Friday, May 28, 2010

Multilingual Living

Finally! Multilingual Living is finally here! After 5 years of planning, thinking, organizing, hoping.... Alice's brother, Oliver, helped me get the site in place.

I have a feeling I will spend most of my time there so please come find me at: !

You can also find me at:


Twitter: www.twitter/MultiLingLiving

Warm wishes to you all!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Sometimes there is a way that the silence of a moment, of an hour, of a day or even a year can bring us back full circle. The way the movement of life leads us to where we need to be... to where we can breathe deeply and softly.

And with that, I consider revisiting my blog.

Perhaps I have something to say?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Motherless in Seattle

One cold evening in December in 1968, a woman named Sharon gave birth to me. She was young and vibrant and wanted me more than anything in the world.

On November 16th, 2008, at age 65, she let go of this world while I held her hand telling her that we loved her and that she could go home whenever she was ready.

I miss her terribly.

Things weren't always easy between my mother and me. We had our share of arguments (my journal is a testament to the details). But she was my only mother and I was her only daughter. We shared a bond which our petty differences couldn't destroy. And now, without my mother, I feel raw and exposed, confused and floundering. What I wouldn't give for one more chance to forgive and forget with a hug.

Life goes on but memories have their way of flitting into my heart and mind. And every now and then, an unexpected memory or thought will bring me to my knees and fill my whole being with tears of sorrow.

Oh my children, I cry out for your loss. Grammy is no longer alive. She is no longer alive! As my 7-year-old told his younger siblings: "Grammy won't say, 'oh, is that dollar from the tooth fairy' when we loose a tooth." No, Grammy won't ever do that ever again. Never. To my three-year-old: will you even be able to remember your Grammy's warm breath against your golden-red hair?

Being motherless. To be motherless means to be put into a new category. One of daughters without mothers. As if everyone else who has lost a mother can understand you without speaking a word, can read your mind by seeing into your heart. So, this is what it is like to be on the other side. I often wondered what it would feel like to be motherless and now that I am here I find it is just as difficult as before, only different. The subtleties are all slightly warped so that viewing anything is slightly blurred.

Without a mother, it is hard to find purpose in life. What is the point? As I watched my mother's eyes close for the last time and her breathing slowly decline, I asked myself why. Why do we get out of bed each day and struggle to survive?

All I know is that when my time comes, I want a loved one beside me holding my hand telling me that it is ok to go home, that they are going to be ok without me, that my job here is done and that I can let go. I want them to tell me that what I did in my life wasn't a waste and that my love for them meant something, that it changed them for the better. That is all I really want in life. What more could I even hope for?

My dear, dear mother. I miss you, I love you, I will never forget you.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Barack Obama

And just like that, my faith in America is restored. Like one large collective breath, our heavy burdens fall and we breathe a sigh of weary relief. Cynicism replaced by inspiration. Amen.

Had someone asked me a few years ago (heck, if someone had asked me a month ago) whether I thought Barack Obama would be elected president of the United States, I would have only been able to say, "Gosh, I hope so, I really hope so." My fear was that to even dream of something so satisfying and inspiring would bring nothing but disappointment. I did not think this country was able to set aside petty differences and prejudices to rise to this momentous occasion.

But on the evening of November 4th, as my husband and children and I sat in hopeful anticipation, jumping up and down with joy, crying tears of gratitude and sitting in silent reverence, our small world changed wholly and completely. And when I awoke early on November 5th and headed to work as I always do on Wednesdays, the world looked just that much more vibrant, that much more hopeful, the people just that much more whole.

It takes courage to open ourselves up to the prospect of hope, sealed ever so tightly in Pandora's Box. But when we ask ourselves what is most important in life, it always comes down to the intangibles, those things which are ultimately impossible to wrap with words. It comes down to a sense of meaning and inner satisfaction; knowing that no matter what in the end all is (or will be) well in the world and we are here to be a meaningful part of it.

We may not change this world of ours but when we have the opportunity to witness someone who can and does and will, the whole of humanity is buoyed by that presence, that hope, that love. It takes a person like Barack Obama to remind us that life is about more than just movements and rituals. It is about having faith in our collective consciousness to compel us to do good, to show kindness, to cherish hope and to protect innocence.

May these next four years point us the way back to our lost American soul.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

California Dreaming

I grew up in the foothills of Northern California and have always had mixed feelings about the place. It is a small town and I grew up in a small house on 2 acres surrounded by oaks, manzanita, deer and silence. It had a way of making me feel claustrophobic at times.

We lived three miles out of town on a dirt road, surrounded by hundreds of crickets who'd chirp all night long. (I only noticed when city folk would mention how loud they were). We could walk all night if we wanted to, just by the light of a full moon and we spent our summers plunging into the satisfying waters of the Yuba River.

Yet, I often found myself dreaming of the long, flat, wide, straight streets of cities - the seemingly straightforward, uncomplicated, matter-of-fact, predetermined benefits of man-made environments. In my hometown, trees and mountains which at times gave me a sense of protection and warmth, at other times made me feel trapped and isolated. The natural, unkempt surroundings of the forest both filled my heart with delight and caused me frustration.

I am here again in my childhood home with my husband and children. We are visiting my mother and brother who still live here. As with each visit, I sit in the same rooms and walk along the same paths as I did as a child. I notice that the trees have grown and that many things have changed.

Yet, what surprises me the most is not the way things are different from when I was a child. What surprises me is the way in which my own childhood memories are slowly being reshaped through the eyes of my own children. The way I remember my days as a child slowly begins to interweave itself with the daily romps and giggles of my children. It is as if I am seeing my world from a brand new vantage point.

Isn't that me sitting in the sandbox under the swaying oak trees letting sand flow through my outstretched palms? Am I not the one collecting moss and branches to create miniature worlds of my own making?

I sit on the back deck, breathe in the dry, familiar air and watch my children dart back and forth across the front yard. I find myself reliving my past through their laughter and overwhelming joy. Magically I slowly forget those things which aggravated me as a child and instead realize that I am savoring the bits which brought me satisfaction and happiness. I know there are downsides to growing up out here in the countryside, yet I easily push them aside as I witness the utter joy on my children's faces as they dedicate themselves to nothing but pure, unadulterated play from morning until night.

Our world seems so simple here. We step back just far enough to see things with a clarity that I fail to grasp when at home (where we rarely take the breaks we so desperately need to let our soul dangle). At home there is always a long list of "duties" which ultimately encapsulates me even more than the tall oaks and wide mountains ever did (and, ironically, are traps of my own making).

Despite the solid sidewalks and expansive streets of our city, it is out here in the wilds of Northern California that I find myself able to breathe again. It is here that I let down my guard just long enough to realize that I haven't been longing for wide city streets at all. In fact, I have been in awe of how high the trees have grown and how tall the mountains seem to have become ever since we drove down that dirt road of my childhood .

Friday, May 16, 2008

Deutsch, bitte!

"Deutsch, bitte!"
Ahhh, those two magical words which have such power, such influence, such resonance.

As I wrote in my last blog entry, we have been entering a new phase in our household - an English phase. The language of choice for my children when playing has become English, English, English. (Luckily they are still speaking German with us.)

In addition, my sons have been asking why they are expected to always speak German at home with one another when my husband and I don't even do it all the time. Good question, indeed! So, my husband and I, supporting this argument, suggested to our children that we would make an effort to speak German with one another more often if they would do the same. Agreed all around.

This doesn't mean that our children now automatically speak German with one another. That would be too easy! But it does mean that a gentle reminder of "Deutsch, bitte," elicits the friendly reply from our kids (in German) "Oh right, I forgot!" followed by at least 10 minutes of German discussion until it slowly spills into more and more English (followed by another gentle reminder). But hey, that's something!

Who knows what will happen in a month or two months or eighteen years but I do know that this current solution to our "German language problem" has brought me oodles and oodles of delight!
No arguing, no fighting, no cajoling, no begging, no long discussions, no defense, no attacks. Just a simple reminder followed by a simple agreement. Ahhh, it makes one want to sit back with a cup of tea and just feel the joy and happiness.

And, as if all of this weren't already too good to be true, I often hear my kids reminding his or her siblings to speak German! Talk about awesome! What kind of magic has taken over my household?

Ok, ok, before I faint from a euphoric swoon, I do know that this is but a temporary hiatus along our usually bumpy language road. I know this isn't the end of our language journey.

But I figure after all of those pot holes, there are bound to be some smooth patches here and there along the way so I'm going to enjoy it for all it is worth.