Monday, October 12, 2015

101 years

Remembering my beautiful, blue-eyed spitfire of a grandma (whose first name I share) on what would have been her 101st birthday. Born a farm girl in central PA, my grandma got herself on a train to New York City and put herself through nursing school. She remained in NYC and eventually met my grandfather, Dr. Alexander Franco, when they were both working at the same hospital. After many years building a successful private practice, they retired back to 'the hills of home' in PA where they had a lovely farm with horses and big gardens and plenty of room for a little kid to wander and dream and re-enact the opening scenes from 'the sound of music.' smile emoticon
My grandmother was a strong-willed, indomitable spirit. She was smart as a whip and extremely industrious (and yes, maybe even a little bossy). She was a phenomenal cook and seamstress and had a head for all matters practical. She fostered my own passion for cooking and baking for others by letting me help her with everything she did in the kitchen—from preparing big family meals (for swarms of relatives), to baking hundreds of cookies and pies, to scrubbing, prepping, and canning/jarring countless bushels of vegetables from my great-uncle's gardens. She was also the consummate caregiver, always helping the "little old ladies" from church or her garden club (who were often not much older than she) by taking them to lunch and appointments. She made sure others never went without and always magically had some fresh coffee and a sandwich to anyone who drove up the lane to her house 'just for a visit.' She paid attention to the unnoticed, sending birthday and holiday cards to folks many others never took the time to acknowledge. She was a night owl, loved playing cards and monopoly with her grandchildren, and stayed up with me reading on nights when I felt too scared or anxious to sleep. Her heart was much bigger than her little 4'11" body and she always had a twinkle in her eye, especially when she laughed.
Happy birthday, Sarah E. Johnson Franco. I'll love you forever but always feel you closest to me when I'm throwing flour around in the kitchen heart emoticon.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

this is 40

today is the half-day of the year and the 40th anniversary of the day i was born. i am utterly gobsmacked about the fact that i have lived this long, and while i am by no means 'old,' the word 'young' also doesn't describe me any longer. i am somewhere in the middle, i guess. middle-aged. good grief. that phrase feels so far from me, though if i am being honest, i am there. right. there.

birthdays often mean retrospectives (see last year's blog post), and this one is no different. i have been doing a lot of stock-taking over the last month or so as this day has quickly approached. i've made lists, tied up loose ends, and thrown things out. but more than all that, i have arrived.

a year ago, on my 39th birthday, i promised myself that i would work to remain present in as many moments as possible this year. and i was. i took mental snapshots (finger clicks and all). i sat inside discomfort and comfort alike..inside sadness and joy...and i soaked them in. i said hard things. i made even harder decisions. i swallowed my pride, and i patted myself on the back and gave myself snaps once in awhile. i tried to let my emotions be what they were, knowing that it is an honor to really FEEL. i took long walks and fantastic bubble baths. i listened to stunning music sung by some of my favorite musicians. i saw some phenomenal theatrical works and laughed, cried, and gushed to my heart's content. i cooked, ate, and photographed some seriously delicious food. i spent time with people i deeply love and appreciate. i received care and i sowed love into others. i made some new friends and continued to keep the old (remembering that the girl scouts song was always right). i made some mistakes, i avoided some others (whew!), and i forgave myself for not always doing everything perfectly. i found out that i'm more wholly me than ever before in my life. i rejoiced in that realization.

so in this middle place, i meet myself again. my hope for the coming year (and the coming 40 years) is to become more and more me...to share what i love with others and to bring joy to their lives...to pursue wholeness in all things (body, mind, and spirit)...to speak my truth and tell my story (through words, actions, and the food i create)...to love and laugh and cry with more abandon...to continue making balance and fun major priorities in my life (this is worth EVERY effort)...and to remain present in every moment, good or bad. i am happy to say that i am already in pursuit of these things (i'm more about realistic goals these days). i am already firmly on the road.

and though i don't know yet what lies around the next bend and who will meet me there, i know today who my real friends are and where i want to be. i am loved. i live an abundantly blessed life. i am grateful for all the opportunities i have to work on myself and the world around me. so, with thanksgiving and hope in my heart, i acknowledge that every day up until this point has brought me here. and whether the path ahead is smooth or bumpy, i know that the road i travel is mine. the journey is my choice because i believe the end is worth the effort. here's to the next 40, y'all. i said it before and i'll say it again. look out, world. i have arrived.