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I’m back from two weeks of traveling with my daughter. We flew to Switzerland and then to Los Angeles. What a wonderful, exhausting, and crazy experience it was. I drove a HUGE van in Switzerland! Yes, I’m the roundabout queen now. I can still hear Arielle yelling, “second exit, take the second exit!” I met Harrison Ford, slept in an airport, survived without my luggage for two days, and ate more bread and chocolate in two weeks than all year! Yum!

But the best part of the trip was being with my daughter Arielle, meeting her teammates, talking with her coach and watching their track meets. I had the opportunity to be a part of her world. Since she graduated high school and college we’ve been on different paths. She has her own business and trains with her team in Illinois. I’m here in Florida sitting behind a keyboard. Even though we text a lot it’s not the same as shared experience. Like the moment I saw the van in Switzerland and panicked! Arielle sitting next to me laughing, cheering me on while trying to figure out the navigation system. Then there was the cable car ride in Austria, Arielle’s friend declaring he was happy because he was, “safe as a kitten,” on our way up the mountain. None of us were prepared for the magnificent views at the top. There were memorable moments, some stressful, some glorious, filling me, making each day a new adventure. Sometimes exhilarating moments appeared at the most unexpected times. For instance…

When we were in Los Angeles Arielle’s coach suggested we go to a camping store to buy foam for her racing wheelchair. My friends know I’m anti-camping since a failed attempt many years ago at the Disney Campground. Yep, I can’t even handle Disney camping. So, when I entered the LA  store I was in awe. They had things I’d never seen before like a device for women to pee standing up! There were few customers which made me feel at ease to continue browsing. Arielle started talking to a nice young employee about her upcoming trip to Bonnaroo. They talked about the bands that were performing and when I interrupted and cheered for U2 they gave me a look. It was a “you’re old” look. What? U2! Immediately I turned around searching for someone my age and spotted a gentleman close by with white hair. My first thought was good, I bet he likes U2. Then he turned around, I saw his face and couldn’t believe it! Harrison Ford!

Many years ago when I was a struggling actress in LA I saw Meryl Streep at the Westside Pavilion. I was too shy to say hello. That was over twenty-three years ago and I always regretted not telling her how much I admired her work. I knew if I didn’t act how I’d feel afterward. So, I marched right up to Harrison Ford and introduced myself.  It was as if I had gathered the courage to jump off a cliff and then suddenly found myself falling, screaming what the hell did I just do! The interaction was beyond awkward. He was kind, shook my hand, smiled, but then the introvert in me took over and instead of asking him any of the hundreds of questions I had about his incredible career I turned beet red and bolted. As soon as I introduced myself I could see the world from his point of view. I wondered if he could go anywhere without someone coming up to him. Perhaps that’s why he was shopping for camping supplies. Wild animals are safer than fans. Although I may not have had the conversation I had hoped for with Harrison Ford I’m happy to say I do have tickets to U2 in Tampa next week. Woohoo!

I said goodbye to Arielle in LA and headed home grateful for our time together. Once upon a time, I held her in my arms in Santa Monica, California fearful of the word mom. I was twenty-three the same age she is now. Never would I have imagined then that one day we’d be flying around the world together. That’s the magic of life you never know where the journey will take you. You just have to set a course, believe, adjust, hold on, and trust. And always keep your eyes open for opportunities for adventure!

 

My grandmother always had a camera in her hand. As I spent her final years with her here in Florida one of her great joys was taking pictures and then anxiously waiting for them to be developed so she could show her friends or mail them to relatives. Even though I saw her every week she’d still have an envelope with my name on the outside and photos of our time together on the inside.

I thought it was her hobby. Once she showed me a picture she had taken as a teen. It had won first place in a photography contest. My grandmother, a quiet woman who showed little emotion, seemed proud of her award. Having lived her life for her family this was something she had done for herself. But now I think my grandmother took so many pictures because she knew what I didn’t fully understand when I was in my twenties. Everything changes.

By the time I moved to Cape Coral my grandparents were in their eighties. My life was beginning and theirs was ending. Even though I recognized my time with them would be limited I never fully understood that when they held my children they knew they probably wouldn’t see them grow to teenagers. Grandmom took pictures because she wanted to capture precious everyday moments of our time together. She knew what was important and that’s time with the people we love.

I’m going on an adventure with my daughter! I get to experience her world as an athlete as we travel to two track meets. The first is in Arbon, Switzerland. Then we’re off to Los Angeles. Of course, I’ll take lots of pictures! Hopefully, I’ll be tech savvy enough to post notes and photos of our journey here as we travel. I’m also a fan of Instagram. Check for pictures there too.

Moment by moment we experience life. We get to choose whether or not to see those moments as a gift. My goal is to live every day knowing I remembered to say thank you!

I remember the morning I was driving over the Cape bridge into Ft. Myers where I worked as an elementary school teacher. I was listening to the radio. The DJ came on and began talking about a petition for a middle school girl who used a wheelchair who wanted to be on her track team. Suddenly, I realized they were talking about my daughter!

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I’ve returned from a fantastic trip to Los Angeles! Driving on the freeways, eating in fabulous restaurants and strolling along Santa Monica Pier brought me back to twenty years ago when L.A. was my home.

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What a weekend! Arielle and I completed a 15K!

Gasp 2015 Arielle First

My head is still spinning from all the excitement. My legs are happy I’m taking the day off from running. My stomach’s happy because I’ve been celebrating since the 15K and making up for all the calories I burned. And my heart is very happy that I was able to share in a memorable weekend with my daughter.

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ELLE & BUDDY will be out in March and I’m very fortunate to have a team of people working with me to help get  ELLE & BUDDY into the hands of children. For years we’ve traveled with the racing wheelchair and I’ve watched kids and adults gaze at its bright colors, giant wheels, and sleek body. Muza and I have had a lot of fun creating ELLE & BUDDY in hopes of entertaining everyone and giving some information on the history of racing wheelchairs. Of course Muza has also added an extra exciting element to the story. Search for all the geckos and see how many you can find. She’s hid them well.

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