Posts Tagged With: adventure

mental self five

I keep thinking about the war between desire and effort and the more I consider the whole situation, the more I need to clarify for myself, y’all just reap the benefits of the process.

YBW and I do most things together. As a matter of fact, outside of the people we work with, we spend the most time with each other. We do our normal daily routine things together because we live in the same physical space. But we also go out in the world together and do things. Some times things he likes, some times things I like, often times things we both like, or like to do together.
That said, there are some days when YBW doesn’t want to leave the house and I’m itching to get out. Even if it’s simple errand running to Target or whatever. Some days I’ll go alone, other’s I’ll choose to stay put because I don’t feel like going by myself.
There are some times when YBW wants to be in front of his computer in his jammies to play video games all day long. And though I’m cool with that, me spending time alone in this house is something I do most days so I don’t always love it.
My husband loves to game. I don’t. He should be able to do what he loves even if I want to do something else. And y’all, that man will often times do what I want instead of gaming. It’s not always fair to him.

The obvious solution when it comes to one of us wanting to do something the other does not is to be social with friends.
Here’s what’s tricky about that. Most of the people I’m closest to live far far away from me.
When I was in SC, I had many friends to go and do things with. I also had my girls to go and do things with.

The local people I’m friends with mostly have young children.
Because I’m passionate about education and young children, that’s how I spend my time. I don’t really see people that aren’t either moms of young children, or educators of young children.
I have a couple of friends that have grown kids, but they have established friend groups. This means we can sometimes get together, but those friendship bonds are different than those of established relationships.
Even some of the teachers at school that I’m friendly with have children that aren’t old enough to be left alone.
So, unless we’re doing a kid friendly activity, most of my local friends don’t have the freedom of movement I have. That leaves me to fend for myself, or YBW and I do things as a couple.

As I read what I’m writing, it may sound as though I’m making excuses. I’m actually not. These are simply the facts of my life.
Since making new friends is not as easy as it sounds, I’m going to consider how to best spend time with the friends I have.
I’m also going to continue to spend time with YBW.
But, I’m also going to continue to do things on my own.

I want to learn to rock climb, and there’s a great indoor place three miles from home called Vertical Rock. I’ve been considering this for some time and finally decided I’m going to investigate what it takes to learn. YBW is anxious about heights. This is something he would not remotely enjoy doing with me. I’m not sure I know anyone (local) that would like to learn to climb with me and that’s OK, because I just discovered that Vertical Rock has it’s own meet up group! Can’t wait to share that with my therapist!

However I consider any of these things, this is my life.
The question is: Does if fulfill me?
The answer is: Yes…for the most part.

Follow up question: How can I be more fulfilled in my life?
Answer here is keep going and growing.
I’m enthusiastic about learning. I’m enthusiastic about life.
I’m hearing ‘ephphatha‘ in my head: be opened.
I am open to new and different things. To new and different ways of doing old things.
I am ready to be opened up to the world around me.
I have a keen sense of adventure!
It is time for my desire to outweigh my effort.

Who knows?
Stepping out of my comfort zone may be the beginning of something wonderful.
It may blow up in my face.
Doesn’t matter, because I’m up for it.

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for that is the only place to truly live

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I long to remember how live fully in both fantasy and reality. To know my imagination is free to create absolutely anything. To know that I’m as grounded as humanly possible.
You need both roots and wings. I know that’s rather a mixed metaphor, but I honestly believe it’s the truth. If I am safely rooted in reality, I have the ability to spread my wings and soar into fantasy.
I can remain grounded in the real world at the same moment I am King of all the Wild Things.

Most grown ups do forget the delicate balance. Most grown ups don’t believe in fairies. Most grown ups are far too busy to play. Most grown ups don’t embrace the child within.
I am not that kind of grown up. I will never lose my sense of whimsy. I will always remember how to play. I will always always believe in fairies. I’m a grown up and oftentimes I want to actually be a fairy.

Peter Pan told Wendy, “You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”
The place between sleep and awake is where grown ups can remember how to live fully in both fantasy and reality. The trick is being able to do it when you’re awake.
Peter Pan also said, “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” So many grown ups doubt they can fly. I believe I can fly because I work every single day to remember how to move freely between the fantasy and reality. For that is the only place to truly live.

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let’s communicate in hashtags

I got a text from my sister in law in Charleston on Friday suggesting a new way to communicate. She said she wanted to send me a hashtag of what she observed in the world and as a barometer of how she’s feeling.
I adore the idea! We can go as sedate or over the top as needed. Sometimes it’ll be ridiculously long and complicated, other times less so.

I present for your consideration as sampling of our hashtag communication.

Friday July 29, 2016
Hers: #sometimesitsbettertojustdoityourself
Mine: #ineedanappy
Hers: #icantbenicetoday
Mine: #justcallmethemistressofallevil and then #f**kem

Nothing transpired on Saturday.

Sunday July 31,2016
Mine: #phantomoftheopera
Hers: #luckyduck and then #ilivevicariouslythroughyou
Mine: #igotyouyo and then #mikesfordinner
Hers: #fml
Mine: #ihatetherforeiam
Hers: #cestmoi
Mine: #iloveyyouohmygoodness
Hers: #validation
Mine: #iwillalwasyhaveyourback

I wrote about my emotional struggles last week in strangest, weirdest, most complicated woman and I’ve written about my beloved sister in law in emotionally safe in the nest.
She and I have a curious relationship. We tease that she, and not Thing 1, is my first daughter. We are truly sisters, but as I am the consummate nurturer, and she grew up without a healthy maternal relationship, we simply fell into that pattern in our own relationship. Neither of us mind, because she has nurtured me when I’ve needed it too.

We all struggle with our lives, with our choices. We have real love for the people in our world and sometimes real dislike. It has it’s own natural ebb and flow.
Her suggestion to communicate in hashtags was brilliant as far as I’m concerned. It’s a simple way to not overthink or overstate what we see and feel. Sometimes it my seem more negative than positive, but that’s the genius of it. One tiny hashtag can expel a great deal of negative energy, thus creating space for something positive.

Yesterday, YBW and I went to see Phantom with friends. Before we even left the house, I told YBW that I was uncomfortable. If it hadn’t been since I was pregnant with Thing 2 that I’d seen Phantom, I may have even begged off. I love this couple as individual people, and I can see how much good they are for each other, but I absolutely cannot stand to be with them any longer than I have to. They don’t socialize in the ‘group’, they socialize with each other which leaves others in the ‘group’ working hard to create a healthy social climate within the group. And I simply was not having it. But I wanted to see Phantom and I’m perfectly capable of keeping my mouth shut and ignoring what goes on around me enough to enjoy the show.
I actually fantasized about jumping from the moving car to get away from these people. Of course, YBW was going damn near 80 up I95…so I considered how much skin I might lose and what sort of head trauma might occur and made the decision to remain safely buckled in the vehicle. #dammit

Now, partly this is me. I’ve been in a strange place emotionally. I’m aware of and admit that. In the last week I’ve been told (by people who love me and have my best interests at heart) I’m quick to judge and that I because I speak my mind, I can come across as abrasive.
Um…thanks? #kissmyfrecklywhiteass
I know these things were said to me out of love, because I trust the person who said them. But if I was to boil myself down to two descriptive things those would not be the ones. #notreallyabitch

I apologized for being caustic, explained that was not my intention.
If I can’t speak honestly and from my heart, why speak at all? I’m a straight shooter. I don’t pull punches. I say what I think and feel out of love. Out of a desire to help others, and continue to learn. #velvethammer

I’m tired of censoring myself for the sake of other people’s feelings. I honestly can’t believe I’m as bad as all that…if I was, nobody would want to be around me ever. And guess what? Folks want to be around me.

I understand my sister in law’s desire to communicate via hashtags. I’m going to continue to text her hashtags and enjoy receiving hers. It amuses me. It’s a playful way to say what you need to say without fear recrimination. Because more than anything, more than judgement, more than annoyance, more than anything, I love. And that right there is enough reason for me. #hatersgonnahate but #ilove

Categories: love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Gah! It IS the rabbit!

I completely replanted the beds in front of our house. Had everything ripped out and started new. Lots of new shrubbery, and I’m simply waiting for it to fill in.
But a curious thing keeps happening. My butterfly bushes keep losing their leaves. There’s no real rhyme nor reason to it, some days there are leaves and blossoms too. Later that same day they’re gone.

Something is eating my butterfly bushes.
A family of bunnies lives in our woods, but Thing C saw a deer walking through our yard into the woods early one morning so I thought we’d found the culprit.

Thing 2 and I were texting about this phenomenon while she was on the train up here two weeks ago. It started because I told her I was going outside to spread mulch before the sun moved round to the front of the house.
I reported the news I was back in the house.

Thing 2: What shade of mulch did you scatter?

Me: Black. Like your soul.

Thing 2: Hehehe!! I thought it and you beat me to it!

Me: I redid the front beds. Everything is growing in nicely. But some f**king deer is eating the leaves of my butterfly bushes. YBW asked me if I wanted him to shoot the deer. Hahahaha

Thing 2: What a good husband you have! So caring, so loving. So willing to spill blood for your beloved leaves. That’s real love right there, get the guys who write legends over here, stat!

Me: Might be Little D’s bunny family instead of a deer, but Thing C saw a deer walking through the yard so that made me thing deer.

Thing 2: Nope. No way it’s the bunnies. Impossible. Crazy talk. Gotta be the deer, you gotta kill ’em. Front yard ain’t big enough for any leaf eating Bambis, ya hear??

That was two weeks ago tomorrow.
In that time, there was a gorgeous pink blossom just beginning to show it’s color.

Thing 2 left here this morning right before the guys came to paint the exterior of the house.
I walked around with the foreman going over the contract. As we came around from the back of the house one of the bunnies was hopping across the yard from the driveway into the woods.
When I rounded the corner there were no leaves on the butterfly bushes. No blossoms. Just green sticks poking out through the mulch.

When I came back inside I sent this text to both Thing 2 and YBW: GAH!!!!!!!! It IS the rabbit!!!! There were leaves on the bushes when (Thing 2) left but I walked around the house with the painting guy and the bunny was going from the garage door area to the woods and THERE WERE NO LEAVES ON THE BUSHES!!!!!

Thing 2: What a little f**ker!!!

Me: I KNOW! I’m so pissed!! Cute and fuzzy little bastard!!! Ate the f**king blooming flower too!! Dick.

YBW: Oh yeah!! I saw the little f**ker run away this when I went out this morning.

Me: That rabbit is a dick.

YBW: Bunny stew?

So apparently YBW is all about getting rid of my pests, first the deer (who, it turns out, didn’t deserve it) and now the rabbits.
Where are those legend writing guys anyway?

We’re such foulmouthed human beings, but I don’t care. That rabbit is an asshole. The whole damn rabbit family is a bunch of assholes.

I’m trying to do a good thing here, planting things to attract pollinators. And those damn rabbits are thwarting me at every turn.
I’m about to research to find out how to discourage the dick rabbit from eating my plants.
Never a dull moment. It’s always an adventure.

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a guiding light

Lighthouses stand stalwart and true where land meets the sea.
An important navigational aid to guide ships into port, That light was the only thing standing between a ship and disaster.

The legend of Nags Head in the Outer Banks of North Carolina tells of land pirates hanging a lantern around the neck of a horse and walking her along the huge dunes at Jockey’s Ridge. This was to trick ship captains into running aground on the shoals so the ship could then be looted.

My mom loved lighthouses. She collected little lighthouse tchotchkes, anything from pictures to candles to actual replicas of lighthouses.
YBW loves lighthouses too. He also has a (much smaller than Mommie’s) collection of lighthouse tchotchkes.
I asked him what he loved so much about lighthouses and this is what he told me:
Lighthouses represent adventure. They make me feel like being on vacation.

Now, this fascinated me! He loves lighthouses because to him, the represent the freedom to travel.
This quick conversation lead me to consider what a lighthouse might mean to me, and here’s what I came up with:
A lighthouse is a beacon, a guiding light to keep you safe.

I see how differently my husband and I view lighthouses. To him it’s adventure and travel. To me a haven. These views are absolutely influenced by the way we grew up. He grew up sheltered in a safe and idyllic family, I grew up abandoned by one parent and discarded by the other.
But together he and I create the complete lighthouse concept. At the edge of land, at once sending you off on adventures and welcoming you home again.

I would love to know why my mom loved them…I wonder why it never occurred to me to ask her that question?

Lighthouses continue to stand long after outliving usefulness.
We explored such a lighthouse on our honeymoon.

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Harrison Point Lighthouse
St Lucy, Barbados.

This lighthouse was built of concrete in 1925.
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It was deactivated in (approximately) 2007 and has been abandoned since (approximately) 2011. We visited the lighthouse in 2015 and this is what we found.
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The red steel door torn from the hinge.

P1090161 Ruined motor and electrical panel. P1090165

Starting up the steps.
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Curling up higher and higher.
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No more concrete.
Rusted metal steps to the service room.
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At the door to the service room.
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The floor here is beginning to rust straight through. We tread with great care.

This panel is worse off than the one downstairs.
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I crawled with hands and feet up these rusty ladder stairs to the lantern room.
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A look back at the lantern room door.
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The lens was long gone. Most of the lantern room glass too. We found the broken bits on the ground at the base of the lighthouse. Some huge chunks of Fresnel lens mixed in with so much window glass. (YBW brought some home and keeps them on his desk at work and here at home.)

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It was breathtakingly beautiful.

The door to the outer ring around the lantern room was open and as I leaned the top of my body out, YBW urged me to stay put. He saw the rusty railings, knows I’m a bit klutzy, put two and two together and said: If you fall, you will die, I can’t be a widower when we’ve been married less than a week. Please don’t.

He was scared for my safety. The more I looked out at the very thin railing rusting at all the important joints, I was compelled to stay where I was. The warm afternoon light gave me the gooseflesh.
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I wrote about lighthouses because I read a post early this morning about praying at the edge of the sea.
I was moved by the visual created by those words. The sea carrying a prayer to the far reaches of the world then returning it magnified.

What if that’s what lighthouses really are?
What if they continually send and receive prayers?
What if they are the “guiding light” of all the seaside prayers? Or love? Or adventures? Or safe havens?
And even after they no longer light the sky they never stop sending and receiving those all-important intangibles?

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mother’s day

I struggle with Mother’s Day.
My birthday is always the week of Mother’s Day. Sometimes even falls on that particular Sunday. I don’t remember it bothering me until I became a mom. First one precious little girl and later, two precious little girls called me their mommy. They were SO focused and excited about Mother’s Day that my birthday often fell by the wayside.
When they got old enough to understand, I explained how much I loved their beautiful appreciation of me. I explained that I was their mommy every day. That it was the most special thing EVERY DAY. But that my birthday was only one day and it was special. It took a bit for them to get it, but they knew how important I made their birthdays and they began to come around. So while Mother’s Day remained special, “birthday birthday” became the focus that second week of May.

Mother’s Day is painful for me because I don’t have my mom anymore. However complicated our relationship was, she was my mother and I loved her.
I took Thing C and Thing G to get cards for their mom. I went with YBW to get a card for his mom. I spent the day with YBW and his mom.
It was agony.
I no longer have a mom. It hurts more than I can even communicate.
Thing 1 called to tell me Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked me for being her mom. She talked about the life she’s building. She talked about going back to school. She told me she sent a little gift, but it was going to be late. She told me how much she loved me.
My heart sang with joy!
Thing 2 did nothing. (I don’t know if she was being purposefully hurtful or not…I honestly don’t think it matters. It was hurtful enough.) People that I did not actually give birth to called and texted to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. I’m just sayin’.

When my girls were little and I was teaching preschool, I was blessed to be surrounded by some of the most truly awe inspiring women I’ve ever known.
We were a family. If something happened to one of us, joy or sorrow, it happened to all of us. These women helped me realize who I could be. They let me help them see things from my unique and sometimes brash perspective. (I may or may not have publicly accused the director of being on crack at a faculty meeting…in my defense, it opened a new way of talking about a serious topic.)

When I started this blog I promised my family and friends anonymity. That’s why I never use anyone’s real name…apart from my own. My girls and Sundance have expressed their ambivalence regarding this promise. I keep it because YBW is especially protective of his identity, and the identity of his sons. I respect that. Nobody “signed up” to be part of my public words regarding my private life. I want to keep those who need to feel safe feeling safe.
That said, I’m going to use the names of the women from that perfect moment in time when we lived and loved and worked in the safest and most creative environment.

It kind of started this way:
On Sunday, Nicole posted in our private group chat:
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!! I would not have survived young motherhood without you all!!

I was thinking something along those lines when I was washing my hair that morning. I was thinking about some of the women that influenced my life. What I learned from each of them and how I incorporated that into my parenting style, and into my own personal development.

I learned from my mom that always having to be in control will wear you the eff out. That it breaks you and makes you miserable. My mom taught me the value of creativity and expressing opinions because she squashed those out of us as children. She taught me that love is conditional, you must be exactly what someone wants or they can’t love you.
She taught me that you just have to keep fighting for what you believe in. She taught me what true sacrifice looks like. She taught me that a color book and box of crayons eases heartache. She taught me that birthdays are the most important celebration, because the day you came into the world is sacred. She taught me to love books. She taught me Elvis is the King. She taught me that being redhaird is the most precious gift, and that only a few of us ever have the luxury to receive it.
Some of the things she taught me made me a better mom because I did the exact opposite of what she did. Love is unconditional. Creativity and expressing yourself are the most important life stills to possess.
Some of what she taught me formed my most basic ideology. Birthdays are sacred. New crayons are priceless. Books are uniquely portable magic.

Nicole taught me that organized chaos is a great way to raise children. She taught me that love is fierce. She showed me how to see things through the eyes of a child. She taught me the value of true and long lasting friendship.

Jessica taught me that I was more capable than I ever realized. She taught me to listen differently so I could truly hear. She taught me to ask the most important question: What’s best for children? She taught me the value of my own mothering. She taught me when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. She helped me believe in myself at the lowest point in my life. She showed me the fire in my belly still had embers to nurture. She loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

Becca encouraged me to trust my gut, because she never seemed to be able to do that for herself. She taught me to appreciate every contribution. She brought out even more nurturing in me, she needed and still occasionally needs to be taught self-love. She taught me how innocent kindness can change lives. She taught me that my tough as nails hide could benefit from softening up a bit.

Terri taught me to see my firstborn in a new and different light. She provided much comfort and support when I was struggling with learning how to mom a three year old and a new and extremely sick baby. She was an example of love and tenacity through her own terrible illness. She taught me how to approach the enigma that is the three year old with the perfect mix of fear and appreciation.

Nancy taught me that I must embrace and celebrate my gifts. She is the first person who said out loud that I am a writer. That moment caused a change in my life that I will be forever grateful for. She supported me with love and hope when I didn’t know who or what I really was. She taught me that life is so much more than simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Marianne taught me that letting go is so much better than holding on too tightly. She taught me the importance of repetition. She helped me realize that a classroom was one of the most loving environments in the world.

Cory taught me that I matter. She helped me understand how to be a mom and a real person too. She accepted me for who I am. She guided my learning of that most important skill. I’m not great at it, but I am working at it every single day…even all these years later.

Julia encouraged me to take risks. She helped me realize that fear is a part of life, but if I didn’t try new things I might miss out on something extraordinary. She taught me a new kind of patience.

Sara gave me the courage to breathe when I needed to take a step back. She showed me the importance of kindness when Thing 2 and I experienced serious separation anxiety.

Like Nicole, I would never have gotten through young motherhood without these women. The gifts they gave me have gotten me through the last twenty two years.
It takes a village to raise children.
It takes a village to raise parents too.

I’m so blessed to know and love these women. I would not be the woman I am without experiencing their love and support.
I saw Becca this weekend, we talked about how those years were a sacred moment in time. We will never be able to recreate that, but we’re lucky enough to forever be better mothers and better women because of it.

Categories: education, love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

sometimes you have to make your own light

Christmas Eve at the Cathedral was magical!
We made a quick stop at the space window before going downstairs to see the nativities.
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Once downstairs, we kind of went out separate ways.
I spent a moment of prayer in St Joseph’s Chapel (My favorite space in the entire building.) before moving along to the creche exhibit.
YBW said he felt a bit jaded, that because we go each season, he feels as though he’s seen them all. I don’t feel jaded in the least. Though I do feel like these nativities were not as lovely as some we’ve seen in the past. Precious few moved me enough to photograph them.
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I especially liked this one from South Africa made of fabric and glass beads. No donkey and camel in this nativity, but the lion and zebra sure came to celebrate baby Jesus!

Thing 2 came to find me and asked if I’d lit my prayer candle yet. I hadn’t, so she took my hand an led me through the gorgeously colorful mosaics of the Resurrection Chapel to the Cathedral Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage. This is the teeniest little room with a spiral stone staircase, a few wooden chairs along the wall behind a small kneeling alter in front of the candle table.
I hugged her tightly and told her this was where I always lit my prayer candles. She nodded and whispered that she just knew it.
She had been there before she found me, I could see the freshly lit candle and sense her presence. She sat in the corner behind me and I kneeled for a moment before using her candle to light mine.
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God is in us. Always. There is no need to be in a house of worship to feel that connection. But in that moment in that tiny dark room I felt it more keenly than the way I carry God with me every day.
Perhaps it was being there with my baby. The one I always pray for in that particular room?

We left the Cathedral for the ellipse where the National Christmas tree was waiting for us.
Thing 2 and I drove past on our way home from the Nutcracker earlier that week. Honestly this tree has the prettiest lights I think I’ve seen in my entire life. But none of the trees were lighted this Christmas Eve afternoon. (Pourquoi pas?)
Thing 2, of course, was all about the trains. Thing 1 and I dug around for pennies and we took turns tossing them into baskets on the trains as they passed by. (We made more than we missed, go us!) Thing 2 mused what the change was used for. I teased that it was to pay the electric bill so the trees could be lit. Then she decided she would want to be one of the people who worked there with the trains. She could keep them running smoothly and gather up the change on the grass and hand it to all the small children standing along the fence so they could try their luck as the train cars went by. Thing 1 and I agreed that it would a great job for her.

Finally, we were tired and ready to head home. YBW got this shot of us walking together.
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(I’m on the left, Thing 1 in the middle, and Thing 2 on the right.)

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adventures in our governmental system

I went to the local Social Security Administration office this afternoon to have my name change processed.
I went to the office because it’s only about ten minutes from home and I could use the necessary documents without having to give them up for any length of time.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I got there…but what I found made the “great unwashed” who frequent the local DMV office seem as pristine as angels.
I was hit with the stench of rank body odor and urine as I walked through the door. Babies were screaming (and I mean SCREAMING!), people were near-shouting in at least four different languages. And the security guard asked the same six people to “keep this area clear” five different times before they chose to move.
After checking in at the computer to get my service number, I sat between a woman and her mother, by best guess is they were Indian (from India, not American Indians) and two little Spanish speaking girls who played a quiet “chopsticks” like hand game to entertain themselves. They smelled of pee pants, but were quiet. (One out of two ain’t bad.) The Indian ladies were each reading a book. The babies never stopped screaming.

There I sat with my little folder containing my passport, current SS card, birth certificate, and the shiny new marriage certificate feeling increasingly anti”great American melting pot”. (Thank you Schoolhouse Rock.)
I’m not a racist. I’m not anti-immigration. I mean, we all have ancestors from somewhere outside the borders of the US…but as I listened to the questions about medicare and medicaid benefits from individuals who, at that very moment, were applying for social security cards…my hackles went up a little.

I’m not going to soapbox about this.
We all know it’s not my hot-button issue.
Immigration is what it is.
I’m lucky enough to be born American for all the good it does.

When the man finally called D494 I leapt from the seat and followed him through the door as quickly as I could without trampling any of the screaming babies.
I presented him with all my documents and he stapled my old card to my application handed me a receipt and thanked me for having everything I needed before sending me on my way.
A Social Security card with my new name should arrive in my mailbox in seven to ten days and I only sacrificed two and a half hours of my life in that waiting room.
I’ll consider it an adventure!
I did come home and take a shower though…I felt like the smell clung to me and I just couldn’t abide that.

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observe. accept. love.

Some you may know of the app facebook has that shares memories. It’s called “On This Day” and it shows things you’ve posted on that day in previous years.
I don’t check this all the days, I just happened to do it this morning because of something someone else posted that involved me.

Here’s a post from this day two years ago:
dancing girl at great falls
While we were at Great Falls today, I saw this little girl jumping from rock to rock singing, “I am awesome!” (The tune was precious.) Her mom just watched…she didn’t say anything and the little girl didn’t do anything but jump and sing about how awesome she is.
This is why we shouldn’t be saying, “Good job!” Or sometimes not even, “You did it!”
She didn’t need anything from anybody. She knows intrinsically that she is enough…I want to be this little girl please.

Seeing this post stimulated the memory of how moved I was in the moment watching this little girl. She didn’t need anything from anyone. Her mother stood nearby watching, but said nothing. Not “that’s not safe”. Not “way to go”. She said nothing. She observed. She accepted.

My years of early childhood training have given me a different way of looking at the world. At children in the world. The need to have freedom to take risks. They learn through play. They learn through risk taking. They don’t need to be praised every forty-seven seconds. They don’t need a trophy for participating.
They need to feel safe. Safe to explore. Safe to try. Safe to play. Safe to learn. Safe to experience that all-important “I did it!” moment of accomplishment.
It’s obvious to me that this little girl felt safe.
It’s obvious to me that her mother felt safe.
She let that child (who was not yet school-age) take risks by jumping on those rocks. Her mother knew she could fall and get hurt. And that wouldn’t have been fun for anybody, but the little girl would have learned from that. She would have known how to have sturdier feet the next time. She would have jumped more solidly.
That little girl’s mother said nothing while she sang and jumped from rock to rock and back again. But even more interesting to me is that the child never said, “Watch me!” She was completely focused on her task, jumping from rock to rock and singing: I am awesome! It didn’t matter to her if her mom was watching. It didn’t matter to her that she was or was not praised. She was working hard and she was having a blast doing it!

“Watch me, Miss Robynbird!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that from a child in the last two years.
I cringe every single time one of them says it.
I have said: You can do it. You don’t need me to watch you.
At first they didn’t understand, I could see the deflation happen in their little bodies. But over time, they began to understand that I trusted them and I made the environment safe enough that they could try anything. They began to ask their peers to watch, this created opportunities to build their cooperation skills. Created opportunities for them to mentor each other.
I feel good about that.
I’ve said: You did it! more times than I should have. But never will you hear me say: Good job! I might say: Well done you! Give me five.

YBW and I had a conversation about praise. He believes everyone wants to hear it. I couldn’t agree more. But my point to him was praise causes people to look outside themselves for validation. They’re not motivated my curiosity or desire to try/play/learn. They’re motivated by and for someone else.
Of course we all want an “attagirl” once in a while. Working hard and not getting recognized sometimes feels icky. But praise is a double edged sword. The other side of praise is criticism. I grew up with enough criticism for three kids and precious little praise. In all honesty, I’d trade praise and it’s ugly twin to feel safe enough to try without anyone’s opinion.
When I work hard and finish a job well done I feel that sense of accomplishment. I experience my own “I did it!” moment.
Would it be nice to hear praise?
Absolutely!
Do I need that praise?
Not really.

We’ve created a new generation of kids that thrive on praise. That are motivated by praise, by participation trophies. That graduate from high school only so the principal has numbers that grow.
What if we took a giant step back and took a page from the mom’s book?
What if we observe?
What if we accept?
What if we love?

I want to be that little girl. I want to be enough for myself like she is.
I want that for all of us.

Categories: education, love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Manassas Battlefield

I absolutely adore Manassas Battlefield. I used to love to go there as a child and spend hours wandering aimlessly. I go there now as a grown up to experience that nostalgia.
I love the history of my home state. I love the fact that these places have been preserved, the physical places as well as the history.
When I go now, I almost always experience the battlefield from behind the camera.

The Henry House is my favorite place to visit. I love the view from the hill there. The story of Mrs Henry, stuck in her home due to illness as the first battle of bull run raged around her always resonated in me. She wasn’t able to leave her home before the fighting and ended up mortally wounded by Union fire.

The Henry House

The Henry House

I love how the changing light affects everything.

The Henry House

The Henry House

YBW likes to wander and play Ingress (To me it seems like a kind of electronic version of capture the flag for grown ups.) on his phone, “capturing” and “hacking” “portals” all around the battlefield.
The cool part of him playing this game on his phone is that I’ll tag along with my camera. We get out of the car, go our separate ways, and come back together after an hour or so.
I get time behind the lens, joy of being in a place I love, and he gains important “points” and “badges”. It’s pretty much win-win.

20131017_532

20131017_552

The Stone House as seen from the top of Henry Hill. It was used as a hospital during both the first and second battles of Bull Run. I remember being at a post sledding bonfire there once when I was really little. I remember feeling a combination of excitement and fear. I was so tired after a day of up and down the hill but the bonfire was so thrilling. All the people, the chaos, me feeling very small and vulnerable and afraid to get separated from my mom caused great anxiety within me.

The Stone House

The Stone House

Sometimes folks get their nickname here.
Thomas Jonathan Jackson became “Stonewall Jackson” when General Bee of South Carolina observed his resolve in battle and cried out, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians!”

There stands Jackson like a stone wall.

Stonewall Jackson

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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