Saturday, December 31, 2011

1000 Happy Famiies for Christmas

Of all the things that made Christmas and the holidays special this year, it was Misa's hopeful wish for "1000 Happy Families." Number 24 on her list said it all. We created a page on Facebook, hoping to reach a thousand "Likes," so we could show Misa that a thousand happy families do indeed exist.

The page was shared by so many of our friends, families, and friends of friends, and before we knew it, we were celebrating more than 1000 Happy Families with Misa.

This video captures Misa's reaction when we presented this gift to her. (It's a little long, but it's really the first minute or so that tells the story . . . ) What it doesn't show is the inspiration, and hope-filled emotions that Brad and I felt receiving the incredible support and enthusiasm as we attempted to gather the thousand "Likes." All of the stories and pictures are fresh and heartwarming - a sure sign that happy families come in all varieties and life experiences.

What a gift!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Uprooting Wildness

I've been thinking about activism lately, reminiscing on where I came from, how I formed my thinking and beliefs, and the strength I have to influence others - particularly, my own children. Reading this interview between Terry Tempest Williams and Tim DeChristopher, brought me back to wildness and wilderness. It's inspiring to hear them reveal the things that formed them. If you don't know either as an author and activist, I'd recommend putting them on your list of people to get to know.

I hadn't known anything about Tim DeChristopher until the last 2 years. Terry Tempest Williams has been a friend of wilderness for most of her life. For a good part of my life, I immersed myself in the power of wilderness, spending a significant time in my early 20's and 30's as an activist for Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and Utah Wilderness Coalition. I've read just about every book, poem, essay, and blog post written by her. From her power and the many people who led the way, I received the gift of wildness, navigating my way through the social and political process to help save wild lands in Utah.

I watched this short film multiple times, and by the end of my fourth viewing of it tonight, I was swaying to the beat of wild lands and what it takes to preserve our beautiful earth.

Must be time to unwind.

To uproot.

To influence.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Celebration of Life

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
-Mary Oliver

When I initially opened my Facebook account, the first album I created was "Goddesses, Matriarchs, Heroines, and Angels." Grandma Betty, who passed away on December 15th, 2011, could be found in my album. She was a true matriarch. Style and leadership, she was one of those people who made you believe that anything was possible. So much so, that when she died unexpectedly at the amazing age of 92, it surprised most of us. Yet, as Brad characterized her so beautifully in his eulogy, her one wild and precious life was distinguished by her health, her independence, and her dignity - making her passing an undeniably graceful one.

Rest in peace, Grandma Betty. We love and miss you so much.

Here I am with Grandma Betty at her 90th Birthday party.
Petrified wood as a memory.
Bible with a lot of recorded family history.

Among the items in Grandma's house, Misa chose these bookmarks.
Nutcracker and jigger
Brad bought this for Grandma 30 years ago, in Ecuador.
Emma, Brad, and Grandma.

Here is a little slideshow (raw) of Grandma Betty's memorial.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Nutcracker

Emma was 6 years old when she nabbed her first role in the infamous "Nutcracker" performance as a baby mouse. Year after year, she danced in other roles such as a toy soldier, puccinella, and party girl. Brad and I always imagined her moving into the next level - a Snow Fairy maybe - before she grew out of those types of dance roles. I remember the year when she decided she wouldn't be auditioning for the Nutcracker, and I remember it being a bit emotional for her.

Fast forward to today. All dressed up and excited, Emma took Misa and John-Pio to the Nutcracker performance at the Overture Center. It was one of her first times that she would be in the audience after her last performance 5 years ago. She was genuinely excited to be taking her little sister and brother to the performance that held so many memories for her. As I dropped them off, Emma was reflective. She said that even though she knew letting go of her Nutcracker performances was hard for her, she realized that she didn't miss it, especially because she began dedicating her time and presence to Kanopy Dance Company. It's instructive how time and experience can change a person.

If there is one thing I hold close to my heart - more than so many other important things in life - it is when Emma, Misa, and John-Pio spend quality sibling time together. They are just so tight, so joyful, so hilarious together, that even when they have their typical sibling moments, it is awesome how grounded they are in each others brotherly-sisterly relationship.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Getting Technical

Misa has a knack for technical learning - she is a quick study, and likes to understand the mechanics behind the device, game, or tool she's using. This weekend, after tiring of just going up and down the walls at the climbing gym, she wanted to do something different. So we showed her how to use the GRIGRI, a belay device with assisted braking, used also for top roping and leading. In Misa's world, learning how to "ascend" using the device, introduced her to a whole new element of climbing. My heart skipped a few beats as we trained her, and gave room for a few practice goes. As a parent, it was great to watch her confidence increase, and it'll be really fun to help refine her skills with technical gear, and watch her develop! Here she is on her first go with the GRIGRI.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day 70 Years Later

We started dinner today with a few words about Pearl Harbor Day, and Guam. Misa had some questions and announcements, one of which was this: "My teachers said that Guam wasn't a part of WWII. Was it?" I felt a strong emotional reaction to this. After clarifying the facts, and the truth, we moved on to dinner and other topics of conversation. At the end, it drifted back to WWII and Guam, Chamorros, Grandma Doreen, and the United States. It was a good night for a history lesson.

Here is a picture of the Guam Memorial Wall, where my mom is recognized as one of the Chamorros who was injured. During a battle, my mom was in my Grandfather's arms. My grandfather was shot, and that bullet skidded her back. I've seen her scar - a deep spade-shaped imprint. She doesn't talk about it much, I think over the years she's actually forgotten its impact. Or, I think the wound and the events that happened were just minimized. I've interviewed others her same age about the event, and they all share the memory of how she was wounded. Someday, I'll record it in its entirety.

For now, here are some pictures and links about the history of War in the Pacific.

To see the Memorial Wall honoring those who suffered personal injury, forced labor, forced march, and internment and click on "N" for Naputi, you can see my mom's name: Doreen Leon Guerrero Naputi.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Salt Lake City to Madison

15 years ago, I moved to Madison from Salt Lake City leaving behind a life of recreation that I believed could never be matched. I was a part of a close knit group of river rats who explored and led river trips down the Colorado, the Green, the Salmon, and other small bodies of water throughout the west. I rode my mountain bike and took backpacking trips all across Utah, including trails right outside my front door in the heart of a beautiful and accessible dry city desert. I was a long-time season pass holder at Alta Ski Resort where both backcountry and resort skiing were not just a passion, but an addiction. I lived a wonderful life of seasonal recreation.

Until 1996.

When I made the move to Madison, I knew what I was leaving behind. Of all my recreational pursuits, it was skiing that I knew I would grieve the most. It was the thing that pushed me to take risks and falls, to understand the forces of snow and weather, and to find ways to perfect the ski line I worked hard to get to. It was skiing that I daydreamed about, and skiing that I read and watched on films. And so for my last season in '96, it seemed only right that I would pursue skiing excellence to the nth degree in the ways in which I knew it best. Steep and deep. Boldness. Technique. Style. Just GO! Kind of like my last hurrah.

It helped, you know? To leave Salt Lake with that personal goal, and to feel like I skied every bone in my body out until there was nothing left but patches of snow and ice to glide on. It made my move feel a bit more enticing, like I was actually going to something.

A lot changed once I arrived in Madison. I purposely came here blind to what the Midwest had to offer. When friends asked me what I was going to do here, I knew what they really meant – they meant, “What will you do without all the amazing recreation you have in Salt Lake?” Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do, except I decided I would be open to new possibilities.

Of course, that one new possibility is obvious to the people who know me well. Boulders Climbing Gym offered a half day course through UW-Madison and it was that day, and from then on, that my life gradually shifted. That was in January, 1997. Since then, climbing has been at the core of my recreation and just about everything else I do for sport or fun, is related to it.

I like to believe that climbing was the thing I was going to as I grieved my way out of skiing. I don’t think much about what I left behind anymore – I grew out of that with the evolution of my marriage to Brad, having kids, and integrating climbing into my lifestyle. In fact, sometimes the way I pursue climbing is similar to the way I approached my last ski season – with those familiar words that served both as my personal goals and mantra.

Steep and deep.




Just GO!

I love that the words I used to assist me in leaving something behind 15 years ago, are also the words I use to approach the thing I love today. And even though recreation here in the Midwest has yet to match anything I've ever done in the West, I hope I will never have to go through a last hurrah.