I have a younger sister and her name is Nicole Daniele Goodman. She goes by Cole and is, without a doubt, the secret ingredient I was given to taste life's sweetness, to feel its fullness, to experience its wonder. The reason why I believe in the good of every day is because you were, and continue to be, the good of my every day.
In a poem my dad wrote about me when I was 5, he says
"She has numerous motherly instincts, this is obvious to see.
How considerate, thoughtful and caring she is,
To her wee sister, Nicole-y.
She takes care of her sister,
This is often pretty rare.
They travel to school hand in hand,
God bless that lovable pair."
It's fair to say that most of my life I was obsessed, yes obsessed, with my baby sister. In awe of her effortless nature to skip through life (a few of those skips landing her into the emergency room) and handle whatever came her way with the biggest grin on her face. We both got our positive attitudes from our mom but there was something else about Nicole that set her apart. She never cared what everyone else was doing and was very adamant about making her own way. No matter the push back, no matter the gossip, no matter the societal pressure. She showed up for life the way she wanted to from the day she was born and continues to live that way.
Entering into our adolescence, it was becoming more and more apparent that Nicole wasn't interested in what the masses around us were talking about, thinking about (really, at all) and instead paved her own way to create a space of unconditional love.
And you know what, maybe that's the secret ingredient. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. How many of us actually see examples that demonstrate what happens when we lead with our hearts completely. Void of the drama, the he said-she said, the obligations, commitments, judgements and expectations.
When I left to backpack throughout Asia last year she wrote me this,
"I am extremely excited for you and this adventure you're embarking on. I truly look forward to hearing about all of your new discoveries, outward and inward. I am incredibly proud of you and I admire your courage. The unfamiliar is not actually scary, only new. I am not worried about you really, with the amount of trust I have in you and in the universe combined, I know everything is going to be alright. Today I say goodbye to the Heather I once knew and look forward to greeting the woman upon your return. I am grateful to you. Thanks to you I refuse to live a mediocre life. Thanks to you I have constant proof of possibilities becoming realities. Thanks to you I will always push toward my dreams. You're the strongest, smartest, most ambitious and energetic person I've ever known, but I also want to say that it's okay to be terrified and it's okay to cry and panic and second guess yourself. You don't have to have it all figured out. Take the experience in, one moment at a time. No use in creating hypothetical stories of the future. Take in every plant, sunset and smell that you can. Give your love to the people who need it most right now. Show the women and the people who you are. They will never forget you. You are exceptional. I will miss you so much but I'm very excited for what's ahead when you return. We're going to make a difference and I know that together we will be unstoppable. You are my very best friend and I hope we can talk all the time still. I'm going to sleep in your bed sometimes. Have so much fun, open your mind and your heart, have no expectations and just let go... enjoy the ride. I love you with all my heart and soul. Bon Voyage! - Coley"
Unable to contain my tears as I transcribe her words, the bond we share is a constant in this ever-changing life. It is the reason I know good comes in every shape and size, color and texture. That it isn't limited to or contained in. It runs free and travels where it pleases, filling up those who are open to receiving it and staying with those who know it can't be grasped.
Growing up Nicole only worried about one thing and it's the one thing we all think about- and that is, being misunderstood. For a long time she was misunderstood by her peers. They didn't understand how she was moving through life on the currents she rode and rather than celebrate that, they feared the difference. Like most of us, they identified the strange and the peculiar as something they should stay away from because it didn't look like everybody else.
The one person I've spent my entire life adoring, absolutely in love with, is my baby sister. The one who did whatever she pleased. And I am so thankful!!!
Before I left for Asia, my sister and I spent the majority of our days brainstorming love equations to save Silicon Valley. To introduce the real meaning of life in the madness of all the agendas. Leaving her and doing something solely for me, for the first time ever, put us on pause. While in a 10 day silent meditation course in Cambodia, the first time we'd ever gone without speaking, the words Sister Roots came to me and I knew that whatever we were doing, we'd call it that. And now, here we are.
The day you were born you changed my life dramatically. You planted the seed of unconditional love in my heart and ever since, we've been tending and watering, seeking sunshine and developing patience. Providing strength and solace, laughter and constructive criticism. The willow and the oak tree.
Coley, you are exceptional.
I do it all for you and I always will.
I love you so!