Tag Archives: courage

March 18, 2015

I have been making jewelry on and off for over 30 years, mostly earrings, necklaces and bracelets and usually using beads – increasingly nice ones as I got older. I never became particularly sophisticated at it, but have put together some pretty little creations every now and again. Last year, I crafted some earrings with turquoise and pale carnelian beads and was pleased with how they worked out, but whenever I thought of wearing them I couldn’t quite make them work. The stones are not really my colors and don’t really match what I wear either. The earrings need to be worn by someone brighter, sunnier-looking than me. A few weeks ago, I was gazing at one of my mom friends at the coffee shop one morning and realized that they would look great on her. Torrie, is the epitome of sunny, with a full head of long, strawberry blond hair and a dazzling smile that she offers generously as she shares a story about her daughter’s cheeky exploits or the latest on her wedding plans. Torrie always brings to the table positive energy, the kind that has undoubtedly fueled her impressive career as a cinematographer, writer, director and producer, mostly of documentaries. Now working primarily as a part-time lecturer at USC Film School, she is undoubtedly sharing this great energy with her students, the next generation of our filmmakers.


I have no doubt that it was the same positive energy that spurred her forward in her decision just over ten years ago to have a child, even though at that moment in her life, there were no strong candidates for a father for this child. After a year or so hard thinking, she chose to make the journey into parenthood solo, with a donation from a sperm bank. The result is Zoe, now ten years old, one of the most spirited and entertaining girls in 4th grade at my son’s elementary school. Torrie is a radiant mother and clearly enjoys life with her beautiful daughter. Now her life also includes John, who she met a few years back and is planning to marry sometime soon. Today, when I gave Torrie the earrings, everyone agreed that they worked on her. It may just be the colors, but later when I looked up the meaning of the stones, I discovered that turquoise is believed to protect against negative energy, and carnelian is a stone of creativity, individuality and courage. No wonder they’re such a perfect fit.


January 7, 2015

Of all the people in my life, the person with the fewest personal belongings is my brother, Alan. Like a modern nomad, he doesn’t stay in one place all year round but typically lives in Thailand for the autumn and winter, somewhere like Los Angeles, South Africa or Nepal for the spring, and the UK for the summer. Having no fixed abode prevents him from acquiring clutter. He can generally fit everything he needs in a suitcase and small carry-on bag. I admire him for the lightness of his lifestyle, especially because of the heaviness that he has had to deal with for his entire adult life. When he was 19 he was struck with leukemia, almost two years after our mother had first been diagnosed with the same disease. His was a child’s type of leukemia and was easier to treat, but the chemotherapy and radiotherapy were brutal, and although he reached remission within a year of treatment, he relapsed a year after we lost our mother. He was eventually cured of the leukemia by a bone marrow transplant from our sister, but he has suffered numerous side effects from the treatments – hip replacements, shingles, cataracts in both eyes (he’s a photographer!), an undermined immune system that has resulted in two recent bouts of double pneumonia. It is a wonder that he can get up and do anything, let alone travel the world taking stunning photographs.


Today I sent him a backpack. He’d mentioned he needed a new one and I was clearing out the garage today and found one that Theo had used briefly for school until it had hurt his back – it was too big. Though not a precious jewel like the ring I gave my sister, the backpack struck me as symbolic of Alan’s life as a traveler and one of the bravest adventurers I know. He may not ascend the world’s highest mountains, or plunge into the depths of the sea, but he has faced death on so many occasions and overcome more fear, loneliness and despair than anyone else I know. I know that for Alan, being in touch with his family is more important than any material object. He is currently thousands of miles away in Chiangmai, in northern Thailand, and I don’t make enough time to talk to him. With the gift of the backpack, I am also sending a promise to carve out more time to talk and the hope that we will see each other again very soon.