Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

December 31, 2010, last day of another old year. Every year I find myself in the same place, making so many of the same promises. Some I keep longer than others, rare is the promise that lasts through the next year.

I used to be pretty tough on myself about giving up, letting promises slide. Then I decided that it was ridiculous to make pie-in-the-sky promises, only to feel like a failure by February.

Nowadays I split my resolutions into groups. There are those promises that should be easy to keep- read more, weigh less, be more active. There are those promises that are harder to keep- be more organized, be kinder to myself, take better care of myself. Easy or hard, this is the time of year for promises made to yourself. The rest of the year is for keeping them.

So for this last night I will think of my promises and hope that I will be able to keep at least a few of them. Tomorrow will be the day that I have to start working on keeping them. Yep, that's the hard part.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice

Tonight is the longest night of the year, in a year that has been full of long nights for me. I feel like I have drifted through this year, half-asleep, half in a nightmare of poor health and unhappiness. Not the face I have shown most people, but the face I have seen when I look in the mirror.

This night I find myself contemplating the significance of a Winter Solstice, with a full moon and a total lunar eclipse. How can such a convergence be without impact? Can you not meditate on what it means when the longest night of the year becomes even darker, when the moon goes into total eclipse?

I guess I see this as a coming through a final darkness before I can shed this year of uncertainty and fear. I am tired of thinking about my health, wondering about my health, fighting with my health. I am tired of battling through. With my thyroid surgery behind me, I am looking forward to sitting through this final long night of 2010, before I can begin to see the days lengthening again. Perhaps my health and mental well being will follow, growing, lightening, and energizing as the days grow.

So, on this Winter Solstice, this longest night of the year, when the moon will be in our shadow, let me wait in the dark, contemplating the light. Let my tired, sick self be left behind in 2010 to be replaced with renewed health and energy for 2011. Let the lunar eclipse take away those things that wore me out this year. Let the dawn find me renewed and re-energized for the new year. Let my health restore as the moon will restore.

Let 2010 fade into my past, and 2011 bring happier things.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to School

The new school year has officially begun. Children everywhere are up and out early in the morning, heading for bus stops, schools, and classrooms. Bright and shining faces (and some sullen and grumpy ones) all head off for a new day and a new year. It is a time of year I have always enjoyed, even when I was in school myself.

We have decided to homeschool. This is not a reflection on our views of public school, not due to our religious orientation, nor is it a commentary on modern society (well, maybe a small comment). I have read about and been interested in homeschooling since long before I was a parent. In fact, I read my first book about it before I was married. I have always hoped that when the time came I would be able to give it a try.

So here I am, realizing a heart's desire and I find myself sad and a little jealous of my friends with kids heading off to school. I am looking at pictures of smiling children dressed in clean clothes, with bright eyes, skipping their way to the bus stop. Friends are telling me of how cheerfully their child climbed onto the bus for the ride to school. My stomach knots and I wish I could be there too.

In my reading about homeschooling I have come across a concept called de-schooling. It is the time a child will need to decompress and adjust to homeschooling after being in school. I have heard all kinds of guidelines on how long a child might need to make this adjustment. I didn't think I was going to need this time, since we have never been in school before. Perhaps I am wrong.

Even though I have always wanted to homeschool, I was sure it wouldn't be possible. I prepared myself for the moment when we would join in with that phase of parenting. You know- early mornings, packed lunches, school buses, PTA, parent conferences and the like. Maybe what I need is a little de-schooling. I need to adjust to the reality that my memories of the first year of school are going to be different.

Different is ok. Different fits for me and my family. I am just going to take a deep breath and trust in myself and my child. We are going to have a great year, full of great memories. We might not have cool Fall mornings drenched in sunshine standing at the bus stop. We also won't have freezing Winter mornings in the dark and the rain either. Everybody's choice will have good, bad and indifferent. I will have fabulous days when I am sure we are doing the right thing, and days when I doubt my sanity. I just need to keep reminding myself that I am not alone, and though my choice may be different, my experiences are very similar.

Homeschooling is right for us. At least it is right for us right now. I am going to take it one day at a time. I am ready to make great memories that are unique for our family. It is an adventure I am ready for.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Turn of the Season

Summer should still be in full swing. After all, we still have more than a month of it left (if only by a couple of days). However, don't we all feel on some level that Fall begins so much earlier in reality than it does on the calendar?

For me, there are indicators that trigger in me a deep and abiding desire for Fall. Stores get the back to school displays up, full of unsharpened pencils, uncapped pens, reams of blank notebooks, all fresh and waiting for the eager new scholars. grocery stores (and for my family only Acme carries the right kind) have towering displays of orange cookie boxes, all full of spiced wafers, redolent with fall spices and scents. Orchards and farm stand feature abundant displays of apples, pumpkins, corn stalks, and the like. Evenings get that flirty taste of cooler weather, and suddenly we no longer feel like we are going to burst into flame as we exit our homes. The summer season gets tired, faded, overblown and has overstayed its welcome.

Suddenly, I find I am tired of swimming, short sleeves, cold meals, and the scent of the ground baking in the hot sun. I am longing for blankets on the bed, crickets slowly chirping in the chilly night, fires in the fireplace, big pots of warm soup, candles scented with maple and cinnamon. I dream of putting away the summer decorations and adorning my home with fire-colored leaves, sunflowers, nuts, and frosted grapes. I want mugs of steaming cider, glasses of smokey scotch, warm flannel nightgowns, and thick cozy socks.

August is drifting away, September is looming before me. Only 14 days to the Arden Fair, a true indicator that things of Summer are ready to be put away, and Fall is ready to take the stage. I am ready to crack open those clean notebook pages, sharpen the pencils and get to the business of colder weather, home and hearth. The lazy days of summer are wearing on me, I am ready for the industry of harvest, the preparation for the cold days of winter. It is time to shake the sand from my toes, don my shoes and shuffle through crackling leaves.

I feel the turn of the season, even though when I walk outside it is unarguably still summer weather. I still plan the last minute trips to the beach, trying to bank up as much sun as I can. And yet, in my heart of hearts I am already longing for the change. I am ready to cozy down into my nest for the next phase of the year. Summer has been fun, longed for in the misery of last Winter, reveled over and enjoyed, but its time is over.

Funny, how it works that I am so ready for the next season. Fall will go so swiftly with its apple picking, Halloween preparations, Thanksgiving, leaf raking, bonfires, and hayrides. Will I be as ready for Winter?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Quiet Midnight

Here I sit, just after midnight. The house is quiet, all are asleep, except for me. For the last few nights I have found it impossible to fall asleep easily. So, here I sit.

There is a peace to the house this time of day. It feels good to know that those nearest and dearest to my heart are not far away, and are at peace themselves. The house has a feel to it, full but quiet that soothes me. While I would love to be slumbering away in my room, there is a pleasure to tapping away at my computer at the kitchen counter too.

I can remember how my mother would wake up long before the sun each day. I never understood why she would do it, when it only meant a nap in the afternoon and an early bedtime. Yet, each morning she would get up long before anyone else, make a pot of coffee, and read the paper. These nights give me a little insight into why those mornings were so needed for her. I can imagine the peace of the house, the way the sun would slowly brighten the sky, how the peace would be broken by our waking and the day beginning in earnest.

There is a little selfishness in my insomnia. While there are times when I find it a burden, and I fight it, there are times when it is an unique gift. When my days are filled with child, husband, house, family, church, village, bills, errands, cleaning, meals, and all the static of daily life, what a luxury to have a few quiet hours to myself. The knowledge that until it is time for me to go to bed I have nobody to please but myself is beyond value. Insomnia, my indulgence, my curse.

I think I may be ready to sleep now, morning comes so early. I have had my quiet moment of reflection, now I want to sleep. Tonight, will insomnia be my co-conspirator, or my foe? Only the dawn will tell......

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Ah Summer, the season of vacations, sun, sand, heat, humidity, loose schedules, and lingering days. In June it seemed to stretch before me, a long vista of peace. Now, I am too far into this game to believe that perception and I knew how fast it would go. However, each year I swear time speeds up and the wheel of the year is spinning out of control. This year is proving to be no different.

June slipped by so quickly I couldn't believe it when ACRA began at the end of the month. The simple act of going to ACRA each day made time speed up considerably and before I could blink, it was the end of July and the end of ACRA for this year.

Now, the last week of July is melting away and August yawns before me. I know that summer will slip through my fingers just like dry sand. I will frantically try to hold on to it, to fit as much as I can in my hands, only to have it disappear in the wind. I have so many things I want to do, so many places on my list to get to, so much more fun to fit in, but August is so painfully short.

Add to this the gaping of the coming school year (something I haven't truly dealt with before) and I have no idea how I am going to make August less of a swirl. I guess I just have to do my best, fill my hands with the fleeting moments and hang on for dear life.

In closing..... Dear Arden Fair (which always marks the end of Summer in our house), you could take your sweet time getting here. Enjoy your journey through August and let me do the same. Bliss out as the days continue to shorten (sob), and let the "lazy" happen in August as it did not happen in June and July. As much as I look forward to your arrival, I could truly do with a little extra Summer this year, how about you?

Thursday, July 1, 2010


This is my season for flashbacks. We are in our second week of ACRA and each year I have brought Connor, my experiences at ACRA all come flowing back.

Let's start by explaining ACRA, which stands for Arden Communmity Recreation Association. I live in one of the Ardens, and this group plans gatherings and parties throughout the year for community members to participate in. The big even each year is the 5 week summer camp which meets at he Buzz Ware Village Center, former home of the Arden School. This building and program has been a part of my life for more years than I care to admit.

I went to ACRA when I was little, sometimes loving it, sometimes hating it, overall remembering it with fondness and appreciation that it was a part of my growing up years. I count it among the things that helped me to survive and thrive in a none to healthy family environment. ACRA gave me a place to be myself, a place to connect with my peers and their families, and a place that was safe and encouraging. My mother never understood my love of theater, ACRA reveled in it. I confused my family with my hippy leanings, ACRA found it normal.

When I had Connor, I could hardly wait to share ACRA with him. I imagined all the fun he would have, al the good memories he would make. I looked forward to watching him make those neighborhood connections that could last the rest of his life. Little did I know that Connor would not necessarily have an easy transition to ACRA.

Yep, my little monkey doesn't want to stay here without me. I have worked and worked on this and it just doesn't change. So I attend ACRA with him. The first year I never left the classroom, the second I graduated to sitting outside, which is what I am doing on this, his third year. It's slightly a drag, but it does allow for wonderful moments.

I love sitting on my picnic blanket watching the kids file in to ACRA. It could be the 1970s and all my friends are walking by, restored to youth. The images are timeless- long, lean bodies, chlorine bleached and still wet from swim team, towels slung around necks, barefeet, bikes, and smiling faces. The building fills with their voices, calling to each other, talking about the same crazy things we talked about (though peppered with more modern pop culture references of course). There are kids on the playground, playing Capture the Flag, swinging on the swings, climbing to the top of the jungle gym, and leaping the concrete pipes- all the things we all loved to do at their age. Best of all is when a gang of girls gather to lounge in the warm sun on top of the concrete pipes- it could so easily be me, Kirsten, Michelle, Annie.....

ACRA is a grand thing and I am so glad it is here for my son, like it was here for me. I hope it is here for my grandchildren and on down the generations as long as the Ardens are here, I hope there is ACRA so that we can all have these flashback moments.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dumb Glands

So, here is the latest and seemingly final word on my adventures in hypothyroidism.

Last week, Drew and I went to see my surgeon to get the results of the follow-up ultrasound I had a few weeks back. The news isn't great. Poor guy, he was so careful in the delivery I have a vague idea that it might be worse than told....

So, in short the thought is that I should have not half the thyroid removed, but the entire thyroid removed. Why? Well, that nodule on the right side of my thyroid, the one they did the inconclusive needle biopsy on turns out to have indications of follicular cancer. Crap.

Why the whole thyroid and not just the right side?? Well, to begin with, I am not a fan of half removal with a return trip when/if they find cancer. Thanks very much but if I am already sedated and have re-arranged my life for a week I would prefer to just have it done and over with. Also, I am just not a big fan of carrying a potential time bomb around in my neck. Course, it didn't feel too great when the surgeon who had suggested lobe removal was now just fine with taking the whole thing out- turns out there are small nodules on the left side that indicate follicular cancer too.

So there it is, bald and to the point. Indicators are that this could be cancerous and to be safe it should be removed. I won't know until it is out what the verdict is. Super awesome and fantastic news..... I have to wait until next year.

Why next year??? Well, health care being what it is today, we would be financially better off to wait until January to have this done so that when we meet our deductible threshold any follow-up care will be covered at 100% instead of 20%.

So, in the meantime, I will have another ultrasound in October and if all is well, I will go until 2011 until the surgery is scheduled.

Sorry to be so lacking in sensitivity when delivering this, but I admit to being pretty freaked out and pissed off. I mean, thyroid cancer is the one to get if you get one (yeah I might have won the cancer lottery), and there is still an 80% chance that this is nothing, but at the end of the day I have to be sedated and have my thyroid removed.

Next post will talk about my ongoing struggle to get my meds regulated so that I don't feel hot and miserable every time I leave the air conditioning and will make the screaming nasty voice in my head be quiet.

God help me, but I am beginning to understand why my mother drank. If she felt like this half the time, it makes perfect sense that she drank to make the voices be quiet.

Don't freak- I'm a bitchy fighter and I will be fine. In the meantime, send a positive thought to the Universe for me and for my little family cause we are all hurting.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I have these blog posts running around in my head. Several topics have presented themselves and I have been cogitating on them at odd times. Of course never when I have an extended time in front of the computer.

For those times I have gotten in front of the computer this weekend I am either in a hurry or surrounded by what I call "static." Neither are condusive to writing on my blog.

What is static you ask? Well it takes several forms, all quite familiar to mommies everywhere. Here is a brief, but not complete list:

1. Connor. As a parent of a child can tell you, children are capable of putting out a signal-jamming amount of static that the government should be researching for use in warfare. Who needs to electronically stop radio transmissions, just assign a child to each radio wave and let them work their magic. Connor is capable of near constant discussion on a variety of subject both weighty and flighty. All designed to render me incapable of stringing coherent thought that is not directly related to responding to his impossible. Connor is (as all children are) the ultimate static.

2. The ongoing to do list. This is a good one for parents, homeowners, and job-holders alike. In my head there is a running list of chores, errands, bills, projects, and goals that can raise a cacophony in my head the likes of which is impossible to get beyond. I am telling you that a 100 member brass band could not do more to make thought difficult.

3. Obligations- we all have them. Work, church, home, neighborhood, school, family- the list goes on and on. Just thinking of all that needs to be done, all that needs to be watched or handled is enough to render me a drooling mess.

4. Fantasy life- come on, you know this one. This is the static that drags you down while you think of winning the lottery, taking a dream vacation (or any vacation), retiring with no worries, health, wealth, and well being. Sigh...... I could get bogged down here for a long time, how about you.

Static is a constant in life. Don't we all need a break now and then? How do we get it? Where do we find it? How much do we need that break?

In the meantime..... these blog posts are still wandering around in my head, waiting for a moment to make it to the blog- my static reducing indulgence.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Holy Places

Summer has come to my church. After many months of teaching and dedicated attendance, the Summer stretches before me with no obligations at church. It is a feeling I am still adjusting to, after 7 years of membership.

We first signed the membership book at First U in October of 2003. Our first year of attendance was intense, we took classes, we volunteered for a committee, and we generally immersed ourselves in our new church home. Shortly after we joined, we were pregnant with our second son (just seven months after the death of our first son, Liam). To say it was an intense year is putting it lightly.

Then came June. We had never been to a church that so definitively "closed" for the summer. Oh, services happened, but there was only one, and they were arranged differently. That June, at our first Flower Communion Service (how moving a service), our then Associate Minister exhorted us to go out from the church to "find our holy places" and return restored for the Fall. It was a revelation to say the least.

We took her at her word and left to have our Summer. The most holy space we found came in July, when our second son arrived, healthy and hale. His first baptism were the tears we all shed (delivering doctor included) over his screams of indignation at being forced from his nice warm nest inside mommy. July and August sped by in a blur of happiness, sleeplessness, and confusion.

When September came and Ingathering was upon us, we joyfully re-entered the church as three instead of two. We even had our family portrait taken for his baby book, to commemorate the moment he became a part of this amazing community. We had him dedicated shortly after that.

Since then, we have never really gotten out of the habit of going out in the Summer and "looking for our holy places." June - August has become a time of lazy Sunday mornings, occasional brunches, and family time. I miss my church family, but there is a freedom in each Sunday morning knowing that I have nobody to worry about but my little family.

So, tomorrow is the Flower Communion, and I find that I will be missing one of the services I like the best. Instead of rushing off to services, we will be gathering ourselves to head for my mother-in-law's house to help get her gardens set for the summer. Dirt, flowers, sunshine and family- one of those holy places I look for.

This year, I will get to church a few times before Ingathering in September. Seriously, I will. I promise I won't look up to find that it is August and we haven't been there since May. I will find my holy places, and I will visit my church home and soak in the peace I find there as well. In the meantime, lazy mornings, pancakes, and family are calling.

Go out and find your holy places- dig your toes in the sand, lift your face to the sun, close your eyes and let the sounds wash over you... enjoy Summer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Insomnia is a large part of my life. It is a foe I face daily, sometimes it wins, sometimes I win.

Actually, even on nights when I am plagued with insomnia, sometimes I win. On those nights that I find myself unable to relax, unable to turn of my mind and go to sleep, I have quiet time to reflect and to contemplate. I can pick a topic, meditate on the topic, and sometimes end up with some really great and thought-provoking moments.

Insomnia (at least for me) comes in several versions or flavors. There is the insomnia that won't allow me to fall asleep at bedtime. My mind is racing, my body is jumpy, and I can tell that getting into bed will be an exercise in frustration. I might read for hours, get out of bed and watch tv, or get on the computer and putz around (curse you Facebook).

Then there is what I call secondary insomnia. I go to sleep with little or no trouble. I sleep blissfully for anywhere from an hour to three and then something wakes me up. I might have a strange or bad dream, I might need to go to the bathroom, Connor needs me for something, Drew has a bad dream that wakes me. Suddenly I am awake and no for sure that I am not going to fall asleep again without a real struggle. These are the nights that I have to get out of bed and find things to occupy myself with while I try to get sleepy again, not so easy after what amounts to a power nap.

I have an arsenal of tactics to deal with insomnia. If I am in bed and feel like getting to sleep might be a bit of a struggle I have mind-visualizations that help me to quiet my mind. Basically give it something to work on, that will keep it on a fairly quiet task. This can lead to sleep. Some of my favorites.....

When we were planning to knock down our house and rebuild on the property, we were looking at literally hundreds of house plans. Each week I would pick a few that really caught my attention and if I found myself having trouble sleeping I would walk through these houses in my mind.

Once we settled on a house plan, I would walk through the house in my mind, seeing it complete and decorated, filled with the people and the things that I love.

I am an enthusiastic amateur genealogist and will use my research to help me sleep. I will pick a family line and track it back in my head for as far back as my research has taken me and I can remember without my notes. I will pick one person in that line, or one couple, or one family and I will try to visualize moments from their lives. One ancestor came over on the Mayflower and actually met Squanto, one was a 12 year old girl married to a man much her senior and brought by him to the New World in 1638 (what did she see/smell/hear/think as her foot stepped on the gangplank to leave behind all she knew?).

I am an historian. I will try to imagine what my property was like when my grandparents first saw it 80 years ago, what was it like when the first European saw it, the first Native America, what was it like before then. What were the sounds like, the vegetation, the topography? I will do the same thing to the mountains of North Carolina (where my father's family started in 1740), and the Eastern Shore of Maryland (where my grandfather's family goes back to 1693).

Lately I have been running numbers in my head- strange because I am so abysmal at math. Still, I will pretend I have won some huge lottery and try to figure out how much I would have to invest at what interest rate to secure a comfortable living for the rest of my life. Then I will take the remainder and fantasize about changing the lives of those I love, and those that would benefit.

When all else fails and I have had a few nights of insomnia in a row I will call in the big guns. I might take a Tylenol PM, sip Nyquil, or have a glass of wine. I have a series of things that will help to make me so sleepy at the beginning of the night that I am unlikely to have trouble sleeping through the night. Sometimes, like tonight, a glass of warm milk with a little ginger and honey in it will do the trick.

Yep, insomnia and I are quite familiar with each other. It is a drag, but I try to make it work for me. Most times I find that the ability to exercise my mind in the peace of the middle of the night has its benefits. Still, all the cool thoughts and reading, tv watching, and writing is not worth the lost sleep. Ahhhhh.. to sleep the sleep of the non-insomniac.

Well, off to sip my warm milk and catch up on a little reading. It's 2:09am, maybe I'll get back to sleep before the birds wake up!

Friday, May 21, 2010


What is forgiveness? Is it an active action, can it be passive, does it imply that the "offender" wasn't wrong? I find myself contemplating forgiveness quite a bit lately, and finding myself perplexed by it's presence in my life.

My childhood wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination. Some kids had it much worse, some had it much better, but without hesitation I can say that I had it pretty rough. My parents each came with their troubles and shortcomings and all that had a varying effect on my growing up.

Thankfully, along with the difficulty, I was given amazing amounts of grace. It is that grace that I count when I look back on my life and see where I have ended up. A unique mix of my grandmother, my village, and the friends (and their parents) allowed me to "get above my raisin'" and in a good way.

But, back to forgiveness.....

I have plenty of reason to be very angry at my parents. My mother was a messed up and fractured human being. She had such deep-seated troubles, and was constantly taking it out on those around her. Her way to deal with her disappointments, her fears, and her own mixed up life was to try to destroy those around her. My father, he lived a life that told him not to be weak, don't trust, and don't allow those around you to rely on you. Survival of the fittest was his way of surviving.

I was able to find forgiveness for my mother in trying to understand what motivated her own rage. By examining her life, asking questions of those who knew her growing up, and looking at our relationship as mother and daughter, I was able to find peace in my heart. I was able to see her for the frail human that she was, and to let the anger go in the face of my sorrow for her. It didn't change the wrong she did, did not excuse the inexcusable, but allowed me to have peace and forgiveness for her.

My father was a little more complicated. The wrong he did me seemed much more deliberate, more calculated to hurt. He put himself first, when I felt he had the capacity for doing other. I raged against the wrongs he did, the rights he left undone, and the emotional inability for him to connect the way I wanted. For year we didn't speak and I was content to have it that way.

Then, through a weird alignment of events, I found myself with my father in my home. I saw him for the frail human he is (that we all are). Suddenly, all that anger coupled with the new understanding I had of his life through my genealogy research and I found myself less angry. Over the last several years we have healed our relationship and now hardly a day goes by that we don't talk, and several times a week we see each other. Our relationship has found forgiveness.

So, here is my question... By forgiving someone are you saying that they weren't wrong in your relationship? Are you saying that whatever event that led you to need forgiveness is now null and void? Is it possible to continue to acknowledge the wrong done to you, but allow it to live in the past? Can you look at an individual and see their actions (or lack thereof) in the context of their greater life and allow the peace of today to speak in the place of the pain of yesterday- without saying that yesterday wasn't painful?

I find myself in the curious position of feeling that while my parents did me wrong, I can find peace in my relationship of today. It doesn't change the past, doesn't change the moments that I am that injured young woman who has been profoundly hurt by her parents. For today, I think I have found a place where the love I feel for a man who has been hugely important to me has supplanted the pain I felt when he betrayed me. My sorrow for the little boy he was- betrayed by those he relied on- has given me a peace and understanding I will hold on to, because it is better than anger.

Forgiveness is a far more complex thing than I ever thought possible. It is possible to say "I forgive" without saying, "It's ok what you did." Who knew.....


Freedom came to my cyber-life today in the form of my new Toshiba laptop. I am so beyond thrilled to have the mobility, the freedom, and the functionality. That old desktop was garbage straight out of the box, gave us nothing but grief the whole time we owned it, and I am so not sorry to see it go!

Can't wait to get back to blogging. It was hard to do when the old HP was seizing up, crashing, and generally causing all kinds of headaches. Ahhhhh... freedom!

Friday, February 26, 2010

What were they thinking.

So today was meant to be a stay at home snow day. Apparently Mother Nature didn't get the memo, cause the snow really didn't amount to much. So Connor and I were at home, Drew was working from home, and no plans had been made beyond "play in the snow." Needless to say that by noon we were all a little frayed and Drew needed some time to work in peace and quiet. I thought of open swim at the Y and Connor and I were off.

Usually, open swim on a weekday is a relatively quiet affair. It's a great chance to get in some nice warm water and work on Connor's swimming skills. Connor has a great time, I have something to keep him occupied for an hour or two, it gets us out of the house, and we both get exercise. Generally a win/win. NOT ON A SNOW DAY!!!

Note to self, never, not ever, do I want to go to open swim on a snow day ever again. I thought I was being careful, going in to check the crowd (not too bad) and check in with the front desk to make sure the snow-day camp kids weren't parked in the pools. Not careful enough.

I suppose the first tip off should have been the private changing room strewn with clothing and left open and unavailable for anyone else. Hello- that's what the lockers are for, change in private, store your gear and let someone else enjoy some privacy. Hey, anyone can make a rookie mistake.

Found a private room, got myself and Connor changed and organized and headed to the family locker room. Went to stow our gear in our "regular" locker and on the floor was two pairs of boys sweatpants, inside out, complete with skidded up underwear. Yep, there they were, laying crotch down on the nasty carpet in the locker room (BTW who thought carpet in a public locker room was a good idea). EEEWWW, YUCK, NASTY, GROSS, ICKY!!!! I was beyond grossed out, first at it being left there, and then with the idea that some poor children were going to have that pulled on to there naked tushies. OMG

Finally made it through the unexpected mine field that was the locker room and made it to the pool. Hmmmmm.... much more crowded than I thought it would be. Ah well, we were there so in we went. The crowd wouldn't have been bad except for this one mom and kids (and I am sure they were the nasty pants group). Her boys were bigger than Connor AND had on floaties. They were twins, were rowdy, and mom figured she didn't have to be right on them, since they had floaties on. That trio seemed to follow me everywhere and the kids always seemed to be grabbing at my non-floaty. still learning to swim child. It was unreal.

I called a swift end to swimming- hey 15 minutes was better than no minutes, right? I just wanted to get into and out of the showers and on into the private dressing rooms before the onslaught. Smart me, swift showers were all we had time for. BTW- do all daddies think it is ok to strip their daughters naked in the family locker room? I am still explaining that to Connor.

I know I am fussy, especially when it comes to Connor and crowds. But honestly- dirty underwear on the floor of a public bathroom, near repeated drownings, and birds and the bees showers were just more than I wanted from the snow day.

Yet, as freaked out as I was by the whole experience, I'd do it all again. When I told Connor we were going swimming, he threw his arms around me and declared me the best mommy ever. Yep, worth it all...... But seriously- nasty underwear?????

Monday, February 15, 2010

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda,

Many people spend a great deal of time and energy on the phrase "coulda, woulda, shoulda." The missed opportunities, jobs lost or not taken, friends you lost touch with or didn't meet, that list of things that would have changed your life, if only.

Some people rail against where they are in life, professionally or personally, and think not of where they are but where they "should be." They argue about how life is not how it should be for them. They should have better jobs, older/younger children, bigger houses, better cars, fancier careers. Oh, how life would improve, if only they were where they "should be."

I am going to argue that wherever you are is exactly where you should be at this moment in time. If life is a path we follow and each step is represented by the millions of decisions we have made in our personal history, then your footsteps have brought you here, make the best of it. You can have no effect on your history, it is what it is and no amount of wailing will change it. It is immutable, cast in stone, done and over with. Don't waste your here and now, and therefore your potential future by the "couldas and wouldas."

Examine your history, own your history, acknowledge where choices might have been done differently. That is all good for making sure that the couldas and the wouldas of the here and now are approached with an eye to the future. Use the regrets in your past to make your future because if the past is already set, the future is still so fluid and open.

As I look back on my life I could drown in all the things I would have done differently- worked harder in high school, insisted on college right away, build our house sooner, start a family sooner, the list is truly endless. Yet if I were able to go back and change even one of those choices I would no longer be here, in this place, in this time, living the life I have. Are there lessons I am taking forward to make my future closer to what I dream of? You bet, but I am not wasting this glorious gift of life by bellyaching over what I can't change.

My promise to myself is that each time I find myself wishing something in the here and now were different I will remind myself of all the things I wouldn't trade for all the tea in China. I bet that list will remind me of how lucky I am and how much I have to fight for. Then I will try to be sure that the choices I make today are the best I can make for my future. Each day, I will remind myself that I am exactly where I "should be" and if I don't like it, only I control my couldas and wouldas.

I will own my history, live my present, and dream for my future. I will do everything in my power to make the world a little better for my having been in it. At the end of my days I don't want to worry about the coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Splinters and Planks

There is a post going around Facebook these days related to the continuing crisis in Haiti (well there are many statuses related, but one that has really gotten me thinking). I have seen it on several friends status updates, and I won't name any names. Here is the text:

America: the only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment - yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations. 99% of people won't have the balls to copy and repost this.

My first reaction was quite visceral, literally a punch to the gut. How could anyone resent aid sent to a country like Haiti. Even before the earthquake they were the poorest and most beleaguered country in the West. The government is so corrupt and incompetent that they couldn't handle the day-to-day needs of the country, let alone one in the throws of a devastating earthquake. Now the people of Haiti must literally dig themselves out of a hole even deeper than the one they were in before 60 - 90% of buildings in the affected areas came tumbling down on their heads.

At first I had my personal reaction, knew I would be part of the 99% that would not re-post this and moved on with my day. However, my mind kept coming back to this statement and how sad it was. Some of it is so true. Think of the daily suffering in the United States. There are homeless that freeze to death, families losing their homes, people losing jobs, tough medical decisions being made due to lack of insurance. Where was the telethon for the housing crisis, the unemployed, the homeless, seniors? Do we only see the suffering of others?

Last night, while trying to fall back asleep around 2am (insomnia is great for creativity), I thought of an old saying- "Take care of the plank in your own eye before you worry about the splinter in my eye." It is a great lesson in life. Spend your energy getting your big troubles and worries cared for before looking after me and my concerns. Frequently it applies quite well to life and should be thought of when you are expending enormous energy on someone else's troubles when your own life is falling apart. It doesn't apply here. While I agree that the problems the United States deals with may be plank-in-the-eye like, Haiti is dealing with far more than a splinter, far more than a plank. Haiti has been efficiently dismembered and left to die in the sun. Maybe our plank can wait while we help those less fortunate literally pick up the pieces of their homes, their loved ones, and their lives.

After all, are we bulldozing tens of thousands of Americans into poorly dug mass graves because there is no other solution? Are hundreds of thousands of our children looking into the abyss of orphan hood and street life? How many tens of thousands of our fellow countrymen have we dug out of collapsed buildings this week? Is 60% of New York City laying in ruin? Is our government so notorious for its corruption that most people in the world have little trust in it? Is a basic concern for us all safe drinking water? No, even the most unfortunate among us has access to help if they look for it.

We do look after the plank in our eye. We have shelters, food closets, welfare, food stamps, charity drives, clothes closets, Adopt-a-Family, free medical clinics, Planned Parenthood, churches, and so much more. We help by giving money to our churches, at the grocery store checkout we can donate to feed the needy, take canned goods to local food drives, we pay income tax, volunteer at shelters, make meals for soup kitchens, the list is endless. That shouldn't stop because at this moment in time we are asked to offer help to people facing a life of hardship that the poorest of us would see as beyond devastating.

For those that truly believe in that Facebook post, I hope you put your money where your mouth is and do all you can (financially and physically) to take care of America's "plank." If you really believe that we don't have the resources or the moral and humanitarian obligation to help anyone else, your free to feel that way and act accordingly. For me and my house, we are fed, clothed, warm, dry, healthy and safe. In a word we are blessed. I will continue to do all I can to help those in need in my own country, but in this time and on this day, I will find something in my personal life to sacrifice so I can help my fellow man. If one Haitian child goes to bed fed, warm, and safe that makes it worth it to me.

So there it is, my thoughts and musings on a thought-provoking Facebook post.