Dear Debbie Vol. III

Today marked five months.


I still approach the number twenty one now with caution and angst.

Today was a long day. I had this urgency to clean. To clean everything in the house. I am sure that part of it stemmed from wanting to,”spring clean,” prep for people coming over, but also a deeper reason that lingered beneath the surface.

I wanted to clean and get something out of my system.

I clean for two hours and sweated it out while scrubbing versus dancing today.

Then I spent two hours in the car going back and forth to what I thought would be a first activity at the D. Center for Declan, which turned into hours in the car…. Oh well. Ce la vie. There will be other ones. Lesson learned: always check the location especially when they do not communicate it to you.

A few things I want you to know about life in the last two months since I last wrote to you:

~Everything changes regardless of your emotional or physical state. It all changes, constantly. I know, “news flash…” right?!

~Spring has sprung: My tulips bloomed and blew away. My irises grew and opened, and stood tall and proud. They made me think of you every day and how much you loved purple irises, just like mom does. I brought her some on Passover.

~Passover was lonely without you to sing Dayenu with. I missed you. Terribly. Especially our silent communication we would have with subtle eye glances across the table.

~Declan has gotten taller, and thinner, and gangly. I told him he might grow to be six feet five inches tall the other day. He rolled his eyes at me. I could feel it through the back seat of the car while we had the conversation about, “Why kids don’t drink coffee. … so they can be tall of course,” Hahahahaha.

~He won an award for his P. Theorem Project. You would have been so proud of your boy. He explained, THE WHOLE, thing to me, at the STEM Fair, and I listened intently to each word he said. Smarty.

~He made cookies with us recently and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He told me today all about his Pioneer Camp/Field trip and how his favorite part was making biscuits. His love of carbs, like ours, runs deep.

~Declan still gives the best hugs, after Andy of course.  The squeeze you hard, hold on fast, and feel the love kind of hugs. That boy was taught right. Hug, hold, and love. ❤

Lastly these are my cosmic nature moments where I felt your presence the most…

I spotted a faint rainbow last month, it was one of those that are hard to see, but is fleetingly beautiful. If you rub your eyes, than it’s gone. But I saw it. I saw you.

When the robin followed Declan and I home on our walk before bedtime, she hop, hop, hopped after us, and then was there when walking down our street again. Watching, and hopping along, and waiting. I felt like she was this happy little robin mommy walking us home.

My crow crew greets me each day when I come home from work. I always think of the book and movie, “Cold Mountain,” when I see a crow. They say that they are the birds you see that represent your family who have come and gone. So I always think of you, and Grandma Lilli, and Grandpa Bob. I think that there must be some circular process to which nature presents itself as this loving force that reminds us of all that has been before us, with us, and that will come after us.

There are so many more things I want to tell you, and I do in my head, all the time. I am working on focusing my energy into all the positive memories we made. I am really trying ever so hard to retrain my mind on positive happy visuals of you and me and our family. I have found some books, positive mindset videos and speakers, and I am actively working on my mindset daily. Key word: work. Life is such a process. The journey is raw and real.

Lenore once told me something I remind myself of, “Grief is a part of our lives. It is an important part of life. But it is important that grief is not what makes up your life, or the only thing about your life.” Just know that I will heed advice and live and laugh profoundly, but I will always remember and say your name to whoever will listen. You left such a legacy of glistening moments in so many people’s lives. I love hearing their stories and collecting them. I learn from them, and I am beginning to let moments sparkle again. I am singing again, and it feels spiritually healing and also exposing of many wounds from the past that we shared and I am working on mending alone. I love you with sparkly tears.





Dear Debbie Vol. 1

Dear Debbie,

It’s been over two months since I talked to you. I think that’s the longest we’ve gone without speaking since I was born.

One of the first things I did after we left the hospital was pull out my letters to you and re-read them. Dating back to 1991, when our pen pal adventures began. It made me feel better. Don’t start worrying, Andy’s got you covered with that.  His first question to me was, “Whatcha’ doing? Is that going to make you sad? Are you sure that’s a good idea?” I snappily replied in wonderful Rachel fashion, “Yessssss, I’m very happy….” and went back to my land of happy in the midst of your wisdom from your freshman year of college.

In the last two months there have been so many times when I’ve stepped towards the phone and thought, “Oh I just need to call Debbie…” and then stopped myself.

I’m not going to lie. That sucks. It just sucks.

The words from Avenue Q. popped into my head, “It sucks to be me… It sucks to be you…It sucks to be ….” fill in the blank… that was one of my favorite memories of you and I. It was late spring, and we took a selfie and didn’t know it would later be called a, “Selfie.” Hahahaha. We were so ahead of our time, what else can I say? Our smiles say it all.


Today for instance a beautiful soul in my classroom eagerly pealed open her new copy of, “A Wrinkle in Time,” she beamed up at me and said, “I just can’t wait to finish it, I have the whole series, it’s so AWESOME!” Her enthusiasm it was palpable, she is a reader after your own heart, you would have melted. She and Anne Shirley have much in common. They both hide books under their desks during arithmetic. I’ve played Ms. Stacey’s role many times. I love it. She knows how much it means to me to hear this from her too. I told her it was one of your favorite books and she was so excited to start it. Your work is never done big sis. We’re keeping it alive.

The same child wrote to me the following in early January, “Dear Mrs. B. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope that wherever she is, that she’s happy. I love you.” I cried when I read that, of course. I have to appreciate the wisdom of a child when it is dispensed. Speaking of wise children…segue to the best there is, Declan.

We had a really sweet date night a few weeks ago. We wrote letters to Lenore. I wish you could have seen his joy upon digging through my sticker bag. (We know what a big deal it is to SHARE the stickers we treasure…) He found these beautiful scrap booking writer’s stickers and reveled at how perfect they were for his letter to Lenore. He bounded down the stairs and dove into creating the card, decorating, picked up the pen, and then looked at me. All I said to him was, “Do you want to write a rough draft first?” He nodded and began. I gave him a non-teacher-y lesson in how to write a letter and begin the process. He was a natural and prattled off questions and all sorts of things to share about his thinking. I was so proud of him for drafting, editing, and creating a final product by hand with lovely handwriting. He received a big high five from Aunt Rachel for that one.

That night we read a couple thoughtful books about loss. One of them he had read with you, “Boats for Papa,” and the other one was, “Missing Mommy.”  I didn’t push the topic or conversation. I simply said when picking out some story time books, “I have a couple books I’d like to read with you if you’re ok with it.” In true Declan form he said, “Oh yeah, which ones? …. Ok! I read that one with Mom.” Of course you did kid. 🙂 We had a sweet little chat about the concept of still being a family even though we can’t see you, you’re still here with us always in our hearts. I think I feel my strongest and my best when I’m with him and our family. I do ok when I’m working and staying busy too, or at least I try.


“Idle hands are the devils playground…” is that how that saying goes? Well, irregardless, night time is the hardest for me. Perhaps it is because I am tired, emotional, calm and or, just finally listening to my heart.

I remember I had a conversation with a friend years ago about why we like youtube and she told me that, “Sometimes it’s nice to just step into someone else’s story and out of your own for a while.” And I’ve done just that.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been reading, I’ve been exercising, seeing friends here and there, sharing, talking, being social, and I’ve been writing.  I just haven’t felt like sharing it. I had nothing to say for a while. Then everything to say. And then nothing again.

I compose a lot of drafts in my mind. I have always done that though. I write a lot of letters, and messages I would rather write than speak. That is the introvert in me though. I’ve been working on writing out ideas here and there. Sometimes they are emotional rants, diary entries, what have you, and other times they are story ideas or skeletons of things I’ve muddled around for a while.

When I went through a writing training for Lucy Calkin’s work I was first taught, “Writers write best about what they know…” So that’s what I’m doing.

That is one of the reason’s I started the blog.  That and I realized it was high time to put my ideas into one place to share and not be afraid of my own voice.

A book I read this fall had a character in it who basically lived a shut in life after a turn of events.  However, he did reach out in his own way.  He would broadcast his own type of radio channel and music through a special radio he built for himself. He had lost a sibling and felt that the best way to reach him was to put out into the universe what he hoped would some how reach him.

I think that’s what I’m doing here.

I’m writing to you because having the conversation in my mind just isn’t working as well anymore. It seems natural in some way though. I blogged for you last year and loved every minute of sharing our memories to help surprise you every day you had that blasted radiation.

So for now, after this long winded and rambly letter I will leave you with this. A list that came back through, “Facebook memories,” something that you posted back in 2009 on my wall.  Sending you sparkles into the universe. 3 x 3 = I miss you. I love you. My sister Debbie.

Debbie Alvarez  March 5, 2009 at 7:08pm (Here’s what you’re supposed to do. Copy, paste in your notes, delete my answers and type in your answers. Then tag a few good friends! The theory is that you will learn a lot of little known things about each other. **I’m not keen on spam, don’t feel obligated to do this… :)**)

Three Names I go by:

1. Mrs. Alvarez

2. Mrs. Library Lady

3. Mommy

Three Jobs I have had in my life:
1. Data entry clerk for a trucking company
2. Waldenbooks Employee
3. Library Media Specialist (10 years and still loving it)

Three Places I have lived:
1. Anchorage, Alaska
2. Bellingham, Washington
3. Beaverton, Oregon

Three TV Shows that I watch:
1. How I Met Your Mother
2. Scrubs
3. Heroes

Three places I have been:
1. Hawaii
2. New Jersey
3. Europe

People who e-mail me regularly:
1. Family
2. Way too many advertisers
3. OBOB Folks

Three of my favorite foods:
1. Thai noodles
2. Pesto noodles
3. Raspberry Sorbet

Three songs you love:
1. Somewhere over the rainbow- the Israel Kamakawiwo Ole’ version
2. Ice Cream – Sarah McLachlan
3. Most Paul Simon and most Beatles songs are way up there.

Three books you would read more than once:
1. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
2. Twilight Series
3. Goodnight Moon… Any Sandra Boynton Book… Kitten’s First Full Moon

Three movies you love:
1. Princess Bride
2 You’ve Got Mail
3. Grease

Three friends I think will re-post:
Ech, brings me back to that 25 things I hate about Facebook movie… ☺

Things I am looking forward to:
1. a healthy household
2. Spring Break time with Declan
3. Summer Break time with Declan

Three drinks:
1. Chai Tea
2. Thai Iced Coffee
3. Hot Apple Cider

Three people you miss:
1. My grandparents… and family sprinkled all over
2. Jessica in Singapore
3. Good friends spread out all over…

Three sports teams:
Totally NA, not my thing.


יום הולדת שמח אמא

יום הולדת שמח אמא

❤ Happy Birthday Mom ❤


You came into this world unknowing your purpose but yielding a great light that no one knew would lead you across the globe and back again.

You have lived many lives within your time here on earth. The unwavering thread throughout them all is your un-foundering strength that is like a light in the distance that carries us through.

As a young girl raised in the post WWII era of the east coast which bustled with your fellow second generation Americans, making their way through their daily lives, you made your way. The daughter of a soldier turned business owner and a frustrated artistic mother whose endeavors were anything but colorful and brilliant. You were taught to work hard, stand up for yourself, and respect what had come before you. Your knowledge, wit, and wisdom took you through careers untold, friendships passed by, and roads few have traveled.  You paved a way for future women to stand their ground and challenge what was to come.

You passed on this wisdom to both your daughters and now your grandson. We never once doubted if mom shed advice. We would question when we wanted to have the conversation when we would face telling ourselves our own truths that you revealed through loving advocacy.

I owe you a great debt, obviously my life itself. Thank you for nurturing me for eight months in bed, in order for me to be your miracle baby, to live and to breathe.

You invested in my future and held my hand when I was scared, and you still do today. Thank you for introducing me to the greats of music, art, literature, both on the stage, or on the page. Thank you for instilling a love of the natural surroundings of earth both man and God made. I have a depth of knowledge of plants and architecture rolled into one. I always have my students stop and breathe in the crisp cool air while admiring the colorful sky line before we go into our classroom each day. You reminded me to take in the scenery of my childhood. For all the eye rolls and sighs I responded with, I heard you.

You are the most knowledgeable human being I know. Your wisdom knows no boundaries and your memory will not fail.

I know this day might not be seemingly filled with the one person we miss most, but she’s here still. Just know that with your love, support, and encouragement, her words still reach out towards others. It was you behind all those paper we wrote, book reports you edited, and books you slid onto our laps. These are the moments of the unsung heroine in both of our lives. Our mom.

We love you ever so much. For all the quips, and snaps, all the back-breaking soups you have made, and the hugs you have given, just know that they were all appreciated and much loved. Sometimes being humble is difficult, but not when it comes with the gift of your mother’s hand. Thank you mom and happy birthday. I love you to the moon and back.

*Here are some sparkles for your next year, and some Joni Mitchell with our favorite friends too. * ❤

Comunidad para mi hermana…


A unified body of individuals.

The people with common interests living in a particular area. 

I am always astounded at how many beautiful people there are in the vast communities that surround my tiny nuclear family. In the last twelve days this community has exploded into a vast array of artists, writers, teachers, friends, family members, doctors, nurses, musicians, and humanitarians.

If you look for the bad in (hu)mankind expecting to find it, you surely will. -Wise words from Mr. Lincoln.

I like to think of it this way: When you look for the good in people you will surely find it… -A Rachel take

In a time of grief and loss there are no words that can absolutely console or express the feelings that reside within. Although, all I have left are words in fact. These words helped guide me through the last handful of days. The first day I sat and read words, re-read emails, searched and searched for more of her words, looked at photographs, and cried. I read and wrote and cried some more. She would have understood and so appreciated my quiet little tribute on the couch with the cat.

I wish no family member or friend to go through the grief of watching someone so full of life slip away before your eyes. And yet, even in those moments of gray clouds there were bursts of energy, twinklings of starlight that illuminated our little room. These messages, these outpourings of concern, of love, of humor, of photographs, of inspiration, of hope, and caring kindness from a community that once I thought of with fondness and now feel akin to with love.

A friend from afar shared with me a bit of ideology I shall insert here:

“You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.”

-Aaron Freeman.

This so eloquently embodies how I feel. I realized that what I miss most is the immediate sense of being able to share with Debbie. It felt so natural for me to email, write, text, call, Facebook message, FaceTime, Skype, JUST BUG her in general with these flutterings of ideas, jokes, blogs, story ideas, lesson plans, links, pictures, videos, DIY plans and suddenly I realized but wait….where do I send these now? Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Oh I gotta tell Debbie that, she’d think that was so….” Dang it. Then the thought occurred to me…

I can still tell her. I can still write to her. That I shall do.

I feel a sense of energy when I fall asleep, and when I rise up each morning. I work through those moments in time when I feel like becoming moss on the silent log in the woods. I push myself as she did every day, I do not succumb to the voice in my head that says no, I turn around and scream back in response a resounding: YES.

Life is too short to not partake in the ample opportunities that surround you. Reach out to your community whomever that might be. Find those that inspire you and shed light on the joint ideologies that lift up one another.

I shall leave you with a quote from one of our favorite humans, Mr. Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Look for the helpers my friends, be a helper, and shed love wherever you go.

❤ Sparkles for Debbie, always. ❤


Year 5775 and 5776

The last week has brought with it a wealth of emotions. Perhaps it is because between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, my spiritual side has been reeling with what the last year has brought upon it.  As well as making amends with all that it has been dealt and has dwelled with the last year. I realized a few things about myself and life as I know it right now in no particular order: 

  1. It is completely acceptable to cry and be emotional. Allowing myself to have feelings flow through me and out is healthy and necessary at times.
  2. Communicating is important, however setting limits and boundaries is also healthy.
  3. ❤ ❤ I want the world to know how lucky I am to have the most amazing human for a sister E-V-E-R. I love you Debbie. ❤ ❤
  4. I am strong and capable of standing up when I need to be, but sometimes I do not want to and that is completely reasonable. 
  5. Not everyone has the same expectations or priorities as you.
  6. Life is complicated, at times messy, and really above all else, beautiful.
  7. The ups and downs I experience in day to day life, make up the most impactful moments of my life. 
  8. Breathe in deeply every morning before walking into what the day brings is a beautiful gift. 
  9. Forgive yourself.
  10. Bask in the glow of possibility and curiosity.
  11. Allow the changes that lie ahead to occur.
  12. Let go of your desires for control.
  13. Pursue honesty.
  14. Tell those whom I love how much they mean to me all the time, but more importantly SHOW these feelings through actions.
  15. Daily goals for a healthy mind, body, and spirit makes for a happier me.
  16. Reflect, write, and re-write.
  17. Appreciate my body and all that it can provide for me every day.
  18. Love. Remember to show love, give love to others, and above all else yourself.

18 makes לחיים.  To Life. Sparkle on.

Debbie and I

הִנְנִי Hineni Day 30

 הִנְנִי Hineni literally translated means, “Here I am.”

I saw another blogger reference the importance of being present. Place your hand over your heart the meme said, feel that? THAT in and of itself signifies the reason for you today. You are here, you are important, your life has meaning.

I was laying on a doctor’s table and gearing myself up for one of those lovely annual exams and I decided to shift my mind’s focus. I was feeling cranky, tired, and a number of other things. I did a little pep self talk that went something like this, “Ok Rachel, breathe in and out slowly, breathe again, and again just like you tell your students. Ok now let’s look at all the positives about being in this room right now.” I sat there and listed them out one by one by one. I felt a little bit more grateful and better about the situation as the minutes ticked by.

Even though we have been counting down each of these treatments, I am grateful for each and every one of them. The act of visualizing the beams of radiation phasing out the cancerous cells, the happy white blood cells carrying health and rejuvenation throughout your body have been my constant visual and I know yours as well Debbie. Healing repair and perseverance is present today.

Often times I try to meditate through song or chanted prayer. Sometimes it’s with a Debbie Friedman rendition of a prayer, other times it’s just the sh’ma. There is something about those sacred words that makes me feel comforted and safe. I know that  הִנְנִי Hineni has been yours Debbie. Thank you to the rabbi’s at your H.K. synagogue for their positivity and support. They are wonderful and loving people. I am so happy to have met them and shared moments of prayer and song with all of us together.

Dad always says, “Life’s too short kid, don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” We’re here today, we’re doing our very best to be bright, be vibrant, and be the best version of ourselves. I feel so grateful for this technology, this writing opportunity to remind you about our joint memories throughout all these years. I love you to the moon and back big sister, just like the Savage Garden song said. 🙂 I know that my next count down will be from tomorrow through July 9th. That is approximately: 121 days until you are back in Oregon and we can embrace in a much-needed hug!!!!!!!

May these next one hundred days be filled with health, finishing chemotherapy, and breathing just slightly easier. You have shown tremendous strength, will, and zest for life. I admire your ability to be forthright, honest, and a fervent researcher. I love you! xoxoxoxoxoxo.


 הִנְנִי Hineni

Ten years, Day 29

When I was blessed to come into the world, ten years had already passed for my sister on this Earth. I remember her lovingly showing me her journal and reading aloud her memory of my birthday. She recalled moving into the house on Leeward Place in Anchorage’s suburbs. My folks had scraped, saved, rented, bought, sold, and finally were able to build their own home after years of working towards their goal. She had a tiny black and white pencil drawing of her sitting in the woods behind the house with a book in hand, of course, and smile across her face. She said she was so excited to have a baby sister to dote upon. I was wrapped in pink with a squinted up face and a giant head of jet black hair.

As the baby of the family I had it much easier in some respects. We are both very unique and different individuals from one another. I appreciate her but most of all I have always looked up to her. She was my first role model, friend, and mentor. I know that I have written about it before, but hey, why not let memories repeat themselves? This is something that we often do in our family, and who doesn’t?!

Today I had the opportunity to meet a long lost relative that we had never thought we would get connected with. Luckily with the benefits of modern day technology and the internet they found our folks and today we had a very special reunion.

While enjoying a celebratory lunch with our cousin my mom recalled some fun memories I had not yet shared. So I will take this moment to do so now. As well as a few that you Debbie have reminded me of which are hilarious as well. I wish you could have been there today, but as I told our cousin, we will have to visit the east coast, and she and her boys come back to Oregon. Who doesn’t love the great Pacific Northwest?! As Andy lovingly stated, “Once people come to Portland, they don’t leave.” 🙂


~Some of the best moments as a tiny child of six and seven were when your best friend’s visited. Some enjoyed your annoying little sister’s presence more than others. Dear Michelle was ever so patient, loving, and silly with me. I absolutely loved a game we came up with which was, “SLIDE down the wooden floor hallway as fast as you can!” This game involved getting a running start on the carpeted area and skidding down said hallway past an antique mirror on the wall. I especially enjoyed skidding past and seeing my reflection whizz by. Another favorite was being roll-pushed down the hallway. Mom called it, “Bowling you down the hallway,” I just remember it being an absolute blast.

Chopsticks,” anyone? This was the first song I learned on the piano as well as, “heart and soul.”  I’m sure many musicians cringe when they hear either being played. I on the other hand, loved both, and find it highly amusing when kids bang out renditions of this on the piano. Both you and Michelle would patiently show me the notes and play ever so slowly so that I could get the unison and then duet correct. I felt like such a big kid swinging my feet on the piano bench next to you two. My other favorite memories were of you and Michelle playing duets, along with Sheli’s sister. Those were the days!

Another enjoyable thought came trickling back to you after a few blog reads ago. This involved the laundry chute. I think that mom and dad’s thinking on installing this were: 1. it would make getting the laundry from point a. to point b. much easier. 2. They never thought we would slide down said laundry chute. Just to be clear, I DID NOT, go down the laundry chute. I was too scared, however you did.  “WHOOOOOOOOOOP, down you went and poof into a pile of clothes. I think I almost peed my pants after that. I remember racing down the stairs to see if you were ok. Of course you were fine and laughing the whole time. That’s all I’m going to say about that!

With these flashbacks in time I see things so clearly in that house. The wall paper, the floor boards, the missing grout between tiles, our pastel blue and pink bedrooms walls, the smell of the wood and books in the library, and the sherbet colored carpet in the living and dining rooms, as well as those creaky basement stairs and the scary sump pump…

There is a line in a duet I am learning that says,”It’s hard to talk away the memories that you prize.” Now out of context this line lends itself perfectly to my point. No matter how many stories we tell, or how many recollections that we share, the moments of today and tomorrow are irreplaceable. These emotions and feelings that we are granted to behold are not fleeting, but yet they are indescribable.

No matter where you are or what you are up to, I’ll always love you and be here to support you. Life is about sharing it with people whom you hold dear. With all this being said, I’ll leave you with another family member’s thought.  Our dear cousin shared a pearl of wisdom today, (her mother bestowed this upon her and her sister most days when they fought):

“Friends may come and go. Husbands may come and go, but you will always have your sister. Remember that.”

I love you! Have a great day and second to last treatment, YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Photo on 3-1-15 at 6.37 PM

“Three, two, one, action!” Day 27

When we were growing up, something we quite enjoyed as a family were our movie times. I thought I would dedicate today’s blog to a some random memories involving movies, enjoy! 🙂

Circa age three through seven I was in love with the Disney movie, “Alice In Wonderland.” Perhaps that is why I was draw to a three-quarter length sleeved shirt with Alice and Dinah on the blouse’s front and stripes on the sleeve for the Cheshire cat. Who knows really how our brains work. However, I do know this, when I suggested watching that with Declan at one point, you ranted about how I was so OBSESSED with that movie it was the only one that I would watch for years. Over and over again apparently… Funny though, I don’t really recall this. I KNOW!  It’s probably the only time I don’t recall a memory we have together that you have as well, unless, of course, I was too small to remember it. That being said, I do remember laying on mom and dad’s white miniature couch in their bedroom. Come to think of it, it was more like a love seat, but never the less, a comfortable one it was. I was ill with something or other and I can see that movie playing on the 40 inch screen.  I loved lounging and watching movies, singing and dancing along. Admitedly, I still do.  I used to perform these half cartwheels around mom and dad’s bed. A king size bed as a four-year old is quite exciting people. Fin, for that memory.

Circa age six, I zoom in, I can see the scene laid out before my eyes: Sleeping Beauty is blaring across the screen and I can hear your voice saying, “Do you want to try watching something new Rachel? What about this movie? I’ll let you watch it with me!” My response was prompt and high-pitched, “NOOOOOOOOO!” I don’t remember the title of the film you requested or suggested rather, but you were so annoyed with me. (Hahahahaha.) We had a long discussion about how the evil Maleficent was much scarier than the characters in this movie that you wanted to watch. You kept the discussion going and I think at one point I may have stated, “I don’t want to because, I don’t want to, and I like this movie because it’s not about Maleficent it’s about Aurorrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaa.” Endearing childhood moments. What was the name of that movie?

Cut to age eight or nine or so….here goes another blast from the past: I was interested in watching the movie, “My Girl.” We took in the flick together and I quite enjoyed it. I remember watching it with you, but I was very confused about one particular part. The scene that left me puzzled was this particular one: Lead girl comes rushing into the house and storms into the bathroom. She talks with her mom, (No wait, I think step mom who was not her favorite person in the world). She ranted as she answered the door and then promptly slammed the door in her friend’s face, a boy. She yelled, “Why don’t they get it? It’s so unfair, I can’t believe I have to deal with this…” or something like that. I really didn’t get it all perfectly, but you get the idea. What was this whole scene and moment about anyway? Why was it so important?

One word: Menstruation.  Ok three words: “Getting your period.”  CLEARLY I didn’t have any idea about bodily changes and what would take place in the future.  Debbie, I asked you about it and I keenly recall you saying this to me, “Ask me in two or three years and I’ll explain it to you.” Hahaha, I cracked myself up just then I as I typed those words, and Andy’s asking me, “What?” 🙂 Apparently I’m one of the only people he knows, who will be sitting quietly and start laughing aloud.  I am easily amused and I crack myself up. Isn’t this a skill that everyone posses? I think it’s quite normal.

Fall of 2014:  Lounging on your bed in Hong Kong and watching, “Roman Holiday,” together was one of my favorite H.K. memories. It was nice to just cozy up and chill out with a flick and a lovely starlet we admired. I shall leave you with a favorite quote of hers. Have a fabulous day, I love you!

Audrey Hepburn’s ideology and words: 

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

DSC01588A little giggle here with my attempt at fun hair and hair embellishments in this photograph. Amidst Declan’s, “Mad,” face at more selfies with Aunt Rachel. 🙂 It’s a hard knock life!

The music of the night Day 25

“Think of me, think of me fondly, when we said goodbye…”

Phantom of the Opera, by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Do you remember seeing this musical with me? I don’t even remember what year it was. Perhaps 2000, or 2001? It was on tour in Portland and you asked me if I would want to go see it with you.

Let me just take a pause for a moment to think about my response, “Ummmm, YES!”

For years we had listened the original Broadway cast album with Sarah Brightman, Crawford and Bartman. Over and over, and over again on road trips and to and from places around town. I loved singing and trying to embellish lyrics on the soprano songs. It was one of the musicals at the time that was taboo to sing at auditions or at recitals, “Too over done…tsk, tsk, who do you think you are? Sarah Brightman?”

Well I never listened to that. I ended up performing the role of Christine at a child’s birthday party in 2004. Yes, I said birthday party, that was correct. The parent was a bit indulgent shall we say. It was my first paying gig and I was absolutely thrilled. Someone has a home video floating around their shelves in Beaverton…not sure who or where. But the evidence exists. I wore my bridesmaid dress and earned a few hundred dollars to glide down the stair case and sing songs I loved. What’s not to love about that?!

Back to the memory. There I go digressing. Story of my life I’d say. 🙂  “The road less traveled…” Oh, whoops, there I go again.

I was absolutely thrilled to see the production with you that spring day. I can keenly recall mom and dad seeing it when I was about 9 or 10 in Anchorage, 1993 or 1994. Mom said I was a bit too young to see it because of the ‘scary’ elements in the production. I had heard about the chandelier falling and the whole mini-explosion bits here and there. I could not wait to see the spectacular with my own eyes. I can remember sitting in the Keller Auditorium with you, anxiously awaiting the beginning of the production. We flipped through the concert program and read through biographies for the performers and musicians.

The lights dimmed.

That faint chiming started and that melody that I can hear in my brain now, then the auction scene began. Finally the chandelier and that grand organ sound resounded. Chandelier glides upwards above the stage. Not over the audience yet, my heart still jumped into my hands, ok mom was right. 🙂

I don’t care what any one else thinks. I’m sorry, I think Sir Lloyd Webber did a spectacular job with his production. I absolutely adore the musical and am thrilled any time I hear the tunes. I know it’s rather faux pas or what not amongst the musical theatre community to be forthright with my accolades and taste. To each his own thought I say! I don’t know anyone personally that has written a musical that well done, performed THAT many times, and with such a resounding crowd pull for every show. Perhaps it is also the element of Paris that intrigued me ever so.

Having been lucky enough to spend time there, I can see why. It was a musical, architecturally enthralling, and culturally immersing city to experience. Perhaps one day we could share the experience together Debbie?! I would love to roam the streets of Paris with you and paint at the top of the Montmartre together. There is something to be said about being in Paris and enjoying what the city has to offer.

Thank you for the musical tapes, the musical production memories, and for sharing these glorious experiences with me. I can’t wait to see a musical with you again soon. I love you ever so!


This was a photo taken outside of the Keller, circa 2007-ish before enjoying, “Avenue Q.” Yet another musical you introduced into my life. 🙂

Visualize Day 24!

Brush in hand, gentle strokes, dip, wipe, repeat. The art of painting itself…


When painting I often find myself getting into a rhythm of sorts.  There is something cathartic about putting brush to paper or palette and letting go of expectations completely. I rediscovered painting with a dear friend and previous colleague. I saw her pictures of beautiful paintings via social media and I immediately became interested. I wanna do that! So we did!

When you visited last summer Debbie, I knew we had to go paint together. It was so much fun. And also funny. Looking back later upon my work I noticed how crooked certain things were and then I laughed at myself and thought, “There I go placing expectations upon my art, versus appreciating it for what I created.”

These reminders can be taken and applied into so many scenarios in life.

“There are no mistakes in art,” is what I like to tell students when they want a new paper, a new palette, a new this or that, when they experience the unconformability of creating visual art. I tell them how brave they can be if they push through and believe in their ability to create.

Our grandmother was a visual artist who blossomed later in life.

Perhaps if there was a fun term for inheriting art capabilities we could call ourselves that, Debbie. Such as, having a green thumb, or being ambidextrous or something or other. We both inherited visual capabilities and craftiness from mom and Grandma.

The idea of using one’s hands to create something from your imagination or an inspiration in life is essential to keep the spark of life alive. I love sitting down and even taking time to allow creativity to flow just for a few moments. Sometimes stopping your  to-do list in your brain, really being present in the moment in time can allow unexpected journeys to take place. I love when I stumble across an idea, or I draw a little sketch for a student. These are the moments to appreciate and celebrate. Small joys each day, help me to keep going and power through what can at times, be a daunting week or job filled hour.

Making time for this each day for art is essential. Even if it is appreciating a pretty picture on a calendar, or meme while scrolling a social media feed. Take time to look at art today and allow yourself to enjoy those subtle moments in time. We are Renaissance women aren’t we. Putting our arts together collectively to share and create. I love you big sister! xoxo

debbie and i painting