Guest Opinion: Wisdom Workout


Our Generous and Inspiring City

Susan Valesquez

My youngest daughter, Sara, was fortunate to receive her grammar and high school education at Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School. She went on to Columbia University in Manhattan, well prepared for that opportunity by our caring and committed teachers throughout the years.

I can still remember the waves of excitement and gratitude when she found out that she was awarded the Festival of the Arts Writing Scholarship, Daughters of the American Revolution Writing Scholarship, the Robert C. and Lillian N. DuSoe Scholarship for Writing and the Glenn E. Vedder Festival of the Arts Scholarship for Writing. She received an award from the Rotary Club of Laguna Beach for Spanish language and was also California Girl’s State Representative for Laguna Beach. 

When she was eight years old, we watched the Patriots Day Parade, and when she saw the two teenagers waving from a convertible, she wanted to know how they got to ride in the parade. That image must have implanted itself in her mind, and ten years later, she was Junior Citizen of the Year.

What an extraordinary system of support our community provides, and these contributions go on year after year, representing untold hours of volunteer fundraising and conscientious thought from these committed organizations. 

Sara’s vision for her life was birthed here and nurtured by this exquisite community that we are so privileged to call home. As a result, she felt confident and prepared to live wholeheartedly, successfully taking on many challenging opportunities, including humanitarian work in Pakistan. She wrote this letter as a farewell to Islamabad, Pakistan, after she worked there to assist in disaster relief. 

“This is our last two days in ‘Islama-good.’ As a teenager, I always wanted to live in this part of the world and feel the monsoon weather firsthand. I thought I would feel Rumi in its droplets. I can smell the rain coming…to me, it smells like tin and looks like dark blue/purple. The rain rolls in like a thick blanket and you can feel life popping. Everyone is joyous about the rain. Somehow, it teeters on too much and ultimate destruction – maybe a perfect mirror for this place. I’ve already found Rumi, but the rain felt, to me, like a respite for the ancient dust warriors that swirl silently through these lands to settle down and stop fighting amongst ancestors – long feuds that still rage and are remembered. All in all, blessed experiences have happened for me in Pakistan, and I am forever thankful, and my heart will hold a special place for this amazing and frustrating country. Flying out, my parting wish will be that all that is good comes to this beautiful country and beautiful people. I hope that one day soon, globally we all can find joy, beauty, gratitude, and humor in our differences, and find some way to let those differences shine peacefully without infringing on another or making others wrong.” 

Last Saturday, March 4, we celebrated the 56th annual Patriots Day Parade. It is one of my favorite yearly events and never disappoints. 

Imagine how many of our children and grandchildren, quietly watching the dancers, band members, and groups of children happily participating in our unique citywide celebration, wonder as my daughter, Sara, did: “How did they get to ride in the parade? I want to know, and maybe I will get to do that too!” 

Susan is the author of Beyond Intellect: Journey into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind. You can reach her at:

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