Tag Archives: Celebration

May 20 – And The Winner Is…

by Kali’ Rourke

2018 Austin Under 40 Awards

I have been involved in mentoring since 2005 when Austin Independent School District Principals asked the nonprofit I was working with for a mentor program for children who had lost a parent to prison. You see, in public schools, when a child loses a parent for any other reason (divorce, death, etc.), all sorts of programs and help snap into place for them. This does not happen when Dad or Mom is hauled off in handcuffs and life changes in an instant.

I dove into an area of service to children that taught me a great deal, I saw the program grow and flourish as President of the Board of Seedling, and then I began mentoring personally. My first mentee was a first-grade girl that I was blessed to know through fourth grade before her family moved away.

Now, I mentor a kindergartener who is processing her new reality, and I hope to be with her for years to come. I mentored a young woman through the Austin Young Women’s Alliance Connect program last year, and she has become another daughter to me, and I have added another YWA Connect mentee this year who is one of the most positive people I have ever known. All of these girls and women are unique, smart, fun, and gave me at least as much as I gave them. Really good stuff!

2017 Austin Under 40 Awards

Last year I was nominated for Mentor of the Year by the Austin Under 40 Awards that are sponsored by YWA and the Young Men’s Business League and I was one of five finalists. (Mentor of the Year is the only award they give to those of us who are over 40 and no, I did not win!)

This year I was nominated again, named a finalist, and last night was the Gala where the winners were announced. My two YWA Mentees and my older daughter were at my finalist table, along with my wonderful husband and a dear friend from the Seedling Board who had written a recommendation for me.

I did not win. It was not a big surprise to me, considering the amazing finalists in my category, but it allowed me to reflect on the influence mentoring can have. Role modeling and mentoring in success feels natural, but mentoring through loss, failure, and challenge can be much harder if you let it. I think, however, that it may be one of the most impactful places from which to mentor.

For women and girls who may not have opportunities to see and learn what losing gracefully looks like, through sports or other competition, observing a Mentor’s loss can be a powerfully positive experience for them to share.

Kali’ Rourke is a wife, mother, writer, singer, volunteer, philanthropist, and a proud Mentor. She blogs at Kali’s Musings and A Burning Journey – One Woman’s Experience with Burning Mouth Syndrome.

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March 14 – Cooking for Passover

by Ariela Zucker

CookbookIt is my mother’s cookbook that I kept after she passed away many years ago, so most of the recipes are hers. Every year I open it a few days before Passover and minutes later I am treading knee-deep in thoughts and images and even the smells of my childhood. I know from prior years that these entangled sensations, a neurological condition called synesthesia, is temporary and will pass after the holiday but for a brief period I let myself back into the land of memories.

The book’s hardcover is dull brown that is peeling in all four corners. When I open it, a stream of papers of all sizes and colors fall out and spread unevenly on the floor. Another thing I tend to forget is my habit to write recipes on random pieces of paper and tuck them inside the book, for a keepsake. The pages themselves stained from the years and the many times they were touched with oily or flower covered hands.

As I flip through the book, gently, so not to tear the pages that tend to stick to each other, I make it to the part marked Passover. I look at my mother’s angular handwriting and remember how the Hebrew letters, she adopted late in her life, never gained an easy flaw. I remember how she complained about it yet insisted on writing the recipes in Hebrew so I will be able to read them. In between, my handwriting, round and flawless, unlike her I drew a lot of satisfaction from the act of writing.

Passover flowerless cake, a family recipe my mother learned from her mother. Matzo dipped in chocolate, my favorite. Chicken soup with matzo balls, gefilte fish, brisket, compote, the list seems endless and with each recipe an image of the Seder table and the voices of people who are no longer alive mix with the loved flavors.

I look at the recipes and sigh. Like my daughters when they ask for a favorite recipe, I remember how I tried to follow the detailed instructions of the dishes just to fall short, time and time again. All my efforts did not produce the exact texture, or smell, or taste. I know that it will not happen this time around either, but that I will give it my best try.

Ariela Zucker was born in Israel. She and her husband left sixteen years ago and now reside Ellsworth Maine where they run a Mom and Pop motel. She blogs at https://paperdragonme.wordpress.com/

June 4 – A Long Distance Graduation

by Patricia Roop Hollinger

silver-cup

“You want to do what?” my husband asked when I announced that I would like to drive 700 miles to Jacksonville, Florida to attend my great-nephew, Grant’s, high school graduation.

Travel has become a hassle that I try to avoid as the aging process has diminished my stamina, and my learning curve to figure out where and how to turn on bathroom lights in an unfamiliar toilet is, well . . . daunting.

As wary guests we arrived at the homestead before the big event. Yes, it is a big event when there are 400 graduates; I was a graduate in a class of 24. There were the usual hugs and “Hi, how are you?”, “My how you have grown”, “Long time no see” chatter.

The chaos began when the kitchen stove was being dragged out the front door. A smoking stove with guests and an upcoming graduation was an unanticipated annoyance. We sat back and, in the blink of an eye, the newly arrived stove was installed before the mother of the graduate returned home from work (she was covering for a co-worker who had a death in the family). We wondered when the next crisis might evolve.

Another co-worker arrived with enchiladas, casseroles, and all the necessary eating devices. We just lined up to fill our paper plates and grab a plastic knife and fork. Any plush decorum was not the order of the day.

“So, Grant what are you required to wear tomorrow?” my niece asked.

“Oh, I am going to wear the black trousers I wore for that freshman event,” he replied.

“But, Grant, they don’t even fit you anymore!” she exclaimed.

A hasty shopping trip was in order.

On May 29, 2015, thousands of family and friends arrived at the Fleming High School graduation. Parents were in the bleachers while other family members, with lawn chairs in tow, marked their territory. There was nary a storm cloud in sight. The golden eagle flying overhead was Grant’s great-grandfather who died in 2001. Uncle Matt, the professional photographer, got a perfect shot of this magnificent bird soaring the graduates to their individual destinations. Afterward, with great efficiency, these thousands of people were back on the highway to return to various sites for further celebrations.

Packages awaited Grant as we gathered around to ohhhhh and ahhhhh as he opened his gifts. I waited with bated breath as he opened the silver cup that was given to his great-grandfather on the occasion of his birth in 1909. Grant could see his reflection in it and stared with awe and wonder. This silver cup was very symbolic for me. While recovering from rheumatic fever as a child my mother would serve me crushed ice and orange in this cup.

“Grant, cherish this cup and may orange juice be the strongest drink you ever guzzle from this cup during your college years,” I told him.

Patricia Roop Hollinger married a high school heart-throb in 2010. Grant, Grace and Graham were her attendants for this event. She now lives in a Retirement community in Westminster, Maryland. She is retired as a Pastoral Counselor/LCPC, hospice volunteer, cat lover, musician, voracious reader and now in pursuit of honing writing skills.

September 22 – Wedding or Bust

by Ardine Martinelli

wedding

Getting married in Reno, NV offered many unexpected surprises. With family and friends coming to our wedding, Frank and I flew into Reno the day before to find a wedding site. We figured it wouldn’t be hard to find a chapel in the heart of Reno–the marriage and divorce capital of the country.

Frank booked the wedding suite at the MGM Grand Hotel. Upon entering our room, we were greeted by a large red heart-shaped bed on a pedestal. I literally bent over in laughter as soon as the bellhop left. Frank and I sat on the bed giggling like two teenagers and flopped back looking up at a large ceiling mirror.

After settling in, we needed to find a chapel for our wedding. We asked at the front desk where we might find wedding chapels and they looked at us with a smile and, I’m sure a silent, “DUH, you’re in Reno.” But they were polite and said, “Oh, I don’t think you’ll have any problem there’s one on every corner, just walk down the street.”

Totally confident we began our search. The first one looked a little too glitzy with a big neon sign flashing over the double doors of wrought iron. Passing this one up, we came upon one with a more subdued front. Walking in we found plastic flowers covering an altar and went up both sides of the small aisle. Cracked linoleum covered the floor. A plastic Jesus hovered over the altar. The fragrance of moldy plastic permeated the place. After three more chapels with all the same decor, I was almost in tears. What did I expect in Reno? Experiencing a severe case of cramps, I just wanted to go back to the hotel and rest. Cramps, plastic Jesus’, neon lights and a red heart-shaped bed were not what I envisioned for my wedding. We slowly walked back to the MGM, unable to face one more “wedding chapel.”

Walking into the hotel I noticed a sign that said Wedding Chapel with an arrow pointing down a long hall. Why not? Following the signs, we came upon the most beautiful double doors made of rich mahogany with elegant stained glass. Inside we found a very sedate chapel, the decor in subtle mauves, grays and blues. The chapel was all I had hoped for, very tasteful carpeting, seating, and no altar. Now the big question, was it free tomorrow? Yes! We scheduled our wedding for 11:00 a.m. and reserved the room in the restaurant for a luncheon to follow. You may ask, “Why didn’t we check the MGM first?” My question exactly! I’m sure there was a reason for our afternoon excursion through the chapels of Reno.

Ardine Martinelli lives in the beautiful NW and loves hiking, gardening, reading, and, of course, writing. SCN has been a wonderful prod for her to continue writing. She is a spiritual director and retreat leader.

September 16 – Oh Say Can You See

by Patricia Roop Hollinger

star

Excitement began to build like a crescendo when playing the Rhapsody in Blue on the piano, as I anticipated the Star Spangled Banner event being held at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD.

My husband and I boarded the bus with eighty or so other residents who live in the retirement community with us, all in varying stages of navigation, some with canes adorned in red white and blue.

Overcast skies did not dim the possibilities that the Blue Angels would be flying overhead–this being the awaited-for event of the day.

Boarding the Spirit of Baltimore became a feat in and of itself. Ah! The staff assisting sighed relief when all were seated with nary a trip up the gangplank.

Loud music blasted from the DJ’s quarters. Most of us this age experience waning hearing abilities even without the aid of hearing devices. The possibility of having a conversation over dinner was ruled out as one of the pleasures of the day.

Ah! But we will see the Blue Angels fly overhead. That is the teaser.

Overcast skies became clouds bursting with rain, not bombs, and it trickled through the roof of the Spirit of Baltimore.

“Be thankful it is not bombs,” I said to myself.

Joe Biden arrived at Fort McHenry in a helicopter. The Inner Harbor was lined with people as far as the eye could see and the excitement was palpable, but the Blue Angels did not fly overhead.

Then, it was time to board the bus and return to the Retirement Village. The plodding back to the bus was even slower than the disembarkment.

We arrived home safely, greatly appreciated and watched the Star Spangled Banner event on our TV, under a dry roof, and with a remote that could control the noise level.

Ah! Now this made it a Star Spangled Event.

Patricia Roop Hollinger is a retired chaplain/LCPC. Hospice volunteer, avid reader, cat lover, music lover and now in pursuit of honing her writing skills.

October 3 – Fall

by Melissa Dallago

Spring is commonly associated with a time of rebirth and renewal; a time of the robins returning to the trees and blossoming flowers. Fall is considered to be a time of harvesting the bounty and preparing for the coming winter. I do not ascribe to these sentiments of fall and spring. On the contrary, I consider fall to be a time of resurgence and rejuvenation, but then again, I am a fall baby born into this glorious season.

When fall arrives my spirit feels stronger; a sense of purpose enters my step. Fall is my time of year for being thankful for the joys in my life, a la Thanksgiving, but also of planting seeds for my future endeavors. Much like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon during springtime, I erupt from mine and burst forth onto the world during the fall.

I love my autumn colored clothes coming out of the closet for the cooler weather. I adore wearing my favorite boots for the first time in the year. I love the dry, cinnamon smell of the red and orange leaves. I especially enjoy celebrating Halloween with its black cats, witches and monsters. I start planning my costume months before, much like an early Christmas shopper. I wait in anticipation for the haunted houses to open so I can get the crap scared out of me. I also love Thanksgiving and my mom’s homemade cooking.

I relish in fall; embracing everything about it. So while others are turning their thoughts to the fast approaching winter, I dance through the falling leaves in my favorite boots, drinking hot apple cider, and giggling with the ghosts; celebrating my time of rebirth and renewal.

“My name is Melissa Dallago, and I live in Safety Harbor, Florida. I am a member of the Internet Chapter as well. I’m an aspiring writer and I am hoping to improve and grow in my writing.”

July 11 – Good Morning

by Andrea Savee

Tomorrow, my brain will be both bombarded and caressed and sections that have been asleep for forty-three years will wake up. My perception of the world, and maybe myself in it, will change, without me taking a drug, staring at a wall for a week, or having a near death experience.

I feel giddy and special. Like it’s the night before the biggest birthday party of my life. A party with one whopping $5600 gift to myself of Danish technology: hearing aids.

My childhood ears were ravaged by chronic infections. Surgical and pharmaceutical interventions–a steady dose of prescription strength Sudafed and Actifed, tonsil and adenoidectomies, drainage tubes, and finally a tympanoplasty — couldn’t prevent severe damage to the ossicular chain, that trio of articulating bones we learned about in elementary school: the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. By age nine, I’d lost considerable hearing in my right ear and was nearly deaf in my left.

Somehow, I’ve spent four decades never even considering hearing aids or the surgery that I’ve learned could restore my hearing to normal. Seeming to naturally embody the phrase It is what it is, I adjusted. In school, I sat up front. In work and play, I reflexively positioned myself to the left of someone I wanted to hear. I watched the mouth of the person speaking more than I did their eyes.

Tomorrow, I’ll immerse myself in a surround sound scenario that will reportedly rock my world as the brain scrambles to sort it all out. Alicia, the audiologist, warns me that as the upper registers of my hearing range flood with information, I may be distressed by the simplest sounds of living. Dishes clanking. Keys jangling. Freddie Mercury.

But there will be soothing sounds, too, as the lower registers open up and round things out. The hooting desert owl. Eggs boiling in the covered pot. The cat purring from the far end of the couch. I can hardly wait for someone to whisper in my ear.

And being buttressed on both sides now by the sounds of the world will bring clarity. No more mistaking the dribbling hose for chirping birds. The whirring motor several lawns away for bees humming in the trees overhead.

After my initial workup, the otologist asked me with a softened voice how I’ve managed all my life. I was touched by her tenderness. She asked if I’d grown up in a small town without access to good medical care. I hadn’t. In fact, my dad was a doctor. What ifs swirled around the exam room and around the question of why I hadn’t been treated with antibiotics. My later Google search suggests that whether and when to treat children with antibiotics is still the judgment call my parents made back in the 60s.

The child who lost access to half her world when the left side dropped away doesn’t need what ifs. She just needs hearing aids. The ReSound Alera 961 to be precise. I like the sound of that.

Andrea lives in California with her Queen-loving husband, and their cat, Chico.