Life at the Center – April 2015

We maintain a long-distance relationship. We have for years.

In the early days we were so close we could hug each other daily.  Time went on and the circumstances of life carried us in different directions, till now we only talk on the phone every few weeks.

What happened?  Our little daughter Sandhya grew up and became a delightful young woman, self-directing in all sorts of wonderful ways.

We knew when we went searching for colleges together that this girl was set on going places in her life. The University of California Santa Barbara, a couple miles from where we had brought her up, didn’t even get an application from Sandhya, and she only checked out a couple colleges in the whole state of California. Hawaii – where Cliff and I were mostly residing at the time – got only a glance of half-hearted interest. Instead Sandhya and I traveled together throughout New England, to Ohio, Washington and Oregon checking out schools. The campus that ended up stealing her heart was Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

Like thousands of island parents, we sent our daughter thousands of miles away for college, our heartstrings taut and stinging with her departure. Off she went to Colorado for her freshman year with a full scholarship that she had earned on merit, brimming with zest to protect the earth as an Environmental Science major. We were happy for her, we had to be, even while knowing how much we would miss her. Every parent who raises their child to be self-sufficient suffers from the success of their efforts.

Along the way of her education, Sandhya spent a summer in Costa Rica working at a sea turtle reserve (yes, she loves honu, too) counting turtle eggs and encountering a jaguar in hunt for the turtles. YES, she is intrepid! In her Junior year, Cliff delivered her to a non-profit organization in northern India with which she had worked out an internship. There for a semester, she helped villagers on the Thar desert of Rajasthan to create water conservation tanks, and taught children sanitation techniques.

To the girls and women of this impoverished area, Sandhya served as a living example of a strong, intelligent woman who had gotten herself an education and gained the independence to travel without her family in a distant land. She met with the women in the village councils and gave speeches when the non-profit organization when on marches to promote water conservation. No one had ever seen a fair-skinned, blue-eyed girl with the Indian name Sandhya – they hung on her every word.

Meanwhile, we shared emails back and forth with a few phone calls scattered in.

Not surprisingly, Sandhya fell in love with a place thousands of miles away from home, and also with a fine man who loved living in Colorado. Honestly, I never expected this adventurous girl to move back home after she left Santa Barbara, and meanwhile Cliff and I had definatively moved the other direction, buying a house in Kaneohe, Hawaii. The physical separation between us became more lastingly established.

Once I started Still & Moving Center, time got exceedingly tight on my end. We were leading parallel lives with Sandhya embarking on her new career as an environmentalist and me embarked on my new career as owner of an international movement studio. We each cheered each other on from afar.

Yet we missed each other more than we knew.

Finally, this Christmas vacation we did something we hadn’t done for years: we made time to hang out. Here on island we spent lots of family time, and she took me for brunch one morning to the Halekulani – deluxe! We even made a trip together to Kauai where we adventured for 3 days. We faced rain that was driving sideways, hiked muddy trails, chased colorful chickens to take portrait shots of them, and discovered a hidden beach. It was glorious just spending mom-and-daughter girl time together. Realizing how much we had been longing for each other’s company, we are planning a road trip from Santa Barbara, CA to Durango, CO in May, and my mom is joining us: triple girl time together!

Sandhya has always said she admires me for being my own person, for creating my vision of a wonderful place with Still & Moving Center. The reality factor is that Sandhya’s mom [that would be me!] spends most of her waking moments and some of her sleeping time focused on her work. If I was Sandhya It would have been an adjustment not to be the center of my mother’s world anymore.   Even though Sandhya is busy leading her own life, she probably feels as if she has to share her mom’s attention with a lot of other people who are in daily contact with her. And vice-versa.

I am realizing how even the strongest, most loving long-distance relationships benefit from sharing the intimate details of everyday life, spending time in each other’s spaces. I love and miss my daughter – you all probably know the feeling with someone in YOUR life. Together in the same house or car or path, she and I can laugh at the same things we are experiencing together, eat each other’s food, and give each other a hug whenever we feel like it.

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