Monday, July 26, 2010

Practice what you preach

My darling daughter has shed most of her downy feathers and is busily flapping around the nest, anxious for a solo flight and, frankly, almost ready. My ability to embrace and actually enjoy this process correlates to my ability to suspend my fear and anxiety on her behalf. I find, when I look at her through more of a "friend" lens, that I can become engaged and excited about the endless possibilities which await her. The "mommy" lens, however, clouds and obscures the potential and joy and focuses in on the potential peril and logistical challenges.

It is a full time job currently, switching glasses.

I discovered something this weekend, however, in wearing the friend spectacles for a few days while she and I were having some fun two-girl time out of town. The uninterrupted ability to just appreciate and encourage who she was and what she wants to do and become for herself made me realize that I have stopped switching the focus on my own life. I realize that I have been wearing pretty dark shades to view who I am and what I am doing.

The spirit of adventure that I embrace on her behalf I have completely ceased to embrace on my own.

I, therefore, have reestablished for myself asking regularly the question "What CAN I do today?" as opposed to "What do I HAVE to do today?" It's making me a little giddy, so far, which, frankly, is kind of fun! Try it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things that can make other things better

Lots of good butter
Taking a deep breath
Fresh herbs
Holding someone's hand
Not saying "I told you so"
Dark chocolate
Real cream
Withholding judgement
A walk
Being quiet
Saying what needs to be said
A nap
Slowing down
Speeding up
Pushing through the pain
Knowing your limits
Fresh squeezed juice
Salt water
Saying "I know how you feel" when you really do
Being there
Wiggly slobbery puppies

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Gu Haiku

Like liquid courage
Thickly sweet I suck you down
Able to run on

Friday, July 16, 2010

Is unhappiness contagious?

When you're out to dinner with friends and the conversation takes a nose dive do you find yourself leaping off the board into the pool of pessimism? "Yes, yes" you think, "my life sucks, too! Ugh, horrible!" Or are you able to check yourself and back away from it? It can be very hard not to join the pity party once it is in full swing.

Last year, a couple I know, who had been married for a long time, separated unexpectedly (or so it appeared to me) and have divorced. I have since learned that the couple with whom the first couple were best friends, have just announced their impending split and a third couple from that same group, it turns out, is on the verge. While it seems absurd to say it, it feels a little like contagion rather than conicidence.

Do we help each other by sharing ALL of our unhappiness? Does this assist others in indentifying the sources of their own misery and subsequently encourage them to take the steps they truly need to be in a better place? Or are we, conversely, giving others an excuse to just give up and get out?

Like cattle on a rampage, is unhappiness truly a herd mentality? If so, how can we become happiness ranchers, lassoing the lead steer and turning that stampede around?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

White Space

Have discovered a blog that I really like. It's a blog about ideas, and I just love a good idea. I keep trying to have an original one myself, only to discover that someone else has already had it. And that's okay, because at least it's validating, and in the process of searching, I discover a whole lot of ideas that I didn't have but am now exposed to.

The blog is: It's full of all these really cool idea proposals and idea manifestos and if I didn't start feeling guilty about not working, at some point, forty-five minutes into delving, I could spend all day there reading other people's super ideas.

The idea I came across today was about the need to add more "white space" to our lives. A-fricking-men people.

The particular manifesto can be found here:

It started off a little, um, pretentiously, for me, but i'm probably just not smart enough to determine how much of it was tongue in cheek.

In any event, he (Terry Barber) points out our collective need to add more "white space" to our lives and has a few suggestions including the following:

Choose faith, not worry

Worry and fear are usually not things that you schedule into your day. But just like five-pound weights on your feet while you try to walk, worry and fear will slow you down and quickly eat away at the margins of your life. However, remember that the opposite of worry is not calm. It’s faith. Faith that things will indeed work out whether you know exactly how or not. Faith that even if the worst happens, it’s still going to be OK because you are part of a more global “canvas,” and God has already seen the final painting. Faith is not mere intellectual assent. Neither is faith a feeling. Faith is a verb. It’s being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. With it, you will increase your life’s margins exponentially. Without it, you will surely live a crowded and preoccupied life.

Thanks to him, for the great ideas. I am defiitely in need of some white space, both physically and metaphysically.

Ping Bong

I took a writing class and the instructor talked about identifying our "ping" moments in life to use as writing prompts. I like this and have been whirling through the memory Rolodex ever since in an attempt to identify and revisit. As you can imagine, some are wonderful and some are...not so much. Here's one that keeps floating to the surface.

A handful of years ago I had a job at a hospital that involved a lot of partnership building with local EMS and Fire/Rescue organizations. It got to the point where I was actually sort of working out of one of our local fire stations a day or two a month. Firefighters are an insular bunch. There's a lot of machismo, and the air is literally thick with testosterone. There are a handful of women firefighters, and increasingly more so, but when I was there it was literally, me and the boys.

There is a lot of "hurry up and wait" in the firefighting world. Moments of shrieking intensity punctuated by long periods of boredom during which they all clean, and organize, pack and repack, wash vehicles and watch bad television. It was definitely a sociology experiment for me, trying to fit in, hang out and just blend into the background while we all waited for the chime bongs indicating a call to duty.

Riding along on calls wasn't originally my intention, but the lure was irresistible and it didn't take long before I was strapped into the back of an engine flying down the highway at breakneck speed on my way to some potential tragedy. Ironically, I don't think I ever made it to an actual fire. Mostly car crashes, a gas leak, a non existent brush fire and the rest of it was calls for EMT assistance.

On one of my very first outings we were called to a local nursing home for a heart attack.

I could never figure out exactly what I was supposed to do, or where to stand, or how to behave since I clearly wasn't part of the team, but was obviously along for the ride.

When we got to the facility, I followed them in and we found ourselves in the physical therapy area, a gym of sorts, with machines and mats.

A very elderly man was lying on an elevated mat in the back of the room and one of the staff was performing CPR on him. A few other staff members were looking on. This man was, for all intents and purposes, dead when we got there. I glued myself to a back wall and marveled, really, never having seen anything of the like.

The boys sprung into action, boxes were opened, veins were tapped, IVs were started, and they immediately took over for the staff to continue the chest compressions.

It is incredibly surreal to stand there and watch some one's life end. For the boys, it can happen several times a day, so while they are serious about their tasks there is definitely an air of nonchalance to it all.

At one point the firefighter doing the compressions looked up and around the room to find me. I just stared at him and he winked at me. THAT is the ping moment in all of this. "Who me? Oh, nothing much, just saving a life."

I spent the next few weeks seriously contemplating taking an EMT course and becoming a firefighter. Unrealistic for myriad reasons (not the least of which is my incredible fear of heights) the idea did not stick. But the moment certainly did.

They got a pulse, eventually, and sent the man to the hospital where he later died. I wonder about that a lot. So much effort to postpone the inevitable. The trauma, the expense, the time spent working on him, when this man could have gone quickly and quietly after his last workout. Who is to say? Not I, certainly.

The conversation as we pulled away from the scene was, not surprisingly, about what to eat for lunch.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Depending on where we live, grew up, etc. summer has a completely different meaning for each of us. What constitutes a good summer? Of course, our answers will change with our perspectives.

For my son, a good summer involves a whole lot of nothing. Sleeping until 11, eating, playing video games, eating, puttering around in his room, maybe reading a little, having a snack, watching tv, checking email, more puttering, dinner, pool, ice cream, more video games and then bed.

For my daughter, there is less eating and sleeping, zero video games, lots of reading, writing and drawing, lots of time hanging out with friends, tons of time spent listening to and playing music. It is a wonder either of them can fit it all in.

For me, now, a good summer has to involve sand between my toes, if only briefly, a good lung full of seawater, a couple of good books and hopefully the accomplishment of a few projects. Similarly, it all goes zooming by in record time.

I am blessed to live in a place that has seasons that are structured in such a way that the very second before I have really begun to complain about the cools off. And then again with winter just as I am on the verge of hypothermia the daffodils are in bloom.

I am grateful for the wonders of nature.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Annie get your goat....

Well, I'm back to the goat thing again, because I came across THIS:

Some incredibly resourceful individual has taken the next logical step and is, literally, farming their goats out. It's a win-win clearly.

Not sure what their prices are, they're a little vague, but I just LOVE LOVE LOVE this.

I still want my own goats (and maybe still a baby....but i'm trying to focus on wanting a goat or something else more than a baby).

Thank God it's Friday. It's exhausting being me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This just in....

You probably didn't realize it was me you were reading about in the paper this morning..."Woman goes on three state killing spree after air conditioning dies during unparalleled heat wave"...but yes, it's true. That is me.

The consolation is that jail is air conditioned. Please send a clever (and patient) attorney.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tall dark and surly

The beauty of having more than one child is that offspring subsequent to the first can see things coming. For example, when Child 1 went through puberty, lost their mind and became a plaything of the Dark Lord, Child 2 was completely with me as we looked on in bewilderment and terror. "Whoa" he said to me one day as we watched Child 1 tear through the house looking for it's lost shoes (or a puppy to mutilate...whatever). He turned to me with his delicious pudgy earnestness, eyes shining with devoted adoration, "I PROMISE I will not be like that when I am a teenager." I smiled, knowing better than to trust this, but hoping against hope that he would, somehow, beat the odds and be the one teenager to successfully shoot the hormonal rapids without getting a drop of snarky ambivalence splashed on his psyche.


I began to hear the rushing water of puberty earlier this Summer and sure enough, he is now calf deep in the surly swirls.

The expressions "What?!??!" and "GOD!" will inevitably bookend our vacation this year, along with half a dozen other snorts and exasperated sighing sounds.

I can no longer see the floor in his room and, when left to his own devices, he slept until TWO the other day. (Insert digression about my father KILLING ME if I ever did that.) He has traded his heretofore good natured lackadaisical-ness for instant overreaction and can knit his precious caterpillar brows into an impressive scowl.

All that is missing from the landscape is the acne and the eye rolling. But we still have six weeks of break left, I'm sure they're looming just up around the bend.

Helter Swelter

It's hot out there people. Really hot. Like almost too hot to go to the pool, because it's too hot to get in your car to drive there and too hot to walk across the parking lot and too hot to sit on the pool deck, so staying home and laying on the sofa, under the fan, and staring blankly outside as if you've completely lost your senses sounds like the only feasible option for dealing with a day like today.

I've come to realize though, that teenagers have a certain innate weather-immunity. For example, they can sled in sub zero wind chill for far long than I can before they lose feeling in their extremities.

They can also walk a mile to the pool in triple digit weather without really batting an eye and without appearing to melt. (God forbid I ask them to clean their rooms, however, you'd think I was asking them to prance naked through molten lava. Why do we always describe lava as "molten"? Isn't that oxymoronic? But I digress).

Why is this? I've decided they are fortified by the ambient immunity of other teenagers. When congregated their collective pheromones create a weather-repelling force field that enables them to exude a much stronger tolerance of adversity.

"Can I have a ride to the pool?" (It usually starts, because, come on, teenagers are inherently lazy)
"'s too hot, and my backside is stuck to the sofa and I can't seem to move. Sorry dear. Why don't you go clean your room? I'll take you to the pool tomorrow."
"Ummmmm, no I really want to go to the pool....." (subtext: Paul, Peter, and Priscillia are all already at the pool and I'm probably missing some major drama)
No response from me because, as I mentioned, I've lost the ability to speak due to the humidity level.
"Okay, well, I'm going to WALK to the pool then."

And so teenager walks, successfully, through the Kalahari desert to the watering hole, without being attacked by lions or alligators, while I, on the other hand, have been eaten alive by my sofa cushions. If you're reading this, could you please bring me a Popsicle?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Be Careful

That's what it said on the sign board in front of a church I saw this week. Be careful. How many times have I said that to my children, to my friends, to my family, to myself? Be careful means look out....don't get attention...don't die. There's a scene from a movie, 1969, I think it is, where this woman's son goes off to Vietnam, and she can't bring herself to say goodbye to him (because she's so angry that he chose to enlist), so instead of seeing him off at the station, she goes for a run. She runs parallel to the highway where his bus ends up driving on it's way out of town, so they see each other after all. She is waving as he passes, screaming something at him, which, from inside the bus he hears as "Good Bye" so he returns the call to her. Only she's really screaming "Don't die" at him. Gut punch. Of course he dies, because what else are you going to write into an anti-war movie? Even I saw that one coming.

What does that really mean though, be C A R E F U L? Does it really mean "be full of care?"

When I tell people to "be careful" I usually mean, on some level, "try not to die" doing whatever it is you're about to do. Be careful's cousin is the expression "take care" which I use a lot as a sign off in correspondence. What does that mean, to TAKE CARE? We use it and BE CAREFUL synonymously to some extent. Though, to "take care of someone" has developed myriad meanings. There is the tailpipe to the back of the knees expression of ridding oneself of an unwanted problem, and then, conversely, there is the swabbing someone's forehead and feeding them ice chips as they take their dying breath. Complete opposites. When I say it, I think, on some level, I'm still suggesting that people toe a line that would not involve them getting kneecapped, without actually coming out and saying "it's a tough careful out there" because, really, i'm pretty sure my boss would be sitting in my office in about 10 seconds flat if I signed off on an email to her with that.

Interestingly, the word care comes from Old English meaning "lament" and the first definition listed is "suffering of mind; grief." The second definition is "a disquieted state of mixed uncertainly, apprehension, and responsibility....a cause for such anxiety."

Why then, would I tell people to "take care" as if it were some positive directive? As it turns out i'm wishing anxiety and grief on people, which was certainly not my intention. Admonishing someone to "be careful" is a little more fitting though, if my intention is to remind you to be cautious not to make a mistake, or to remember to be prudent.

I wonder what the pastor meant, when he posted that on the board. I guess i'll never know. I think i'll switch to "All the best" however, when I write to people. Though secretly I still hope you don't die. (Spoiler alert: You're going to anyway.)