2015’s been a Big Year for me….. I turned 60 in May and my only child, my beautiful daughter, Annie, married in September.
At the time it seemed like just another birthday. But now as I look back many months later I realize that I have actually experienced quite a shift in myself.
I’ve known for a long time that I already have everything I need, but I now feel it viscerally. I know it’s partly a big dose of luck but also the result of consistent work over many many years.
I’m keenly aware that I’ve been able to enjoy the gifts of that hard work because of my parents. We escaped the communist country of my birth, Hungary, and they carried me in their arms to this amazing land of opportunity, almost six decades ago. For their sacrifices and all that I have as a result of their brave choices, I am grateful beyond measure.
I was a toddler when we left Budapest, on very short notice, during the failed 1956 Uprising against Soviet Communism. We had a harrowing ten day ordeal to get across the border and lived in a string of refugee camps for many months, arriving in the U.S. in the spring of 1957 in time for my sister, Naomi, to be born an American. Life was plenty hard, but my parents so appreciated the freedom here that the struggles of early immigrant life were overshadowed by their joy of living in a free and open society.
I was fortunate to receive a full scholarship to Stone Ridge Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Md, outside Washington, D.C. There I was inspired to a deep personal faith in God, and instilled with lasting respect for intellectual values, building community through social action and a love of learning, that has been the cornerstone of my own personal growth.
My high school classmate, Maria Shriver, wrote a terrific blog recently about turning 60 in which she listed 60 things she’s learned over her lifetime. (Read her blog here)
I chuckled; she’s always been a high achiever!
My life has been colorful and filled with many many different experiences. One summer in college I was a research geologist on a Mid Atlantic Ocean dredging expedition ( out of the University of Rhode Island, Narragansett) and only 1 of 2 women of a 35 member crew.
Another summer, I was the director of an environmental education camp, the Living Rivers Program, on the Miramichi River of New Brunswick, Canada ( run by the Quebec-Labrador Foundation) that was so remote it could only be reached by river scow when the tide was in. Our only form of communication two way radio. Every morning we saw osprey flying overhead and often ate fresh salmon caught right in front of our camp. It was an amazing summer!
In 1977, newly graduated from Wesleyan University, CT, I backpacked through Europe with my younger sister. We met our Hungarian relatives for the first time. Hungary was still an Iron Curtain country and I was terrified when the border police confisc