Category Archives: Gratitude

Giving myself the gift of time

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Today, I celebrated another year of living on this precious and increasingly imperiled beautiful blue planet we all call home.

I happened to glance at the clock at 11:11—the moment I made my debut 58 years ago. I love it when that happens, and appreciate the fact that my arrival time was so incredibly symmetrical, numerically speaking. I’ve heard and read about the power of being associated with 11:11. The band Film School wrote a song with it in the title. I also once went to a numerologist who remarked positively upon the power of it. (I’m not sure what the significance really is, but am delighted that it’s part of my life’s story—along with the fact that I was only lefty in a home with seven right-handed siblings and two-right-handed parents.)

I eased into the morning, had a delicious and satisfying lunch of pho and always-fulfilling conversation with my sister—and then headed downtown for happy hour with a few former colleagues on the waterfront of Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. All in all, a low-key but highly satisfying day.

I’ve just arrived back home after a rather long and crowded bus ride, alone in my quiet little house on my modest little street near the town of Woodinville, Washington. My phone has been dinging with notices of Facebook greetings and a few voicemail
messages. I’ve chosen to remain unplugged for the moment, but look forward to reading the wishes from friends and family near and afar. (It’s a definite positive on the social media front.)

On this June 2, 2017 birthday evening, I’m reflecting on the past, pondering the future—and feeling incredibly grateful for this life I’ve lived and all the love that surrounds me.

My birthday gift to me this month is time. I’m not going to rush into the next contract or pursue a position that doesn’t spark joy.

I’m going to take a break, regroup, renew, recharge, recover, return to the gym, write—and forge a new path for the next chapter in “The Life of Marcy O’Hara.”

It’s a gift that will pay dividends for the rest of my life—and the fact that I’ve realized that is making me feel older and wiser even as we speak.

(Happy birthday to me!)

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“Bree’s Company”

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I’m living a sitcom life.

It’s called “Bree’s Company,” and it features a colorful cast of quirky characters.

Let’s start with me, a young-at-heart freelance writer, former “Valley Girl” and bonafide late bloomer. (At least, that’s what I like to tell myself.)

The cast also include Gio, my ex-hubby. We divorced 8 years ago, right when the Great Recession was taking hold. Our daughter, Bree, was going to start 10th Grade, and after renting expensive apartments for a while–we decided to pool our resources and buy a modest rambler. The plan was for all of us to coexist until she went to college, at which point I’d move out, he’d stay and we’d continue gaining equity over the years.  Plans didn’t quite pan out that way, though. (I’ll explain more later.)

Gio has a great relationship with his girlfriend of several years, and most nights stays at her place. But all his stuff (a lot of stuff!) is here in this little 3 bedroom/1 bath rambler with no garage and limited storage options. He and I both have accumulated way too much stuff over the years — but happily, downsizing is in full swing.

Then there’s the star of our show — Bree. Her full name is “Gabriella Mary,” and she also answers to “Gabby.” She’s a senior at Western Washington University, a creative writing major with a psychology minorr. She and her fiancee, Jeshua, moved in last month. he’s taking two online classes this summer, and will finish up in December. Jesh is busy looking for a job in tech. Their entourage also includes two cats, Giles and Charlie, who have fortunately settled in peacefully with our Jake.

Last night’s revelry involved an abundance of red wine and a magnetic poetry smackdown followed by an hour’s worth of wrangling over where to order pizza — and you know what? It was a great Saturday night.

It’s “Bree’s Company”– and so far, it’s working out swimmingly.

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Lefty, can ya’ pick me some lemons?

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It’s Thanksgiving  Day, circa 1973 —a little after noon.

I’m 14 years old. Our home in Southern California’ s burgeoning San Fernando Valley is bustling with action.

By now, my mother has finished preparing the stuffing. The small saucepan with the repulsive turkey neck, liver and giblets and globs of fat is simmering on the stove.

The 20-plus pound “bird” has been defrosted, slathered with mayonnaise and is safely ensconced in the black and mottled gray roaster.

It’s a happy day. I and my seven siblings are scattered throughout our sprawling, ramshackle rambler.  Football games are on. Strains of “Rosalita” by Bruce can be heard in the distance. Some of my brothers are out back shooting hoops. Everyone is getting ready to get their gobble on.

Our dad, the “Big O,” is in great spirits. He’d been a bartender in NYC way back in the 1940s, and knows his stuff.  And now he is prepping for the revelry ahead.

Whiskey sours are on the T-Day happy hour agenda, and fresh lemon juice is a key ingredient. Luckily, we have three prodigious trees that collectively produce more lemons than we can ever consume.

“Lefty, can ya’ pick me some lemons?”

“Lefty “ is my dad’s nickname for me. I am the only south-pawed inhabitant of 4571 Encino Avenue, and he’s called me that for as long as I can remember.

I spring into action, hurry out back and gather a dozen or so. They feel warm in my hands from the afternoon sun.

I scurry inside with the prized citrus sensations in tow. “Here ya’ go, Dad!”  I say, proudly.

He beams back, pleased with my work. I am at this moment supremely happy.

The “Big O” then proceeds to prepare the first batch of whiskey sours. I watch, transfixed. The blender turns on, the concoction whirls loudly away, and then silence. I watch as he lifts the lid, dips a spoon in and tastes. After a few more sprinkle of sugar and squeezes of lemon, he’s satisfied.

He pours the first serving into a tumbler, and takes a sip and smiles.

“Dad, can I try it? I ask. “It looks so good!”

He takes a puff off his Raleigh and ponders my request. “Lefty, it’s  pretty strong.”

“I’ll just have a little bit, Dad!” I promise.

He pours a glassful and hands it over. I take a small sip — and my tasebuds do a happy dance. It’s delicious;  like fresh lemonade with lots of sugar and ice and but something more.  I take another sip. “Careful, Lefty!” my day says. I laugh and watch as he putters around the kitchen and keeps an eye on the score of the football game. After a bit, I start to feel all warm and bit fuzzy.

“Uhhh, Dad. I feel a little weird. I’m gonna go lie down for a little while.” I retreat to my room,  head for my bed and it’s lights out.

I  awake around 8 p.m. , groggy and confused. I wander out to the kitchen. A picked-over turkey carcass sits forlornly on the kitchen counter, adjacent to a pan of congealed turkey gravy. I lift the lid on a nearby pan, and stare at the lump of cold mashed potatoes.

I grab a plate, assemble my meal — and fill my glass with water, and then fill it again. I feel a bit chagrined, but quickly recover. There’s my plate to attend to, and I even spy a few surviving pieces of pumpkin pie!

It’s Thanksgiving Day 2013 — an unconventional year for me. No gathering of the three sisters and family. No traditional turkey dinner.

The out-to-dinner plans I had for today fell through. My college girl is spending time with her new boyfriend’s family, meeting them all for the first time.

Parents die. Families scatter. Children leave home. Traditions change. And life goes on.

Later today, “Lefty” will be picking some lemons, counting her blessings and savoring so very many memories of Thanksgivings gone by.

Cheer to you, “Nana” and “Big O”!

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