Dad holding me on the beach and a jar of beach glass he gave to me. The guy who swam out into the ocean with me, tossed me into the waves, and told me, “Don’t worry — I’m here.” I am grateful for his love and everything he taught me. The year he got sick, we also found out another family member was ailing and he wrote this beautiful email: “Wow, you just got hit with a bag of life. Stay close to the important values we've been fortunate enough to have been given. Gratitude always helps me. How lucky are we to have people in our lives that love and care for us.” #luckiestdaughterintheworld #love #wisewords
I don’t remember how this photo came to be, but I remember it was in my grandmother’s nursing home and it was probably her last year with us. It’s possible I thought it was a little silly to pose like this. Not now. Now, I’m happy to see the hands of my grandmother, mom, aunt, cousin, and goddaughter with mine. These are women who share my story. #internationalwomensday #family #love #women #tbt #throwbackthursday
I love this photo because it was a family day at the Getty and we were stopping to enjoy the moment and take in the view — and to capture it (I was behind them with my camera, amused by their new-at-the-time Blackberries). It also serves as a reminder to cherish the time we have together with those we love. We had a life celebration over the weekend to honor the gentleman on the left, Vance. He was loved and is already missed. #grateful #family #love #enjoythemoment
Another post for my new style account. Next: I'll be sharing stories of others (so it won't be all about me!)……. #Repost @backstorystyle (@get_repost) ・・・ "My dad was a physical education teacher and athletic coach and I can picture him coming home from work and coaching on sidelines in his work uniform: athletic wear and a whistle around his neck. He loved his job and continued to coach part-time after retirement, until failing health forced him to stop. Whistles are commanding — signifying Stop! and Go! and Come together! in sports — but I like best that they represent playing. When I saw this dainty gold whistle charm on Etsy, I had to have it. Bonus: it works!" — @stefaniamcd
Fun story for #bookloversday. I have always loved to read and come from a family that loved books. Several years ago, I picked up this copy of "War and Peace," with the intention of finally reading it. My Dad spotted it on my bookshelf and joked with me about it. "Light reading?" he asked. After some time had passed, he asked me if I'd read it yet. Nope, not yet. That Christmas, he gave me the Cliffs Notes copy. I still plan to read it! #books #bookstagram #warandpeace #family #nationalbookloversday
This head of escarole is bigger than my head! (Hand shown for scale.) This is what I shrieked at the farm stand, causing at least one other shopper to laugh at my enthusiasm for a green leafy vegetable. What can I say? It's one of my comfort foods. It was a staple dish of my childhood, served by my grandmother and mother. I immediately came home and sautéed garlic in olive oil, then added the chopped greens for a quick-steam before topping it with grated parm. So good. #foodislove #family #escarole #comfortfood #farmersmarket
For Henry David Thoreau's 200th birthday, I cracked open up my old paperback copy of "Walden and Other Writings" to find this journal passage about "the fashions of the wood." Love this: "You glance up these paths, closely embraced by bent trees, as through the side aisles of a cathedral, and expect to hear a choir chanting from the depths." My dad used to say that his church was in nature. Me too. #thoreau #natureisamazing #books #inthewild #wednesdaywisdom #wisewords
New Insta for #thriftshopday! If you know me, you know I love fashion – and slow fashion. I shop almost exclusively for secondhand and vintage items. I love style stories and plan to share them on @backstorystyle. If I know you, I might get in touch to find out what you have to share. Hit me up with ideas! And follow along at @backstorystyle #backstorystyle #Repost @backstorystyle (@get_repost) ・・・ THE ITEM: Vintage Handbag…. THE SOURCE: The 2nd Helpings Thrift Store in Ojai…. THE STORY: "My mom and I shared a love of fashion and always enjoyed treasure-hunting in thrift shops when we took day trips during visits. (Dad would look for five or ten minutes then tell us to meet him outside or at the nearest coffee shop when we were done.) Whenever my mom would spot me admiring something, she would come over to take a look before scooping it up. 'Let me get that for you,' she'd say. 'My treat!' This was one of her treats from a day trip trip to Ojai." – @stefaniamcd #thriftshopday #thriftstorefinds #slowfashion #handbags #stylestories #slowfashion #thriftstorefinds #vintage
There's so much I love about this photo, starting with the fact that it was taken by a dear friend and shows another one helping me set the table for a feast with loved ones. "Food is love," my grandmother used to say. Cheers to that! The centerpiece I made by filling an old champagne bucket with succulent cuttings, seashells, and candles (and a flag for the Fourth). Out of the frame: loved ones and good food ready to be enjoyed. 📷: @kristineambrose ❤️🍽🇺🇸
I woke up this morning with Nick Cave in my head, not surprising since I saw him perform last night. This was our view from the very last row at the Greek Theater with the sky above and trees behind us. I had joked we would be up in the trees with the creepy crawlers, then a bug fell onto my head less than five minutes after we found our seats. But what a beautiful night! This part here in this song got me. I don't ordinarily like taking video clips at concerts, but it was at the start of the set and I felt compelled to here — maybe to try to capture the whole view (again, the last row!), or the mood that was set the second Cave and the Bad Seeds took to the stage. There was a lot of sadness in the songs, with a running theme of loss and grief that resonated with me, but it wasn't all darkness. I heard and felt hope. There were opportunities to dance in the aisles, too. At this point, I looked up at the trees and I took a deep breath. There is joy, even when you least expect it.
A rose from the garden next to Pancho the porcupine. The story of Pancho begins with my mom's fondness for crystal. She gifted me several crystal items, some traditional like a vase, and others more quirky and fun like this. During a visit a few years ago, she gave us a gift bag that included this cute porcupine, which made us laugh. A porcupine? Okay, then! Shortly after that, we had friends over for dinner and I placed it on the table next to the salt and pepper. A friend asked about the porcupine and we decided it should be named. Everyone wrote down a name on a piece of paper and I collected the folded-up suggestions and read them aloud. I don't recall the other suggestions, although I remember many were funny. When I heard Pancho, suggested by my friend Josh, it just felt right. Later, my mom was amused to hear her gift was such a hit. #love
On walks, my Dad liked to pick up rocks and leave them on the backs of benches. On the regular routes he would take, it was fun for him to see how long the rock would stay in place. (I remember walking through my parents' town when he pointed out a rock that had been there for months.) When traveling, he also left rocks, thinking someone might spot them. Maybe they would pocket the rock or add another or just smile knowing someone placed it there. Today, I thought of my Dad while taking a beautiful walk in Mammoth and found the perfect bench to leave a rock. #family #traditions #simplepleasures
Remembering one of the first natural places I loved. My father would take us for walks at Southaven Park and my first memories of it involve counting mallards 🦆 and hearing the crunch of leaves underfoot. #earthday #filmphoto #roots #longisland #thegreatoutdoors #inthewild #parks #natureisawesome #earthdayeveryday #southavenpark #findyourpark
My grandmother always said, "food is love." Also, "bon appetit" came after grace and before the first bite of a meal. Amen to that. So many of my happiest memories involve eating with loved ones or cooking with or for family and friends. When you've lost someone, there are reminders everywhere that can trip you up and remind you of the hole in your heart. The good thing about food reminders is that they can be savored. This was one of my mom's favorites; I can no longer share a meal with her, but I can enjoy every bite and think of her with a full heart (and belly). #bonappetit #foodislove #bagelandlox #lookfortheheart #love #comfortfood
I wore my mom's necklace today to mark her birthday and noticed it's the color of marigolds. We share the same birthstone, but it took me years to appreciate it. As a kid, I wished for purple or red or blue. Now I like that topaz is the color of a rising or setting sun, and this pretty flower we always had growing in the yard. #memories #allsaintsday #alwaysthesun #heartisfull
I just saw that today is World Gratitude Day and remembered taking this photo at Bart's Books in Ojai during a visit with my parents. It was a favorite destination and I took this photo after finding my Dad spelling out "gratitude" with the blocks in the children's section. I actually like that all the letters were not available; it reminds me of the expression about playing the cards you're dealt. In the past year, I began to take time each day to think about what I am grateful for, and it has helped me tremendously. It is such a simple thing to do, but it is such a powerful exercise. #grateful #worldgratitudeday #gratitide
Here's to the power of music and its ability to move and lift you. My dad and I shared a love of music. A little over a year ago, we sat down together to watch Bruce Springsteen perform on Jon Stewart's last episode of "The Daily Show." We cried hearing Bruce sing "The Land of Hope and Dreams." (Listen to it — it's beautiful and its message was particularly touching given the timing of my father's failing health.) My dad has been gone a year now and I'm cherishing that memory. I cried (and also smiled) listening to it a year later. Also, it's a great song to get stuck in your head. This is what Bruce sang: "Grab your ticket and your suitcase Thunder's rolling down the tracks You don't know where you're goin' now But you know you won't be back Darlin' if you're weary Lay your head upon my chest We'll take what we can carry And we'll leave the rest Big wheels roll through fields Where sunlight streams Meet me in a land of hope and dreams I will provide for you I'll stand by your side You'll need a good companion for This part of the ride Leave behind your sorrows Let this day be the last Well tomorrow there'll be sunshine And all this darkness past Big wheels roll through fields Where sunlight streams Meet me in a land of hope and dreams Well this train Carries saints and sinners This train Carries losers and winners This train Carries whores and gamblers This train Carries lost souls I said this train Carries broken-hearted This train Thieves and sweet souls departed This train Carries fools and kings This train All aboard I said this train Dreams will not be thwarted This train Faith will be rewarded This train Hear the steel wheels singin' This train Bells of freedom ring.” Springsteen ended the song, "Land of Hope and Dreams," with a refrain from "People Get Ready." "People get ready There's a train coming You don't need no ticket You just get on board."
After hearing inspiration words on the stage of the DNC tonight, I wanted more than anything to be able to pick up the phone and talk to my mom about it. We would have discussed how it is more than the historic moment (although that is pretty freakin' fantastic) — it is about fighting for what is right and being brave enough to effect change. I picked up my mom's favorite Eleanor Roosevelt book and opened up to this page. How perfect — it's the story of how Roosevelt resigned from the Daughters of the America Revolution because of their "No Negroes" policy. She went further; when the DAR refused to let acclaimed singer Marian Anderson sing at a DC arena because of the color of her skin, Roosevelt helped arrange for her to sing at a free concert at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. That's why #imwithher — we need more of this. #thatsamerica
"Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose…." I heard "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor on the radio this morning, my dad's favorite song. He also said that Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea" was his favorite. (I understand his inability to name one song — how can you pick one favorite when there are so many — and from so many different eras and genres?) Both songs were on iTunes playlists my father made and burned to CDs, which he played in the rental cars he and my mom drove during their annual trip to visit me in California. I hear the songs and think of drives with them on PCH or on winding roads in Ojai and Santa Barbara, on the way to a beach, park, or a lunch or dinner spot. It's the simple things, my dad used to say. Enjoy the moment. I miss those drives and moments, but I know I will continue to cherish those memories. I didn't need to hear JT on the radio to be reminded of my sweet dad on this day (or any), but it filled my heart to hear it. It came on while parking at the beach and I sat on the shore thinking about all I am grateful for, including the countless days we enjoyed on the beach. My dad said beaches and parks were his churches and I feel the same. #love #deepgreensandblues
When you are not a mother and you have lost your own mother, this can be a day of sorrow, even if you consider it a Hallmark holiday. (My mom and I talked just last year about how we appreciated the writer Anne Lamott's essay on the holiday. Google it.) I started today with a walk on the beach and recalled the countless walks I had with my mom (and dad) on both coasts. The mom and son in this photo were walking ahead of me as we approached the pier, and I saw her knock on one of the pier's posts before turning around. That moved me. It was a habit of my parents to knock on a sign or wall or anything else that indicated the turning-around point on a walk. Also, my dad gave my mom a door-knocker charm when they were in high school that reads "knock at my heart." I love that metaphor. I like that it invites you to open the door — or open your heart.
Oh, how I loved this book. I remember my parents encouraging me to read it when I was young and I resisted because I didn't like the title. My Dad told stories of hunting when he was a boy and I thought the book might be about hunting, a subject I had no interest in reading about. When I did open its cover to read the pages, I did so quickly and happily. I remember it as one of the first "adult" books I read, after I devoured the Judy Blume collection. #tokillamockingbird #ripharperlee #books #dontjudgeabookbyitscover #dontjudgeabookbyitstitle
When I was a kid with a Shaun Cassidy poster hanging on my bedroom wall, my dear Dad sat me down for a music lesson by playing Bob Dylan. I loved growing up with his music and continue to be moved by him. Kudos to the Nobel committee for recognizing that this artist is a poet. #bobdylan #soundtracktomylife #dadwouldhavedlovedthis #tbt
I haven't had an Easter basket since I was a kid, but my Mom and Dad would mail me an Easter care package each year with Peeps and other treats. And for years, I amused them by sending photos of Peeps in unexpected places. I know they would like the purple Peep with the crocus. #familytradition #easter #peeps #love
This is Lucy, whose mom told me she asked to take a personal day off from school. That amused me and put me in the mood to rhyme. Here's what I came up with: Lucy had a serious question to ask. Can I stay home today and forget about school? To have a day of my own and make my own rules? To go to the playground and ride on the swings. To sit down on a bench and contemplate things — Like why zebras have stripes and mosquitoes bite, And the stars in the sky don't come out until night. Wait! Thinking is for school! A day of my own should be about fun. To go to the park and do nothing but run — Except for a moment to go down the slide, And let's not forget there's a pony to ride! And then what comes next? What's next but not last? Hmmmm. Maybe I can have some fun in my class? The end.