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Letters to Lola

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Read on as our Editor-in-Chic writes to her daughter about an inspiring moment when a crowd’s attitude toward an unexpected power failure turned an ordeal into an adventure.

Our Editor-in-Chic shares a story about overcoming challenges and "dancing in the rain."
Our Editor-in-Chic shares a story about overcoming challenges and “dancing in the rain.”

Last night, at our annual Red, Pink and Blue event, we had a truly incredible experience that I’ll never forget. Not because we had a beautiful night, hundreds of attendees, or tons of awesome sponsors. It was because things went wrong. Horribly wrong, actually.

This is a picture of right before it happened. I was in the middle of my presentation at the event. Had just recognized our charities’ survivors, thanked our sponsors, was seconds away from starting the fashion show, and then … our generators blew. Out went the lights, the music, my mic. Everything. With everyone looking at me. There wasn’t anything we could do, so I said in the loudest voice I could “We just recognized some incredible survivors who overcame adversity with rockstar resilience. Let’s be inspired by that and make the most of this! YOU, our audience will now be our music and energy for the models to work this runway! Let’s do this!”

And wow did they work it! We had hoots, hollers, claps, and standing ovations to cheer the models down the runway. About halfway through, someone found a way to hardwire electric to the DJ’s music and the mic so we had sound to finish the show.

But I was almost in tears at that point. Not because I was mad that the generators failed, but how everyone was rallying in support — not focusing on what had gone wrong, or that it wasn’t what they initially expected. Instead, they were making the best of the situation, living in the spontaneity, and having fun with it.

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes… “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s learning to dance in the rain.”

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Our Editor in Chic shares the story of a plant that taught her a lesson about learning and adjusting.

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The hydrangea plant in our back yard is starting to bloom. I know, I know. It’s spring and that’s what plants do. But this plant has an interesting story.

It had big, beautiful flowers when we first moved into our home three years ago, and then it didn’t bloom for the next 2. I actually almost uprooted it last year because I thought it was dying, but then I learned that I was just pruning it at the wrong time of year. And now look at it!

The same holds true for a lot of things in life. They don’t “work” the way you want. You get frustrated and sometimes even give up hope. But just a little learning and adjusting can make you both blossom!

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Our Editor in Chic writes a letter to her daughter to share some big news and explain why she’s the best… big sister!

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Today, your “Big Sister” shirt shares some big news to friends and family! A short time ago, this was actually surprise news to us as well. No IVF or fertility treatments this time. A one in a million chance happened. To us. A few years after we thought we had the worst luck. I can’t help but think that you, our sweet little girl, and all the joy you’ve brought us over the past 22 months has something, if not everything, to do with it. That’s why you’re the best and I wrote this for you.

Lola shares news that she's going to be a big sister!
Lola shares news that she’s going to be a big sister!

“I whisper “you’re the best” as you sleep,
This is the meaning my heart will keep.
You bring out the best in me,
A person I never knew I could be.
A selfless love, deep with devotion,
All so effortlessly put into motion,
Because you’re the best.

I sleep less but dream more,
Wanting to give you what I never had before.
A hand to hold through every trial,
Or even carry you for a while.
Your laughter warms my every cell,
And pride so pure when you do well,
Because you’re the best.

I now see your daddy with different eyes,
As he comforts you to calm your cries.
You did the same for him not long ago,
Placed a seed of hope for his soul to sow.
To be the best father he could be,
Didn’t want frailness for you to see.
So he found strength at his weakest point,
even with pain in every joint,
Because you’re the best.

Life is so full now that you are here,
Hard recalling time before you my dear.
You were the missing piece all along,
Two songbirds without a song.
Now we are three,
soon four we will be.
Bringing sunshine when skies were grey,
You showed us the way,
Because you’re the best.”

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Our Editor in Chic writes a letter to her daughter about scars, and the decision to see them as blemishes or beautiful reminders.

Our Editor in Chic Amy Scalia writes a letter to her daughter Lola about the
Our Editor in Chic Amy Scalia’s husband, Pete, with daughter, Lola

When I was little, I fell off a swing and cut my leg. When bandaging me up, the nurse told me to be more careful because boys don’t like girls with scarred up legs.

That stuck with me, unfortunately. The once rough-and-tumble girl who hadn’t thought twice about bumps, bruises or cuts in the past was a lot more cautious, worried that her destiny with Prince Charming was now left in the lurch.

Turns out, I did find my Prince Charming in your daddy, and after 10 years, he still doesn’t care about that scar (or any of the other ones). I’ve actually been thinking a lot about what that nurse said lately, and how wrong she really was.

After the past three years, with your daddy’s double hip and double knee surgeries, he now has a lot of scars on his legs. At first he didn’t like them because they made him think about his missing “original parts.” But now, after everything has healed and he’s feeling MUCH better, we look at those scars to remind us of how far we’ve come.

b43957fe6ca6f921f1e5b1427c10abe1See, the weird thing about the painful stuff in life is that your mind wants to wash it all away like the ocean. With each tide that comes in, the ruts in the sand fill in over time. But when you have a scar, it’s a physical reminder of what happened. It never goes back exactly how it was.

Your daddy and I both feel very thankful that he was able to have the surgeries, find a new drug therapy that works for him, and have great doctors by his side to get him through it. But the scars remind us of what our family went through – hoped/prayed/fought for – to get us to this much better place in life.

You’re very curious right now. The other day, you pointed at the scars on your daddy’s knees and asked “What’s that?” and I loved his response. He told you that’s where he got sick and the doctors sewed him back up to make him stronger.

And it hit me. That’s where the nurse was wrong. Scars don’t make you unattractive. Scars aren’t something to be ashamed of. Scars are reminders. Beautiful, permanent reminders that you’re stronger than whatever tried to hurt you. The playground wasn’t avoided in fear of bumps and bruises. You showed up. You played. Yes, you got hurt, but you also healed. And you’re forever changed because of it.

 

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Our editor in chic shares a letter to her daughter about holding hands, and the happy tears a mama sheds when she lets go for those first steps.

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Today I let go of you for the first time. In my mind I didn’t want to, and in my heart I know I never really will. Today, though, my hands slowly released you into the world for you to take your first little steps.

I realize you won’t understand this Titanic movie reference (sigh), but as I let go, I kind of felt like Rose when she told Jack “I will never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go…” and then let go of his hand. There’s a lot that’s different here (no ocean, romance, Leonardo DiCaprio… again, sigh) but the meaning is still the same. She let go, but really, she didn’t. She loved him, and continued to do so from that point on, even though she couldn’t be with him.

At some point, I know I have to let go, even though my heart never will. You have to get independent and learn how to do things on your own. But I’d hold on to you forever if I could.

It’s back-to-school time right now, and many of my friends say they cry on their kids’ first days every year. So, I know this letting go and growing up thing is something a lot of moms struggle with. Every time we let go a little more, that means you need us a little less.

That’s part of the job description of a parent, though. We selfishly want that close bond of your dependency, but know it’s more important to see you grow, excel and succeed as an independent person.

So, as you grow up and get older, just know that I’ll always want to be holding your hand, even if you don’t need it. My arms will always be out-stretched, spotting you each step of the way, even if you can’t see them, even when you’re an adult, even as I’m old and gray. I’ll want to hold your hand.

Any time you need them, or want them, just reach out and my arms will be there.

Before, you needed to hold my hand to hold yourself up, then you needed me just to steady yourself, and now you can walk all on your own. While it still takes my breath away to see you walk on your own because it’s still so new, I know it’ll get easier. Soon, you’ll be walking (er, running) every where and it’ll be just an every day thing. The sting of you not needing me to take you here or there will fade, I’m sure.

And then, years from now, I’ll see you walk on graduation, and then down an aisle toward someone who will take your hand in marriage. All of this without needing to hold my hand. But it’s always there if you want it (and I’ll be secretly hoping you will).

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Our Editor in Chic shares a letter to her daughter as she reflects on her first birthday, and the second “birth” she wasn’t expecting.

Our Editor in Chic shares what she's learned in the first year of motherhood.
Our Editor in Chic with her daughter, Lola, the first day after family went home.

One year. Tomorrow marks one year since your beautiful, happy, bright light entered this world.

I remember this day last year. It was filled with so much worry and so many unknowns. Would you be healthy? Would I be a good mom? Would I be able to balance everything ok?

You were fashionably late, so we enjoyed the convenience of a scheduled induction, which was nice (thanks!). The family didn’t have to rush into town. They got there the night before, we had a nice dinner together, and then got up super early to head to the hospital.

Although that part wasn’t stressful and I had our family surrounding me, I was absolutely terrified of labor. Especially when being induced — it wasn’t my body’s natural timing to have you, science was getting involved. Was that ok?

Oh, and the labor pains you always hear about. “The worst pain you’ll ever feel.” Would I be ok?

I just kept thinking, get through the birth and things will get back to normal. At least, that’s what I thought.

But eventually, after your daddy and I headed home with you from the hospital, and our family all went their separate ways, there we were. Alone. Brand new parents. Brand new baby. Brand new life. Brand new normal.

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Everything all the sudden seemed new, different, and foreign. I was re-learning my life, my work-from-home-mom schedule, my breast-feeding body, my everything as I knew it.

From that point forward, you became my number one priority. This was very different for someone who quite frequently put myself first. I remember feeling guilty the first time I took a long shower. The first time I exercised. The first day I went back to work. It was like I was borrowing myself from you.

Over the past year, I’ve watched you become more independent. With every step, sippy cup, and word-like sound — you need me a little less and you’re becoming your own little person. Yes, your increasing independence means I need to “borrow” myself from you a little less each day. But now, it feels less like borrowing and more like I’m becoming someone new.

I think back to the person I was 365 days ago, and it’s a very different person from who I am today. Because I didn’t just give birth to you. Over the past year, I also gave birth to the new me: the mother. I learned how to push out that selfishness to make way for great sacrifice. Great love. A love deeper and more whole than I’ve ever known.

So, when we blow out the candles at your first birthday party this weekend, and you dive into your cake face first, I’ll also celebrate the mom I became a year ago. Because I’m raising her, just as I am raising you.

It’s not perfect. There is no manual. We’re both still a little wobbly. We’ve each taken a few tumbles. But even so, I’m proud that we always get back up and keep taking more steps toward the exciting new people we’re becoming.

Happy birthday, baby girl. (You too, mom)

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Our Editor in Chic shares a letter to her daughter about the time they’ve spent in front of the mirror lately. See how a toddler’s joy with her own reflection has important lessons for us as adults.

072715LOLAI never realized how many mirrors we have in our house until you came along. Even when you were a newborn, your eyes would light up when you’d see yourself in the mirror.

And now, as a toddler, who can stand on the bathroom counter and lean up against your reflection, you could spend hours (well, at least several minutes, but that’s like hours in toddler time) just staring, pointing at, and trying to lick/kiss that happy baby looking back at you in the mirror.

So, needless to say, we’ve been spending a lot of time in front of mirrors lately. And when we do, my mind eventually drifts… “Don’t forget to call the salon and make an appointment – your roots are showing.” “Wear some extra concealer today – your dark circles look extra dark this morning” “Pick up one of those microderm brushes – your pores look clogged.”

This morning, I sat you in front of the mirror, and my mind drifted as usual. Hair… pores… circles… BANG BANG BANG! All the sudden you were banging your hand on the mirror as if to get my attention, and then you cracked up just looking at yourself.

That’s when it hit me. There you were, enjoying the absolute fascination and pure joy you have with your own reflection while I was picking apart the person looking back at me. And I’m not even a self-loathing, low self esteem type. I actually make a concerted effort to be a strong, confident female role model through the things I do and say around you. But my inner voice still drifts.

It made me wonder if I was more like you when I was your age. I’m sure I was. At what point do we stop smiling at ourselves and being happy to see that reflection? Why do we think it’s narcissistic to actually like – to the point of wanting to kiss – what you see in the mirror? Who told us we need to start seeing the things we need to fix instead? Maybe no one in particular did. Maybe it didn’t happen overnight. But, eventually, it did happen.

That’s when I decided I wanted to be more like you. Just be genuinely happy to have another day where I get to look in that mirror and smile back. And maybe, on a good day, I’ll kiss myself and crack up – your signature move. 🙂

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Our Editor in Chic shares a letter to her daughter about what she brought back from their recent beach vacation (that wasn’t covered in sand).

Our Editor-in-Chic shares a letter to her daughter about their recent vacation to Myrtle Beach, her first as a parent.
Our Editor-in-Chic’s daughter, Lola, as she sees the ocean for the first time

I’ve been going to Myrtle Beach for the past two decades with my parents, and this was my first year going AS a parent.

It was an out-of-body experience to show you the ocean that I remember as a little girl asking “Are we there yet?” a million times on the way… sticking my head out the window like a dog to smell the sea air once we got close… not even waiting to get in a swimsuit to run out and touch the ocean once we got there… and taking a bottle of sand and shells home when we had to leave so I could look at and feel the ocean until we went again the next year.

There I was, holding you, showing you that very ocean, watching your eyes widen with amazement at the roaring waves and endless sandy beaches (which you soon tried to eat).

It was different being there as a mommy. And I’m not talking about the 18 million extra bags of stuff you have to carry down to the beach to keep a toddler entertained, rested and shaded all day. It was different because you were experiencing something new. We were making such amazing memories together. And it was an entire week of uninterrupted family time.

I’ve always appreciated my time on the beach a little more. Even as a teen, I’d get up unusually early (especially for a teen!) to run on the beach. The tide is too high and it gets too hot if you do it too late. Plus, I didn’t want to waste prime sunning hours! (ah, the days of not worrying about wrinkles!)

This year, I still got up early to run, but I appreciated my time on the beach in a different way. Each day I would think “Oh, only x-amount of days left! We better make the most of it” I would do things like pack our lunches and extra drinks so we didn’t waste precious beach time going back up to the room. I’d pack a toy you hadn’t seen before just to see the surprise on your face, or plan somewhere new for us to go so we could make new memories. And when little things would pop up that I’d normally complain about or pick a fight over, I just let them slide because I didn’t want to sour the day. As a result, it was THE most relaxing, fun and genuinely enjoyable week we’ve had in YEARS!

It got me thinking that I need to be in a “vacation state of mind” more often. Why not do little things to spend more time together? Why not proactively look for ways to make life more fun? Why complain when you know it’ll sour the day?

So, even though we can’t always physically be on vacation, I’m going to make more of an effort to stay there mentally. Although I will miss seeing you try to eat the sand every day. That was pretty funny.

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Our Editor in Chic shares a letter to her daughter about a childhood song that holds an even deeper meaning for their family.

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“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey…”

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve sang that song to you in the past 10, almost 11, months. I’d be writing this from our million dollar beachfront mansion if that gives you any idea.

It’s a song my mom always sang to me, but that’s not necessarily why I always sing it to you. I sing it because it’s true. You’ve been such a bright light of happiness for our family in our darkest hours, and you even manage to lighten up the ones that aren’t dark at all.

You and daddy on his FIRST Father's Day!
You and daddy on his FIRST Father’s Day!

Just as an example, last week, when the family was over celebrating your daddy’s first Father’s Day, I couldn’t help but notice that everyone in the room was just watching you and smiling. The way you study each little toy, randomly point at people, shout out big happy noises, and then give your bashful little smile to someone. You have become the light of all of our lives.

You did that before you even arrived. I found out I was pregnant with you right around the same time your daddy found out about needing all his surgeries. I just remember there being such an onslaught of bad news but I just kept thinking “It’s ok. We can handle it. I’m pregnant!”

Knowing that your little life was there growing made us know that we would get through whatever came our way because now we had a greater purpose. We were creating a little life, our next generation, and we were going to get as healthy as possible to do that and enjoy it. You were the little light at the end of that dark tunnel.

Then, when you did arrive, your daddy was going through a different set of surgeries and recovery. But he wanted to hold you and keep up with you, so he got stronger and more mobile so he could hold you, take care of you, and be an active part of your life. You were the sunshine that gave him the energy he needed to recover.

Father’s Day was one of the first times that we have been able to enjoy a family get-together here at the house when your daddy wasn’t in a wheelchair, walker, or using a cane. I had a little moment where I realized this and just said a little mental thank you to you.

Thank you for being the little flicker of light leading us through that dark tunnel. Our sunshine when skies were grey. And now, the absolute light of our lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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For our annual Men's Issue, our Editor in Chic writes a letter to her daughter about the superman who lives with them.

11406828_10153524618546282_3505204440919648601_nI have to share a little secret with you: Superman lives here.

Yes, I know you’ll hear that Clark Kent lives in Metropolis and works for the Daily Planet. I’m talking about a different Superman, though. The one you call daddy.

Your daddy has absolutely amazed me over the past two years. He has been through so much with his RA-related double hip and double knee replacements, and all the therapy that goes with it. There were several times we both wondered if this was it. Was this all the disease left behind? Damaged joints, scarred body, and atrophied muscles?

Pete after his two mile walk to Venice Beach
Pete after his two mile walk to Venice Beach

These were questions that no science book or doctor could answer. It was really up to your dad to answer. Through his actions, dedication, and perseverance. He was the one to decide what was left of his body. How he would rise up from these ashes. How he would fight to make the most of what he has.

Over the past three weeks, your dad has absolutely shocked me with how far he’s come. About a month ago, he mentioned that a friend of his – Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson – invited him to a charity poker tournament at her house in LA. This is something he’s been invited to several times over the past few years, but hasn’t been able to go because of pain, surgeries or recovery. But this year, he actually could. I wasn’t able to go though, so if he went, he’d need to travel alone.

Pete and Nancy Cartwright
Pete and Nancy Cartwright

This is a man who just a few months ago needed help getting into the shower, dressing himself, and had to be hoisted into his car every morning for work. Could he carry his own bags, get them in and out of his car, be walking and on his feet all day like travel often requires? Neither one of us were sure, but figured there was only one way to find out so he booked the trip.

Next thing I know, not only did he have no issues with bags and travel, he’s texting me a picture of him on Venice beach, where he walked TWO miles. I about fell over. Overwhelmed with pride for how hard he was pushing himself to get better, and joy that we could travel again — something we haven’t been able to do for two years.

I know you won’t know or remember any of the pain or difficulty he’s been through in the past couple of years. In a way, that’s a good thing. He wants to be strong and active for you — you’ve been such a huge inspiration for him to recover so quickly.

But I want you to know that he’s our Superman. He’s doing the impossible. Making miracles happen. All right under our roof. Oh, and judging from how you get anything you want from him already, I can see that you’re his kryptonite. 🙂

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