Author: Margaret Simeone

Women’s March uncovers disturbing memories

Long before there was growing publicity and daily social media posts about the Women’s March in January of this year, I knew I would be flying from San Francisco to Washington, DC to participate. I couldn’t be silent when our president-elect’s rhetoric was threatening our basic human rights. Daily news reports about his references to women, immigrants, race, religions, and our environment left me feeling frustrated and angry. What I did not fully appreciate until I arrived at the March on January 21st, however, was the impact of Trump’s sexist comments on my psyche. It’s taken me almost 5 months to write this post and now the reality of this administration is more surreal than I could have ever imagined at the beginning of the year. We arrived at the Huntington Metro Station in Northern Virginia to join the March after being told that if we drove to the beginning of the line there would be available seats. When the train slowed down at each station to pass the throngs of waiting passengers, we only saw smiling, cheering crowds. Everyone looked thrilled to be …

Traveling in transition

As the door closed for takeoff on the 7am flight from Washington DC to San Francisco last Wednesday, I felt an almost instantaneous letdown. The stress of moving two households, mine and my mother’s, while helping her adjust to the idea of a new living arrangement after almost 55 years in our family home, has left me depleted. When I arrived at my California destination last week feeling mentally and physically exhausted, I looked out the window of the home where I’m staying and saw the white roses blooming in the backyard. The mountains were outlined against the bright blue sky and I sensed this was the balm I needed. What a welcome respite during my continuing transition from one coast to the other. I know how lucky I am to have the wherewithal to travel back and forth. I will leave again next month to help my mom prepare to move into her “710 condo,” as we call her new independent living facility. We’ve created a Pinterest account to look at the rooms and furniture that we both love. It helps us stay focused on creating a new and, what I hope …

Trust the unimaginable to create the life you want

During March 2016, my daughter suffered a heart attack from a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). We learned that it is a very rare condition that can occur in postpartum women with fluctuating hormones. It happened just one day after coming home from the hospital with her newborn son. We were already grieving from the loss of my husband, her father, who had died from heart failure just 4 months before. Feeling desperate, I briefly worried about how they would take care of their new baby. In my old life, the story I would have concocted about a husband, his daughter, and their hearts would have sent me into a tailspin, but I remembered my improbable story and it saved me. For much of my adult life, work had been my primary focus. I’d lose track of time finishing some project or getting ready for a presentation. Our daughter heard her father say more than once, “Let’s call your mom at work. She should be home by now.” It wasn’t that I was passionate about …

How aliens reminded me about the synchronicity of life

I’ve never thought of myself as a science fiction enthusiast, although I’ve loved movies like Star Wars, The Martian, and Inception, but after a quick decision to walk into a showing of Arrival, the 2016 Oscar nominated film, I now realize that I am a fan of the genre. Amy Adams stars in this science fiction story about the emergence of a linguist who learns how to communicate with extraterrestrials. After they descend on planet earth, their message of hope is ignored by those convinced that the aliens have arrived to destroy their world. Adams’ character discovers their benevolent mission, but cannot convince her team, much less the rest of the world, that these visitors pose no threat. With the alien’s help, she shifts her perception of time and experiences the entirety of her life in a single moment. I watched as she emerged from her melancholy to realize that the journey was much more than the end destination. I enjoyed the movie, but after reading some of the negative, even hateful reviews online, I wondered if this polarizing film would get in the way of my story. Then three things happened within hours of each other that helped me decide: A friend encouraged me …

Finding happiness again

Despite this grainy picture that was taken a decade ago at a makeshift bar in Gettysburg, the memory of the laughing and silliness still resonates with me after all these years. I was with two of my teammates at an offsite gathering when we took a break from our studies. I don’t remember what we were laughing about, but I can feel the pure lightheartedness of that evening. Finding this picture reminded me of something I had forgotten: how important it is to have fun. For the past few years, my life has been tumultuous and sad. My husband and I believed he would overcome his long term health issues, and we worked hard to find solutions for his failing heart. When he died over a year ago, I felt the most intense sadness I’ve ever felt. Yet, in the midst of my sorrow, I could feel happy. It didn’t happen quickly, but it has begun. When we feel invincible, there is an illusion of foreverness. This is the way it should be when we are young, and perhaps even later in life, living …

5 things my son taught me about life

Our children teach us things everyday, whether it’s in a quick comment, a poignant conversation, or watching their behavior over time. If we’re open to these lessons, we can be inspired to change our perception, sometimes even shedding a long-held belief. I recently wrote about my daughter and her career.  https://glass-full.me/2016/12/14/5-lessons-i-learned-about-finding-your-dream-career/ I now focus on the lessons I have learned from my son, Tom. Less than 3 years separated our children. She was the eldest and he the younger brother. There are reasons why firstborns are expected to succeed at whatever the family values the most, while the free-spirited youngest is given the latitude to take risks. The first child gets the parent’s undivided attention; the last child gets more leniency and less caution. Temperaments can override the stereotypical birth order, but our family seems to have followed the classic model. At a very early age, Tom marched to the creative beat of his own drum. When his pre-school daycare provider, a puritanical task master, expressed dismay about Tom’s hearing problem, we discovered he was just ignoring her constant reprimands. He didn’t blindly follow authority figures. In elementary school, when many of the other boys were playing football, Tom and …

5 lessons my daughter taught me about a dream career

Last week, our daughter posted a video on Facebook that reached over 9,000 views in two days.   Claire was the main author of the first study of its kind on marine mammals. She and her colleagues at The Marine Mammal Center found that a slow-release antibiotic gel is effective in healing sea lions whose eyes have been injured by human-made problems like oil spills. She found a career that brings real meaning to her life. Her love of animals started very early. It didn’t matter if it was a prairie dog, rabbit, sea otter, dachshund, or ibis; she was smitten. She’d cross the street to talk to a dog, bring strays home, and take care of the classroom rodent on the weekends. She convinced us to get a family dog, two guinea pigs, and even a dozen mice, for a short period of time. When the beloved palpation dog in vet school was about to be euthanized, she adopted him. She is now a wildlife medicine veterinarian, a career that was influenced and nurtured by her father. Long before the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, they watched shows like Mutual of Omaha’s …

A near life experience in Calistoga

Traveling to new places gives me an opportunity to learn. It might be talking with someone I’ve just met or learning when I travel with intention to explore a new idea. I’m a big believer in the connection between the mind, emotions and body. I’ve walked on hot coals in Chicago, practiced silence for a weekend in McLean, VA, and used the intuitive power of horses in Point Arena, CA. Recently, I found my breath in a yoga room during a wellness program in Calistoga, California. I started meditating and focusing on my breath a number of years ago in Hugh Byrne’s mindfulness meditation classes in Washington, DC. Hugh is a skilled and inspiring teacher and author of The Here-And-Now Habit, which applies mindfulness to habit change. His weekly night classes helped me cope with a busy mind and I highly recommend him if you’re in DC. This year I discovered Max Strom and my breathing practice reached a new level. Over 200 days a year Max travels the world teaching breathing techniques. I happened to be in California at the same time he was teaching a wellness program in Calistoga. Not …

On being mortal

When our future son-in-law proposed marriage to our daughter, my husband and I were there. We weren’t literally with them the moment he asked her to marry him, but we were on the Sausalito ferry knowing that he would ask her to take a walk with him. When they came back we were lucky enough to experience her tears of joy. It was a very special day. Later that week Tony and I drove to Carmel-by-the Sea for a short getaway. This picture was taken on our drive down the coast. Although he had survived heart surgery to repair his mitral valve two years before, I never thought we would lose him so soon. We remembered him this month on the first anniversary of his death. I was blessed to welcome the birth of our grandchild four months after Tony passed. Blessed in the sense that this baby boy brought more joy than I could ever have imagined. He was and is a magical distraction. Yes, I still wish he could have known this grandfather and I still have moments of heartache, but time is healing. I don’t know how …

In our new reality, do not let fear take over our hearts

I had considered a pilgrimage walk on the Camino de Santiago after my husband died a year ago. My research confirmed that it would be an important and unforgettable trip. As it turned out, though, I never made it to Spain. I found the contemplative path driving across the country, heading west. During his ten months in the hospital battling heart failure, my husband was discharged only twice for short periods of time. He never regained enough strength for a heart transplant and several days after his death, I flew from the east coast to northern California to be with our children. When my trips back and forth across the country became more frequent, I realized I would need my car in the Bay Area. I also knew that the time alone, being with and feeling all of the difficult emotions, was an important step for me. My drive began from Virginia at the end of Oct, 2016 and I arrived in San Francisco ten days later after traveling 3,300 miles through 15 northern states. It gave me the quiet time I needed to reflect, laugh, pray, and cry as I …