I have always said that once I publish my current book-in-progress, Hot for Happiness, I will write a book about my extraordinary family of origin, titled Roots and Wings.
“There are two things we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings.”
~ Hodding Carter
My mother has always loved this quote, and these things – roots and wings – are my family’s true gift to me and my four siblings.
Back to Our Roots!
This past weekend, I had the gift of being reunited with some of my favorite people on the planet: my middle sister, Carrie, my brother-in-law, Pablo and my beloved niece Luna and nephew Nico, along with my parents, at the family’s condo in Longport, NJ on the Jersey shore. Carrie and Pablo and the kids had just flown in from San Sebastian, Spain.
I usually get to see the kids for just a few weeks a year, since they live internationally most of the time. They’d been staying for the past few months in Spain.
Pablo’s brother, Mariano, his partner Bea, and their little girl Kira are all based there.
Before that, Carrie, Pablo, Luna and Nico were in Asia for a few months, traveling through Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia. They tend to stay in one locale for a few months before moving on to the next city or country.
On Thursday, they flew into JFK Airport in NYC and my mom picked them up and brought them back to the Jersey shore.
We’re all camped out here for the weekend, and then they’ll head to my parents’ main house in Longmeadow, MA for another month or two.
My two brothers will be visiting often to see the kids. Michael is an attorney based in Connecticut and Shanti is an environmental activist based in Shutesbury, MA, so each of them live within a one-hour drive from my parents’ house in Western MA, where we will be after the week on the shore.
We’ll plan mini daytrips I’m sure. My mom just bought a book of New England Waterfalls so we can go to swimming holes with the kids.
I live just an hour and a half away in upstate New York and will spend as much time with them as possible this summer. I’m so excited to have time with the kiddos!
Luna is the brightest light and joy in my life. She’s four, and such a total delight. Nico, my energetic blond blue-eyed adorable nephew, is only two years old.
The two of them are smart, social, silly, fun kids, who are both bilingual, since Pablo is from Argentina and speaks to them only in Spanish, and Carrie speaks to them only in English.
In fact, Luna is curled up on the couch next to me while I write this because we’re virtually inseparable when together, playing and giggling as “silly twins.” Instead of watching Dora the Explorer with her mom and brother, she snuck downstairs to snuggle next to me on the couch.
Even though I’m typing away and doing “grown-up” things right now, she’d still just prefer being in my presence, near me, next to me. She has her little feet nestled up against me, and we are sharing covers, cozying up as she naps and I write.
Bonded by Love
My family is one of the lucky ones that truly enjoy each other’s company. Our family vacations are filled with quality time spent together, adventures and lots of laughter.
I think I always assumed this was the norm until I met people in college and beyond who dreaded going home for visits, or who are estranged from their parents entirely. Once I figured out that we are actually possibly an exception by simply adoring one another, I came to appreciate the gift of my family further.
We are an unusual family in that there are 19 years from the oldest to the youngest, and that while we’ve all created pretty “big” adventurous lives, we also all actually want to return home.
My parents currently have the goal that all of us, their five adult children and my niece and nephew and brother-in-law, will gather somewhere around the world every year.
It’s not always possible since my sister Carrie and brother-in-law Pablo live internationally much of the time, and my youngest sister Margaret is based in Montana without the flexibility to fly home often, due to her work schedule and busy life.
This year, the gathering place for all of us may be Montana actually since Margaret may not be able to travel back to Massachusetts where my parents are based, until November.
I have traveled extensively on four continents. Carrie, Pablo and the kids have, like me, been on all continents except for Africa, Australia and Antarctica at this point.
My sister Margaret by age 23 had traveled to more than 20 countries (and she, unlike us, has managed to fit in every continent so far except for one – Antarctica!). She now lives and works on an organic farm in Montana, and is dedicated to permaculture and sustainability practices.
My older brother Shanti traveled throughout 20+ countries over the course of 8 months almost 20 years ago during a Peace Pilgrimage from Auschwitz to Hiroshima. He is a peace activist, environmental activist and tech specialist.
My younger brother Michael, the attorney, has visited the family in Argentina and Kauai, been on family trips to Australia and traveled with friends to Europe.
My parents didn’t travel much internationally when they were younger, since they started a family just out of college and were living on a tight budget for years. Now that they are nearing retirement, have worked hard and saved for decades, and have very international children, they are traveling more often, including a trip that we gifted them to Ireland a year ago, France and Iceland this year, and many more to come.
We are adventurous as a family and all seem to have some gypsy blood in us.
My family, with our travels and adventures, the lives we’ve created that are global and that are a celebration of our gifts and talents, recognize that we are extraordinarily blessed.
How Do They Do It?
My brother-in-law, Pablo, is a software engineer and can work from anywhere around the globe, so he and Carrie have literally built a life in which travel is the center of their existence. Most people say you can’t really travel once you have kids, and they have blown this limiting belief out of the water.
The kids are well-adjusted and used to picking up and going quickly. And, when they settle into a city for more than a few months, they go to preschool and make friends, so both are well socialized as well.
Margaret follows her dreams and soul’s impulses where they lead her. She has always been very “Zen” and happy by nature, and goes with the flow of life, which has taken her around the globe!
I set a goal years ago to travel to at least one if not two international destinations a year, and have managed to do that by making it a priority financially over the past few years. My money goes to plane tickets, not expensive clothes or gadgets or things.
Enjoying the Journey!
This time around, gathered here on the Jersey shore, we’ve been able to enjoy the beach and just fun mini-family adventures together.
Really, just being together is enough. And the kiddos and I have been playing up a storm.
Luna is peacefully breathing, napping by my side right now.
I’m so phenomenally thankful for roots and for wings.
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