272 Seasons

272  are how many seasons that have come and went over the course of my short life. Each season brings changes that reflect both the weather and the time frame in which it occurred.

One of my favorite musicals, “Fiddler on the Roof” has a beautiful song that speaks of  the seasons morphing into Sunrises and Sunsets. Written in 1964 by composer Jerry Bock and lyricist Sheldon Harnick, “Sunrise, Sunset” speaks of the calendar of life.

“Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older. When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall? Wasn’t it yesterday that they were small?

Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, Swiftly flow the days, Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers, Blossoming even as they gaze

Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, Swiftly fly the years, One seasons following another, Laden with happiness and tears, One season following another, Laden with happiness and tears…Sunrise, Sunset.”

Our ability to look back through the decades of our lives reflects a common theme. No matter how good or how bad the times were, they change swiftly, like the seasons. Each season is memorable in the victories and defeats we experience. Sometimes one season can change us for a lifetime.

Marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a parent or close friend, changes us like the seasons we bask in.  We can feel when winter is coming or the first bloom of Spring, lifting our spirits because of the warmth of the sun.

As we grow older and we’re not in such a regimented existence, time seems to speed up. The regimentation begins in Kindergarten moving through College and then into a job. All these elements of discipline require a time schedule.

It seems that for most people the discipline of organizational structure relies on patterns. The pattern of time, meals, routes, and scheduled time off. The Hamster wheel is very comfortable for most. Switching off the thought process to navigate as a robot affords most the luxury of a comfort zone.

Unfortunately our lives are relatively short. This means that for most people experiencing the thrill of life’s adventures becomes uncomfortable because this breaks the routine of self-inflicted patterns.

If we are goal oriented and soldier ahead with the end game in mind we can find that experiencing the thrill of life’s adventures is our reward. This honors both sides of the spectrum, routine and adventure.

I’ve had to think about the seasons that were the most reflective and thought provoking. In addition to life and death situations it is the change of circumstance that brings to light the abstract and the actual. Sometimes we envision a place or person will enhance life’s beautiful orb of possibility.

As a child we believe anything is possible. We dream of castles in the stars or far off lands to explore. As we get older most listen to the negativity from others that keeps forming a box around our mind. It’s easier not to try then to try and be defeated.

However, most people will agree that our greatest lessons come from our defeats. If we don’t repeat that same mistake we can grow as a person and become much more affective in determining what our future life can be.

With the sunrise, it’s about jumpstarting the day with purpose and a hearty dose of optimism. With the sunset, it’s about slowing down and savoring life’s flavors, recognizing that every day is a unique blend of sweet and savory.

Each season we experience is an expression of God painting from a pallet that brings nature to life. I see the Daffodils and Tulips ushering in Spring and the birth of wildflowers cascading across meadows with color and scent.

As Summer approaches and the Spring rains have mostly drawn their seasonal curtain until Winter we now relish the activities of Summer. Boating, hiking, camping, and picking the berries that surround us for the pies we so look forward to devouring. This becomes a season full of life.

Farther from the beginning than the end our seasonal curtain will at some point be drawn. The many memories will be but a foot note in a life that dreamed big (not always succeeding, but never giving up).

Keeping our word through-out those 272 seasons becomes one of the most important aspects related to success. Internally, if your word is your contract you can live through each season with the tranquility that comes with a decision your parents instilled in you when you were young.

The strength that comes with peace of mind can make any season a beautiful adventure. Then we can behold the wonder of discovery and the expansion of horizons never thought possible but achieved by the greatest distance we’ll ever travel… the distance between our ears.

 

 

 

Spring has Sprung

It’s beautiful to watch the changing of the seasons. When you experience four seasons it seems we really appreciate the many different flora and fauna that pass our way.

Each season highlights the migratory patterns of the turkeys, elk, deer, and a myriad of other animals, birds, and insects. The preparation for each season is highlighted by the sky clearing or clouding over to reveal rain, snow, stars, the moon, or the sunlight that exposes all.

As Spring approaches and blooms into flowers of various colors I am reminded of the pallet God paints. Bright yellow Lupin flowers engage the landscape which explodes into the exodus of winter.

I watch the turkeys with their matting dances that occur during the spring months. The flowering tails of the tom turkeys as they attempt to allure the hens is a beautiful exhibition of theater. The tom turkeys typically have a harem of many hens they lead around their territory.

The gobbling sound of the turkeys ward off other turkeys and make humans aware of their presence. In the silence that surrounds us we hear their calls along with the deer and sometimes the elk.

This wild kingdom is short lived as each species has a relatively short shelf life. Somewhere between 4-6 years is the average life span. However, in their glory they can fly, jump, or run with an uncanny athleticism.

Prior to living in Idaho I had never seen a wild turkey. Their skinny legs and imposing wing span are a contradiction in anatomical proportion. As they weave their way through the brush and timberland it seems they are very wary of predators or unwelcome humans.

There is an abundance of plants for these herbivores to feast on. From the tall grass, flowers that bloom in waves, or even the plants unsuspecting humans plant for beauty… only to see them devoured.

Brown ferns have shed their winter cloak wielding a green blanket of beauty. Now the weather is gradually changing from temperatures in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s to the much preferred 60’s and 70’s.

It really seems like a heat wave when we feel the warmth of spring that sends winter away. However, in Idaho, because of the complicated topography of the land, the weather can change in a heartbeat.

From sun, to clouds, to rain, the day is filled with a brush stroke of uncertainty.  It’s difficult to know how to dress… but the magic of the colors in the sky make the question of dress a moot point. A temperature swing of maybe 10 degrees is not enough for drastic measures.

Spring is the season of dramatic change. Each month as we edge towards summer provides us with blankets of different colored wildflowers. Yellow lupin disappear as bluets, lobelia, and larkspur cover the meadows with their blue color and almost honeysuckle scent.

This is the perfect season for hiking. The smell of winter is still in the air which provides a canopy of cool with temperatures in the reasonable range between 65 and 80. Around the corner is the month for boating, swimming, and other water sports.

Spring is the unveiling of the shroud of winter. Blooming of everything is beautiful yet unnerving for those that have allergies. I hear the echoes of sneezes and the cacophony of noses blowing their trumpet song. This, across the canyon we look to with few homes, but many noses.

This season is the season for planting vegetable and herb gardens. It’s also the season for pulling weeds to make room for the plants that unfortunately don’t grow like weeds.

Today we are pulling weeds. I think back to sitting on a hill with my dad pulling weeds and thinking of any excuse to extricate myself from that dreaded chore. We did have some wonderful conversations that I look back on and miss. It’s funny how time changes our perspective on life.

Anyway, life is a collection of events that shape our present circumstance. Each step we take seems like a small journey towards our future. But, just like the changing of the seasons we can enjoy the expedition and look to what lays ahead.

 

The Voyage of a Searching Soul

 

Whether its a dream that propels us to lands and people in our imagination, or the reality of planning a voyage to new destinations. Our heart lives for a Uruguayan sunset or the acoustic camouflage of the ocean that drowns out all other sensory distractions.

Our brain lives for the thrill of discovery which is at its height when we experience a place or event for the first time. Being in the mode of discovery opens our universe to the unveiling of new possibilities.

Those new possibilities create that inner smile that radiates through-out our body. This smile in turn  transmits negative ions that increase levels of the mood chemical, serotonin. This “serotonin” helps to alleviate depression, relieves stress, and boosts our energy. What could be better than to be on a voyage that illuminates all that brings a song to our soul?

New places we’ve read about and would love to visit brings cultures into the spotlight of discovery. Music, food, wine, architecture, and literature provide an interaction with those we’ve met along the way. This opens up the corridors of knowledge, bringing history books to life.

Enraptured by a tour of Buckingham Palace, the Louvre Museum, and the Burgundy region of France, we walk across a path tethered by the present, thinking of the past, eventually… to be shared in the future.

Each country we visit has its own magical charm that begs the question, “Have I been here before?” Past lives are open for discussion as familiarity breeds questions we can not answer.

Our propensity to gravitate towards certain foods, wines, and countries draws us closer to the past.  We breath in the smells, sounds, and flavors of cultures we can now speak of from experience. Each experience is a page in a book yet to be written, penned by an author immersed in the soul searching bounty of life.

As countries are brought into focus, I look for the finest to draw from in a short amount of time. I search for the best tours that create a real feel for the city. We find ourselves in the mode of discovery highlighting cultural expletives we must see that represent a grain of sand in the hourglass of life.

In Spain it will be flamenco guitar, tapas, sherry,  the most beautiful Gothic architecture, and world class beaches. Thriving in the  means of exploration I find things I wasn’t even searching for.

I stumbled across a page that listed the  best pizza restaurant in Europe located in Barcelona Spain, called “Sartoria Panatieri”. And on a more sublime note… who could forget one of the most revered artists of all time, Pablo Picasso born in Malaga, Spain.

Each city in every country has a story to tell. Each tale is brought to life through music. That music becomes a style that reflects a large part of the country’s identity. The arts are what draws people to experience different cultures.

And then there are other notes of culture to listen to. The food in every country which represents culture, climate, and products available. Each dish is passed down from generation to generation following the taste and traditions of the people who famously created it.

If you were to talk about how the top ten countries in the world prior to the 20th century related to their contributions to humanity… in almost every case music, food, wine, architecture, and literature would top the list.

Now it is technology and the advances turning luxuries into necessities. But before that it was the communication through the above mentioned arts that drew people to forget the struggles of everyday life.

In Portugal, Fado is a music of the world. Originating in Lisbon, Portugal,  it sings the feeling, heartbreak, and the longing for someone who is no longer in their life. The matches, or the mismatches of life are an infinite theme for inspiration. The mournful tunes and lyrics are often about the sea or life of the poor. Usually this music is infused with a sense of resignation, fate, and despair.

Every country, every state, every community, every person… if they’ve lived a little, writes poetry or sings songs about soulful sadness. It’s a lingering thought just beyond our reach… a perceptible weight on our heart.

The voyage of life is brought to a soulful crescendo when sadness is silenced. We learn to overcome our youthful hormonal surges that seems to create an emptiness inside. Then, with wisdom that comes with soulful searching, and of course age, we replace sadness with love.

The love we have for life’s voyage is a journey that leads us to search for answers about ourselves. Not only ourselves but those we’ve shared special memories with which are etched in the caverns of our mind… for as long as forever is.

Beloved Phrases from the Past

When I was growing up there were a plethora of phrases that embodied the spirit of the moment.  Many of these “sayings”  had historical origins.

Other phrases I attributed to my parents and grandparents. These are some of those notable sayings both historical and home grown.

“Turn a blind eye” is often used to refer to a willful refusal to acknowledge a particular reality. This dates back to a legendary chapter in the career of the British naval hero Horatio Nelson. During the 1801 battle of Copenhagen, Nelson’s ships were pitted against a large Danish-Norwegian fleet.

When his more conservative superior officer flagged him to withdraw, the one-eyed Nelson supposedly brought his telescope to his bad eye and blithely proclaimed, “I really do not see the signal.” He went on to score a decisive victory.

Some historians have since dismissed Nelson’s famous quip as merely a battlefield myth, but the phrase “turn a blind eye” persists to this day.

The phrase “paint the town red” most likely owes its origin to one legendary night of drunkenness. In 1837, the Marquis of Waterford, a known lush and mischief maker, led a group of friends on a night of drinking through the town of Melton Mowbray. The bender culminated after Waterford and his fellow revelers knocked over flowerpots, pulled knockers off of doors, and broke the windows of some of the town’s buildings.

To top it off, the mob literally painted a tollgate, the doors of some of the homes and a swan statue with red paint. The Marquis and his pranksters later compensated Melton for the damages, but their drunken escapade has lived in infamy.

“By and Large” is another phrase that originated on the high seas… like “taken aback”, “loose cannon”, and “high and dry”.

As far back as the 16th century the word “large” was used to mean that a ship was sailing with the wind at its back. Meanwhile, the much less desirable “by” meant the vessel was traveling into the wind. Thus, for mariners, “by and large” referred to trawling the seas in any and all directions relative to the wind.

“Butter someone up” means to impress someone with flattery. The origin of this was a customary religious act in ancient India. The devout would throw butter balls at the statues of their gods to seek favor and forgiveness.

“Mad as a hatter” of course means to be crazy. Believe it or not this phrase did not originate from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Its origins date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

In 17th century France, poisoning occurred among hat makers who used mercury for the hat felt. The “Mad Hatter Disease” was marked by shyness, irritability, and tremors that would make the person appear, “mad”.

“It’s raining cats and dogs” is supposed to have originated in England in the 17th century. City streets were filthy and heavy rains would occasionally carry along dead animals. Richard Brome’s, The City Witt, 1652, has the line “It shall rain dogs and polecats”. Also, cats and dogs both have ancient associations with bad weather.

“A stitch in time saves nine” means it’s better to solve a problem right away then to let it fester to become a much bigger problem. It’s first recorded in a book from the year, 1723. Of course it is a sewing reference. The idea is that sewing up a small rip with one stitch means the tear is less likely to get bigger and need more stitches, such as nine stitches later on.

However, the Prime Minister of England, Boris Johnson said this phrase as he announced extra rules on things like pubs closing times in England.

Several other phrases my grandmother used were as follows:

      • Many hands make light work
      • Absence makes the heart grow fonder
      • Never look a gift horse in the mouth
      • People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks
      • Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
      • Early to bed and early to rise makes you happy, healthy, and wise
      • Any job worth doing is worth doing well
      • Birds of a feather flock together
      • You’re preaching to the choir
      • More than you can shake a stick at
      • It doesn’t amount to a hill of beans
      • Goodness gracious (my favorite)

It’s funny how I would take these phrases for granted when I was shorter. Now I look back nostalgically and associate certain people and situations with the blessed memories of a time long ago.

I guess time is relative as we proceed to the final curtain. Each memory from the past related to our family takes on a very special meaning. We were captivated by phrases, not always understanding the meaning but certainly appreciating the delivery.

I remember my grandmother washing apples from her tree with soap and water. Occasionally an apple would slip out of her hands and land on the floor. That’s when she would exclaim, “Goodness gracious”.

I miss that phrase coming from my sweet grandmother.  That moment lives today in infamy, though not in life.

Which Direction do I Take?

 

Over the course of our short lives we are offered different choices that lead to a direction affected by circumstance. Each choice is offered because of opportunity or our gut feeling that we need to change.

Many times we come to a crossroad that provides us with what seems to be equal value options. It is only with vetting the options and using our internal guiding system that we have the possibility of the reward we’re looking for.

However, if we are given a false narrative, and we base our decision upon that, chances are the outcome will not be what we’re looking for. That is when we learn one of the most important factors in decision making… trust.

If we believe the person offering us a job is true to their word then we can believe the outcome will be favorable. In many cases we want to believe the word of a friend or even a stranger because that is human nature. Most people look for the best in a person, or a job situation thinking that our circumstance will transform magically due to a physical change in location.

The truth is, if you don’t have the inner strength to handle the obstacles that occur in life, your direction will be affected by weakness and self doubt. Thus, you will be like a spinning top that never lands in a place of contentment.

The happiness your searching for is illusive because you’re not content with your own spirit. I see people think “things” will make them happy. A new car or a myriad of a thousand physical things that cannot make up for the hollowness deep inside their soul.

The happiest people I’ve found are the ones that don’t rely on themselves for inner strength. The happiest people I’ve discovered have a belief system that  revolves around God, or whatever you want to call an entity that we can draw extra support and inner peace from.

With that power that is offered by something greater than ourselves, anything is possible. The direction becomes more focused, clearer, because we realize that we don’t have to posses all the power to make decisions that will affect our future.

To release that stress from being totally responsible for our direction, we give ourselves a greater chance for the success we’re looking for. In many cases it goes against our human nature to surrender to something beyond our field of vision.

It’s funny that when we learn to surrender… we become stronger. To believe in a “transcendent” force means believing in something beyond the physical universe, independent of it and outside of space and time.

The times I’ve only relied on myself for direction, I’ve encountered obstacles that were placed there by my own inability to understand the greater picture. Almost every time it was one step forward and two steps back. This learning curve that leads to hurdling obstacles did not have to be.

When I was younger I thought that moving to a new place would erase what was holding me back. That thought process was just delaying the inevitable collapse. Of course we do learn more from our mistakes than our victories.

The mistakes we make (providing we don’t make them again) leads to a term that comes with age, “wisdom.” This wisdom can be traced to poor decisions that eventually led to self reflection. It is very important that through this process you don’t lose the gift of belief in your own abilities.

In our lifetime we will have great supporters for the road we choose, that’s called “family”. Then there are the friends we will have for a lifetime that believe in you, sometimes above the belief you have in yourself.

Those friends are rare indeed. They will be battle tested with the vicissitudes of relationships that are complicated but well worth the journey together. Each friend like that is a rare jewel. Giving support for years to those you love and care about is such a gift to those whom receive it and those that give it.

Directions in life are paths woven in soul searching expeditions that are framed in optimism. Each journey down that path excavates the wisdom we all search for to make a decision that will lead to a happy and healthy life.

Each decade provides different expectations. Responsibilities, and growing friend and family circles leads us to different nuances centered around others. Eventually when we live our lives and look back into the “Days of Future Past” we understand one important and simple lesson.

The greatest thing in life is to love and be loved in return.

 

The Business I Loved

When I was a little kid I was very good at constructing forts using my building blocks. I figured out later that what I was really good at, design, and artistic composition, required something that unfortunately was my weakest subject in school… math.

Then, after I took a job as a busboy at the Caprice restaurant in Tiburon California, I fell in love with the restaurant business. I loved juggling five things at once depending upon timing, quality service, and of course… knowledge of your product.

At the Caprice I learned table side service. I would carve filet tenderloin, rack of lamb, and prosciutto. I also prepared Steak Diane, Duck a L’Orange, Caesar salad, Crepes Suzette, Cherries Jubilee, and a myriad of other dishes at the table.

Along with the dishes listed above I learned to make cocktails, and began the process of learning about wine. Each element was a journey which took me down different paths requiring intimate knowledge of product and service. The more I learned about the restaurant business,  the more I realized that each aspect of cocktails, food, wine, and service was a never ending educational deep dive.

I also knew that to aspire to the heights of fine dining excellence I would have to make a great commitment. This would require being around the best chefs, managers, and sommeliers in the world.

I’ve seen customers fight in the restaurant, carried out on a stretcher, cuffed by police, and pass out with their head down on the table with a thump. I’ve been threatened by customers, and even worked at a restaurant that received a bomb threat.

Each restaurant I learned something new about food, wine, cocktails, and myself. I’ve worked on the largest dinning ship west of the Mississippi, the oldest and most respected hotels atop Nob Hill in San Francisco, owned a restaurant chosen in the top ten by Time Life Books, and journeyed to NY to work with Joel Chenet (who was the personal chef to the president of France).

The Master Sommeliers I’ve worked with in Las Vegas include Ian Cauble, and Fred Dame (the third in the US to become a Master). I studied with Master’s Evan Goldstein and Wilford Wong when I was a General Manager at the Fairmont in San Francisco.

Along the way I was in charge of the wine list for Mason’s at the Fairmont Hotel, the wine lists for the Mark Hopkins Hotel, the California Hornblower Dining Yacht (entire west coast), Epanoui in Tiburon, The Plumb Room in Fort Lauderdale Florida, Bonnie Castle Resort in up State New York, and John Ash in Santa Rosa California.

Each restaurant and every situation I learned something new about food, the pairing of food and wine, and the distinct differences between liquors. I received my sommelier certification in 2014 at the Aria (a five star hotel in Las Vegas).

I see the movies Burnt, Chef, and others that take me back to the pressure cooker that is the restaurant business. The execution of food is the art of starting with exceptional product prepared consistently in an artistic form.

It’s funny that with all the artistic presentations that drew oohs and aahs from the guests, the most complements I ever received was at the steak house, Jean George at the Aria Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

This was proof positive that when travelers dine out, they appreciate more than anything, a good steak. Of course working in the restaurant business is filled with high drama between the front and back of the house, management, staff, and of course the guests.

When I worked at L’Oliver in San Francisco I worked with some really crazy servers. One such server, Robin, was a raging alcoholic. He’d do double shifts, working lunch and dinner. He would start drinking scotch out of a coffee cup when he arrived for the lunch shift, around 10am.

By dinner time Robin was inebriated, and when the last seating rolled around, he could hardly stand. On one such occasion he was serving a well dressed couple having an intimate celebratory dinner.

After clearing the ladies unfinished Dover Sole entree, Robin went in the back of the restaurant and finished off the Dover Sole. After drinking another glass of wine he paired with the Dover Sole, hiding behind a curtain in the kitchen, he staggered out to the couples table.

It was beautiful to watch. Kind of like a car crash you want to turn your head away, but can’t. Robin was weaving between tables to reach the couple. As he began to tell the couple about desserts, he spit a piece of the Dover Sole which landed perfectly , a direct hit, onto the gentleman’s tie.

Watching this was like watching a movie in slow motion. The gentleman looked down at his tie, looked up at Robin, and said, “Check please.”

The gentleman, after leaving the table with his wife, made a B line for the owner. All I saw were arms flailing as he described the egregious service. The owner was beside himself with apologies to the customers/victims.

I then went to find Robin to tell him to watch out for the owner that was coming for him. However, Robin was passed out in the private dinning room, drooling on his uniform in a position of absolute content.

I hid in a dark corner to watch the owner arrive to find Robin, wake him up, and suspend him for two weeks. I’m not sure that Robin even remembered anything past 6pm, but for me… it was truly a funny sight to witness.

I’ve got a hundred stories like that one.  Each day was a journey into the unknown.  This revolved around the people I worked with in need of psychiatric assistance, and the guests in search of escape, drowning themselves into the world of inebriation.

 

Transported to Childhood

 

 

If there is one phrase that can transport us to our childhood… it is, “Once upon a time”.

This phrase, first recorded in 1380 (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) has opened many oral narratives since 1600… this expression is frequently used as the opening line of fairy tales and stories told to children.

What a beautiful phrase that can transport us to a much simpler time. A time when most of us only had to think about our first experiences and lavish in the moment of discovery. The alluring discovery of life in many different forms became the expansion of my reality.

A creek became an adventure. I would follow the movements of life forms as previously undiscovered entities that  broadened my horizons. A ballet of tadpoles swimming across the creek bed lined with a landscape fabric filled with boulders and stones of various sizes was an auditorium for my education.

The days before school were filled with the wonders of flying creatures that exhibited the colors and motion of theatrical dance. They were found weaving within natures canvas amongst the sounds and light that figured into their magnificence.

Each day brought a new found joy of discovery. Seeing insects, birds, and deer for the first time brought about an inner peace not realized by my youth but appreciated with age. Laying on the grass was one of my favorite pastimes.  However I quickly realized that bees didn’t like my overture into their white clover flower kingdom which provided sustenance for their species.

That first sting made me realize that I couldn’t just accept beauty but had to be careful when approaching it. At that point in time I didn’t understand the complexities of nature that underscored their protections, advances, and sometimes predatory nature.

Why should I? I was not yet educated in anything pertaining to the small envelope of space I occupied. I was a life form in its purest and simplest exhibition. I was being taken care of by two people I had just met that (unbeknownst to me) would give their lives for me, and in addition to that, a term I was yet to discover… their unconditional love.

I lived in a fairy tale world that involved sustenance, sleep, and discovery. Each frame in time was a meal, followed by a celebration (I usually had to dress up for), followed by more moments of discovery.

The first time for everything was the best, and still is. The exception to that was when I was actually too young to remember that event, place, or person. When I did remember, later on, I enjoyed the celebrations but not the attire. Halloween was the worst.

At Halloween, my parents would make me stand on a stool as they took old costumes and dressed me up like a mannequin. This took what seemed like hours and became my opening overture to the concept of time. My first memory of a costume was when my parents dressed me up like an African bush man.

I could have been the character, “Little Black Sambo”, but who knows? I had an African mask and a spear that conveyed a certain level of ferocity, humor, and poor taste, all wrapped into one, little, four year old package.

My parents would drive me around the neighborhood with my friends, all dressed in either cowboy attire, army, or knight garb. I was the only black man in the crowd, which on many occasions led to laughter and pointing. There certainly is a rap song in their somewhere!

My favorite holiday, like any young, dependent, greedy kid… was Christmas. I overlooked the religious basis and went straight for the capitalistic prize… presents. Oh how I enjoyed this holiday.

If it bounced, or I could play war with it… I was overcome with joy. Because I was an only child I reveled in the battles I’d create with my plastic army men on full display with their guns, tanks, ships, etc. However… at the end of the day the comfort of love, caring and understanding enveloped me.

That’s when it became time for my bedtime story. Usually my mom would read to me from a book of fairy tales… “Once upon a time” became the soothing mantra of the times of future past.

I lived in the present at that young age, a magical time of safety, protected by a phrase, “Once upon a time”. Looking back… it seemed like viewing a snow globe within a world I will never forget.