Thursday, July 20, 2017

Complimentary Colors




I took art in high school and college. I am no artist, but I appreciate it, and have a strong need to be surrounded by it. I admire the artistic and creative mind - I have neither. It's no coincidence that I write memoir, and not fiction. Fantasy? Forget about it.

One thing that has stuck with me from an early art lesson, is the way colors work with one another. Freshman year in high school we had to create a color wheel, and we learned all about primary, secondary, tertiary and complementary colors. The traditional red and green of Christmas are complimentary. The preppie pink and green are complimentary. My favorite combination these days, is blue and orange. On my denim-covered furniture, rest orange accent pillows. I have orange shoes, belt, and could use a jacket.

I've been thinking a lot about long-term marriage. I look around at the couples I know that have been married 20, 25, even 30 or more years, and wonder sometimes, If I knew each of these people, separately, would I ever have put them together? Opposites seem to attract in many cases.

I do know couples that seem to be cut from the same cloth, totally simpatico, sharing the same interests, priorities, styles and ways of being. They seem to be the exception to the rule. And, let's just be honest, tend to be second marriages.

I think what's important to remember when butting up against your opposite, is that while their approach/method/response is not like yours, it can serve as a compliment.

When we re-paint our kitchen, I am thinking of going with white. White walls, trim, cupboards, countertop. Monochromatic. It will make a nice backdrop to our lives and personalities, that are rich with colors that compliment.


Friday, July 14, 2017

21-er


Twenty-one years ago today, I started the day looking like that, and ended the day looking like this:



What would I say to my younger self?

I recently watched a "Super Soul Sunday" in which Oprah took clips from several interviews, and you heard guest after guest answer that very question. Elizabeth Gilbert said, "There's nothing I would have said to my younger self, because she wouldn't have listened."

Would I have listened?

If I'd have told her to buckle up, it's going to get bumpy. Pace yourself. Let the small things go. Just about everything is a small thing, would she have listened?

If I'd have told her her whole life is about to profoundly change, and there will be no going back. There will only be Then and After Then, would she have listened?

If I'd have told her she's stronger than she thinks, can endure more, has more patience and sheer tenacity than she ever thought possible, would she have listened?

If I'd told her she can love more powerfully, wholly, profoundly than ever before, would she have listened?

If I'd told her she is not alone, that while her situation would be isolating, never was she alone, would she have listened?

If I'd told her that the one that cried and cried and cried some more, to the point she thought he'd never stop, would make her belly laugh every day for years and years, would she have listened?

Is there really any point in this exercise?

We can't go back, we can't tell our old selves anything. What we can do, is try now to listen to our future selves. What is she trying to tell me from her vantage point? What do I know in my heart of heart, believe in my soul, feel in my bones?

We can listen to that.

We must.



Saturday, July 8, 2017

Quotient

Not a single rubber tip remains on any of the door stops. Surreptitiously, one-at-a-time, they have all been removed and discarded.

I don't know why.

I occasionally find one, shoved under a bed, or tucked at the back of a drawer. I replace it. I wait. I watch. And again, it disappears.

There will be no peace until each of the door stops are without tips.

I hear a lot about Tropicana fruit punch and orange cream-flavored foods these days. Many hours are spent in the pursuit of them: time on the Internet, MapQuest consulted to find the stores that carry the items-of-the-month. Driving time, shopping, more discussion, then eventually, me finding good homes for the items we went in full search of, but were never intended to actually be consumed.

I've been thinking a lot about the subject of intelligence. We live in a culture that throws around words like "stupid," "dumb," "idiot," "foolish," with much smugness and little awareness.

The message is strong, it is loud, it is constant, and it is offensive to me. High intelligence is good, low intelligence is bad.

There is nothing "smart" about making others feel "dumb."

There is nothing "intelligent" about letting everyone know just how "intelligent" you are.

I'm grateful to those that consider intelligence in a multitude of ways: emotionally, socially, spiritually, relationally.

I'm grateful to those that comprehend the Beatitudes.

I'm grateful that rubber tips and fruit punch have taught me more than anything.




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Leaving the Sandlot

I'm going to a writing retreat in August, led by an author I've not known a whole lot about until recently. It's one of those stories where everything came together quickly and easily, and I just knew it was meant to be.

I've been on other writing retreats, with mixed results. I guess all of that is coming up now in my sub-conscious, because last night I dreamed I was at my future retreat, but a former teacher was hovering nearby. I came to understand she was using my writing for her students to workshop. All kinds of boundaries were crossed and I felt there was little to nothing I could do about it.


Then, I spotted on an end table, a book I'd apparently written, Leaving the Sandlot. I could see the white jacket, the blue lettering, my name on the spine.

I woke up and repeated the title in my head a few times, so I wouldn't forget. Such a weird title. A sandlot? My only familiarity with that word is with some kids' movie, made before I was even a parent, and taking place before I was even born.


Maybe the message is in the word "leaving."

Maybe the message is in the definition of sandlot: a piece of unoccupied land used by children for games.

Maybe the message is in the combo, moving away from that which is unoccupied.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ode to a Father

I'm writing this on the 21st anniversary of my own father's death. That death was both the end and a beginning, as is always the case. An end to the struggles my father had, created, and all the ways those struggles rippled. His death brought forth the opportunity to put a period at the end of that story, and begin the process of healing, re-evaluation, and ultimately, compassion and forgiveness.

I knew what kind of father I would choose for my own children. Not only would my ultimate husband and father to my kids be addiction-free, he would be funny. He would be kind. He would be a good provider. He would be intentional in his parenting. He would co-parent. He would be heavily invested and involved in the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of our kids.

I didn't know that between our two children we would face autism spectrum disorder, eczema, flat feet, scoliosis, pectus excavatum ("funnel chest"), secondary anorexia, amblyopia, depression, anxiety, OCD, allergies, ADHD, and those are just the ones that are share-able and on the tip of my tongue.

I didn't know there were that many kinds of therapists.

I didn't know that no matter how much we earned and saved, our kids' needs would surpass whatever we had.

I didn't know that my ability to earn would be cut short, and my husband's ability would have to magically increase.

I didn't know that smoke, mirrors, and pulling rabbits out of hats, was required.

I didn't know that instead of throwing a ball in the backyard, my husband would be down on his knees doing Floortime.

I didn't know that instead of coaching one of his own kids in the sport he loved, excelled in and lived for for many years, he would coach other people's kids, and I would stay home with ours.

I didn't know that instead of taking trips, recreating, having adventures, like he had hoped and dreamed, he would make candles in the basement, watch endless reels of Elmo singing, "Yo, Five," and listen for the ice cream truck.

I didn't know that instead of going, having, seeing and doing, he would stay, go without, miss and skip.

I didn't know that a refusal to quit, perseverance, fortitude, stamina and sheer grit (all the same things that made him a successful athlete) would be the biggest job requirements.

I didn't know that humor wasn't a bonus, it was essential.

What I know now, is there is nothing like having both your kids working in the fields they love, and thriving. To see them earn their own money, and generously share it with others, is one of life's greatest joys. To witness them being kind, funny, helpful, thoughtful and good, is the truest reward.

What I know is I got the father for my children I wanted, and they needed, and we are blessed.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Surrender


“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
—George Orwell

Was looking for a quotation that said something along the lines of editors are those who know a lot about writing, but aren't cursed with the need to write. Couldn't find it. Found this one, instead. Love it, and everything about it.

Chicken or egg? Does writing drive you mad, or do you have to start off mad to write?

I have come to understand that when you're in the active writing stage, you're writing when you're dreaming. You're writing when you're reading. You're writing when you're walking the dog, pulling the weeds, running the errands. You're always "writing." It's there. This "being" is a necessary and burdensome presence you just can't shake.

I have lists on my phone, in my car, by the bed, taped to the computer. Everything is material, or possible material. Snippets of overheard conversations, memories, thoughts, wishes, lies and dreams.

I'm with you, George, one would never undertake such a thing unless driven - there is no resisting nor understanding, there is only surrender.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Excused

Wil turns 21 a month from tomorrow. Plans are underway for a big backyard party (if you'd like to come, consider yourself invited). As was the case when he was turning 18, I felt the need to celebrate, to usher in the milestone with hoopla and fanfare, and rejoice.

Slim to no chance he will partake in alcohol, on his birthday or otherwise. I'll get back to you whether or not he begins taking the wine at communion. This birthday has nothing to do with his legal right to buy or consume alcohol.

"I'm in my early 20's," he said to me, yesterday. At first I thought that came out of nowhere, but then realized we'd been previously discussing how old the others were in his music class. His friend, Timmy, had said, "I think the average age is 30."

Wil, Timmy and I have a standing Monday date. We pick up Timmy around 9:30, give or take, and go to a convenience store of Wil's choosing. Then, there is usually another random store picked out for a random reason, then we go to lunch at... a random restaurant. Then, we go to their class, and while they are otherwise engaged for one hour, I sip on an iced decaf latte and read a good book. I drink deeply from the latte, the literature, and the quiet, because then it's back in the car with two boys that both want to tell me different things at the same time, and I carry on two parallel conversations and my mind nearly explodes in a matter of minutes.

Yesterday, the random store was Target. We all know I'm a big fan of Target, and couldn't help but feel that Wil was throwing me a bone. They shopped for the things that matter to them: Wil, snacks, Timmy, Legos. I shopped for the things that "matter" to me: compostable garbage bags, an inkjet, and throw pillows. The rule is they have to stick together, and keep their phones on. We text each other with updates, and select a time to meet at the check stands.

When I got to the check stands, Timmy had already checked out. Wil was standing there, looking a bit lost and confused. He'd checked out, but hadn't paid. He got all the way through before realizing he had no money on him. He explained that his mom was in the store and would be there in a minute to pay, and I was, and I did.

But. How did he not get that you have to both have money and enough? I'd stopped having him carry a wallet when he lost it for the millionth time. Instead, I send him out into the world with a Ziploc with just enough to get what he "needs," but not enough to devastate him when and if he loses it. Because we were together and that wasn't the plan for them to check out without me, I hadn't done that. He had not processed that, and I was startled to realize the utter lack of awareness around that.

Later, when I went to get the mail, he'd received something from the circuit courts. I opened it after Timmy left, and saw that he'd been summoned for jury duty, on his 21st birthday. I read through the list of justifiable excuses, and no where was an option for disability. Instead, there was information about accommodations made for those with disabilities, specifically, mobility, vision or hearing.

No amount of accommodations were going to make Wil jury material. I fired off a letter, attached my Letters of Guardianship, and there's no doubt he will be excused.

I struggle to find that sweet spot between what he can do and what he should do. Too often, I make life easy for him, because it makes it easier for me.

Too many excuses.





Monday, June 12, 2017

You're Bald

I'm hearing the soft call of the muse, again, and I'm loving it. It's hard to sense the muse when you're v busy watching bad TV, and otherwise distracted.

Had my cards read, and the woman said, "You're allowing distractions to keep you from doing what you want and need to be doing in the world."

Told my friends, Terry and Greg about that, Greg responded, "Hope you didn't pay too much for that reading."

Sometimes we have to pay too much for a reading, to have someone point out the obvious.

How is it we don't see the obvious, in ourselves, but if you're like me, you're super good at observing it in others?

We have a long-time joke around our house, where we place our hands on either sides of our mouth, and shout at another, "YOU'RE BALD!" when they don't seem to get the obvious. Comes from "Seinfeld," of course, the episode where George won't date a bald woman, and Elaine has to point out to George the irony.

Had lunch yesterday with two very dear and long-time friends (almost 30 years). We have had that trusted, sacred circle of friendship surrounding us and allowing us to truly share. One had the nerve to up and move three hours away, so now, when she comes to town, we gather. Although, in reality, we probably aren't getting together that much less frequently, it feels different. Just knowing she's not in town feels weird, and having her back in town feels like a reunion.

Seeing her bask in her new life of retirement and relocation, was glorious. Came home on such a high from our time together, and from seeing her so visibly happy, after years and years of struggle, in one way(s) or another.

When I got home, I returned to two men who had not had good days. Neither were happy.

They may not have had good days had I stayed home, either. They were upset for different reasons, having nothing to do with me, but yet that feeling that had I been there, they would both have been happier, remained.

How do we beckon the muse, fill up our tanks, and keep everyone else in their boats sailing on smooth seas? Must one be sacrificed for another? Is it our job to build their boats, place them on them and control the moon that controls the sea?

Impossible, yet I will probably need some help reminding me I'm bald.







Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Losing Nemo

We went to a new eye doctor for Wil, today. He has been seen by the same pediatric ophthalmologist since he was in preschool, and has worn glasses since he was five. Love her as we do, I could not drag my 6' 2" almost-21-year-old in there, one more time.

Going to the eye doctor is not one of Wil's favorite things to do. He hates the drops. The drops freak him out. They sting his eyes, and he has had to be pinned down to get them in, and just thinking about those drops gives us both a jolt of PTSD.

I wanted to both warn him he had an appointment coming up, and not give him too much notice. Fine line. "I'm looking for a new eye doctor for you," I told him in the car a few months ago. "You are ready for one that treats adults."

"I know who I want!" he quipped.

"Oh, yea? Who?" I asked.

"Get one that looks like Steve Martin," he said.

Someone that treats his particular eye condition, that is within a few miles of our house, with a kind demeanor, were my requirements, not a Steve Martin look-alike.

Told him on Monday, "BT dubs, you have an eye appointment on Wednesday."

He started right in with the concern about the drops, and asked that I cancel the appointment. "CANCEL!" was his exact word.

When I convinced him I was not going to cancel it, he had me swear that next time he had an appointment, I would cancel it. Hoping in two years he'd forget our promise, but knowing he wouldn't, I agreed.

I'm happy to report that he did well, and the eye doctor, although looking nothing like Steve Martin, was a good fit for him. Pretty arrogant and self-satisfied, he was none-the-less just quirky enough to get on board the Wil train, and at one point asked, "What are we doing here, free-association? Okay, I'm in."

"Where's the movie?" Wil asked the medical assistant, "Finding Nemo?" I don't think he realized that not every eye doctor in the world shows "Finding Nemo" for years-on-end, to their patients and long-suffering parents. I have yet to see the movie in its entirety, but I've seen 10-20 minute segments, since it was released on video in the early 2000's.

This time, the medical assistant had a special technique for installing the drops, and he didn't cry. He didn't kick and scream. No one had to pin him down. He didn't love it, but he did great, and was very pleased with himself for getting through the ordeal with a minimum of drama.

"You're doing well, you don't have to come back for two more years," the doctor said.

"I'll come back in two years and one month," Wil said, getting in the last word, per usual.

"See you then," the doctor said.

"See you then," Wil responded.

See you later, Nemo.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Riddle

I've been conflicted over something for awhile now. I've been processing it in my prayer time. I've been processing it with my inner circle. I've been been processing it in my psyche. I have not come to a clear "answer."

In the most general of ways, I asked Wil about it, while driving. "What do you think I should do?" I said.

"You should cross two streets," he said from the backseat, where he prefers to ride.

I looked in my rear-view mirror to see his face. Was he teasing? Serious? Saying something random? Revealing a deep, inner wisdom?

I have no idea. It does no good to press him on such things, he doesn't like to be questioned, and all attempts to further the conversation, gets you nowhere.

I've come back to his statement, however, and have turned it over and over and decided he's right, whether or not he meant to be helpful, he was. We cannot get anywhere by looping in our minds, spinning and circling, chasing our tails. Eventually, we have to "cross a street." We have to see where things look from that angle, from the "other side."

Crossing two, even better.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

No More Making Do

We have a front-facing attic window, that for several months out of the year has no need for a covering, but for several others, it does. The afternoon sun pours through the window, into the storage closet, out into the adjacent room, and the heat spreads throughout the upstairs.

Wil and I spend a disproportionate amount of our time year-round, on heat management. He closes vents. I open them. He closes shades. I open them. He shuts doors. I open them.

I need the light. I like things to move, to breathe, to flow.

He likes a dungeon. A dark, still, closed off space in which to have his being.

Today, I went up to the storage room at the top of the stairs, and it was hot and still. I looked at the old pillowcase, hung by two small nails - right through the fabric, and I saw myself nearly 14-years-ago when we first moved into this house, "making do." For all these years, when winter has turned to spring, I have hung that same old pillowcase, on those same hastily hammered nails, and walked away for months. Never giving it, them, the system, another thought.

I'm all over the Internet today, I need a proper curtain and rod for that window. I move as though my life depends on getting that handled. Today. Right. Now. I can't stand it another day. How have I looked up at my house each year, and seen that forlorn-looking thing hanging there, and been alright with it?

Didn't see it.

Didn't notice.

Didn't care.

Now, I do. I see it. I have noticed. I care.

And so it is, right? We can only change that which we put our attention towards. That to which we bring gentle awareness. That which we look at with new eyes, and see what can be done to change it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

To Every Thing

Yesterday, I woke at 3:30 and was wide awake. I got up, made coffee, and sat in sacred silence. I wrote the following blog post, but didn't post it. It wasn't time. It was time for me to write it, but not to share it. I listened to Chris Brunelle's comforting voice, for hours.

I felt my mother-in-law's spirit in a way I'd never felt before. It was "right here," and I prayed in thanksgiving that her sister, best friend, parents, and husband of 60-years, surround her in her final days, and offer her peace and their outstretched hands, to help her cross over.

We knew she was failing.

We knew she didn't have months left, probably not even weeks, but we thought we had days, at least, still with her.

After leaving my prayer space, walking Flicka and getting just a few houses away, I got a call that she had just passed.

These last few years, and especially weeks, have enough material for a book, and maybe that's what they will become. For right now, I sit in gratitude for that which we cannot see or prove, but can See and Prove. We exist on different spheres and fields of energy, all at the same time.

There are no accidents.

Amen.




***************************************************************************





The song comes to me, perhaps I've heard it at church and it just got stuck. Perhaps it has come as a message. Perhaps it's "just" a song. I don't think so.

"To every thing, there is season, a time to be born, and a time to die..."

Over and over again those words play in my head, a melodious backdrop to the crisis we are in, a constant reminder, a chant.

The words, the repetition, the truth, they comfort me as we do what you do in a crisis. You block out everything else. You attend to only that which is right before you. You gain focus, clarity, presence. The gifts of crisis.

Maybe crisis isn't the right word for it, not when you're talking about 89 years of a life well-lived. Transition. Transition is a better word. The reverse of transitional labor in the birth process, the pain and nearness of what is about to happen: death.

May the angels come to greet you.

May He wipe every tear from your eyes.

May you know sorrow no more.

May you find peace and joy in paradise.

Amen.




Ecclesiastes 3:1-8King James Version (KJV)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reusable Cup


I have a thing for long-burning candles with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on them. I generally get them at the grocery store, and they come in a tall glass container and will cost you about $1.99. They burn for days (seven straight, is how they were designed). I burn two during prayer time, and they last for months. Few things in my life give me a greater bang for my buck.

Found a new design at Fred Meyer, recently. Different shaped glass, and I impulsively bought four. I gave three to my fellow Mary-loving friends, and kept one. I quickly understood that I was going to need more than that for myself, and so promised myself the next time I was at Fred Meyer, I would get more.

Wil helps with an after-school program on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 90-minutes, and I have that time to kill. I often run errands. Sometimes I take my book and find a place to go sit and read until it's time to get him. I recently had a list of things to buy for my mother-in-law's birthday, and Fred Meyer seemed the place to go for one-stop shopping. With the exception of the three inexpensive candles I bought myself, everything else on the list was for another.

Took the receipt home, and was about to recycle it, but glanced at it before doing so. The receipt listed each candle as a "Reusable Cup."


Like any normal person, I've spent several days reflecting on that word, "reusable." Re-usable. Able to use again. Differently, perhaps.

It makes total sense to me, that Mary would lead me to understand ways I can be be of use again, differently, perhaps.

While it's very likely my lists: To Do, To Buy, To Go, To etc... are going to remain other-centered, when all is said and done, how do I remain reusable? How can I be of use differently?


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tarry


All this hurrying soon will be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy.
RAINER MARIA RILKE
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines tarry as a verb meaning to stay longer than intended; delay leaving a place.

The Synonym Finder lists such words as: remain, stay, abide, dwell, reside, live, settle, anchor, plant oneself, be established.

The word abide has long fascinated me. Wordy people will get this, others maybe not so much. Some words are just really evocative and "fun" to mediate on.

I recently hosted an evening in which a card reader came to do just that: read cards. She had with her Tarot, and two other alternative decks. I chose one called Ask Your Guides Oracle Cards. She did a 7-card spread: that which is passing away, that which is bridging, and that which is coming. 

That which is passing away, is, fortunately, exhaustion.


The Divine Helpers are here - step back and let them do their thing. It's not all up to me. "Overdoing is fear in disguise." She said I had an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. She also emphasized that I've been using distraction to keep me from focusing on what I really want.

As my friends, Greg and Terry, said, "I hope you didn't pay too much for that reading." Sometimes we do have to pay to have pointed out for us, what's right in plain sight.

Seven seasons of "Sister Wives" can't watch themselves, and that's why I'm here. While I know TV is a distraction, it is also a way of resting, a way of healing the exhaustion, a way of getting water to the roots that have been thirsty for a long, long time.

Time spent with Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn (and their 18 kids) while fascinating, is not helping me to to touch the holy. It's been helpful, and I would't call it a waste of time, for it did just what it needed to do, but now it is to move from being idle, to tarrying.








Sunday, March 5, 2017

Good Question

Over the years, I've created a private sanctuary in my closet. When we remodeled the house many years ago, there was some weird space left over, only accessible through the bathroom. Because of the sloped ceiling, large window, and odd-shaped space, there was really only room for one rung, so although it's a walk-in closet, literally, it's not all that usable as a closet for clothes (although, that's where all my clothes are).

It has become my prayer room. I have a soft place to rest, a shoe-rack-turned-bookcase, an altar for candles and holy items, and the most brilliant part of all, a mini-fridge and coffee maker. Flicka and I are able to get up before everyone else, come into the sacred space and start our day with prayer and cuddles.

The best part about it is, there isn't a reason in the world why anyone else would ever go in there. It's not on the way to anything, it's, in fact, hard to get to. It's inconvenience is its genius.

Wil used to come bounding in and disturb the peace, the minute his eyes popped open. I've re-trained him not to do that until 6:30. He's on his own until then, and so, the earlier I get up, the longer I have in the prayer room. Today, Flicka and I were in here before 5:00, the dark and quiet of the morning, the low-vibration of the Earth, the feeling of Sunday, palpable and calming.

I remember the "Seinfeld" episode where Jerry, Kramer and George are in the back of a taxi, and are talking about the different ways days-of-the-week feel. Kramer can "feel Tuesday" and George and Jerry think he's odd for doing so. I can feel each day-of-the-week, week-of-the-month, and month-of-the-year. Through the window, I see the turning of the seasons, the ebb and flow of sunrise, the differences in light and dark. There is a pattern, a rhythm, and tempo to the days, months and years.

This morning, I was in prayer and "heard" the question, "Do you have a cross inside?" I first was confused as to whose voice it was I was hearing. Was it external? Was it my sub-conscious? Was it Mary's? Being the very literal person that I am, I first thought of the crosses I have on the inside of my house. A moment later, I moved to the question of where and what my internal crosses may be. Of course, there are many. Enough to reflect on that question throughout Lent. 

Yesterday, I saw my best friend from junior high. We were only active friends for two years, before I moved away. But, those seventh and eighth grade years were biggies, and much of my personal work has come from the effects of those years. Some years of our lives are more concentrated than others, more full of upheaval, change and transition. We move through understanding in stages, and the "crosses inside" must be peeled back, layer by careful layer.

I'm grateful for the both the literal and figurative time and space in which to examine, and re-examine,  the cross(es) inside. 


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happy Birthday, Like, Like, Like



"Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world."
Etty Hillesum

I decided months ago what I would give up for Lent this year. If anything, it's more of a gift I am giving myself, than a sacrifice. What will be hard is breaking the habit. What will be hard is resisting the urge. What will be hard is the FOMO.

I'm reading the story of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu's week-long communion in Dharamsala, THE BOOK OF JOY. It's an antidote to all the fear and hate that abounds. It restores hope. It is not complicated, we just make it so. Peace begins with us. There is suffering, the First Noble Truth. What we do in response to that suffering, is our choice. If we were to be pierced by an arrow, we would feel pain. To remove the arrow and keep stabbing ourselves with it, would be ridiculous, but mentally, that's what we do.

I'm teaching a little class at church for school-aged kids that are going to be baptized at Easter. We are talking about Lent - a dedicated period of time in which we increase prayer, giving and fasting. Over the years I've fasted from coffee, alcohol, one year I even fasted from Target. This year, I'm going to fast from social media, and with the time I would ordinarily spend on that, attempt to spend that same time in prayer.

With all that's going on in the world, in this country, and even in my own neighborhood, I am aware just how much I'm taking those "arrows" and stabbing myself over and over and over again with them. I am clear that this isn't working, and that if all this turmoil doesn't call me to action, it's wasted turmoil. I know I can't solve all the ills of the world. I know that I can't react and respond to every cause. How and what I do in response, needs greater contemplation. Greater clarity. Greater peace within myself.

For all of you having a birthday, happy birthday. For all of you posting cute pictures of your kids, pets, vacations and loved ones, know that I "like" them. For all of you posting what's on your mind, the outrage, the opportunities for action, the galvanizing of forces, know that I support and appreciate those efforts.


I am Peace, surrounded by Peace, secure in Peace
Peace protects me
Peace is in me
Peace is mine - All is well.
Peace to all beings
Peace among all beings
I am steeped in Peace
Absorbed in Peace
In the streets, at our work, having peaceful thoughts,
Peaceful words, peaceful acts.
                                                         Buddhist meditation







Friday, February 10, 2017

Dishing Up the Dirt


OK, all you foodies, you will want to be first in line for this amazing cookbook! My "niece," Andrea, is one kick-ass organic farmer, creative, healthy cook, and over-all wonderful person. There's not at thing not to love about her, not a thing.
Andrea has been posting daily recipes on her blog for years, yet, somehow, she created all new recipes for this special, season-by-season, farm-to-table cookbook. Her ability to put yummy ingredients together in ever-new ways, astounds me. 
Andrea's mom, the liz (whom I've often written about), drove out to Parkdale, yesterday, to be with Andrea as she opened her advanced copy. Only Andrea would bake something to give the UPS man:






You can pre-order your copy of the book right now! Her local bookstore is happily taking orders of the book which will be signed by Andrea and can be shipped worldwide. Follow this link for that.
You can pre-order on Amazon right here.
Pre-order from Barnes & Noble right here.
ENJOY!





Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wishing a Life Away

I remember a brief conversation I had with a co-worker, over 25-years-ago. "I can't wait for the weekend," was how it started. Then, she went on to say, "then I'll say that again next week, and then how I can't wait for summer, then how I can't wait for retirement. I guess I'm wishing my life away."

You know how sometimes it's the "accidental" exchanges like that, that stick with you?

Personally, I struggle with holding the paradoxes of time. I don't want my birthday to roll around again. I don't want the school year to end. I don't want my 13-year-old, beloved Flicka Link to get any older. I don't want the parts of my life that are working, to stop working.

I can't wait for the era we're in, politically, to end. I want the hazards and inconveniences of winter to be over. I want it to hurry up and be bedtime. I want the humming to stop, the thumping, the steady beat that permeates the house. I want some of my seemingly endless responsibilities, to lessen.

I sit with the conflicting feelings, the want of endless peace and quiet, for instance, while knowing that for that to be the case, I would have to lose everyone I hold dear.

I fully believe everything is on a continuum. Everything. And what I really am needing to do, is just move the needle a few ticks, back into the "normal" zone - out of the red zone, to feel "better." I don't need endless quiet, that would drive me mad. I need more quiet.

I don't need bedtime, weekends, retirement, etc. to "come." I don't need days, seasons, phases to end. I need to sit with it all, hold it all, be with it all and let it all co-exist in the messy, chaotic, growth-producing, ass-kicking way that life does.

We incarnated into our particular lives for particular purposes, I believe. Original soul reasons. To try and shortcut through them doesn't serve our highest good.

The mess is where the learning is.

The chaos is where the clarity lies.

The noise is where we find our quiet.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Extra Love

Like many of you, I am trying to make sense of the times we live in, and am not quite sure there is any sense to be made. Too much thinking. Too much reacting. Too much fear. Too little prayer/contemplation/stillness.

I am making my way (slowly) through Richard Rohr's book, The Divine Dance. After several attempts to sit and read, I finally understood it would be most helpful for me to take tiny sips, over a long period of time, rather than one, long gulp. There was a lesson for me in that realization, that applied to so many other areas of my life. The whole idea of forward momentum. The idea of chipping away at something, even if for 5-10 minutes, rather than waiting until I "have more time." Sitting in quiet for three minutes, is better than zero. Reading five pages, consistently, day after day, will put me in the same place - at the end of the book, but probably not at a place of "completion."

Last night, I dreamed I was driving, and the steering wheel completely came off. I saw that the screw had fallen on the floor by my feet. I put the car in park, set the emergency brake, and asked the passenger, to please hand me the Leatherman from the glove compartment.

A Ph.D in psychology is not necessary, to understand that at least one meaning of the dream, is to take my hands off the steering wheel, and to ask for help from the "passenger."

Yesterday, I had spent six hours with Wil and his buddy, and they were delightful. They were also very chatty. And they spoke to me, concurrently, on (at least) two different topics at all times, while I (not the best driver in the world) was attempting to drive them all over town. The combination of multi-input stimuli, over a large amount of time, about blew all my fuses.

When the day was over, I put on comfy clothes and was going to go downstairs and pour a glass of wine. Wil was in the room at the top of the stairs. "What are you getting?" he asked. "Is it easy? Does it need cooking?"

When I answered him that yes, it was easy, and no, it did not require cooking, he said, "I'm all ears." I told him I was going to get myself a glass of wine.

"I'll get it," he said, and ran downstairs, returning with a glass and the bottle. "I'll pour it, " he said. He filled the glass beyond where I showed him with my finger, then added a splash more, "for extra love," he said.

Richard Rohr calls Mary, the model of contemplation. She allowed. She wasn't steering. She used her tools to keep herself on the road/path, while never "knowing" just where it would lead. When she got stressed and over-whelmed, she turned to her Son for some extra love.

Amen.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Remember Me



I am lucky and proud to call artist Candace Primack, a close friend. Her oldest daughter was in Wil's small afternoon kindergarten class, 15 years ago, and a friendship was born that has grown through the years into something I cherish, deeply.

I have been buying her art for many years, and with each additional piece, my home looks and feels "better." I see new objects and images with time, I develop a relationship with each piece that grounds, comforts, inspires and delights me.

A few months ago, Candace had an open studio event, where people were going from studio to studio to meet local artists and purchase their art. I walked into the studio and saw, probably not for the first time, but for the first time, "Remember Me." It hung high on the wall amidst many others, it was big, beautiful, and spoke loudly, to me. What drew my eye first, was the "happy cup," the red "cup" with the "handle" and the "happiness" coming from it. Few things make me happier than my daily ritual of perfect coffee in the perfect mug.

I made the impulse decision to buy the painting, and Candace and I worked out the arrangements. It wasn't until we took it off the wall and put it into my car, several days later, that she told me the name of the piece, written on the back. "Remember Me." I knew without further explanation, that the "me" was me and not anyone else. I knew it in a way that dropped deep, yet was quickly forgotten in the life so many of us have: taking care of others. Between the duties and responsibilities, the day-to-day minutiae that can easily consume our best hours, it is easy to forget, and hard to remember, me.

I was with Candace the night before the Inauguration. We met with two other soul sisters and spent a couple hours in prayer and soulful discussion, about what WE can do, and what we can do. About hate. About love. About fear. About hope. About change. About resistance to change. About challenges. About acceptance. About division. About unity.

The subject of Candace's art came up, and she reminded me, again, of the name of my new piece. "Remember ME," she emphasized, pointing to me, "not Remember Me," pointing to herself.

I can easily look around and see those that have forgotten everyone but themselves. Those that have no problem remembering to look out for themselves and their self-interests. Can I, though, figure out how to remember myself? To discern what it most important to me, and to concentrate my time, attention and efforts into that, and not spread myself so thinly over everyone and everything that asks me to, that what I most value gets short-changed?

It's easy to remember all the others that clamor for our attention, "Remember me! Remember me! Remember me!" is a silent chant that thrums through our beings. The partners, the spouses, the kids, the pets, the elderly parents, the friends, those in our communities in need of help, our larger communities, our country, our world. All are in need of our love and attention, in a big, big way. That's just a fact and it's never going to change. There is no end to the needs and demands of others. There is no end to the number of people and worthy causes to whom and which we feel called to serve.

Fortunately, there is no end to our capacity to love.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

I Do


Going nowhere...isn't about turning your back on the world; it's about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.
LEONARD COHEN

This was in my very-cluttered in-box, this morning, from Gratefulness.org  It reminded me of my favorite song from "Godspell," "Day-by-Day:"


Day by day, oh, dear Lord, three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly, day by day

Day by day, day by day
Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray

To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly, day by day

The song's simplicity and repetition, makes it a chant. And a chant is just what I need sometimes, to help sort me out, drown out all the noise and internal mind chatter, and just settle down.

The quotation reminded me that while I'm a big fan of "going nowhere," sometimes you gotta go somewhere. Got home last night from a 7-day, 6-night "honeymoon" with my husband. We got married in Hawaii 25-years-ago this month, and felt that was worthy of the money and multiple preparations it would take to pull off a get-away like that.

It was.

I won't go into how 25+ years ago I became engaged, but was not formally proposed to. There, in Hawaii, my husband dropped to one knee, pulled out a simple, elegant, platinum band, and asked if he could have the great honor of 25 more years together.

He placed the ring atop the other rings, making a trinity. The past. The present. The future. The good. The bad. The ugly. The richer/poorer. The sickness/health. The better/worse.

My hands ain't what they used to be. 25-years-ago someone suggested I could be a hand model. Today, they are veiny, heavily spotted with age, the knuckles so large I need an "arthritic clasp" to get one ring on. I've never loved my hands more. My hands tell a story. Our story.

We left 85-degrees, yesterday, and returned to 35-degree Portland, where school has already been cancelled, and snow and ice are on their way. We got into our car at the airport, and a tire was flat. Same tire that gave us trouble before we left. Same tire I said needed to be fixed before we go, because I didn't want to come back from a great trip, and have a flat tire waiting for us. Same fight, different version, we've been having for 25 years. 

There isn't a doubt in my mind we'll continue to play this out until death do us part. We are two very different people, with very different approaches to just about everything, with a few exceptions. We are, at our cores, two people who trust and love one another, and take our vows very seriously.

Those lyrics can apply to marriage, too. To see each other more clearly. To love each other more dearly. To sometimes lead, sometimes follow, and sometimes walk along side of each other, through this thing called life. 

Our vows, a chant.




Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Reflection

It was after noon before I brushed my hair, yesterday. I'd been up since 5:00, had run a million errands, all in my sweats, and finally got in the shower about 12:30. Decided at that point, what was the point of even washing my hair? Just ran a brush through it and called it good-enough. 

Started thinking about all the time I used to spend on my hair each day, sometimes over half-an-hour, blow-drying, curling, spraying, examining it from every angle with a hand-held mirror, and trying to get it just so. I cannot tell you the last time I used a hand-held mirror, to see my head from any angle. What my hair looks like from the back, is none of my concern these days. I don't care.

In the 1950's house I grew up in, we had a fancy mirror/medicine chest system, comprised of three mirrors. The two on the ends opened, and you could position them in such a way that you could see the back, front, and center of your head. When you got up close and squeezed them in, it had an infinity effect - you went on forever.

I woke up this morning with that image. While I think it's important to look back from time-to-time, it's not important to dwell on the past. While it's important to look forward, to plan, to get excited, to anticipate, to prepare, it's not where our heads should "be." What's behind us and what's before us, isn't as important as what's right in front of us, the front view, facing forward. 

We go on forever, we are infinite, but all we can control, all that is ours, is this moment. The now.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Many and One

I've had two people tell me they're waiting for me to say something profound, to help them understand what just happened in the world.

I, myself, don't understand, and have been a bit of a recluse the last two days, trying to avoid human contact as much as possible. I've stayed off social media. I've felt the division so strongly in the world, that it makes me afraid to even open my mouth at all, anxious about the response I might get.

Couldn't sleep last night and made the mistake of turning on the TV. CNN was showing live, the riots in downtown Portland. It was surreal. This was not "elsewhere," this was five miles from my house.

Openend up my email this morning and found this nugget from The Universe:


These are the times, Carrie - when hopes are dashed and chaos abounds - that golden opportunities, prized ideas, and new friends emerge into the view of all, but at first are seen only by the few who look. 

Let's go crazy, 
    The Universe

The few friends I have talked to about the news, had one thing in common: it's a time for action. It's a time to decide what most matters to us, and to get behind it. We can't be complacent. We can't stay in our grief and overwhelm, we have to get moving.

One thing I heard discussed in the after math, was the assumption that certain blocks of voters, would vote a certain way, and either they didn't all do that, or they didn't vote at all. I think any time we put each other into categories and restrictive, assumptive boxes, we are asking for trouble. Do you fit tidily into just one anything?

At our church we sing a song I love, Many and One reminding us that we are called to bring mercy and peace to this world. After we have recovered from the shock and depression, we must look up,  out and forward. We must seek to unite. We must see what we have in common with those on the "other side," and how to work together to serve those that need our help.

We must remember that while we are many, and it feels like an Us vs. Them situation, we cannot resign ourselves to that way of thinking, we have to see that we are One.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Oops

I hate this election and everything about this election, and have started many a blog post to tell you just that. Instead, I am going to tell you how I took Wil out to lunch at the most disgusting "restaurant" after church on Sunday, and it and everything about it was doomed from the start. First of all, the place was hard to find. The only reason we were going there was because he'd done his research, and they served Tropicana fruit punch from a self-serve dispenser, and what's better than that? The line to order was miserably long. And slow. Lots of little old ladies and their coupons. Lots of inefficiency and disorganization. I wanted to turn and walk out a number of times.

Wait, we did, and when we finally got our food, Wil tore into a tub of barbecue sauce and it sprayed his coat, covering his front and both sleeves. I helped him out of it, pulling it inside out and placing it in the re-usable bag I always carry in my purse. We finally finished our "meal," hurried home, and I threw the inside-out coat and the re-useable bag, in the wash and started it.

Heard a clunk-clunk-clunk but was all about getting into my walking clothes, and getting outside. Came home, pulled out the coat and thought it felt awfully heavy. It was then that I put it all together, and realized I'd not gone through the pockets, and of course, Wil's phone was in one of them.

Now, it's not a smart phone or anything fancy, but he loves it and we want him to have it for all the reasons people want and need phones. We carry insurance on it because believe you me, this is not its first run-in with water. Not two months ago we replaced it because it went in a swimming pool, after he deliberately took it from his shorts, and put it into his swim trunks, got in, then reached in his pocket to make a text before realizing what had just happened.

I get it.

He was super cute when I told him the bad news. He just kind of smiled that, You're a real piece of work smile, and I assured him we'd get it replaced, AGAIN, and he'd be back in business, AGAIN, but we'd have to wait around all day for the UPS delivery tomorrow, AGAIN.

Today, before we headed out to run our errands, he ran back in the house. When he met me in the car he said, "I wrote you a note so you wouldn't forget to take my phone out of the pockets before you wash my coat, next time."


No promises.

Friday, September 30, 2016

We Can Sit Wherever We Like

Wil and his friend, Timmy, are taking a rhythm and drumming class on Wednesdays at noon. We pick up Timmy, I drop the boys off, then have an hour all to myself, that just so happens to coincide with lunchtime. This week, I decided that I would seize the beautiful fall day, and walk to a nearby restaurant, and dine on something other than pizza or hamburgers for a change.

We eat out a lot, but the restaurant choice is never mine, and to eat in a healthy (vegan, even) restaurant with a cloth napkin, and be seated at a cute little table in a hip neighborhood, was a real treat. A sweet-faced young man looked at me and asked, "Just one, today?" I don't know how he knew I was alone, and not just the first to arrive, and maybe he didn't know, maybe that's just what he says to people that walk in alone.

What I do know, is that once he got busy serving, a woman with purple hair, many tattoos and a lovely smile, began greeting the new arrivals. Two woman walked in, and I overheard, "We can sit wherever we like." That sounded a bit confrontational to me, so I looked over and saw that the hostess was still smiling, and the two women were delighted with their table.

Next, a man walked in, and again I heard a woman say, "We can sit wherever we like."

I was confused. I put down the book I was reading, and looked up. The hostess was indeed the one letting the patrons know that "we" can sit wherever "we" want. Like I says,* it was noon, and the restaurant was quick to fill up. Over and over I heard, "We can sit wherever we like."

It turns out the "hostess" wasn't the hostess. There was no host. There was no hostess. There were only employees that worked together in a restaurant, and at least one of them wanted to make sure that the everyone that walked in those doors, felt like part of something larger than themselves.

We really can sit wherever we like, when you think about it.

The choice is ours.







* I say this just to annoy my husband.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Still Stuck

Couple nights ago I dreamed we were going to move and share a house with another family we know, whom also has a child that experiences a disability. I was very optimistic how all that was going to work, how we were going to share time, talent and treasure, until I got chided for using the wrong bathroom. When I looked around the house again, I realized she was right, I'd been using the one near their bedroom, and I hadn't even noticed the one right by ours. This is never going to work, I decided then and there.

Last night, I was driving with Wil and my friend Kim, and I can only assume her son, Tim, was in the backseat with Wil, but he was uncharacteristically quiet, in the dream. Like I said, I was driving, and that can only mean one thing, I'm bound to get us lost. Kim is a very good driver and navigator, and in the dream she was also trying to help, but I went too far down some weird road, and then couldn't find a place to turn around.

Eventually, I turned into some sort of site and made an attempt to turn around but it was impossible. The road ended and the only choice would be to make a jump for it, and try to cross the abyss while flying through the air. Because we were nearly wrapped around a large tree and at a dead stop, there was no way to gain enough momentum to even consider the risky move.

We were stuck.

We couldn't go forward and we couldn't go backward.

We couldn't leap into the unknown.

We all got out and walked to some building, which turned out to be a lodge of sorts. There were other guests also staying until they could get un-stuck. I was given confusing directions about where to go to reserve a room for the night, how one actually gets out of there, and ended up even further lost and confused. The staircases were "wrong," and unusable. The front desk wasn't where I was told it would be. The route out took two days by foot, led by a man with a cane. "But I have a car," I said, "what about that?"

Mid-dream the other people I was with switched from Kim and Tim, to my cousins and their families. They seemed to have no problem figuring out a solution to the situation. I could see them down in the lobby making reservations and treating the whole situation like an unexpected vacation. I couldn't even figure out how they got to the lobby from where we were, let alone how they seemed excited about the whole thing.

Finally, I ended up in the side office of a very nice woman, and cried that I had a child with special needs. I didn't have any food he would eat, I couldn't find any restaurants. We were due home and there was no way I could wait until tomorrow to start a two-day, slow walk back.

The dream ended when I woke up. There was no clear ending. There was no satisfying resolution. There was no disastrous result, either.

Sometimes, when you go down a weird road for too long, it's very difficult to find a place to turn around.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

TOP 10 THINGS I'M DOING IN THE NAME OF WRITING:

10. Wishing I'd been a journalism major

 9.  Being super glad I'm not a journalist in today's world

 8. Reading a lot of memoirs and judging them (both the memoirs and the memoirists)

 7. Making long lists of possible titles for possible books I could possibly write

 6. Checking Amazon to see if my great titles are already taken by writers much better than I

 5. Immediately emailing various people to let them know my great ideas have been dashed

 4. Watching YouTube videos how to download a library book onto my Kindle

 3. Browsing through tons of books I have no intention of ever reading

 2. Drinking a lot of coffee in various coffee shops, while "writing"

 1. Watching Pets Who Hate Donald Trump, instead of doing almost anything else

Monday, September 5, 2016

Fun

Is it just me, or are you all getting asked all the time, "Doing anything fun today?" or some iteration of that theme. I get asked at the grocery store when I'm checking out. I get asked when I'm paying for our froyo. I get asked as we're paying for our pizza.

I want to shout back, "This is the 'fun' thing we are doing today!"

I don't.

I know they are just being polite and trying to be friendly and start a conversation. They are trying to take an interest in me/us. They are just doing their job.

So I don't shout at all. But nor do I ever have a satisfying reply.

It makes me feel like my life isn't fun enough. Like I'm not out there whooping it up like the other customers. Like I've somehow failed at fun and need to go home and study more, so I can pass the test the next time it's offered.

I think my (ridiculous) irritation comes from me assuming they are describing "fun" as "pleasure," and "pleasure" as equalling "happiness."

I think I think every question needs an answer.

I think I think too much.

Over-thinking, is not "fun."




Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Stuck

Yesterday, I took Wil and a friend of his to lunch. Generally, when Wil and this friend, Timmy, make plans, the plans are 99% Wil's plans, and Timmy has to go along for the ride. This time, however, Wil made a stab at being considerate, and suggested we go to New Seasons, and eat outside on the roof, because Timmy had been suggesting that for quite some time.

New Seasons, for those who don't know, is a high-end grocery store, that happens to have a roof top dining option. While it's been in our neighborhood for almost a year, and I've been there many times, I had not attempted to figure out how the whole buying-your-food-downstairs-and-taking-it-to-the-roof thing, worked.

To say Wil is neither an adventuresome, nor healthy eater, is an understatement. I didn't know what we'd find there that he would actually eat. Timmy and I settled on build-your-own burritos, and I talked the man behind the counter, into selling us a plain ol' bowl of shredded, seasoned chicken, for Wil to eat. "Taco," as Wil for years has called such meat, was going to be just the ticket. This was going to be the day I high-fived the Universe and reveled in our success at branching out, trying new things, doing something fun and different.

I had hoped to time our trip to New Seasons to avoid the noon-hour rush, but circumstances had us arriving there at exactly that time. "Circumstances," being Wil's random, but hard fast rule that we'd leave the house at 11:51. When we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't crowded at all. Then, I remembered seeing all the school buses and back-to-school hubbub in the morning: Portland Public Schools had started up again.

We got our trays, paid for our stuff, hiked up two flights of stairs, found a great table with a view of the area below, and enjoyed the perfect weather.

For about 2.5 minutes.

In his perfect bowl of organic, cage-free shredded chicken, Wil found a tiny bone.

That was it. He wasn't eating another bite. No amount of combing through the rest of the bowl to prove there were no more bones, that that was not going to happen again, that it wasn't normal to find bones, and was just a fluke, would convince him.

My bliss was broken. I then became aware that the only other people up on the roof, were moms with toddlers. The table next to us had two women with strollers, their toddlers happily eating all the healthy food they put in front of them, while the women discussed the preschool options in the area. I couldn't help but over-hear. I couldn't help but be wistful. I couldn't help but see that at times, it feels like we're going backwards.

If not backwards, not forward. Maybe more of a "Groundhog Day," type thing. Stuck. Time marches on around us, and we stay in the same place.

There is evidence all around us, to the contrary. I know that. You don't need to reassure me of that or remind me of "how far we've come." For sure, we have. Big time.

But the grief/acceptance cycle isn't predictable or linear. Chicken bones can get stuck in more than your throat.

They can stick in your heart.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back-to-School


Last night I dreamed I was about to take a final. I was somewhere between the age when people typically take finals, and the age I am now. I was some vague age taking some vague final for some vague class. I had not studied. I could not remember having been to the class for quite some time. The final included memorizing formulas of which I had not ever bothered to learn. It was 30 minutes before the final, when I finally remembered I was to take the final. Emotionally, I was a mix between freaked out, and perturbed that my plans for the day would have to be altered, if I wanted to get to that final.

Had a dream a couple of weeks ago, one of those back-to-school dreams, that teachers know so well. Was assigned a new school, a new grade (kindergarten!), and showed up to work for the very first time, on the first day of school. Walked into my new classroom, just as the kids were arriving. Had nothing arranged. Had nothing planned. Had nothing ready for the day, let alone the year.

Once a student, always a student.

Once a teacher, always a teacher

Aren't they one in the same? Aren't we all teachers and students, students and teachers, every day, all day long, our whole lives?

Do we ever go "back" to school?


Monday, August 15, 2016

Net Gain

Been awhile since I posted. Been busy and yet have had plenty of time to watch bad TV and in general, just goof off.

Summers are for that, goofing off.

Made a goal in May to read six books this summer. Just finished number six. That being said, two were Mindy Kaling's memoirs, and while delightful, hardly qualify as literature.

Don't feel much like doing anything that requires much brain power. Might be being over 50. Might be not being all that intelligent to begin with. Might be that at times it feels each and every thought I have, big or small, important or irrelevant, is interrupted and replaced with someone else's big or small, important or irrelevant thought.

Had a circular conversation yesterday over the change from a $5.00 bill. The ice cream truck came through the neighborhood for perhaps the second time all summer. Five notes in of, "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" and I'm in PTSD from the years and years and years of revolving our lives around whether or not the ice cream truck would come, when, and where. Gave Wil $5.00 and a drawstring bag, and told him to go find the truck on his bike.

We've come a long way.

He came back very happy, and had eaten a Minion treat that he said was $1.00. "I gave him $5.00 and he gave me back $2.50, because it was a dollar." No amount of me explaining it must have cost $2.50, since $2.50 plus $2.50 equalled $5.00, was accomplishing anything except making me want to stab myself.

I dropped it.

I was able to be happy that he had made it all happen without me. Without drama. Without stress. Without any working knowledge of basic, functional math, either, but without me.

Ran errands on Saturday morning, and he was prattling on and on about the fall football games coming up, his plans to have a sleep-over after every-other game, while simultaneously giving me Starbucks orders for people for whom he'd like to buy a treat. All of a sudden, he grins from ear-to-ear, joy in his voice and says, "I should marry myself 'cause everything good is happening to me."

My brain may be shot, but my heart and soul grow by the minute.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Twenty


Twenty.

Wil is 20 today. No longer a teenager. In fact, I'm out of teenagers around here, which makes me feel old and accomplished, both at the same time.

Somehow, two decades have passed, and we enter a third. We are all a little/lot the worse for wear, yet, enriched, enhanced, perhaps even a tad more enlightened.

Wouldn't wish the last 20 years on my worst enemy.

Wouldn't trade them for the world.

It's the push and pull.

It's the paradoxes that make up life and love.

It's the living in the liminal space.

It's having to establish boundaries where we need them, and break them down where we don't.

It's having to grab hold of what keeps us sane and let go of what no longer serves us.

It's a paring down and a building up.

It's a force-fit into more mindfulness.

It's a clarifier that 20 years of having that feeling of your feet in the starting blocks, ready for that gun to go off, can bring.

On a continuum between barely surviving and completely thriving, we've moved in the right direction.

Today, as we celebrated at 5:07 AM with ice cream cake and boxes to open, what the boxes actually contained being of little to no importance, we heard a "Thank you" after each gift was discovered. When I said, "Look up, I want to take your picture," he looked up. He then helped clean up the mess, put his dirty plate in the sink, and washed his hands without an argument.

He quickly changed his clothes into the new Nike apparel, before hustling off at 6:45 for the daily Mass that starts at 8:00. Last night at a church BBQ, the priest received his instructions to have the mass-goers sing Happy Birthday this morning. When asked by one friend what he wanted for his birthday, he said, "Vacation Bible School is my present. I have everything else I want."

He is here to serve.

He is here to teach.

He is here to tire, wear down, exhaust and deplete to such a point, that what goes back in has to be different than what went out.

Happy birthday to my teacher, my sidekick, my companion, my friend.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Near Miss

Well, Wil forgot entirely about "needing" ground cocoa, but did not forget about needing a lid for his certain re-usable cup he wanted to fill with water for camp. He did not forget to make it my #1 mission in life to track down said lid, before there could be any peace.

Off we went to 7-Eleven, in hopes one of their Big Gulp lids would fit. It did. The nice man behind the counter said we could have the $0.001 lid, but I felt obligated to buy something, so we looked around the store.

We were the only ones in the store, until a man wearing one of those fluorescent orange vests, walked in and headed to the coffee. We left the store with our purchase and our free lid, and got in my car. I started to drive out of the parking lot, and noticed the driveway was semi-blocked by a truck. Thinking that was weird, I stopped, watched for a second, and realized the truck was indeed in motion. Looking up at the cab of the truck, I saw that it held no driver. Putting two-and-two together, I realized the driver must be inside 7-Eleven, getting coffee (which he, obviously, had not had enough of).

I reversed, parked, ran in the store yelling, "YOUR TRUCK! IT'S MOVING! IT'S ROLLING DOWN THE STREET!" The man in the orange vest flew out of the store, hopped in his truck and drove it to safety, before hitting or injuring anyone or anything.

I don't know what I'm more in awe of, the fact that there are no accidents? If we hadn't needed that lid, we never would have been there. If we'd taken the lid and left, and not shopped for a minute, we would have been gone before the man arrived. Or, that with enough adrenaline, my brain can still kick into gear and process information?