Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Think On This: A Meditation for Today

"The Zen approach to thought is to acknowledge rather than deny it. Thoughts given control can block your creativity and ability to communicate. Engage the thoughts with a lightness and playfulness, with an attitude that they don't have power over you - help them move along." www.thingstobehappyabout.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We Are All A Piece of The Puzzle: Wisdom From The Kid

This morning I drove The Kid around, just to get him out of the house to get a break from his long weekend filled with Bronchitis and coughing and sleepless nights, and, today, another day home sick.

It rained and the windshield wipers set their own rhythm, and we watched the changing scenery driving aimlessly about our town, watching the snow quickly melting, revealing surprising tufts of deep green grass; an unexpected contrast to a few small piles of bright, white snow. As we moved, simply changing our scenery, The Kid's questions and contemplations poured out: "The one thing is, the one thing they just can't answer, is the most important question of all: 'How did it all begin?' Life that is. They say it's the Big Bang theory. But, what made the rocks that banged together in the first place. People keep asking and wondering, but we just really don't know. It fascinates me to think how small we are. A mansion, that seems huge, but in the whole Universe, it's just tiny. I'm tiny. I'm really just one small puzzle piece that is connected to all the larger pieces in the Universe."

Think On This: A Meditation for Today

"Do not crave material pleasures and then cry for your loss."

41 and a Half

I haven't really thought about why it's been so long since I've last written. If I pause, or, rather, just let my thoughts flow while my fingers fly across the keys....mostly, it's because I've gone inward more this past year and a half. I've been less willing to share my thoughts and processing, even with those near and dear. Sometimes, I've fallen out of touch with my own thoughts and processing, taking in too much of what's going on around me; what other's think, what others are doing, what other's are buying, what other's think I should think and do and buy. It's overwhelming sometimes to feel that I'm surrounded by other's energy that doesn't quite match my own, doesn't quite resonate with my values...yet, what are my values, these days? What do I value? What is of value? How do I value? Where do I place value?

I suppose in some ways I've grown quite, in response. I've tried to go inward to gather a sense of my own direction, my own energy, my own way. In small ways, I've been shifting and changing, or, perhaps better put trying to shift and change. It has felt like a slow, unceremonious process. Nothing big happening; nothing extraordinary taking place. Yet I feel, internally, in the quiet, extremely shy and sometimes shaky and dimly lit places of my psyche, that I am making a slow way to change. But, there is no clear direction, yet; rather, a process of some sort, slowly in motion. A quiet, steady internal movement towards something.....a new way of being? Yes, that's it. A hope for a lighter, clearer, more joyful way of living.

It feels glacier paced, this process, and I am quite often impatient and irritable at my own process, of striving for--exactly what--other than change, I am not entirely sure. But, change is a strive worthy existential experience (I quietly tell myself). At times, it feels a bit daunting, this process, and, other times, a bit ridiculous. I suppose though, being extremely honest with myself, that I have to admit that I like that life often rolls out in this manner--sometimes unclear, yet, in the same instance, filled with possibilities--the ironies and clarities of living daily life.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Official 4-0

It's 1:54 am, Central Time, and I've just hung up the phone after talking with one of my best friends, my first birthday call of the day, marking the official change from one decade to another. It is a Happy Day, and I am one fortunate, blessed person.
People have been asking me what it feels like to turn 40, and I have to say, that in the best possible of ways, I feel that my age fits me--I am the most comfortable I've ever been in my own skin. I feel at peace with where I am in my life, with where I've been, and with moving forward in my life. I know that I am blessed to have my family and friends in my life, and I am filled with gratitude for where I have arrived in my life.
Earlier today (or, officially, yesterday), I surprised The Kid and took him out to lunch at a local kid's restaurant that serves its food in baskets traveling atop a children's train set. He has been wanting to visit this place for a while and, as the beginning of school looms right around the corner, today seemed like the perfect day to take a break and eat out. Lots of kids come to this particular restaurant to celebrate their birthdays, as the restaurant gives each birthday child a free, homemade cupcake topped with frosting, sprinkles, and a train whistle and a lit candle on top.  You cannot top that.

Once we ordered our lunch, The Kid immediately decided on his dessert--a homemade cupcake, with homemade frosting, sprinkles and a train whistle. Yes, that was what he wanted. Then, suddenly, he realized it was the day before my birthday and he encouraged me to ask if adults could also get a cupcake for their birthday. And, after much pleading from The Kid, I finally asked our waitress. Soon enough, a pink frosted cupcake, topped with a pink candle, came gliding down the track inside a yellow basket riding on the train. To accompany my birthday treat, the restaurant played "Happy Birthday To You" on their stereo. The Kid thought it was funny, and so did I, though I was a tiny bit embarrassed, and so was he. But, we quickly got over it, as everyone knows homemade frosting helps you with that. So, we each ate our cupcake, and when he was through, The Kid took a quarter he'd been carrying around for a while over to the gumball machines. So, I sat thinking about how special this moment was; a spontaneous lunch with my 7 year old son, on the last day in my 30's. Suddenly, The Kid snuck up behind me, interrupting my thoughts, and handed me a tiny, plastic shell. "Here Mom," he said shyly,  "I got this for you. Open it." I did, only to find an adorable, white, plastic star ring complete with a black smiley face painted on the front of the star and a black hair bow on top of the star's "head." When he saw how much I loved it, The Kid leaned in to give me a hug and said, "This is for you Mom. I love you so much. I was trying to decide if I was going to get myself something, or if I was going to get you something, and I decided to get you something for your birthday."

This plastic, star shaped ring is now my new, very most favorite piece of jewelry, ever.

Happy Birthday to Me, indeed.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How Time Flies

So, it's been several months since my last post, and here's what's been happening:

*The Kid has finished first grade, and, is now an "official, almost" second-grader. I can't believe how fast the time flew. We are so proud of him, and are constantly in awe of how much he's grown and learned. In fact, school starts again in just a few weeks. Until then, we are squeezing in as much summer fun as possible.

*I've started my own small business, designing and hand making jewelry, a long time passion and love of mine. It's been an exciting, energizing, and challenging process. I'm also still working at my part-time job, as well. It has taken lots of time to get things set up behind the scenes, as well as to get my designs made, and out there. There is still more work to go, as this business is a work in progress. All in all, it fells good to be putting my focus, time and energy into my own business.

*Aqua Man and I celebrated our 11th Anniversary this May, and wow has it been a bit of a wild ride these past two years: another relocation, adjusting to a whole new schedule, changing careers. This past year was much better in so many ways, and quite hard in some areas. Both of us feel grateful that we are still making our way together. The hard times have revealed where we need to put our focus on getting stronger and working better as a team. The good times have revealed that we still have a great time together.

*In June, one of my best friends came out for a visit and we were able to spend lots of quality time together; something that is a real treat since she lives on the other side of the map! Lots of good talks, laughter, and good eats.

*In July, we had an amazing family vacation with my hubbie's side of the family. It was so good to see everyone, and to have down time together as a family, as it has been about two years since we've been on vacation together.

*Lastly, turning 40 is just around the corner for me! I'm grateful for my health, my family, and my friends, and I continue to look at where I've been, and where I'm heading. I'm looking forward to this new decade.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Flashback Friday JAM: Big Audio Dynamite- The Bottom Line, 1985

 (This video is embedded, and I couldn't get the code to post it. If you want to watch it, click through to You Tube.)

Okay, this song has been playing in my mind all week long (and, here's the official video on You Tube). I don't know why it suddenly emerged from my memory, but I love it. When I listen to this song, I can see my record, the album cover, the turntable that I had in my room, and even the posters that I had on my wall. This song just brings back great memories of laughing and hanging out with friends. 

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Indie Night Out: Meeting Children's Author Jon Scieszka!

NY Times Image, 2008
Last night, our local Indie Bookstore held a book-signing with children's author Jon Scieszka, and we decided to all go see him. The Kid likes Jon Scieszka's "Trucktown Smash! Crash!" books and is also just a huge fan of storytelling and writing his own stories, so we thought this would be really cool. Well, it was an awesome experience. Jon Scieszka was a really f-u-n-n-y, good-hearted, down-to-earth guy, and The Kid was totally inspired by meeting him (and, me and Aqua Man, too)!

To top the night off, The Kid had two of his new books autographed, and plenty of time to chat with Mr. Scieszka while he was signing his books. The Kid told him all about the stories he wants to write, and about a story that he's already written and illustrated on our MAC computer. It's a story heavy with knights, battles, and lots of action. After asking lots of questions about The Kid's story, Mr. Scieszka then decided to sign the following inscriptions, "To The Kid-My Fellow Writer!" and "To The Kid-My New Favorite Writer of "--- ------- -- ------!" (The Kid says it's top secret, so I can't tell you the title. Stay tuned though, I have a feeling you may be reading his book one day:)

I haven't had much time to knock around his website, but check it out if you can:


Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So Much Time

Recently The Kid's school hosted an Open-House night where he was able to take us through his class room, and show us all of the cool things that he has been working on in first grade. The Kid was equally excited about this night, not only to show off all of his hard work, but because all of the kids would be given the chance to visit other classrooms to check them out. This meant that The Kid would be able to check out the "big kid rooms," including Sixth Grade! That's right, I said, SIXTH GRADE!!! This was going to be the highlight of his week. We arrived at school, and The Kid took us straight to his room, running from area to area, so proud and excited about what he'd been learning. We were able to see his desk, his folder of work, the classroom fish, the caterpillars they had just received for their new science unit, the math projects, and a cool mural that all of the first graders painted just for this special night. After showing us all of this, a bit breathless, The Kid declared, "Okay, that's it! Mom, Dad, let's go check out the other rooms!" So began "the room previews." First we stopped in the second grade classrooms, then down the hall to all three sixth grade classrooms, then to the two fifth grade classrooms, and then back to first grade, this time visiting the other class rooms. We definitely covered it all. And, in each room he would walk around, checking out the desks, the projects, taking it all in. Over all, he decided that it all seemed pretty cool, and do-able, like, "Hey! Sixth graders have a class pet, too. Wow, just like us."

With the approaching end of the year, and the experience of the Open House, The Kid has really been thinking about what's coming next. So when we were sitting down eating lunch the other day, The Kid and I had the following conversation:

The Kid: "Mom, this summer, when people ask me what grade I'm in, what do I tell them? I mean I won't be a first grader anymore, but I'm not really a second grader, yet"

Me: "Well, you can tell them that you are starting second grade in the fall."


Me: "You know, I can't believe that you are finishing first grade, and heading into second grade next year. What happened to that little baby you used to be?!"

The Kid: "Mom! Well, you had a A LOT of days with me when I was a baby. You had to first go through 2003, then 2004, then 2005, then 2006, then 2007, then 2008, then 2009, and now it's 2010. And, here I am!!"
Yes, all of those days. Days I sat and held you, rocked you, fed you, took you to parks, play-groups, classes, the beach, and on and on and on. I am thankful for each and everyone of those days we had together. And, for each day and experience we have together now, as you grow, change, and become more and more your own amazing person.

I look back at all of the time that has passed, the beginning of our time together, and I am content that, when I look at your baby pictures, I can remember what it felt like to hold you, your weight in my arms, your baby smell, and then all of the exciting moments that followed. For sure, every day wasn't easy, or perfect, or wonderful. For sure, the joy and expansion of love in my life couldn't have been known. And, I am thankful for every hour, every day, every week, every month, and every year that I have been your mom; the joy, the tears, all of it. So much time. And how fast the time goes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flashback Friday JAM: INXS, Need You Tonight - 1987

Oh 80's music, I still love you so. 

INXS, you so rocked. You were a favorite back-in-the-day-80's-band of mine. Hope you enjoy this Flashback JAM.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thought for Wednesday

"Meditate on forgiveness for yourself: There are many ways that I have betrayed, harmed, or abandoned myself through thought, word, or deed, knowingly or unknowingly. For each of the ways I have hurt myself through action or inaction, out of my fear, pain, and confusion, I now extend a full and heartfelt forgiveness. I forgive myself." www.thingstobehappyabout.com

This was the first thing that I read this morning, and the idea of reflecting on self-forgiveness really struck me as important and liberating. I can imagine that we perhaps, more easily, extend forgiveness to others, but don't easily extend forgiveness to ourselves. I'm going to think on this one today, for sure. Enjoy your Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Young Love Pasta Salad

More than a decade ago, Aqua Man had me over to his house for lunch. When I arrived he had just finished making us pasta salad, so we sat together, eating at his kitchen table, and talking. Back then, whenever we saw each other, we couldn't help but smile and talk with one another. We would spend time talking about ideas, creativity, and writing. Writing, writing, always talk of writing and language and expression. This first lunch together was no exception. I had known Aqua Man for just under a year, and increasingly looked forward to seeing him, to listening to him, to being heard by him, to being seen by him. Sitting together, at his kitchen table--a table that later we would move into the first place that we would share together, the beginning of a life that we would build together, that has so far spanned three different states, eight moves, starting our family, changing jobs and careers, and (re)examining and (re)defining our dreams and goals--we ate together. Not knowing that all of this was to come, or perhaps, at some level, knowing that all of this was to come. And that pasta salad tasted like the most amazing meal I had ever eaten in my life.

Back then, we were both finishing our degrees; I was beginning my Master's degree and Aqua Man was finishing his Ph.D. We lived in a small midwestern college town where each of us had our own place, and each of us could actually afford to rent our own house (a whole house!) and pay for it from combinations of graduate stipends and student loans. I remember Aqua Man's house as a modest, older, somewhat worn down, white framed home not unlike many things that were worn down in that small midwestern college town. Though it is only now, when I revisit pictures from my past, that I see that things were a bit worn down, and shabby. Back then, through my younger eyes, I saw my surroundings as magical and beautiful, unaware of any drabness.

I remember the first time I drove to Aqua Man's house to meet him for that pasta salad lunch. I can still hear the sound of my car tires crunching on his gravel driveway, seeing his unkept side gardens, wild with weeds and flowers, pressing towards the sun, escaping through the side walk cracks. I remember walking up that sidewalk to his back door and knocking, my pulse quickening, wondering what lie on the other side. I remember seeing Aqua Man's face when he opened the door, his bright smile and vivid blue eyes welcoming me in, as he swung his screen door open, inviting me into his home, his life. I remember that first step over his doorstep, slowly swinging my eyes over the scenery, taking in all of the little details, the decorations, the declarations, that expressed who he was. That day seems so long ago, yet not so far away. In so many ways, I feel so different from that young woman from so long ago; in so many ways I feel so similar to that young woman. In so many ways, Aqua Man and I are so different from those young people from so long ago; in so many ways, Aqua Man and I are still so similar to those two young people from so long ago.

Over the years, Aqua Man has come up with different versions of his Pasta Salad, and that's one of the things I love most about it. It's ever changing, dependent upon his mood, the layout of the kitchen itself,  and the farmer's market or grocery store that we can frequent. Sometimes he uses Bow Tie Pasta, other times, Penne or Cork Screw Pasta. Usually he puts in carrots and Garbonzo Beans, but not always. Sometimes there are Black Olives and Red Peppers in his pasta salad. Sometimes he makes his own dressing, playing with new combinations of spices. Other times Marinated Artichoke Hearts add to the flavor of the dressing. Of all the ways that he changes his recipe, his pasta salad is always delicious and always brings back memories of when we first met: memories of Spring, of what had been quietly going on below, unrecognized, unaware, all of those years ago, below the surface of our surrounding landscape, and in our lives. His pasta salad always reminds me of when we fell in love.

Aqua Man hasn't cooked in a long time, but he has been cooking again these past couple of days. And, one of the first things he made was his pasta salad. This time, I shopped for the ingredients, bringing him options of things he might, or might not use, and left him to create in the kitchen. He made lasagna and stuffed shells, and then his pasta salad. And, when he brought me the first bite, in a small sample bowl, it tasted new and familiar, comforting and surprising, all in the same bite, and I smiled. We both filled our bowls, and sat together, eating. With each bite I remembered when we first fell in love, so long ago, not knowing that all of this was to come, or perhaps, at some level, knowing that all of this was to come.

Not knowing, though, that we would end up in that specific moment together. Still not knowing where it will all lead, or how it will all end up, because know one knows the answer to that. So we sit at the kitchen table that is now ours, in the home we share together, in our life, in the family that we have built, together. And that pasta salad tasted like the most amazing meal I have ever eaten in my life.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Friday!

This beautiful Tulip arrived in full bloom, in our side garden, just yesterday. It has amazing colors, and in person it is almost overwhelming, it is so bright, so saturated. And, FYI, I didn't photoshop this picture. This is just Mother Nature, and her mad skills, coming at you.

Wishing everyone a great weekend!

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Blooms

The Kid and I have been waiting and watching, everyday for about two weeks, for a bunch of red tulips to bloom. Each day, as we come and go, we check on the buds, only to see just a hint of red. 

Then one morning, suddenly, there were vibrant blooms that had popped open all around the side garden of our house.

When The Kid first saw these flowers he yelled out, excited that they were finally here, and that the colors were so bright.

It amazes me that The Kid feels so connected to nature, and I love seeing how he is aware of what is growing all around him. 

I must admit, when I finally saw these blooms, I yelled a bit, too. Nature is just so cool.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Glowing Review

A couple of weeks ago, Aqua Man was out of town, traveling on back to back business trips. During the times that Aqua Man is out of town, especially during longer trips, I try to shake things up around dinner time as this is usually when The Kid starts to feel tired from his day, and misses his dad the most. On this particular night, The Kid was helping me get dinner together, when I suddenly decided that we would eat dinner in the family room, while watching TV, while sitting on the carpet. It would be like a little family room picnic, which is an experience reserved for "Movie Night" which usually takes place on the weekends. Did you see what I did there? I shook things up! Well, The Kid was very enthusiastic about this idea. He jumped up and down, and gave me a huge hug. And when we sat down to eat together, he settled into his spot on the carpet, put his plate on the coffee table, looked me right in the eyes, and said, "You are the best mom, ever. And, mom, listen. It's not because you're letting me watch TV, but because you take care of me, you get me good food from the grocery store, and you make me great dinners. Seriously, you are the best mom. Ever."

Okay, I know he was excited by the twist in plans. I know that watching TV, while eating, while having a weekday "floor picnic" was the impetus for this emotional outpouring, but, it was really touching. So, I told him that out of all the things I do, I care most about trying to be the best mom that I can be. And The Kid said, "Mom, you're doing it even better than you're trying to do."

Wow, now that's a glowing review.