulder with his 4 year old daughter on his shoulders as she held a sign saying "I believe in torture."

Directly in front of me were three other small children sitting on the curb being as patient as children can be waiting. And Kathy my neighbor, stood by my side anxious to take it all in to report to her son (who would be watching from his computer in Arizona." I thought to myself, you could pull out anyone here and they would have their own story of why they needed to be here, today...
Out of nowhere, I said "See what happens when individual people united for a common cause." Smiles and "that's right" rung out in agreement.
This band of hearty Giant fans had arrived from the East Bay, via BART, from Marin via the Ferry, by foot, bus and car. They all came early enough to find a spot where they would be able to see history. Kathy and I arrived around 9am for the scheduled 11am parade. As we waited a group of people gathered in front of the barricade blocking our view.

We yelled, we asked the police for help, we escalated trying to get across to those people breaking the rules that we would not stand for their rudeness. They ignored us. As one of the children who stood in front of us shifted with some discomfort at our heckling, the mother elbowed him and said "don't turn around". A few police actually tried to get them to move back behind the barricade, but they ignored them as well. I yelled "SPITBALL!" Another of us yelled "ENTITLEMENT!" Another "RUDE!" Finally, a group of around 10 police came in a solid line and physically moved them back and put up a barricade. The man behind me said' It's like you said, looks what happens when people unite for a common cause!"

THE 2010 Giants. They have been called many things. Certainly if bets had been made at the beginning of the year the odds were heavy against this team being in the post season let alone the World Series. There are people in San Diego, Colorado, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Arlington who are still shaking their heads. How could this happen? How could this unlikely group of people win it all?
If they had been at that parade they would have caught a drift of why.
The parade route was the same route taken by the 1958 Giants that welcomed the team to SF from the East, as the first team west of the Mississippi. The parade wound its way through the same streets and buildings from which ticker tape rained on the heads of Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Davenport and Felipe Alou.

In the 2010 parade some of the most revered giants were Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichel. For the Giants it had been 56 years since the NY Giants won the world series. Since then only a couple of close calls...many broken hearts. There had been records broken. memories made. But the world series had alluded some of the finest players in the game. For them, those players who had come so close, today was sweet. For the fans who cheered them on today was like honey.


Say what you want about San Francisco, it is unique. It honors and respect diversity. It often seems bored with the conventional. This team was replete with characters.

As Aubry Huff passed me in the parade he held high over his head his red thong. The "rally thong". Brian Wilson with his black shoe polished beard and mohawk stood like a military statue at the other side of the trolley car casting a tall and eery shadow.

Timmy Linecum, pot smoking, loose lipped pitcher of enormous talent and a strange grace and simplicity stood with a righteous grin and a Red Bull baseball cap. Girls screamed as Busty Posey came by, honoring him with his name blazoned on their midriffs set high on top of a MUNI bus.

Pablo Sandoval stood with his Mother and held an air horn. Andrez Torres marched with a singular purpose like a conquering hero down the middle of the street. Sergio Romo walked with orange rally towel over head down the center of the street. Leading the cable car that held the singer who made Journey famous, Steve Perry. Following the real thing, was a float that held a singer who had made a name for himself by borrowing "Don't Stop Believing" to make a Giants anthem. Senators, Mayors, owners and managers. Announcers and sponsors and the support people from hot dog vendors to ticket sellers. Diverse yet warm and exciting.


These players were supportive of each other, even if it meant they took a back seat. In a sport where egos often reign, here for the 2010 Giants, often it was a different player who made the play of the game. This was a team where the highest paid player sat on the bench during the playoffs and still managed to be supportive of his team. A team where Cody Ross acquired in August was without a doubt the reason why the Giants were able to capture the National League Championship. Several players were playing inspired ball because they were brought onto a team that believed, they were worth it. A team where a player at the twilight of his career was the MVP of the World Series hitting the winning home run in game 5 of the series. There appear to be no prima donnas, only a team. TEAM where the efforts of each individual unite for a common cause.

If you were around this team in August, September and October you would not be surprised at the look in the eyes of the players and fans on this Wednesday in November.
Belief had been validated.

Mike Kepta/Chronicle

Brian Wilson had had breakfast with Mike Krukow on the morning of the last game. With no hesitation, he looked at Mike and said "today's game has been written." It was a done deal. There was no doubt as to its outcome. This belief...this audacity was a center piece to the success of the Giants this year. But it wasn't always easy to believe. Come behind victory, after come behind victory, one run games, miracle plays all led to the word TORTURE as the definition of the year. But that torture was something we all came to thrive upon because our Giants didn't let us down. They believed they could do the impossible, we saw that they believed and we found out what belief can do. It can turn "torture into rapture."

Smiles in the crowd and a deafening roar continued throughout the entire parade. After the last vehicle passed, and we began to make our way home, we all were touched with the realization we had shared in history. And we all left as champions.

Eric Risberg/ AP

Oh my, what people can do when they believe.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Photos of the PARADE

Heading to the parade

Decked out

Kathy believes
Kids believe
Mid century folk believe

Sometimes it is hard to believe

Waiting for the magic...
Happy to be there.

Go.... GIANTS....
Signs of the old days...

It's generational

1.5 Million....

Make way
Kids with a sideline seat
Office workers wait...


Doggies past the barrier...


KGOBauer limo....look carefully, I am in the reflection....

Muni bus put to good use?

Trees for a good vantage point

The bus gets boarded...

Kathy and me....
CAL Band

Kruk and Kuip
John Miller


Eye candy

I can't hear you!

Horse with SF hat
Mounted police

B of A float
Lt Gov elect, Mayor Gavin Newsom

Gavin and family

Diane Feinstein

Owner Bill Newkom

Larry Baer
Peter MacGowan

Willie Mays

Willie McCovey

You tell me..... I know it is someone.

Giant Alumni



Brian Sabean


Steve Perry from Journey


Lou Seal

LOU Seal
Dave Rigetetti

Dave THE Trophy! with Bochy

Bruce Bochy

Aaron Rowland
Aaron and family

Cody Ross
Madison Bumgarner

Nate Sheirholtz
Santiago Castilla
Eugenio Valez
Andres Torrez walking the walk...

Sergio Romo


Whats that I see???? could it be....
THE THONG! Thanks Aubry!
Those player liked those girls on the bus!
Walking back... to the Ferry
If you look really carefully you may see some confetti still in the air.