Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Upside Down

"Everything looks cooler upside down," I said.

"Wow, it really does," she confirmed.

"How come my life doesn't look that cool when it is upside down?" I said.

My mom was the only one I could cry to. And I was the only one she could cry to. It was our thing. We could only cry to each other.

When the day got the best of me, and I couldn't cry to my mom, I wasn't sure who to go to or where to go. I just wanted to be a kid again. I wanted to go back to when she was young and free of pain. The time in my life when she could wrap me up in a ball, kiss my forehead and tell me to free my troubled mind. Sadly, I can't bring her back. So instead I decided to bring my childhood back.

It is just two chains and a piece of rubber. It is simple. It is forgiving. It is a swing. And its' simple construction creates endless opportunities and an incredible sense of liberation. It takes you back to when you were you young. When you could cuddle up in your mother's arms and be entertained for hours just by her sparkly gold jewelry. It is the child in all of us. And while turning your life upside down can be scary, experiencing this rush provides a valuable perspective.

My Career Plan

I have always followed my heart and my gut instincts. For me, the two go hand and hand. And while some people map out a five-year and a ten-year plan by the time they are twenty, I prefer a different method when planning my career. My to-do list used to look like this: laundry, ten page paper, mach interview and English midterm. After my mom passed away I did some renovating to my to-do list. Now my to-do list looks like this: check-in with Dad, plan a trip to see YiaYia, make sure you tell Nouna (godmother) that I love her. I now concentrate on my special relationships instead of saying; “I’ll call you later”. I now surround myself with people who constantly inspire me and focus on developing myself first. Then I tackle my essays and tests, as they need to be done. I do one thing at a time. I believe that by doing this I will develop consistently everyday and my career will grow along with me.

Four years have come and gone. And it seems that when you are halfway through a good thing that is the time when you realize that it is almost over. In that moment you wish you could be back at the beginning. When it is your last time you wish it were your first. But that is part of living, remembering the past, seizing the present, and planning for the future. And sometimes the future plan is so close, that when something that you have always planned and wished for in your future suddenly comes before your eyes you panic, questioning whether you are ready. Life is a continuous gamble, a gamble on uncertainty. The beauty of this uncertainty is that we can wear many hats in our lifetime. Life is not a perfect straight line; there is plenty of room for mistakes and risks. I will wear many different hats in my lifetime and I know that these trials and risks will be worth every gain and loss that I encounter. We all race for the finish line, placing bets on our future or where we will end up. We place bets on whether we will become a doctor, a millionaire, a cowboy, a movie star or a stay at home mom. We place bets on which hat we will wear. Some of us stay inside the boundaries of the track never trying on another hat, never testing the uncertainty because this uncertainty might lead to failure. While some people are scared of this uncertainty, I am anxious to use my palette and color the world. I am a product of my family, my faith, my mother, my Greek culture and my education and one day I hope that my palette will create a beautiful portrait.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Over the past month, my life has made a drastic change. She was my rock, the only person I cried to. She was my biggest fan and biggest critic. She was my storyteller and my interviewer. My life started with her. But I believe that my journey started when hers ended. It seems that each lecture, lesson and heart felt conversation I had with my mother were preparation for her departure. This is the reason instead of starting at the beginning and tracing my life up until this point, I find it most appropriate to start at the present moment, because the most important thing to me now, is the now. Now what am I going to do? Now where am I going to go? Now what do I want to do when I grow up? Now. Now. Now.

“Your cross is beautiful hun,” he said as his dark and daring eyes stared at me from behind the counter.

“Thank you it was my mom’s, I got it for her in Greece,” I remarked.

It was my moms’. My mom was… and then I fill in the blank. She was a fighter. She was a friend. She was an inspiration. WAS, the word itself still makes cringe. I still struggle with the idea of putting her existence in the past. My story starts at the symbol of the cross, of her cross. As a child my family and I would go to church nearly every Sunday. My mom and I always sit next to each other in church. She cradled her warm elegant hands up against mine and pressed my three fingers together to make a point. And then she would guide my arm up to my forehead, down to my stomach, to my right shoulder and then to my left. And I would practice this motion over and over before I went to bed. I would hold my gold cross in between my hands and rubbed it gently until I finally fell asleep. I was terrified as a child to sleep alone and this routine calmed my nerves.

Once she finally fell asleep after an 11-year battle with cancer, I grabbed her cold elegant hand and pressed her three fingers together to make a point. Then I guided her arm up to her forehead, down to her stomach, to her right shoulder and then to her left. In my head I could hear her say, “Pass it on”. Now, I wear her gold Grecian cross across my chest to remind me that she lives within me and her spirit will never have to be associated with the word WAS.

I hear her little lessons and axioms everyday, proving that even though she is a heaven’s away, her lessons will never cease.

“Pass it on,” I heard her say. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, pass it on. Do everything in moderation, pass it on. Always take one thing at a time, pass it on. Who you marry is one of the most important decisions that you make, pass it on.

Now, the most important goal that I have is passing on her lessons.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I read of a man who stood to speak, at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on this tombstone from the end.

He noted that first came his date of birth and spoke the following with tears. But he said what mattered most of all, was the dash in between those years.

For the dash represents, all the time he spent alive on earth.
And how only those who loved him know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own; the cars, the house, the cash, what matters most is how we live and love and how we spend our dash… So think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left, that can still be rearranged. If we could just slow down enough, to consider what is true and real.
And always try to understand, the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more,
and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash would you be proud of the things they say and how your spent your dash?

(By Linda Ellis)