Friday, December 31, 2010
I would love to speak to them all but Guernesy.......will take top billing. I would never have picked this book up because of the ridiculous title. I thought it was some mad mystery caper set in a dank Scottish castle. Again I will state for the record that two years of Texas history and no world history or geography does not help orient one if they have the audacity to move out of Texas. Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands and now I know the Channel has islands. Read the book, it is quite lovely and join a book club where you are forced to read books with ridiculous titles.
Bradford Washburn fell in my estimation after reading that he insisted his wife accompany him to Alaska, leaving their newborn babe at home with grandparents. Pat Conroy (the losing season) rose. As a center, I have a love/hate relationships with point guards but he captured something about the game, and leaving it.
This brings me to my new year's wish for the world. We all need to read. To have enough food and light and peace to lose ourselves in what was, what could be, and what will be. We take it for granted, just like clean water and gortex. May we never forget the abundance of wealth that is at our fingertips when we read and may we work together to have this be a right for all.
Laurel Hallman, a UU minister put together a book of her sermons "Reaching Deeper". This passage is from How to HelpYour Child have a Spiritual Life:
Our children should be taught poems and scripture so that they will have wisdom words within their hearts throughout their lives. It is important that they be able to move comfortably among the world's great religions but it is even more important that they know themselves as religious people, as having 'thou' relationships with people they know, with nature and with the holy in life.
Happy New Year. May the upcoming year be filled with books, wisdom words and thou relationships with all that is holy in life.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I get it. My birthday is the most inconvenient of times. Everyone is partied and presented out. Hey, how about one big present for both holidays? NO THANK YOU. Hey, how about we shop for your birthday present on your birthday to take advantage of all the Christmas sales? NO THANK YOU. Do you mind if your birthday present is wrapped in Christmas paper? YES, I DO
Then, came the divorce. As a teen, every single birthday was spent travelling from one part of the state to another to spend Christmas number two with my dad. Did me and my birthday need that extra bit 'o trauma? NO, NOT REALLY.
My birthday is actually pretty tough, now that I write and muse about it. Perhaps all these years, I have been looking for a pastel, inside the box type day. Maybe my birthday will take me to a different place. Maybe my birthday has just been trying to prepare me for letting go of old notions. It is possible my birthday has gone rogue.
I'm not saying we are there yet, but maybe there is some hope for me and my birthday.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Cue the winter storm. The foreshadowing is the best, with each weatherperson "outweathering" the next station and frantically scrambling for the appropriate graphics: New England under Blizzard Warning; Governor declares State of Emergency; Storm track, storm watch, storm team, and my favorite Snowmagedon. We are emotionally prepped for this weather event, bring it on.
As I look out the door, I see the light on across the street as the snow starts to accumulate. The light reassures me that my neighbors are OK. In fact, I have checked in with all my people and can tell you that everyone is stocked up and ready to hunker down. It is the hunkering down that is such an old reminder. Taking off a few layers of unnecessary ado, stocking up the woodpile, filling the cupboards and checking on your people. Everyone I love is safely hunkered down.
And because I still have a wee bit of Christmas cheer, I will share this app with you: Elf ur face. A very good way to while away a few hours during a blizzard.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Just Delicate Needles
It’s so delicate, the light.
And there’s so little of it. The dark
Just delicate needles, the light,
in an endless night.
And it has such a long way to go
through such desolate space.
So let’s be gentle with it.
So it will come again in the morning.
We hope Rolf Jacobsen
Sunday, December 12, 2010
For the record, I do not hate this time of year, I am overwhelmed by all the festivities: I am a ritual addict and Christmas is my crack. I can not and will not say no to any part of this season: to date we have mailed out our Christmas cards and are working on our Winter Solstice packages; made sugar cookies and are working on our gingerbread house; made presents for teachers and are working on mailman, aftercare, and all coaches. But nothing compares to the church pageant, the Festival of Lights.
Again a word of love for the UU's. We celebrate every winter ritual there is during our holiday pageant. We have a yule log, star children, lighting of both Christmas trees, Menorahs, and solstice candles. We throw in a nativity scene, and deck the halls. We sing, we light candles, and we pass out cookies. It is a glorious tribute to everyone. It involves all the RE parents and all the children. It is exactly what all of our parents wished fervently for us when we were children and they were thinking of karmic payback.
So grab onto the holiday season and let it ride. Honor every ritual from every corner of the world. March forward until you fall down from exhaustion. Know in some small corner of your mind, that you will miss these days will all of your heart when the kids are no longer filled with joy to ride a camel into the fray.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Upon reflection, there seems to be more to the story than this: I think I needed to prove to myself that I could do it, that I could be well again and productive and whole. Perhaps if I work more, I will worry less about the physical vulnerabilities that are now part of the landscape. Working to outrun fear, seems like the American way.
Still, I have some spiritual ninja warriors who help guide me back when I have jumped the tracks. First are my children:
"Mom, why are you working on the week-end? We miss you."
"Mom, those people don't need you more than us."
Sometimes the needs of others seem more exotic than the needs of those we see day in and day out. No more working on the week-end. Thank you ninja wee ones.
Then came a dear friend. We hadn't talked in awhile and ran into each other at a holiday party. She was genuinely distressed that we had been out of contact. I explained my predicament of working all the time but it sounded like an excuse, even as I was saying the words. I don't want to be the person who puts work, however honorable, over relationships. Thank you ninja friend.
Then came the lama.
Lama Migmar is the chaplain at Harvard University and I had the great honor of hearing a dharma talk he gave on Sunday, entitled "Calm Abiding." Oh the twisting and turning it takes to carve out 3 hours during the holiday season to hear a lama pass on his wisdom on maintaining a calm spirit. Oh the spiritual reality of sitting on the mat to quiet your mind when you have been working, working, working. Brutal but so necessary. He spoke of many things, and the group meditated together. He told a parable of a woman who lost a needle and many neighbors helped her look for it outside. Finally, one asked her where she had last seen it, and she responded with "inside my house." When asked why she joined the search outside, she responded with "you were all outside looking, so I thought I would join you."
We are a culture that looks outside for what we have lost. However blessed I have been in the last year, and I am so very grateful to be here, I have lost something. I need to head inside now.
I may struggle with my monkey mind for many lifetimes but I surely hope this gets through: Always, always hang with the lamas.
Namaste my patient friends:)
Monday, November 22, 2010
Last night, we made a strategic error. We went out on a Sunday. The dinner part went swimmingly but then we realized that all the local bookstores close early on Sunday night. Many of you will recognize the panic state that ensues when you have a babysitter for the night, but no concrete plan of where to go. I am always willing to jump into the fray and so I came up with this retro idea: "Let's go parking." My husband's eyes narrowed, hard to say with what emotion, and off we went.
Our first stop was the local park in the center of town. In theory the moon was shining and reflecting off the lake, the darkened trees were standing guard, and our pear-tinis were working their magic. Cut to actual conversation:
"UHHHH, there are people here, probably teenagers."
"Yeah, that is generally who goes parking."
"We will be the creepy old people who get busted parking and featured in the S------Chronicle."
"So you need a parking lot with no parked cars."
"Yeah, let's try that."
Our second stop was a local school. True, there were no cars, but the police bust that I was sure was eminent just got a lot worse. No go. At this point, and let me say for the record that this is why I adore my husband, he started getting amused. I think he realized that the actual parking part of the evening was going to be the driving part of the evening. We contemplated a church lot filled with cars using the technique of blending in with the natives but a lot of elderly folks probably finishing up bingo started pouring out of the building. No go.
We ended up at a trail head, tucked off the main road. The setting was benign vis-a-vis police presence. The moon was still working it's magic. My husband cut the engine:
"Wow, it got cold in here fast." As my good friend pointed out retrospectively, teenagers park because they don't have anywhere else to go. We have our very own home with sleeping kids and a babysitter who is only too happy to leave a bit early. You can't go back but you can go home:)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Then there are my faithful blogging friends: I will read your blog if you read mine. That is how it started but I am hooked on each and every blog, even blogs one step removed. I met Roving Reporter's sister and felt like I knew her because I follow her blog. I was very proud of myself for not asking any obtrusive big sister questions, since I am in point of fact, not her big sister. My sister does not follow my blog. I will email her this link but it will do no good. It started when I was in 9th grade and she was in 7th. I pleaded with her to join the track team so we could rival the Mayfield Sisters, a local sisterly running dynasty. She ran one lap in one practice and sat down on the field to read a book. Things have continued on that track every since. She does her own thing. My soul sisters and brothers read my blog and leave smart ass comments, just as they should. You can get a little high falutin' when you are philosophizing in a vacuum.
Finally, today I learned I have a faithful reader from Latvia, a few from China, Russia, and England. I appreciate their interest, even if they wandered in by mistake. Maybe things would be a little crisper if I knew my target audience but as Tolkien said, all who wander are not lost. Meander on my friends.
Monday, November 15, 2010
After finishing up our necklaces, she announces: "I'm giving my necklace to F-----"
Lesson #2: Even though a new necklace has treasured beads and takes an afternoon to make, it becomes even more of a treasure if you give it away.
I thank you Emma for a couple of art lessons I had forgotten in the hub-bub of my life at the moment. I will try and remember them as we slide into the holiday season:)
Thursday, November 11, 2010
The trouble started with Luke's second tooth. It was raining hard that night and a big thunderstorm blew into town. Luke appeared at our bedroom door the next morning crestfallen: "The tooth fairy didn't come." I wanted to strangle that little pixie. What the hell?
My husband, in a very co-dependent fashion if you ask me, told our son that the tooth fairy often has difficulty navigating through thunderstorms and clearly was blown off course. The only bonus to the situation is that if the tooth fairy runs into difficulties, she has to double down the next night. She managed to find her way and left several dollars the next night. I was beginning to sense she wasn't reliable.
This week, our daughter lost her third tooth in as many weeks. I get that the tooth fairy is fatigued but she has signed on for this and needs to not dash a small girls dreams into fairy dust. Really. Emma forgot to put her tooth under her pillow for several nights, and then in a ninja move, slipped it under unbeknownst to her parents. She appeared at our bedroom door the next morning crestfallen: "The tooth fairy didn't come."
"Sweetie, you put a tooth under your pillow last night?" She hands me the tooth in a little treasure box her teacher gave her when she lost the tooth at school.
"Why did she forget about me mom?"
"I think she probably has a drinking problem." My husband glared at me and said "Pumpkin, sometimes the tooth fairy gets overloaded in one night and has to come back the next night."
"Why are you defending her?"
"Why are you presenting her as a substance abuser?"
She wobbled into town last night and did right. She always does, eventually. I am trying to feel some compassion for her as she is clearly overworked and stressed out (I did, in a libelous fashion, make up the drinking part). I am sure it is no picnic, whizzing through the night air, loaded down with bloody little teeth. Still, this is what she signed on for.
Maybe I will give her a hand
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Are you washed?
Are you washed?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?
Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow,
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?
One learned not to ask how one's garments could be "white as snow" if you had the bad sense to wash them in lamb's blood. Some questions are metaphysical in nature, apparently. In fact, early religious education teaches you the difference between a question that can be answered and one that can't.
My students are not used to the blood and guts that can be found in the Old Testament. I know this because my co-teacher and I are teaching stories from the bible this quarter. Two weeks ago, I told the story of Moses and how his mother left him in a basket in the river to escape the Pharaoh's edict that all first born Hebrew children were to be killed. I think it is accurate to say that this bit of history traumatized them. Why, why, they asked? Why would anyone kill a child? Sadly, our own modern history is filled with instances of infanticide and horror. Am I preparing them for the inevitability of history? I hope I am laying the groundwork for these young souls to always, always think there is another way. May we all remember to be horrified when history repeats itself.
The lesson today on the oppression Moses and his people faced by the Egyptians ended with the song, "Let my people go." While we were cuing up the CD to listen to it, my son turned to me and said, "Didn't they play this song at your wedding?"
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Last week-end was over-scheduled, over-stimulating, and over-abundant with a plethora of parties and friends. We loved it (in retrospect).
During the week, there were a few auspicious signs that things might be a little dicey at work
Today, I recharged in a city that never fails to restore balance and remind me of why I moved 2000 miles from home twenty some years ago. Throw in good friends, a craft show, and our ritual of eating on the pier....I think it doesn't get any better.
I hope you all recharge, reconnect, and revive this week-end.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
When I get a little overwhelmed, I often find myself at BJ's. There is no amount of over scheduling that can't be fixed by buying a lot of food in bulk. Tonight, we will fortify ourselves for the fray by eating 23.00 dollars worth of salmon. Bj's was hopping will all the other shoppers who needed to calm their jangled nerves and so I parked at the far end of the lot.
I unloaded my groceries, whipping 20 rolls of toilet paper and a case of juice boxes into the trunk and noticed an elderly gentleman gingerly rolling his cart toward me. He looked to be about 85 and had a pound of coffee, some bananas, and a magazine in his cart. I briefly wondered why he was shopping at such a behemoth of a store but that might have led me down the path of wondering why I was shopping at such a behemoth of a store so I quickly got off that track. I smiled at him as I pondered if I had the time or energy to return my carriage to it's rightful spot...far, far away.
"Excuse me young lady?"
As you might imagine, I had no idea he was talking to me but I turned around to see who was joining our party, and it was just the two of us.
"Do you mind taking my carriage back with yours? I can't just leave it here, and, well, since you are taking yours back."
I would be happy to. He slowly got into his car, and on the bumper was a sticker that said "D-Day Museum."
I thought about this gentleman the rest of the afternoon. I thought about his generation and how they mapped out the connection between duty and not leaving your shopping cart in the parking lot of BJ's. I hoped that he had not outlived all of his friends and family. Most of all, I wished I had introduced myself and thanked him for the quiet lesson in responsibility and integrity.
As for Halloween? Bring it on.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Today in church, we had a wonderful guest speaker, Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, who has written a book entitled "Reaching Deeper" about our Unitarian Universalist faith. The title of her sermon today was "Whose are we"? Last summer, a group of UU ministers got together in Seattle to look at the issues of faith, spiritual cohesion, and how we, as UU's, identify ourselves as a cohort. All heady questions for a faith group that emphasizes the individuality of each person's spiritual path.
The answer for all of us is a complicated one but I think it is time to embrace complications. Yep, I married an atheist, found Buddhism, and wandered into Unitarian Universalism when I had kids. I may have wandered in, but I have found spiritual shelter and welcome at First Parish. I found a group of people who welcomed my husband, and even had a name for him "humanist." My minister spent her sabbatical in Nepal in an unheated monastery. She rocks.
So here is the dialectical part: I don't believe in proselytizing and yet I want you all to experience the blessings I feel each Sunday when I sing with my beloved community, when I teach my students in religious education, or when I share a joy or concern by lighting a candle. I cry almost every Sunday at some point while I listen to the sermon. I want that for you, I want that for us all. We are spiritual people, yearning for something bigger than just ourselves to make sense of it all. Dr. Hallman spoke beautifully about the power of metaphor and the power of blessing and prayer, no matter what word we put on it. Perhaps just the word "mystery."
Today, I was filled up by a sermon that challenged me to define my faith and wake up from spiritual slumber. My spiritual home allows me to journey with others, even on such a personal quest. May you be blessed with a beloved community.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Last week-end was a whirlwind of activity, culminating in the "playground crawl" on Columbus day. Roving Reporter and I write a new column entitled "Moms about town" featured on http://www.shrewsbury.patch.com/ (look for us there, please ). She had the brilliant idea to check out some lesser known playgrounds in town and feature them in a couple of articles. Oh what to write about?
I tell you what we opted not to write about: the bone my daughter found in the woods behind one of the swingsets. CSI meets small town America. I am not saying the bone is human, but it ain't small. The thing is, at every playground, it wasn't the swings or the shiny new slides that held the interest of our children; it was the large pine tree, the fence surrounding the tennis court, the hiking trail, and, yes, the bone. It was also getting together with friends, joining the action as community members reporting on their playgrounds, and rating the experiences.
My daughter carried around her talisman on a stick for about 20 minutes. Then, with some reluctance, she handed it back to me to return to the wilds. It reminds me of a beautiful poem her grandmother wrote which I reprint here without permission:
Supposed death, as well as love,
calls me to this earth.
Still- I live in finite
heart memories, as
emphemeral as moth dust.
While aspen leaf and rose vein,
Reflect the light of ten thousand
One with beauty
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
When I was 24, I was the director of a rape crisis center. I carried the back-up beeper 24/7 and made many a visit to local hospitals in the middle of the night to provide support to women (and men) who had been brutally violated. I was young enough and arrogant enough to do much of the work on my own, I didn't want to burden our volunteers with those tough late night calls.
When I was 33, I started having nightmares about some of those visits. I dreamed that I was being chased down a deserted hospital ward and all the doors clanged shut. I would often wake up screaming. I now know that is called "secondary traumatization" and is quite common for first responders and clinicians who work with trauma survivors. I worked through a lot of it with my own therapist.
Now, in my 40's I have been liberated from the idea that I need to do any of this work in a vacuum. In the various schools I have worked in, I have been part of a multi-disciplinary team that looks at a student from many different perspectives. All those different viewpoints ultimately provide more clarity.
So I want to shout out to all my most fabulous co-people: I will not do it anymore without you. I need your wisdom, your perspective, your humor, your creativity, and your strength. I need to be reigned in, applauded, encouraged, reigned in a bit more, and honored. I will do the same for you.
Today was a good day.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Admittedly, I'm sort on energy, perspective, time, money, and balance. But I'm not going to talk to you about any of those things because they have a tendency to ebb and flow and I don't want to waste your time praying about things that will shift of their own accord....what with trillions of people trying to capture your attention.
I could also point out that in the last several days, I have personally witnessed a couple of folks lose their ever-loving minds but again, they should probably go down on their knees of their own accord, who am I to piously pray for the salvation of others, even though that seems to be the American way.
No, Lord, instead I'm going to pray for more compassion. I need it now because my kids are involved in all manner of organized activities. With these activities, comes interactions with other parents. Parents who want to tell us how to coach soccer and yet have opted out of coaching themselves. Parents who want to tell me the virtues of the Brownie vest over the Brownie sash which my daughter is so clearly wearing, indicating, perhaps, that we have already pondered the weighty decision of vest vs sash and made our decision. Parents who commit to teach something of significance and then quit by email.
Now Lord, you are pretty sharp and probably figured out that I am not innocent in all these interactions. I gave the parent complaining about soccer more air time than I should have and hurt a dear friend; I might have suggested that the Brownie vest looked a little SS in nature; and the email I sent back to the parent who quit.....not my most spiritual writing.
So, I will try to remember these words from one of your main guys:
If you don't find God
in the next person you meet,
it is a waste of time
Thanks for listening.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Please have enough chairs in the cafeteria, auditorium, library, etc. If you do not have enough chairs for the parents, when they arrive late and stand out in the hall chatting with their friends, they will never come on time again, ever. Chatting with friends is so much more fun than listening to statistics on MCAS. I wish that were not so but the folks on the outside were in a much better humor than the folks on the inside. You see, standardized testing is deeply flawed and talking about it, a lot, at these events does not remove the bitter taste of it. You can cook liver anyway you want and you can drone on and on about your recipe, but it is still liver and it is hard to stomach.
Please do not make us sit in tiny desks for longer than 20 minutes. We are big people with big body parts that fall asleep when squeezed into tiny spaces.
Please do not ask parents to write to their children to prove that they attended. The thing is, the kid whose parents are working a night shift or the single mom/dad who could not get a babysitter, that kids is going to feel lousy the next day when all the other kids have notes and they do not. I know that it takes a village and I know how important it is for parents to be involved and present....but some are not for reasons we can't fathom and the student should not carry the burden of that.
Finally, this note of thanks goes directly to my son's teacher who assured me when I read this line in my son's biopoem:
The Dutch like heron. I am Dutch and I'm going to try heron someday....
that he really meant to write "herring." We parents never for one minute forget that you are doing god's work.....so curriculum night is really, despite all the grumbling, a night to feel blessed that such spiritual people are teaching our kids.
Friday, September 17, 2010
For starters, once you get admitted to the hospital, you can't leave until the doctors, many of whom are at least 25 years old, say you are cleared to go home. If you get up in the middle of the night and ask the night nurse to call you a cab because you have had enough, she will kindly explain to you the concept of AMA...against medical advice. Leaving AMA means that your insurance will not pay for your hospitalization costs. When you explain, equally kindly, that seems a lot like extortion and is probably against the law, the gentle exchange takes a turn. This was the lesson from a previous stint in the big house so this time, I used a different tactic.
To get out of the hospital, you have to be cunning and seemingly full of energy. On day 3, I had been on IV fluids and felt full of vim and vigor. I called my gyn and made an emergency appointment. When the young lads at the hospital came in for rounds, I explained to them that I needed a pass so I could go to my outside appointment. I promised I would come back, but really, this was an appointment I had to keep.
We don't give day passes from the hospital.
Wow, I would hate to explain to my doc that the hospital wouldn't let me come for an emergency appointment.
How did you get this appointment?
Well, my doctor is quite concerned because of my history and thinks I need to be seen immediately.
I suppose you could do the capsule study outpatient but your levels are still low.
I will let him know that, that is good information for him.
So, my friends, what is called for when it is time to break out of any institution is your very own expert. You, who have lived in your body for years, do not qualify. Your intuition is not valid, and your voice will not be heard. Still, if your docs are not paying attention, you might have a few tricks up your johnny.
In the interest of full disclosure, the week-end was pretty rough and might have been easier if I had stayed in the hospital. Here is the take away (my blogging buddy taught me that is a good thing to have embedded in your post, somewhere): no matter how sick you are, it feels damn good to break out of prison.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I went back into training last week when I was driving into work and experienced heart palpitations and shortness of breath. With my spiffy cardiac history, I could not chose to ignore the classic signs of having an actual heart attack so I went to the ER. Very quickly, they ascertained that I had a dangerously low hematocrit level and admitted me. What? This is a blood thing, not a heart thing? What the hell. I stayed for three days and got probed in every which way, including swallowing a camera which the kind nurse informed me should not alarm me when it comes out still blinking. I worked hard to get out of the hospital and came home too soon. I spent the week-end simultaneously thinking I was dying and acting as cheerful as I could for my kids.
So, I'm not dying. I'm dangerously anemic and I get to have a procedure next week to fix that. All in all, in the scheme of things, this isn't a headline. No cancer, not terminal, a somewhat easy fix. Still, even a second page story can throw you down. I spent my twenties thinking I could summit Everest, bike across America, and live on a commune. My thirties were dedicated to establishing my professional persona, finding a soul mate (whom I met when I was in my twenties but was too blind to see) and having my kids. The forties were supposed to be about accruing spiritual wisdom. I think spiritual wisdom is a wily old bastard who refuses to hang out in temples. Instead, he skulks around hospitals and pops up during a colonoscopy. He hangs out with you in the middle of the night when you are afraid you are not going to wake up. He doesn't ask for my opinion on anything but instead burns away a lot of who I thought I was. All in all, he is proving to be a colossal pain in the ass and after last week, I know of what I speak in that department.
So my friends, one thing is constant in all this turmoil. My love and connection with all of you is what I am left with at the end of the day. And that puts a smile on the face of the wily old bastard.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
This gave me a chance to do a quick personality assessment:
1. People who have 4 files labeled "ongoing, pending, urgent, etc" with no discernable difference in the contents of said files are not organized.
2. People can be disorganized and still be Type A.
3. Being disorganized does not always help you move forward in your Type A environment but.....
4. Being Type A and disorganized can help you mobilize when you realize you have 1 day to complete 12 continuing education credits. An organized person would have sweated the disparity between taking online courses on hospice care, genetic counseling, and mindfulness. I think they are all one and I had no time to sweat anything.
I look at my children and my husband and myself and I think we are who we are. It doesn't mean we aren't working on some things but really, since day 1, given some love and nurturing, we will become more of who we always were. And that is not just my genetics expertise talking:)
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Samsara is a Buddhist concept and the Sanskrit word means "continuous flow." One translation refers to it as "the continuous but random drift of desires, emotions, and experiences in this lifetime." We are in samsara and will continue until we reach enlightenment, lifetime after lifetime. Our clinging and our wild unbridled thoughts keep us here. The first moments of meditation always give me some idea of how wildly out of balance I am. The idea of focusing on my breath and the current moment is continually interrupted by my strutting, bodacious thoughts on nothing of import. All dressed up and no substance. Harlots, one and all.
Monday I was clinging, rather tenaciously to the idea that we would not, could not be late for my son's first soccer practice. He was enjoying the last moments of summer and was blissfully swinging on our great swing, fully in the present moment but not taking care of business. I yelled at him to get going, he ran across our newly painted front porch in soccer cleats, and here we are.....8 stitches later. He split his knee wide open. No soccer, no karate, painful first day of school. For the record, I was not a fountain of compassion on the drive to Ready Med, either. I lost perspective.
I lose perspective a lot. I want to not. I will begin anew, somehow. Who we are as spiritual people should play out in every facet of our lives. My goal is to shorten the distance between personas. You should see me at retreats, I look very Zen. You should see me coach soccer, I look very Texan. You should see me yell at my children, I look like I have lost perspective. Our children are born broken wide open and we are responsible for their need to build defenses. I want them to stay open so I have to let go of some things. Next time you see me at an event, and I am late, please congratulate me.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
1. Shopping for school supplies together, while talking about the symbolism of various notebooks and which colors best represent divergent personalities.
2. Hitting the lake, beach, trail one last time for a nostalgic ritualized end-of-the-summer visit.
3. Cleaning out desks, writing out schedules, and getting the house organized for the beginning of 27 fall activities.
4. Weeding out the garden and admiring the burgeoning pumpkins which will adorn your front porch in a few short weeks.
5. Bike riding on the rail trail.
In my mind, these things happen at the end of every summer. I am now writing this post to remind myself that is not how it goes....it looks more like this:
1. Forecast for 4 days straight: rain, rain, and more rain. No beach, no lake, and hiking if you want to carry one of your wet children who, within 20 minutes, slips off your shoulders like an arctic seal.
2. Any trip to any store for any supply ends in this threat "if you guys don't stop arguing, I'm leaving the cart here and we are going." Oldest now realizes this is a hollow threat and has developed a grin that conveys that knowledge.
3. Great dramatic hand-wringing when mom attempts to throw away any piece of paper from the last two years of school. This archaeological viewpoint impedes getting the desk cleared off. Mom realizes she will have to sweep in when kids have returned to school.
4. Garden looks like it has been blitzed. Pumpkin buds have been eaten by burrowing creature, tomatoes demolished by bugs, and squash attacked by ninja warrior animals. Not watering or weeding for past month might have contributed to devastation.
5. The rail trail? Again? Family threatens to go on strike. Let's arm wrestle for who gets to go on strike. Really, I can take you all.
It is time. Summer is swell, it really is but it is time.
Monday, August 16, 2010
I just finished reading "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard. My family will be getting this book for Christmas and I hope the rest of you take a look at this video (thanks for sending it on Michelle).
There are moments when you read something or think about something and it rings true in a calm and devastating fashion. We are giving away our planet in service of more and more disposable goods and it is not going to be an issue for our grand kids, it is going to be an issue for our kids. As parents, we are right to be concerned about our children's development as spiritual, intellectual, and physical entities. All that care and consideration will be for naught if there is no healthy place or way for them to flourish.
I am an offender in many, many ways, as are we all. I pledge to start somewhere, anywhere and give up the luxury of being overwhelmed, and thus doing nothing. Please take a look at the video or borrow the book from your local library. I think we want to do right and need each other to cheer us on down the road of less consumption.
One great website from the book is http://www.goodguide.com You can plug in any of your household products and see how they are rated vis-a-vis toxic chemicals and impacting the environment. A good place to start!
Friday, August 13, 2010
1. Got away from our homes and the nagging sense that there is always something to take care of there....laundry, dishes, re-financing talk. Enough. I believe my last words out the door were "I have no idea when I will be home, could be tomorrow" (sorry to our hostess who did not escape her home but did create such luxury for us....
2. Drank grown-up drinks in beautiful glasses with exotic components like pineapple juice and whipped cream. Used cloth napkins on our very own faces.
3. Networked with one another and got to hear about a fabulous job one member earned with her journalistic prowess. I realized at some point that men do this all the time, get together and talk about work and how they can help each other out.
4. I would be remiss if I did not mention that at the end of the evening, we did figure out what our porn names are: name of first pet and street you grew up on...mine is Tiger Oxford. I will not tell tales but some names will be remembered forever:)
What a beautiful thing it is to get together as women and nurture the kind of energy that women bring to the table; some of it serious and some of it absurd. I cherish my women friends and anytime any of them want to meet to knit, read, paint, garden, fund raise, bike, hike, run, or just laugh until we can't breathe, well, I'm in.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
We decided to visit the room entitled "Changing Exhibits" first, as it seemed so fleeting. At the risk of giving away too much, this is absolutely not a bad thing. As you walk into the gallery, your eyes are drawn to a big pine box in the middle of the room. Upon reflection, the viewer sees a few tufts of hay sticking out of a small hole (about orange circumference) drilled into the box. Eureka, this is a pine box covering a bale of hay. Hay that we would not have known existed, except that the artist drilled a hole, albeit a tiny hole in the box. Here we go.....Worcester Art Museum - What Matters
Next, your eyes are drawn toward a shelf on the wall. On that shelf, are several painted bricks. Ah, the starkness of the human condition or maybe the fecundity of the human condition, hard to say.
In the corner of the room, leaning against the white wall, was a fur-covered hula-hoop. (actually a steel hoop) Artist out of Glasgow, using a reclaimed ermine stole. I don't know if the hula-hoop was reclaimed. Here is where I fall into the wormhole: How does one define art? Is it a thing of beauty that allows one to transcend boundaries? Or is it a piece that allows you to have a conversation with yourself? The fuzzy hula-hoop allowed me a greater appreciation of the Rembrandt I saw down the hall. I daresay I will still be talking about the fuzzy hula-hoop on down the road. I fear I may have been hoodwinked by a wily Scottish artist into a slight appreciation of modern art.
I know my tastes are not sophisticated and with some time and effort, I could come to appreciate the post-modern angst represented by the installation I saw today. I admire the courage of an artist who hangs plastic bottles from the ceiling and demands that we see beyond the fact that if I stole this work of art, it could be replaced out of the recycling bin. Modern art forces you to transcend your own aesthetic, but here is the thing... I like my aesthetic. It runs to the Dutch painters, especially the frozen winter scenes. I'm a fan of anything cold, dark, gray, and forlorn. Van Gogh's sunflowers don't do it for me but Picasso's blue period is riveting.
So, just like literature, love, music, and dance...art is personal. I am not a student or fan of modern art but I admire every artist making art. So rock on with your fuzzy hula-hoops and your painted bricks. Art matters.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
I marvel at the fact that I have no patience for children, and yet I have two and work in a middle school. I think I have patience for wounded children and angry children but not middle-class entitled children. Lately, I have been quoting Karl Marx and "unwaged labor"....a title I think is quite applicable to parents. I am whitewashing the past, thinking about how my sister and I happily did a day of chores for the betterment of the family community, and how we got along splendidly.
August is rough. There is a fine balance between too many camps and structured activities and not enough. Siblings have spent the summer honing their ability to supremely irritate one another and by August, well, I think it is nothing short of an art form. Underneath it all is the buzzing irritation of my own perceived reverence for my elders and for my sibling relationship. In my memory, I was never disrespectful or fresh. And yet......
How about the time I whispered into the air vent "I hate you Mom" at my grandmother's house and stopped Sunday dinner cold?
How about the time I talked my sister into running me over with a bike and then framed her when my parents ran out to see what all the screaming was about?
How about the time I figured out that I could outrun my dad (he walked on crutches) and told him so? His calm response....you will eventually have to come home...
How about the time I took one of every shoe I owned to high school in a duffel bag so my sister could not borrow a pair of my shoes?
Every parent feels that karma resides in their grandchildren, and I think they may be right. At any rate, I'm feeling a little less blue thinking about what a little s---- I was, because look how I turned out. There is hope for my kids:)
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I got an email from a group that pointed out Target is sponsoring a candidate in Minnesota that supports anti-gay sentiments. I consider myself to be a bit of a Target addict, the red is so cheerful and they have very cool bags that you can make other very cool stuff out of like braided rugs. I shop there weekly for one thing or another. Still, 150,000 to a man who believes that gay and lesbian folks should be actively discriminated against? This is an issue of justice and when you know about something, you have a choice of what to do.
We go along pretending that big corporations are OK, that some are better than others when in fact, they are quite similar. Target helped put the 5 and 10 store out of business just as readily as WalMart did. How can we get back to making more mindful choices as consumers? One purchase at a time. We are headed to a local family-run bike store to get Emma's bike (our next Target purchase). We should have gone there to begin with but the colorful bags and inexpensive goods at Target lured me away from making a choice with integrity. I am going to work hard to get back there.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I am currently a member of two book groups, one knitting group, and one scrapbooking group. I am contemplating joining a hiking group, a training group for triathletes, and an artist group. I am in full support of local plans to start a women's mediation center and a local art and cultural center. It is an orgy of connection.
Stay open. Connect. Flirt with all of life's possibilities. In the end, come home to your partner and family with renewed energy and a twinkle in your eye. Who knows, you might talk them into a night of dutch folk painting:)
Monday, July 26, 2010
Today, the weather broke and so did my mood. I spent the afternoon blissfully pulling weeds out of my front drive. As I was dragging a pile to the back of the property, I passed this swing and realized that I have not had a good swing in several years. How is that possible? How is it possible that parents can ignore a thing that gives their children the utmost pleasure? Perhaps I just don't get a turn when my kids are around. I took my turn this afternoon and went swinging into summer, with all my might.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
This summer, it is a path of war. It started with Winston Churchill: A Life, by Martin Gilbert. This was a pretty depthful book and I now know a bit about English parliamentary procedure, which might come in handy someday, and I feel gratitude toward a heavy drinking, cigar-stomping war monger (who probably didn't have the most enlightened views about women, that bit was glossed over). I feel gratitude toward him because he was from another age; an age where love of country and duty was honorable and because he saw the dangers of fascism early on. He was also brave in a way that has become outdated. Still, one questions one book about a mythological figure, which is how I always get trapped into the summer theme. The next book I read was "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin about the Roosevelts and WWII. Winston was featured in the book, as well, and the portraits matched, which is like finding the border pieces to a puzzle...it helps you see the emerging picture more clearly.
Still, Ms. Goodwin left her readers to wonder about Eleanor's reaction to FDR's death. Notable because in 1945 he was sitting for a portrait when he died...a portrait commissioned by his wife's former secretary whom he had an affair with in 1918. When the affair was discovered, he promised his wife he would never see Ms. Lucy Rutherford again. A promise he failed to keep when he asked his daughter to set up a meeting twenty years later. A double betrayal? Or, was Eleanor romantically involved with her own secretaries by this time? These questions led to the next book on my list, a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. And so it goes, until summer ends.
Studying history is never a waste of time. I will leave you with two Churchill quotations:
Success is not final,
failure is not fatal:
It is the courage to
continue that counts.
You can always count
on Americans to do
the right thing--
after they have tried
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I went on a run that I have been doing for about 10 years and bonked...then I dropped the F bomb in front of a house with a bunch of toys out front, on Sunday, no less. Still, I was running with Dave who has the gift of making me feel like anything is worth it, if you get a good story out of the deal. This is the same guy who sat with my husband in the waiting room while I was having heart surgery in December. I hope we thanked him for that.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
This trip, we stayed in Fort Worth, in the cultural district. We were about a five minute drive from world-class museums including the Kimbell Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum. We were also in the vicinity of the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. We took advantage of all of these cultural opportunities, and visited them all.
Here is a Georgia O'Keefe from the Amon Carter:
I was also allowed to snap photos of a Matisse, Rembrandt, and Picasso in the Kimbell.
Then I took my camera to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. It went a little something like this:
"M'am, I am so sorry but you are not allowed to take a camera into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame."
Really, because I was snapping a Rembrandt right down the road.
"I don't know about that but we do not allow cameras in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame."
Don't get me wrong, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame is a treasure and I'm sure the sequins on Dale Evans outfits need to be protected from the glare of the flash. Still, Rembrandt dabbled in the arts a bit.
My culture thinks highly of itself....just last year I think Texas threatened to secede from the Union, yet again. I hope they don't, I so enjoy going home and being reminded of how liberating it is to think big.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Due to numb toes...really, numb toes I get?...I am going to see a rheumatologist upon my return. Another specialist. For a healthy person, I have a lot of doctors.
I love to capture a little snippet of the medical day and so here is today's gem:
After laying on the table for about an hour while the echocardiogram specialist worked her magic, she called for the IV nurse to come in and insert a line to complete the bubble study. This involves injecting saline into a vein so the docs can see the little bubbles if they are shunting through the wall of the upper heart chambers...this will tell us all if the patch on my heart is doing it's job.
Hey, I'm a little dubious about this...does this hurt?
I can't talk through clenched teeth.
Has anyone ever told you that your veins curve? I'm not liking this but it's the best we've got..so let's make it work. (referring to the IV line she had just put into my arm)
Truer words were never spoken. I'm not liking this whole damn thing, from start to finish but it is the best I have got and I am going to make it work.
I will be on vacation until July 6th and sure to pick up a Texas tale or two. Can't wait to share them with you all.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Uncle Gale also took me fishing, drove my grandparents up to see me in his motor home after I defected, and always, always calls me "Sugar." He has a one-eyed dog that got bitten by a rattlesnake and loves his ranch. Last time we were in West Texas, we went out and spent the day there. Mesquite country with some ornery cows but a stark beauty that calls you back.
One of those cows got his head caught in a gate and Uncle Gale got trapped between the cow and the fence. He got the worse end of the deal and is now fighting for his life in the ICU. He has ten broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and internal bleeding.
Here is the thing I know about Uncle Gale. He never backed down from a fight and must know in his heart how much we all love him and all the energy flooding his way. Mom says you can't get to his room because of all the firefighters standing guard.
So, Sugar and Yank are adding their voices to the chorus of folks pulling for you right now. We love you!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
"Ahh, twinkle toes helped us out, didn't he now?
Twinkle Toes did, indeed, help us out but he came out after the game and took full responsibility for his complete boffing of the play. I have always believed sports provide many teachable moments for our kids. Teaching them how to lose with grace is perhaps one of the trickiest maneuvers. Twinkle Toes aka as Robert Green showed my son, an aspiring goalie, how to cowboy up...and for that, I'm now going to refer to him by his given name:)
So, the USA underdogs managed a tie and we all managed a bloody good time. Game on!
Friday, June 11, 2010
After yelling a bit, I went into the playroom and tried to explain:
Son, it's not you that I am mad it, it's my role in the family. Even though I am as smart as all of you, I spend the most time cleaning and cooking and picking up after everyone. Some days it just doesn't feel fair...can you understand that?
Mom, you sound a lot like Susan B Anthony (pause)...except she didn't play basketball.
I think if we want to continue the revolution, we better keep our sons involved:)
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I have come to the conclusion that I am a wounded warrior. Then, I came to the conclusion that we are all wounded warriors...now, or soon to be. We are all going to age and parts will break down...hopefully little bits but sometimes big parts and then, well, then you come face to face with the way things are going to be...age, sickness, and struggle. Still, the fear is the thing. After my heart surgery, my heart speeds up and sometimes skips a beat altogether. The neurological symptoms that were supposed to disappear are still hanging around and all in all, I thought I would be better, cured, fixed, etc. The thing is, I feel good but sometimes fear pushes in and I worry about the next stroke or leaving my children behind. That is my disability now, the fear.
For me, I have decided that yoga is no longer a luxury but something my body needs as I recover from a lifetime of going into the fray. To say that I am a remedial yogini after all these years is an understatement but it is time to establish a daily practice. Today, I did some yoga and then some meditation and I was able to let go of the fear....and then came the miracle of compassion toward myself. Yep, I can't touch the floor with my hands and I can forget about the pigeon and exalted warrior poses but I have a bunch of energy to go sew on my daughter's daisy patches.
Namaste and go easy on yourself
Sunday, June 6, 2010
So that is the backdrop for last week. I was told by Reverend Judith that a very auspicious event was happening in a small temple in the heart of Worcester. A 4 ton traveling jade Buddha, representing Universal Peace was going to be displayed for several weeks. It was worth seeing.
We found our way to the temple, a beautiful place in and of itself, and joined the monks and lay people who were there for a variety of reasons. You could feel the energy of the place, of the Buddha, and of right intentions.
When my children ask me why there is still war and why grown-ups have forgotten that violence begets violence, and I am often filled with despair for their future. But then, I travel to Wormtown, see a miraculous Buddha statue and believe in the energy that surrounds it. Peace is the way and to see that manifested in 4 tons of jade, well, that can restore faith.