Uncle Charlie

Today at 9:30 AM I received a call from my Dad that my Uncle Charles Lafayette Smith had passed away in Virginia at the age of 60. He had been battling Stage 4 lung cancer several months now.

I spoke to him a few weeks ago and had left a message a week ago and never heard back.

He was one of my favorite uncles. Smart as a whip, quick-witted, could surf or ski anything, played guitar and the drums, amassed an amazing handle on WW II history, along with those movie star good looks and bravado. And did give me my first Deep Purple ‘tape’, so there was that growing up. A true character.

He never got over the loss of his parents: Grandmom & Granddad

in 2001 & 2003, and part of me heard how alone he felt in our frequent conversations.

I had on my calendar reminder to call and check-in this week after Ravi’s graduation events. Life is funny, there’s always some sadness mixed in with the good in life. I had said ‘goodbye’ in a way a few weeks ago, but you always want that ‘one last time’ in life.

We loved you, Uncle Charlie. I pray you have more peace now, Dude. Rock on. 🙏🏻😎

We will never forget you.

Relevant or Relic?

I like pay phones. They’re cool, lonely and project this old world sad. Don’t worry, I don’t like them because I use them now (can we say germs?), but because they remind me of the past, present and the future all at the same time.

Since I’m Generation X and actually used these odd metal boxes ‘back in the day’, they serve as an interesting prodding and presence to me.

They remind me of the past. Simple, sweet, less complicated where people could eat an entire meal actually talking to each other and not looking at a phone or device.

Secondly, they also remind me that I’m old (relatively speaking – ha!). The reality that I grew up without a cell phone is surreal, as well as the fact my son will never grow up in an era without technology.

Finally, pay phones smack me with the urgency to stay relevant and useful. They encourage me to keep honing any tech. skills or learning as much as I can to stay at least ‘somewhat’ competent. I’ll never Geek-out like Generation Z, but I can try.

Otherwise, well…look what happened to the pay phone.

I, Tonya ~ I, Vote for you

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I was sick all weekend and the only enjoyable part was my screeners arrived in the mail. I could watch films from the comfort of my couch surrounded by tissue, medications and lots of Gatorade, oh and with my cat, Gandalf.

I watched I, Tonya twice. Since then I have constantly pondered upon her life for many reasons past and present. Firstly, Ms. Robbie is an amazing actor and I’m happy to see Ms. Janney won the Golden Globe. She ‘rang the bell’ as they say with that character. The acting all around is superb. Or in ice skating terms: 6.0.

But back to Tonya Harding. Tonya and I are the same generation. We competed in athletics in the same era and both trained with the same intensity that a ‘6 hour/day’ athlete trains. What I can’t stop thinking about is my new-found respect for her. A respect that admittedly, none of us had back then and mostly due to the ‘incident’, and well, the over-done blue eye shadow didn’t help either. But I wore those pony-tail ‘scrunchies’ too, so I should stop the snark.

Thankfully we grow up and reflect. If I were to compare my various swimming teams back in the day, we were probably more like a bunch of ‘Kerrigans’. We always had the colorful and latest swimsuits, plenty of dress sweats, travel money, resources, and never really worried where our next meal would come from. It was also a ‘given’ that we’d all go to college. We all did. No one I knew sewed their own suits, that’s for sure.

We certainly didn’t chop wood before a practice or have the nightmare household that the film portrays.  I remember whining to my Dad about raking some backyard leaves a few times a year – embarrassing.

Despite the enjoyment of experiencing a well-executed film in many areas, I took away a refreshed realization of how Tonya placed 4th in the 1992 Olympics and 8th in 1994 Olympics despite an incredible amount of stress, abuse, chaos and lack of resources. I truly believe that if she had a better home life, she could have been a gold medalist in at least one of the Games. Note: In 1991, she was the first woman to execute a triple Axel in her programs. Again, a miraculous feat within her circumstances.

All week I have thought of Tonya and how life often gives us a gracious redemptive twist and a second chance. She was seated at the Golden Globes in an elegant black dress on a very historic night. She is happily married now and enjoys being a Mom. Perhaps those are now her gold medals.

I, Tonya is a must-see for many reasons.

Today…Tonya, I stand with you.

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A Dozen Years

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I’m writing this on the Eve of my son’s 12th birthday.  I hold a peaceful content with a mixture of sadness in my heart for the beautiful years that passed too quickly. I exhale often as I accept the reality that Ravi’s no longer a ‘child’ and on the cusp of his teens.

If we stop to pause and ponder life’s timing, we’ll see a beautiful pattern to these seminal moments. This past week, Ravi also lost his last baby tooth, which I found perfectly symbolic.

The growth of children is a bittersweet observance for a parent and especially if you’ve actually enjoyed being one. I have truly enjoyed ‘being a mom’. I embraced every stage of his development and while I’ve had moments of extreme fatigue, I never minded all the work and the nitty-gritty. It is worth all the ‘blood, sweat, tears’, and yes, vomit.

The last few days, Ravi has savored various ‘favorite’ activities with his closest friends and for the first time, I was able to drop kids off at a theater, get them situated with movie snacks then leave to enjoy a few hours of an outdoor mall that’s delightful during this season. I also had comfort that my son could text me afterward and I’d walk easily to meet them. It’s this kind of freedom that we often long for when they’re a toddler, sick, and vomiting everywhere. But this new freedom comes with a price —  the price of years passed. We cannot have it both ways.

As I sip a glass of Rosé and enjoy a salad outdoors, I reflect wistfully upon the last 12 years.

I’m happy Ravi’s enjoying friends, a fun film, and having a wonderful birthday weekend.

I’m thankful for the blessing of 12 years of good health (not every child has this) and for the many successes in his life – in and out of the classroom. Those who know us well, know my updates from time to time.

However, I’m most thankful for his empathy, his ability to retain solid friends, and his authentic kindness despite a person’s background or culture. He’s a natural leader and enjoys helping others. These are the true successes in life. Only the passage of time reveals a child’s character.

Time rolls onward, and all a parent can do is remain faithful, thankful and love their children as they grow into adulthood. Twelve years ago, when I held my son for the first time, my heart leapt out of my chest never to fit back in. “A mother’s heart resides outside her chest.”

Just like a fine Rosé, fruits of life always reveal themselves. It’s now a sweet sadness to enjoy them more from afar. Yet, I will enjoy the last drop.

Happy Birthday my dearest and beloved son, Ravi Joshua Sinha Smith, November 20th, 2017.

Love,

Mom

Fergie’s new single MILF$- a compliment but not new

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Hi Friends & Followers,

I haven’t written in a while and certainly haven’t shared any of my past fashion endeavors for a long time. But when I read this 6:00 am about Fergie’s new single MILF$ and her ‘reworking’ of the former moniker to “Mums I’d Like to Follow”, well I had to write a few words.

Fashion as an ‘intellectual property’ is a fine line and very hard to trademark ultimately. No one ‘owns’ a new fashion trend per say.

But let’s be clear, to Fergie and followers (and I think she’s great), this is NOT a new concept. In 2008, I launched my tee company under Christine Nor (formerly http://www.christinenor.com) which included a complete explanation of my re-working of the bawdy MILF moniker to a cleaner “Moms in Love with Fashion”. The concept is exactly what Fergie refers to, “Moms can still be successful, sexy (or fashionable as I put it) and good moms.” And I made 100’s of these t-shirts as well. All back in 2008.

Today in 2016, I still have several of those tees left. (see picture insert).

In fact, in 2011, I donated about 300 to a Los Angeles fashion show fund-raiser. Ironically, I closed my Nor tees web-site only last Fall 2015, moving on to more writing. Thankfully I have proof of all original designs, wordings and website files.

Can Fergie do this? Absolutely. Was it ‘mine’ to begin with – nah, not really. But it was a heck of a good idea long before many others and well before MILF$ began flowing like milk (pun intended) on the music charts.

And I smile because of that.

Just some facts for the all the Mums and Moms out there.

 

 

#milf$ #fergie #moms

Summer update…

Greetings Friends!

Life, another move, and a some new good life changes have kept me busy. 

In my next Blogs I’ll share my latest lyrics/songwriting.  I’ll probably share lyrics for awhile before getting back to traditional blog. 

Look for: 

I Knew a Man I never Knew 

Lyin’ & DYEin’

5,000 Days 

Love me by the Numbers  c@1983 by my grandfather, Bill Braermann 
#cnor2016 #ASCAP

Memorial Day ~ More than a BBQ

This a reprint of a Post I published on LinkedIn a year ago. Many enjoyed it. In light of all that’s going on in the world, I thought it was more than a familial memoir or ‘reminder’. I hope it would serve as a reminder to us all: the protestors, the venters, the polarizing, the ‘freedom of free speechers’- all of our Freedoms in the USA were NOT free. Whether you are new or old to the good ol’ USofA, whether you are able to vote or not, it all came with a price. Someone died for this freedom and others continue to fight for it. Remember that before your next Twitter rant. – C. Nor

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Memorial Day. More salute, less sauce please. 

There’s a reason why I only now write about my Grandfather and speak to elementary students about these WWII heroes (my son also does presentations). One reason is that this generation rarely spoke about their accomplishments. I am amazed at the WWII, official Navy photos and memorabilia that surfaced only after his death in 2001. Some call them the “Greatest Generation” and that may be true. I don’t know about that given title as every generation produces “Greats”; however, what I do know is they weren’t as self-obsessed as we are today nor a self-promoting generation. Now that is true.

While we knew Captain Joseph Grant Smith aka “Capt. Joe” and to grandchildren as “Granddad”, was a highly accomplished Navy pilot, there were few instances of talking about himself at all. He spoke more about his friends, was busy entertaining their many former colleagues, and talking to his sons and grandchildren about hard work and life (which to youth means ‘lecturing’ and translates into, “Just give me the keys to the boat, Granddad”).

This is a pilot who recorded over 9,000 hours of flying time with 6,000 of them in the military. He could fly over 265 different types of airplanes. During his time in WWII, he received the Naval Cross for his combat role in the Battle of the Coral Sea and was one of the few planes finally launched from the burning and sinking USS Lexington. Also a test pilot, he lived in Farnborough, England from 1949-1950 while working with the Royal Air Force. He was the first American to win the McKenna Trophy for his test pilot work.

He held degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Aero Engineering and the two years before he retired, got a Masters in International Affairs. In 1965, while CO of the USS Intrepid, he picked up Gemini 3 with astronauts Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom and John Young.

Pretty darn super cool stuff. Certainly enough to brag about. I’m sure someone would “Tweet” about that today. Maybe.

When I speak to young students about my grandfather, they love to hear ‘stories’. They are impressed with the awards and titles, but I can tell they love the details and nuances that make a person’s life even more endearing.

Details such as…

You know how we just trash or recycle a toaster after a couple years? Nope. Not Capt. Joe. Back then, this generation ‘fixed things’ themselves. Toaster not working? “Here. Give it to me” and he’s striding off to his fully stocked garage and for some reason I still picture a million mayonnaise jars with bolts and nails.

Every Christmas they put up a gingerbread house and every kid in the neighborhood could come in and enjoy these large homemade gingerbread and Santa cookies. He knew how to break a horse and cut off half of his first toe with a lawn mower. He mowed his own lawn. Does anyone do that anymore?

This was the generation that emerged from the Depression. They didn’t waste a bit of food, paid cash for a new house, car, everything. I remember finding one spoon of left-over mashed potatoes in small tupperware in the refrigerator. Only later did they have credit cards. And if I told him how much I pay for coffee at Starbucks, he would rise again and choke me.

They saved. They had no debts. And trust me, they amassed property like a woman collects shoes: waterfronts in Virginia, New York, California etc. as they lived in 32 different places during his active career.

I never saw a luxury car. They loved their Jeep Wagoneers. Remember those? He obviously loved speed, but didn’t need to show it. Part of me thinks and laughs, “When you know how to fly Lincoln II 4 engine heavy bombers, Spitfires, Vampire I & V jet fighters and your name’s painted on your plane — who needs the ego of a Porsche?” Certainly not Granddad.

I loved that about him. Cool, calm, and quiet about it all — that’s the WWII generation to me.

Today we honor all the men AND women that served and sacrificed for our country and its Freedom. I acknowledge and thank my Grandfather and the many who sacrificed their lives for us.

My advice to the younger generations and to those with grandparents still alive: sit down, listen to their stories, collect those photos and memorabilia. Cherish them. It’s a wonderful lesson for your children to pass on to future generations. Although I spent a lot of time and holidays with my grandparents, when they are gone, you realize, “it was never enough time.”

America cannot forget these generations and what they fought and died for. And it’s not just our BBQs and paid holidays that depend on it.

C.Nor, c@2015

A shared birthday with a true Saint

I have only two things in common with Mother Theresa. One is a birthday, August 26th,* and the other is our love for India, a country that we weren’t born in, nor had any previous connection to (that we know of). That is it. I am obviously ‘no saint’, not even close. Nor do I think I could make the vows she made and surrender a life fully for others like she did. I can only do small things and I accept it.

Recently I started tutoring at a private school and on my break this week, I enjoyed a quiet library and read a beautiful, pictorial biography on Mother Theresa.

I read with awe about her vow to poverty, her endless energy for others, her lack of vanity. Sigh. How did she ever eat so simple and never get her nails done?

However, I do know that her life was a unique calling. God does not call everyone to that lifestyle. I remind myself of that as I check the calendar for my next hair appointment. I wince.

But slight joking aside. Here is a woman who completely emptied herself to fill herself with God’s Love for others. The pictures of her with her orphans, the sick, and her love for all mankind is inspiring. And while I will never be her, I can do what I am called to do with the resources given to me. We are all in the same ‘boat’ – just different sizes and responsibilities.

Ravi and I recently sent a large box to India filled with clothes, many of them Indian pieces, gifts, fun things etc. I am moved at the photos that I received back and the smiling faces. Many of the pictures are holding Ravi’s picture, that I tossed in at the end and certainly not for self-promotion, only to give a personal thank you. The irony of giving, is that it blesses the giver more than the recipient. It humbles me to see his picture held in almost all their pics. It makes my heart tug. It makes me want to do more. Anything I’ve done in the past is inadequate.

We have so much here in The States and yet, most of us are in a constant state of wanting more, getting more, hoarding more to ourselves. I’m including myself in the USA stereotype.

Some may think it’s arrogant of me to even ‘type the name’ Mother Theresa within the body of my very average Blog. Who I am? I see your point. But she continues to inspire us and for that, I think it’s allowed. Let us all continue to do more and be more.

Featured here: Chandra Sekhar Konda and community, East Godavari, AP, India.

You may contact him at csrrock@yahoo.com or contact me directly via this Blog and I will get back to immediately.

Thank you-C. Nor

 

*some data states her birthday as August 27th, if so, that’s also an honor, as that’s my mom’s birthday.

 

Back in the Social Media Saddle

I’ve been MIA. I admit it. I’ve been missing from this Blog and from many other matters. I could blame it on Lent or Easter, or my sister having her 2nd baby (adorable boy) or family being here over a month etc., but the reality is I often get burned out from all the social media and its subtle expectations.

I’m on LinkedIn for professional reasons. I have a Facebook Page and manage that about once a week. I have Twitter mostly to monitor my son’s account on Twitter and his FB Page. I don’t have, nor want, all the OTHER media sites out there: Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, et al. I can’t even imagine adding those and my head would probably explode.

Social media is not evil in itself, but I find it increasingly more difficult to ‘carve out’ silence, quiet time, and real-time interactions with real human beings. We must remember social media presence is in addition to all the emails and phone calls that need a response or at least a reading.

So I took a break from my Blog. I exercised. I played dollhouse with my niece. I drank Rose′ with my mom. I actually took the effort to call friends on the phone (yes, with a real phone and voice conversation).

I just got burned out from it all. That has to be okay even in 2016.

Over the past few years, I’ve read several Twitter feeds and one in particular, I saw about 50 different posts through-out the day. Basically this individual is living ‘through’ social media. Not living within the concept of a ‘present moment’ or as time truly exists. I find that very odd. Living through the camera, or selfies or recording every moment of your life is actually NOT living. I’ve tested this.

For example, I love to watch my son’s basketball games. I sometimes pull out the iPad and record several minutes or take some pictures. Mostly because we know he’ll enjoy them when he’s older.

However, you know when I enjoy his games the most? When I am fully present, watching, cheering and NOT capturing them through a technological medium. I’m there ‘in the moment’ enjoying it in real time forcing my mind to record its own memories.

I worry about this generation that lives via social media 24/7. It’s almost as if I imagine they get anxiety NOT holding a device or not reading on-line or not conversing or venting through these sites. I find it odd and sad, I really do.

I suppose I show my age, but not necessarily. I think it’s a matter of: “Are we comfortable in being not doing? Are we at peace with true silence? Can we confront OFF social media face to face or must we hide behind electronics? Are we truly present? Do we love ourselves without the ever famous selfie?”  I think the selfie is the most insecure thing of all.

Oh, I’m back. And sadly because I, too, must be back. Social media is here to stay. We can take breaks, but we can never fully say goodbye.

See you later. My apologies in advance.  -C. Nor

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