October 2010: My second MBA graduation after completing the second of my dual degrees. That whole day my sister joked, “you just like graduating, don’t you?” 🤣
I may still be paying for my degrees (thanks for nothing DOE) but I’m grateful for the adventures it lead me too. I’ve collaborated on local and state-wide projects, worked abroad at international companies, lead teams on amazing initiatives, partnered with fantastic people, and grown as a person.
I was seven years old, home with family after school, coloring when all my crayons started going all over the place. “Stop messing with my crayons!” I yelled at my brothers but before they could answer, my pregnant mom screamed at us to get under the table, it was an earthquake.
Those were the longest seconds of my young life under that table!
Luckily, we had just gone through the safety drill in school, how one should dock and cover under a table or stand in a door frame as my mom did when an earthquake struck. We stepped outside our small two floor apartment building after the fact, checking on neighbors and friends.
Back in our apartment, still shaken, we picked up all that fell and assessed the minor damages. My mom was so worried with the local news reporting of the rising death toll, major damages and aftershocks throughout the day that she had us sleeping in the building lobby that night to easily escape if need be.
I remember the image of the collapsed section of the Bay Bridge on the news. Seeing it these many years later sometimes beings that flush of fright my seven year old self felt back then. I also remember the ongoing repairs that took place months and years since then. Including the repairs to the Ferry Building, which rang when the earthquake struck in 1989.
Are we ready or prepared 30 years later? How does one get prepared? Make a plan with your family and friends. Know all your exits at home as well as at work and school. At home, have a first aid kit, canned foods, water and other necessary supplies packed in an accessible pantry/space. Make sure your home or renter’s insurance in a state like California covers you should your health or home be affected. And finally, stay informed and ask questions. It can save your life!
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can make a huge difference in one’s day. As I sit here after hearing of the passing of the comedic legend Robin Willams, I’m not reminded of his movies or his stage performances. I’m reminded of an incident in my childhood.
After my parents divorce, my mother took a few dead end jobs to make ends meet. She landed a job at one of the Toys R Us shops in San Francisco. It wasn’t far from home and the schedule worked well for her as she was not only caring for us five kids, she had taken in my ill grandfather as well. It wasn’t much pay wise but it was a steady something a single mother could find until something better came along.
The first time Robin came to her register to purchase a few things, everyone was star struck, in awe at the local comedic celebrity amongst them. It didn’t phase my mother but she knew whom he was as we were huge fans of his. She remained professional and they had small talk about the day, the city and the items he was purchasing. Soon enough, whenever he frequented the shop, he always made his way to my mother’s register. She never asked for a picture or an autograph (this is way before social media mind you), she didn’t want to make him uncomfortable. He was one of her favorite customers and she knew this simple customer/cashier interaction was better than anything she would’ve asked of him. She would come home happy whenever he had visited and go one about how he was such a kind soul.
He will always be known to us San Franciscans as the local resident whom always gave back. He supported every cause that gave back to the city and it’s inhabitants. He started Comic Relief, performed many times over for charity and brought awareness to the many issues within our city as well as our nation.
Robin, thank you for making my single mother’s days at a dead end job eventful. Thank you for caring and making us care about our communities. Thank you for the laughs, the tears and the joy. You are already missed.
I’m obligated to include and share the below image in this post as someone whom has worked with individuals suffering all forms of mental illnesses, including depression.