Monday, September 14, 2009

Thinking out loud

Me in the Galapagos Islands enjoying a beer, September 2004

A few of my blogging friends have raised some questions that made me think. First, Nancy at Life in the Second Half asked about five-year plans, and wondered if any of her readers do such things. Of course the comments are all over the place, but I thought about going back five years and figuring out if I thought I knew I'd be here, now, doing this "plan."

The answer is, I didn't have a clue. Five years ago was September, 2004. I was in the Galapagos Islands acting as the organizer for a meeting that was orchestrated and hosted by my ex-boss, Mickey Glantz. I had arranged for 35 scientists to come from all over the region (and from the United States) to attend a conference on El Nino Early Warning and Sustainable Development. This link takes you to the website that I developed for the meeting, along with the help of my right-hand person, Anne. After the meeting, I assisted in writing the report on this site.

That kind of meeting, along with editing numerous papers and books with Mickey, were the basis of my job at the time. On the weekends and during holidays, I was an avid skydiving instructor and made 205 skydives during 2004. I had no idea that five years later, I would be retired, having moved from Boulder to Bellingham, also retired from skydiving instruction and only jumping now and then. Five years ago, it was my life. That and supporting Mickey in a more-than-fulltime job. I was busy! No wonder I like my lifestyle so much now. I earned it.

The other blog that has got me thinking was posted by sas at sas' magical mystery tour about her conflicted relationship with her father. This post is called "something nearing closure" and describes her struggle through the years to understand what her life with him was all about. A quote from the post:
But I feel I have to stand up for the little girl I once was because if I don't, then who will?
Indeed. Who will? It made me remember that my father, although in so many ways I had no doubt of his love for his children, was flawed in his ability to understand women and girls. He would be 86 years old right now, if he had lived (he died at 62 of a heart attack). His generation had a totally different way of thinking about women and our place in the world. It reminded me of an event when I was seven: my grandmother was taking care of my sister and me while Mama was in the hospital having a baby. My father came home from the hospital and put his head in his hands. All of us, me, my grandmother, my little sister gathered around him and asked in shocked tones what had happened. Was Mama okay? The baby? And he looked up, stricken, and said, "it's another girl."

I tried to comfort him. Me, his firstborn, not-boy child who had let him down by being born a girl. Not understanding. And when, eventually, he had his son (when I was 16), Daddy was so ecstatic he went out and bought a baby blue station wagon, passed out cigars to all his friends, and felt that now he was a success. That was what he knew. It still exists out there. In China, female infanticide has been practiced ever since the one-child law went into effect.

But just as my brother was scarred by the labels my father placed on him, I was scarred by the labels Daddy placed on me. Both of us have grown into adulthood and beyond, and although we loved our father and know he loved us, I feel such pain for sas since I know how much we all wish our fathers could be perfect.


  1. Gotcha! we're both on blogging at the same time despite being 7 hours time difference apart! Yes I can empathise with this post. My father took off to Australia when I was 16 and I didn't see him again until I was 32 years old. That was something to come to terms with, wasn't it!
    Blessings, Star

  2. My husband and I made a five year plan. We directed the plan toward his retirement. We wanted to have all of our debts paid, so that we would be more secure and be able to travel etc. We accomplished the financial part, but like most plans there were kinks. Out of the blue, I became disabled and had to leave my job at age 50. I expected to work until 62. My limits keep us grounded near home. I guess no matter how well we plan, we have to expect the unexpected.

  3. It's a long, boring story but I never plan too far ahead. However, about three years ago, I had to right a paper on where I thought I would be in five years, I still have two years to get my act together!
    I was always my daddy's little girl but my Dad could be very chauvinistic, I think it was his generation.

  4. My Dad was very chauvinistic, and I know he loved having two sons, but there was never any doubt he loved me unconditionally. I was very lucky to have him, I know. I have always had self-esteem that was high, desipite setbacks. I always felt I deserved to be treated well. That was the legacy he left for me, and for that I am very grateful. That's not to say he wasn't thrilled with my brothers - at least one of them. Family Science is such an intricate subject - far reaching and very powerful. There is so much to it, such as how we communicate, both verbally and nonverbally. Not to mention implicit and explicit rules. Heavy stuff.

    As for the plan, I'm starting to write things down - to remind me of what I want to see manifest. I think I need to clarify a bit, and then see what happens. I'm really glad to see you have ended up in a great place. You continue to grow, that is clear. Good post.

  5. Five year plan? Nope...I don't plan things, because sometimes it didn't come the way you planned it. I visualize all the things that I would wanted to have and accomplish so in case it wouldn't happen I wouldn't be disappointed. But there's more room for hope. Things comes unexpectedly, good or bad and all we do it is to accept it or find solutions.

    As for Fathers, I am the only daughter and the youngest, Dad has always been overprotective and gives me special treatment.


  6. Too sad that your father couldn't have been more enlightened.
    My dad never seemed to show preference but it might have been there, ever so subtle.

  7. For my dad, I would have settled for "not a criminal who remains free." God used him to bring me into the world and for that I honor him and honor the good things his gene pool passed on to me. But his is a wasted life and he damaged and changed lives forever. I'll have to check out her blog, DJan.

    As far as my five year plan, I must say my life has turned out to be more than I could have ever hoped for. My life is very different than I could have ever believed it would be five years ago. I'm glad God had the plan and not me. His ways are far above mine. :)

  8. I was lucky, my dad had three daughters and I was the first born. He turned me into a tomboy, fishing trips, taught me how to work on a car, etc. He passed away within a few months after I moved to Alaska.

    No five year plan to speak of, retirement is a ways off and we might be living somewhere else by then. Just playing it by ear at the moment.

  9. I love the photo :) One day we need to have a beer together lovely lady!

  10. I am so thankful that my father, who will be 85 in a couple of months, cherished his baby girls as much as his boys. I am so grateful I was loved. We had a "30-year plan" when we were in our early 20s that we would be retired and living in Hawaii on land we bought. That didn't happen. Now we have trouble planning 2 weeks ahead.

  11. Although I was unaware at the time, I did not know just how chauvinistic my Dad was. He treated me like a princess without brains. However, even though my chemical engineer-lawyer-ship captain-pilot brother excelled in many areas, I was the one who could be counted on when it mattered. :D Yet at the same time I bear no animus; it was the times.
    We all have to work out our childhood as we grow in adulthood. I am still growing in adulthood, btw, at 70. lol

    God rest both their souls.

  12. My dad died when I was nine and my mom shortly after. It was such a painful time, I have blocked a lot of the memories. One thing I DO remember from my dad was his love for animals. He used to say, "Show me a man who doesn't like a dog and I'll show you a man who is no good."

    I have found that more often than not, my dad was right. His love for animals lives on in me and my sister. I've passed it along to my boys. I'm not sure if it's genetic or just learned but it's certainly magical.

    I don't make many plans unless they're necessary. Of couse we have a retirement plan but I don't think about it much. My childhood taught me to live in the moment...I'm not sure if that's good or bad but I'm happy.

  13. Lucky am I. My father instilled in his three daughters the belief we could be anything we wanted. If he was disappointed in us being female, he never voiced it or showed it. He died in the prime of his life, at 53. I wish my children could have gotten to know their grandfather.

    As to plans, I make them all the time. But life is what happens while you're making the plans...

    Keep enjoying your retirement, DJan. Some of the most important things we do and say in life are done and said on the other side of the hill...

  14. I find it sad that some men only feel they are a man if they have boys. We waited until the moment Lizzie was born to find out what she was (and I'm SO glad I did, what magic!). Brian originally thought he wanted a boy to carry on his last name. But now that we're trying for #2 he claims he wants another girl. And I'm glad that he's such a softy. I'd be happy with a healthy baby boy or girl.

    I'm glad you were a girl! And i'm sure your dad loved you just as much, he was probably just to afraid to admit it to his male friends. Times are changing. -kate

  15. We had to plan years ago, because my husband had a heart attack at 45..that will wake you up! We had just a couple of years to develop a plan, implemented it and just retired from that plan a year ago..NOW we just take things one day at a time..and try to enjoy each and every day..:)


I really appreciate your comments! If you see a word verification box here, just ignore it. I don't use the darn thing and Blogger is trying to get us to use it, I guess. Ignore it and your comment will still appear.