Edwin Goes to Cooking School and I don’t…

 Edwin’s adventure at Culinary School.

The Eulogy

Posted by on Sep 2, 2010 in Edwin Goes to Cooking School and I don't... | 7 comments

  I am beginning this entry on September 1, 2010 and don’t expect I will post it until I have completed speaking words today not yet envisioned. I have been asked by a dear friend to write and deliver her eulogy.  I received this request in an email from her last week and was left speechless holding my cell phone looking at her words.  I am not her closest friend, nor family, and perhaps that is the reason I have been awarded this incredible honor and privilege.  I do love her and have been completely in awe of the courage and wisdom she has shown since her cancer diagnosis about a year ago.  She is a woman who will see her youngest child start middle school just this week and has amassed facebook friends over the past months as if she were a first year college student – there is love all around her and yet I know the pain and disappointment persists.  Tomorrow I am meeting with her to talk about her vision for these minutes of her memorial service.  I have done my homework; checked in with a minister friend seeking advice, read articles on-line and stayed awake night after night telling myself I am up to this, that I can and will do her proud.  She has faith in a God that I don’t know very well and yet today I hope that all of the gods, hers and mine and others as well, will assist us both through the coming days.  Another day…I met with Mary last week.  She is now in a hospital bed, attached to oxygen and has lost many pounds since we last saw each other.  My visit followed the daily visit by the local priest and her home is lovingly tended by her sister, mother, spouse and 3 children.  Just walking in the door and I am reminded how much courage it takes to simply get through the day, and this is true even for 11 year olds.  In visiting with Mary, I learn that she feels the area where we first bonded is around parenting – that "I get her", and that there is nothing more important to her than her children.  I realize, not for the first time, that our backgrounds have been much alike…multiple marriages, single parenting years, fiscal challenges, etc…and yet we have never spent much of our time together talking about our pasts.  We are future oriented women – celebrating today knowing it is what will create tomorrow. I am still in awe – how do I stand before a church full of friends and family and appropriately honor her with my words.  Everyone who ever saw her with one of her children knows she is a great mom, that their needs came first, and second and third.  She worked full-time and I never saw her do anything to which she did not commit her all.    Cancer requires a battle and she has risen to the occasion.  I found myself sharing with her my belief that if this battle could have been won, she would have beat it.  Does losing violate her every belief?  She spent so many days in chemo over the past year, so many hours vomiting and caring for herself when she would have preferred to care for others.  And yet there is great story about her stopping on the way home from a chemo treatment and buying groceries to take to her two boys who were running short on funds.  If she had to lay down in the back seat of the car to make this happen, so be it.  Her pride did not supercede her commitment to her family. Another day…I am writing a little each day and it is difficult.  I am unsure about the John Updike poem Perfection Wasted to open, yet it seems to call me back time and again.  The closing is a given – Winnie the Pooh.  Mary gave me permission to use her caring bridge entires and in reviewing them there is such power in her words and so much that...

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Is apologizing overrated? or, “Sorry doesn’t take the jelly off the dinosaur”

Posted by on Aug 15, 2010 in Edwin Goes to Cooking School and I don't... | 0 comments

  Is apologizing overrated?  Today I was offended and hurt by something a person I love and respect said to me.  It is hours later and I remain damaged in a way, even though I know the behavior was not intentional and that our relationship will survive.  There is a letter to the editor of TIME today speaking to a recent column in which the author admitted he had been wrong but perhaps did not add "and I’m sorry".  As I read this, I found myself contemplating the value of these few words, "I’m sorry".  I myself use them liberally in both my personal and professional life, and indeed, I am often sorry for the state of things whether I contributed or not.  Of what value is this really?  It is simply easier to say "I’m sorry" that to admit I was wrong? We have a favorite story in our family from when our son was 8 or so and our daughter 3 and we had just returned from Disney World where Nik had garnered a stuffed Figment from Epcot Center, his one souvenir.  Malina was playing with the toy after eating her lunch and transferred a little grape jelly from her hand onto the stuffed dinosaur.  Nik was quite upset that his toy was damaged and Malina was in tears as she apologized more than once, to which he replied "’Sorry doesn’t take the jelly off the dinosaur".  To this day, if someone in my extended family apologizes, they know these words will be the response.  Sometimes in jest, sometimes in anger – but the same exact words – Sorry doesn’t take the jelly off the dinosaur. It is difficult to argue with the wisdom of a...

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Everybody’s talking at me

Posted by on Aug 10, 2010 in Edwin Goes to Cooking School and I don't... | 0 comments

  People talk to me.  Not just friends and family who often turn to me for advice and comfort, but complete and total strangers.  Today I stopped into an optical shop to have my eyewear adjusted and found myself in an conversation with the optician, learning that his wife died a few years ago after long suffering with cancer.  They were childhood sweethearts.  I noticed that he wears two wedding rings, I assume one of them hers.  As he worked his craft with my glasses, he told me the story of their last 8 years, battling this demon who eventually won. I’ve never understood why or how this happens, do I have an aura that shouts out to the world that I’m safe and can somehow offer comfort of some sort…and I wonder, does this serve my life’s mission statement "to make a difference in individual people’s lives" ?  Was he in need of someone to listen to his continuing pain today and somehow I was delivered there, to the right place at the right time?  The entire interaction was so relaxed and we both seemed perfectly comfortable with the intimacy of this conversation, as if we had known each other for a long time.  I left knowing her name, with a potential connection in my life who may have known her as well – someone I can hopefully "remember her" to.  I expect he does not know what a gift he granted to me with his sharing and trust.  And what an honor he paid to his wife and partner to share her memory today with a stranger, a new person to carry on her memory in whatever small way I can.  I hope that I was able to make a difference in is life as he did in mine...

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Posted by on Jul 27, 2010 in Edwin Goes to Cooking School and I don't... | 14 comments

  A favorite read of mine, by attorney and later fiction writer Stephen L Carter, is Integrity.  Originally published in 1996 it is one of those books I continue to purchase copies of to have on hand, knowing I will again meet a person with whom I want to share his words and ideas. He talks about integrity not only by the dictionary definition of doing what you say you will do, but begins with the very basic concept of knowing and honoring right from wrong.  In his words:  All too many of us fall down on Step 1:  we do not take the time to discern right from wrong. Carter doesn’t assume that we do not know right from wrong, but that we simply ignore this wisdom and knowledge.  It seems so simple, we teach it to the youngest of children – it is wrong to tell other than the truth; it is right to keep your word; it is right to honor and respect others; it is wrong to provide advantage for yourself at the expense of someone else. Today again, I am reminded that integrity is all too often not a guiding value in our workplaces.  A commitment, broken, is simply dismissed without even an explanation of why it cannot be kept.  Taking an unfair advantage, at the expense of another, is simply smart business – getting ahead in the workplace.  What really constitutes a lie within the boundaries of the organization – surely not that omission to a co-worker or my boss? Carter would call us to take the time to discern right from wrong in every decision we make, especially as leaders.  And then to follow the path of what is right, no matter the cost to us personally.  I agree, as the path of living a life knowingly making decisions that violate my own integrity could hardly be more wrong.  There needn’t be heavenly rewards, it should be enough to know I have lived my life with the best intentions, in touch at all times with the best of my own integrity, to chose right....

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That exact moment

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 in Edwin Goes to Cooking School and I don't... | 0 comments

  Last week, Ed took a rare solo trip to Durham to visit Malina.  I, likely all too often, ride off into the sunset without him – to visit friends in other states, to spend spring break with Malina in Las Vegas, NYC or elsewhere.  But he’s the stable one in our relationship and tends to travel only when I am along.  With the summer off from culinary school this is the first time on many years that he has had true free time – no obligations to career or children.  It seems to me these are the times when we HAVE to take advantage of the opportunity and do something extraordinary, even if it’s a "dad" to grad school trip.  He spent a good part of the time hanging pictures, taking care of Malina’s car and all those other traditional dad things – which I know both of them thoroughly enjoyed.  Here at home I found myself in a process of discovery, rereading books on the bookshelves, surfing the internet, etc.  And I found a John Updike poem that I had not read in years:    Perfection Wasted And another regrettable thing about death is the ceasing of your own brand of magic, which took a whole life to develop and market- the quips, the witticisms, the slant adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears, their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat, their response and your performance twinned. The jokes over the phone. The memories packed in the rapid-access file. The whole act. Who will do it again? That’s it: no one; imitators and descendants aren’t the same. [from Collected Poems 1953-1993, Knopf, 1993]   And in a serendipity that has become somewhat of a tradition in our relationship, Ed gifted me with a card from Asheville, from a great little store, on-line at www.gladysthebrave.com.     What a powerful and thoughtful idea…"the exact moment"…at that exact moment, I would love to discover I have been granted wings.  And in the meantime, I will remain committed to my own brand of magic, hoping – trusting and remembering – that it is all for now.  No one, ever, will do again what I have done, what I will do, what I can...

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Moving Forward

Posted by on Jul 3, 2010 in Edwin Goes to Cooking School and I don't... | 11 comments

  Yesterday was a beautiful day here in "God’s Country" – 80’s and sunny, little traffic due to the holiday weekend.  I sat for 2 hours with a dear friend at a patio table at the Birchwood Cafe.  It seems that she and I nearly always focus on what we’ve learned since we last had the opportunity to sit down together – she has recently enrolled in a coaching program steeped in non-traditional and spiritual healing and she is the only physician in the program.  I recently have been more involved in motivational interviewing and coaching as a tool to increase clinical compliance of patients with chronic disease.  This all came together in a great discussion around moving away and moving toward and how this fits into our respective professional lives.  We are both very fortunate – content in our healthy and happy personal relationships, living with fiscal resources adequate to support nearly all of our desires and dreams and both life-long learners, wanting to take  on new challenges at every corner.  And we are both stuck in the present at times, no burning platform beneath us motivating us to move on and past experiences holding us back from taking those first few steps.  Naming that emotion that stands in our way is difficult – it’s a confessional process really – fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success.  And we learn again that by simply sitting on this little patio in the Seward neighborhood on this lovely sunny day and naming these barriers out-loud we each make a great step forward.  What silly ideas we let hold us back, what very small barriers there really are to moving forward.  Onward, ho! Terri – I am right beside you....

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