When I think of you, I remember that cherub faced little boy with the big blue eyes. At every family gathering you were full of life and mischief. The apple of your parents eyes, the youngest of the brothers Clark. Too young for death to take you. My heart breaks for your parents, your brothers, your loved ones. We will always remember and love you, each in our own way with our own memories. You have forever taken a piece of our hearts. You will forever be in our hearts.
Rest in peace little Stephen.
Just wait a while, turn your back and remember what you have forgotten. Try to find if you’ve lost, apologize if you’ve hurt, forgive if you’ve been hurt. Because life is too short.- Shams Tabrizi
Childhood is like a dream to me. I had the most wonderful childhood full of love, fun and imagination. I spent much of my time daydreaming and using my imagination to play with my sister. I would pretend I was a Jeannie or a girl with magical gifts like in the movie Witch Mountain. In my imagination, I saved people as Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman and bat girl. I remember wanting to be strong and powerful. I wanted to be able to defend myself and rescue those in need. I never imagined myself as a princess but my daughter does. Her favorite princess is Ariel. She also loves that Ariel is a mermaid. That’s how her interest in mermaids began. Now she is obsessed with mermaids in general and always wants to know if they are real. She reads books about mermaids, loves mermaid movies and has had a mermaid costume since she was four years old. I don’t want to burst her bubble, so I let her run with her imagination.
Now my beautiful eight year old is able to really dive into her imagination with a very authentic looking mermaid tail. She got the great idea last summer from a little girl we met while visiting with my in laws at their summer place in Avalon New Jersey. The little girl was swimming with a beautiful mermaid tail. I’ll never forget the look on my daughters face when she first laid eyes on the mermaid in the swimming pool. “Mommy, you need to get me that mermaid tail. That’s how I can finally be a mermaid!” she said. Well, it took a while but she got her mermaid tail and she hasn’t turned into a mermaid yet but she can really imagine herself as one.
Of course she shared her new shiny Mermaid tail with her little cousins, she has always loved the pool but now she really loves being in the pool and imagining herself as a real mermaid.
She swims like a little fish and bobs in and out of the water. She truly looks magical wearing that tail. Makes me wish I was a little girl!
How do your kids use their imagination? What do you do to inspire them?
Summer has always been about travel and family for me. As a child I spent most of my summers traveling to different countries but they all had something in common, we always went to at least one location where we could spend time with family. I spent many summers in Germany, France or in California visiting my uncle and his family. It was always amazing to visit different places, see new faces, try new foods and learn about a new culture .
My favorite part of our trips was always time spent with family. That’s when I connected with my cousins. I knew we wouldn’t see each other again until the next summer so I made sure to just take in the time we had together. It was always so easy just to pick up from where we left off the previous year. It never felt strained or foreign to me.
I come from a culture that keeps extended family close. I believe that having them in my life and the life of my daughter helps build a strong, healthy unit. Naturally, kids bond with their parents and siblings first, but extended family members can also provide the emotional and physical support that they need. My grandparents, aunts and uncles always helped and supported my parents and I. It’s not all roses though, they also tend to give unsolicited advice, opinions on the way you dress, the way you behave and the choices you make. Honestly, the good outweighs the bad. My extended family members offer support when times get tough. I always have someone in my life that can watch my daughter or help me cope if any health crisis arises or just to give me a break! Another advantage is that my daughter gets to bond and develop trust with other members of the family. When extended family members are involved in child rearing, it reportedly also helps improve self esteem and self worth in kids. The relationships children build with extended family members can provide them with a better sense of identity and support, improving the way they feel about themselves. Children are also exposed to different interests and ideas from extended family. My parents teach my child some very important lessons that my husband and I may not be able to teach. She can sometimes tell my sister things she may not be able to tell me.
Last summer my daughter and I spent a few weeks in California visiting family. We had lots of fun and family bonding!
We’ve continued our tradition of spending quality time with our extended family. We have also started the tradition with my husband’s family. I hope that my little girl will continue the tradition when she grows up. I want her to value and cherish her extended family members the way that I do.
How are you spending your summer?
I’ve been contemplating whether or not I should blog about the unrest in the Middle East. It seems so insignificant to call it an “unrest”. Children are being killed in this horrific situation. I want this blog to be about positive topics but I really feel it should also be about my authentic feelings. Right now, the situation in Gaza has my full attention, so I feel compelled to blog about it.
The way I feel about this situation is encompassed in one paragraph in a recent New Yorker article by Rashid Khalidi. “In this surreal, upside-down vision of the world, it almost seems as if it is the Israelis who are occupied by the Palestinians, and not the other way around. In this skewed universe, the inmates of an open-air prison are besieging a nuclear-armed power with one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world.”
Most of the people from Palestine are Muslim and in Israel they are mostly Jewish. I often ask myself why all the hatred? Are they fighting about whose God is bigger and better? Obviously not, it’s all about power, greed and ignorance. Nevertheless religion seems to have a big part in this situation. People are going back and forth insulting each other and taking sides. I have friends from all walks of life with various religious beliefs. We manage to live peacefully with each other and even celebrate our differences.
Getting back to religion, what does it mean to be a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian? What is the purpose of religion? These are some of the questions I ask myself, especially during this time of turmoil. I’ve thought a lot about how I see God. My thoughts have never been to judge who believes in what religion. I think about the miracle that is in this life. I think that it is a privilege to be who I am. I see God in everything. I choose to open the door to spirituality, to see God in all that is beautiful. The more I allow myself to keep my heart open, the more I tend to run into what I need to know. If I want something in my life books fall off the shelf on that topic. It’s as if God is telling me what I need to do. I try to follow my bliss, to do what makes me feel good. I know that being of service of some kind brings me peace and happiness.
I see humanity as a part of me. If I catch myself judging someone of a different background, race or religion I try to feel the connection I have with them and not focus at our differences. I think of all I have and feel grateful. I literally write a grateful list every day. I try to be present to everything in my life. I give my full attention. I try to bring passion to everything I do. I try to be accepting of people and inclusive. I try to see myself in other people’s situation. This is why it’s so difficult for me to see what is happening in Gaza. I wonder if those bombs would be thrown if we could just picture our children, our loved ones, ourselves in the receiving end. I think not.
Maybe if we think of everyone as a collective ONE there would be less war, less hatred and less INHUMANITY.
John Lennon sings,
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.