I was born and raised in Upstate New York. Lived there 25 years. Was married there and had our first two children there. I had a wonderful childhood. Idyllic really. Loved the snow. Most of the time. At least when I was a kid. Except when child labor laws were being violated and my siblings and I were out in below zero temps with ungodly windchill factors, shoveling the sidewalk and driveway. That, I did not enjoy. We did however have crazy fun snowball fights and built impressive snow forts. We would sled down massive hills and even our streets when the roads were closed. I skied. And loved that. But with all that said, I must tell you, I would never go back there to live. Ever. I am thankful for my roots. My beginnings. Growing up where I did and the experiences I had that helped shape me into the person I am today. I would not change any of that. The weather however, is a whole other deal.
I guess, when you get right down to it, I am a California girl now. And it is the sunshine that got me for sure. We have that sunshine nearly everyday and for my mental health, I can't imagine having it any other way. I cannot imagine not walking outside and turning my face to the sun, on days when life has me a little down. The sunshine is exactly what I need to remind me to appreciate this beautiful life I have. And the beauty of where I live, is that I live in a state that I could go to the beach one morning and head to the snow that afternoon. I can venture north just a bit, when September rolls around and I can see those vibrant color change of the fall leaves. We really do have the best of many worlds here, and I feel blessed and lucky to have landed where I did. Could have arrive a few years before when my parents left NY for California but hey, I was young and thought I had it all figured out back then. It was meant to be just as it was meant to be.
I remember vividly the moment I started to pay attention to the gift of my all most year round sunshine. Zoey was in the NICU at Children's. We were nearing the 3 month mark. I was weary of the daily drive and monotony of the days. Mark and I would go home every night to sleep, knowing she was well cared for by her night shift primary nurses. I would usually get home around 8 or 9 pm. Take care of the boys. Connect with the girls. Get the house in order and collapse in bed. And then, I would get up and do it all over again. That particular morning, I was maxed. Or as Joe said recently, "When you are maxed that means you have hit your limit," And I had done exactly that. Hit my limit.Although bringing Zoey home meant in some ways, more stress till we got her to surgery, at least she would be home and we would be together. I longed for that day. That morning I remember saying goodbye to my mom and closing the front door and standing on my porch and just pausing. I stood there and closed my eyes and I thought how tired I was but all of the sudden I realized, God willing, very shortly, Zoey would be coming home. Many would not. And they would never feel the sunshine on their little faces.
Since that day, I have had a new appreciation of the sunshine. Since that day and following all our long hospital stints and battles that ensued, I look at the outdoors and the beauty all around me in a completely different way. I know that may sound corny, trite and cliche to some, but I really take the time to soak in everything around me. And today, as I road my bike, along this trail right behind my house, I felt eternally grateful for the sunshine and soaked in all 7 miles of that ride.