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A working professional and part-time writer, full-time Mom and modern day Alice in Wonderland...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Chasing Success and Getting Lost Among the Momeraths

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"

Day 753 March 30, 2016 

Prompt: Why are we conditioned into the strawberry and cream, Mother Goose world, Alice in Wonderland fable, only to be broken on the wheel as we grow older and become aware of ourselves as individuals with a dull responsibility in life? Sylvia Plath.  What is your take on this?

The brilliance of Plath’s tormented insight has been revealed to me more and more I as age.  The way in which she viewed the world around her and her place in it, was remarkably developed and venerable for someone so young. She tragically bore the “dull responsibility” in life for as long as she could and I think of her struggle often these days. Writing, I hope, brought her some respite from those dark hours.  I know that it does that for me sometimes.  I think I agree that we, young girls in particular, are conditioned with fairytales and fables. I think they are far less a staple of growing up than they used to be.  I believe the collective conscious of today crafts warrior princesses who do the rescuing, brave girls who engineer and invent and young minds who solve problems and tote the motto, #smartisthenewcool.  I like to think mothers today raise girls who have a confidence and a vision for themselves and like me, look for the real life lessons in those old Mother Goose stories. Also, I’m not sure I see myself as an individual with a “dull responsibility in life”.  There are days of drudgery of course, but those days don’t carry the script of my existence.  Have I been broken on the wheel? Absolutely. Several times over at certain points in my life…but for each “down” there has always been a resounding “up”.  Becoming an individual is the beauty of the journey, with all its vivid pain and joy. The times when I have been broken, have allowed me to grow into something more. I love Alice and I wish sometimes the world was more “Wonderland” but one can only get lost among the mome raths for so long before having to grow up.  I know that and I make sure my daughter does too. I might not be able to spare her the wheel but I can do my best to prepare her for it.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "

DAY 1232: March 30, 2016 

Prompt: What does success mean to you?

Success is something I think a lot about. My type A personality tells me that the more power and authority I have in my career, the more successful I will be.  I am driven, at times, beyond my own real ambitions I think. If I were to consider the question of what success legitimately means to me, I think my actual opinion would be far less lofty and almighty.  I would like to have recognition for my accomplishments in a very male dominated industry.  I would like my contributions to the company to be acknowledged among my peers in that industry. I would like to be seen as someone who “knows their stuff” and who’s opinion and insight matters.  Do I need to be CEO?  Some days it is easy to get lost in that fantasy but truth be told, I don’t want to sacrifice all that I would need to in order to be a good CEO. Having the finances to make home improvements, send my daughter to piano lessons and summer science camps and to take that annual vacation…that’s a more attainable way to define my success. I think just being able to live life as full as one can, with as much contentment as possible and without the stress of surviving from paycheck to paycheck, I think that makes us successful. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 747 March 24, 2016
Prompt: What did you love about Easter as a child? How do you feel about Easter now that you're older?

I have mixed feelings about Easter now. I remember waking up to our Easter baskets as children, with the day-glo colored plastic grass and big-eared chocolate bunnies. I remember hunting for brightly colored eggs in the yard with my brothers and sisters too. I also remember the church services. The time of Easter marked some of the most memorable services of my childhood.

I loved the somberness of Ash Wednesday, seeing the people leaving the service, their foreheads bearing the smear of black ash that meant they were observant and holy. Palm Sunday was another favorite service of mine. The priest would hand out the wispy palm fronds to all the adults and children and his sermon would tell the story of how Jesus entered the city walls while the crowd cheered and waved the fronds in welcome. If you are a child of a catholic family, you know how quickly that welcomed soured and how the story of the savior became the Messiah's trial and tribulation in order to save all God's children. If you grew up catholic, you know about the crown of thorns, the bite of the whip and the blood on Pontius Pilate's hands. A catholic can not celebrate Easter without first observing the twelve stations of the cross and without raising their eyes to Golgotha where Jesus died in agony for the sins of man. Easter Sunday service brings light in the wake of that darkness. The stone is rolled back from the empty tomb and Jesus is revealed as the savior, resurrected to sit at the right hand of the Holy Father. The service is marked by celebratory singing, by smiling children and uplifting words.

As an adult, Easter agitates me as a lapse catholic. As I color eggs with my daughter and fill Easter baskets, I know there is a deeper meaning, a spiritual connection that should be recognized and celebrated. I know I should be taking her to mass and educating her on the religious important of day that has been commercialized much as Christmas has been. I know I should take myself to church. I know that even as someone who has become disconnected from the church of my childhood, there is still something essentially good and pure about reconnecting to God through the familiar prayers and being bathed in the light that filters through the stained glass depictions of Jesus, Mary and the apostles. My catholic upbringing built a connection in my heart to something bigger, something mysterious, a higher power. I may have distanced myself from the catholic church, but there will always be a connection for me there.

I try to convey that connection to my daughter. At six, and a child of mixed faith parents, she is full of questions and observations. My husband and I try to find the common core of our childhood faiths, the place where Islam and Christianity overlap. We teach her there is one God and that to him we are accountable. For God we live a good life, we are kind, we are forgiving and we are thankful for the blessing we are given. She is growing with faith in her heart. This year I began to talk more about the true meaning behind Christmas. We talked about the baby in the manger and the star that told the world about his birth. That story is much easier to tackle than that of Easter with its complexity of the life, death and the Resurrection. For now, we will teach her Easter is about coming together with family, about celebrating love and new life and giving thanks to one God for all those blessings.

Blogging Circle of Friends
DAY 2226: March 24, 2016
prompt: how important are your dreams? do they serve a purpose? do you dream each and every night?n if you do why don't you always remember them? how about a story, poem, rant or rave about this.

I used to be plagued by the same violent nightmare in my youth, all the way into my college years. Even now, if I dream, I rarely remember them. The nightmare eventually stopped in my adulthood and my subsequent dreams seemed so mundane in comparison that I can hardly recall more than one or two that seemed vivid enough to remember. Occasionally I have a dream where I am losing my teeth or I am falling. I know these dreams must represent something significant if I would take the time to look them up. Honestly though I do not put a lot of stock in dreams. I think they are an active mind's cleaning service, sweeping out the bits of collected observation and memory we no longer need. They are widely open to misinterpretation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Grammar Rules in Blogging and Sounds of Spring

Blogging Circle of Friends
Winter and summer are two seasons that have songs clearly associated with the time period. But are there any songs that remind you of spring? Share with us a song with a YouTube link in your blog.


I had to think about this for a minute...Spring is one of the lesser acknowledged seasons lyrically I think. For me, Blind Melon's "No Rain" is one song that always makes me think of that season. It is most likely due to the references of rain and puddles, which I always associate with Spring. It may also be the images in the video of the band members playing on green, sunlight hillsides. And if you were alive in the 90's, who among us doesn't hear the riffs and think, "dancing bumblebee girl"? The whole thing is catchy and breezy. That would be my pick for Spring song.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
DAY 745 March 22, 2016
Prompt: Rabindranath Tagore said in Sadhana, “When we come to literature, we find that, though it conforms to the rules of grammar, it is yet a thing of joy; it is freedom itself.” How much do you think literature, with fiction or poetry, should stick to the rules of grammar? Or should it, at all?

This is a tough one. I tend to bend the rules of grammar a lot in my blogs and free writing but I really polish the heck out of anything I'm sending out to publish. I think when you are writing for an audience, you have to respect the rules of grammar as much as you can without losing your creativity and artistic edge. I would hate for a reader to miss something important about a piece because they are tripped up by bad grammar and mistakes. I don't write poetry but I imagine those rules must be more relaxed. Artists been the rules all the time with lyrics, which are basically a form of poetry, as a method for getting a song to work well. I think it ultimately it depends on what you are writing. I think literature demands a higher standard whereas poetry and blogs should be allowed some leeway in the interest of keeping it authentic. Blogging for me is a very raw, real time activity designed to keep my creativity flowing and I can't worry to much about being grammatically correct. I do spell check my entries though. I think writers should respect the words they work with and misspelling is an unnecessary but using extra commas (I do that A LOT) and mixing tense or using different syntax to convey emotions and otherwise taking grammatical liberties is just fine when blogging or free form writing. At least I feel that way.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Racing White Rabbits

The prompt in one of my blogging groups this morning was about Alice in Wonderland. Normally I would have jumped on that, after all, Alice is my favorite literary character and a reliable source of inspiration. The last few days however, my brain feels like its filled with dirty clouds. My thoughts are a jumbled mess of particles and I feel myself oscillating between a deep belly anger and a crushing depression. Pressure...its that underlying pressure to be both not something, and be more of something else. I want to be selfish. I want to say "fuck you" out loud to the critics and the people who are always so quick to villianize me. I don't though. I just absorb, absorb and absorb it. I throw open the doors a little wider, expose a more productive vein and say, "go ahead, take even more away." Then I go off alone and tell myself I'm not crazy. I tell myself I'm just keeping the peace and that it doesn't really matter as long as it makes everything better. Rambling, now I'm rambling, and what I should do is just delete this mess and write something witty about Alice and call this assignment "done". Check and Mark. But, the assignment didn't come out of me today...this did. Whatever THIS is. I made a commitment to myself and to this craft, to always be authentic and not self-censor - no matter what it exposes me too. Even if something I write plunges me all of a sudden into an unwelcome drama that leaves me feeling isolated and misaligned. Even if the things I write make me think for a minute about not writing anymore at all. I think about that a lot lately. I think about closing the blogs, withdrawing the submissions, closing the trackers...just hanging it up. Who does it even matter to? That question blinks back at me from my screen, stark in electric ink. Even as I type the question, I hear the answer in my head...in my heart. Me. It matters to me. It matters to my muse, my Alice, my racing white rabbit and all those deep, dark holes that beckon.

....so, what I will do is turn up Jack White and bury myself in the endless stream of work stress that is chronically parked outside my office door. What I will do is let this blog become part of the literary landscape...a steeper dip in the rolling coaster. What I will do is shove it all back down, because there is always something else I could be doing better for someone else. I can't afford to be distracted by my own feelings for too long.

Friday, March 11, 2016

I remember growing up my parents never let us quit anything, at least not without a credible reason. My brothers and sisters were into sports but I gravitated toward other pursuits, some of which turned out to be more challenging than I thought they would be. My parents were pretty good about saying "yes" to things I really wanted to do. Except for the "whole cage diving with great whites" request I made as a senior in high school...that one was immediately and resoundingly vetoed. But they did let me get my scuba certification as soon as I turned 15. I was the youngest in the class of mostly adults. In my part of the world, scuba lessons ultimately cumulated in an open water dive in typically choppy, and always murky bays of long island sound. I remember the day and how cold and raw it was. I was the last one to go in the final exercise of my certification, which was removing my weight belt - holding it free in one hand and then replacing it around my waist. It sounds fairly simple but by the time I went, the chop had kicked up and even just below the surface, I felt like I was being tossed around by vengeful ocean gods. My fingers felt like frozen sausages in my gloves as I fumbled to latch the belt. It slipped off time and time again before I could. It was the first time I thought, I can't do this but I refused to be the only person that didn't pass, especially with my family watching. So, I hung with it and eventually got it back on. It took me several attempts and by the time I finished my arms ached and I was exhausted. The instructor admitted when we surfaced that he had been ready to call the lesson, it had just gotten too rough. It would have been so disappointing if he had.

In my house now, we have a "no quit" policy in place too. This past Thursday my daughter's school had an event at the local roller rink. At first my daughter had no interest in skating but then once she was there, her interest was piqued and she asked me to rent her skates. We laced them up, got her a plastic skate buddy to support her, and she was off. Almost. She quickly became frustrated. She couldn't figure out how to transfer her weight and get a forward momentum. She watched the other kids with big, tearful eyes. She struggled, she fell. She cried some more. She adamantly declined my offers to don skates myself and go with her. By the time I took her aside, she was red-faced and heartbroken. I asked her if she wanted to take a little break and try again in a few minutes. She shook her head. "I have to get this," she told me, brushing at the tear tracks with the back of her hand. She started off again, into the throng of skaters, toward her friends. I watched her from the sidelines, resisting the urge to dash across in my heels to help her up when she fell or throw myself in the path of a whizzing skaters who threatened to collide with her. Instead, I stayed put, grateful for every skating parent and older classmate who stopped to help her or give her some tips. I saw her connect with a group of her friends, most of whom were also just learning. They moved together, an awkward but determined cluster. Slowly, I saw Jaden being to "get it". She figured out how to move forward, to turn and by the end of the night, she was crisscrossing the rink behind her skate buddy frame, full of smiles. It was a proud moment, knowing quitting hadn't been an option for her. She showed grit and determination and as a reward, she had a blast. She's already bugging us to go again. The next step is to move away from using the skate buddy and skate freely on her own. Knowing my daughter, I imagine she's already got to do just that.

And now for the day's actual prompts:

Blogging Circle of Friends
DAY 1213 March 11, 2016
Do vacations help you relax or stress you out?

Vacations as a child were a mixed bag. I remember driving to Florida in the back of an unreliable station wagon with my siblings which translates into the opposite of "relaxation". There was also that trip in the Winnebago where we got stuck in a campground in the pouring rain and my little sister got sick and ended up throwing up strawberry yoohoo all afternoon. I give my parents credit that we even had more than one family vacation. However, I remember the trip to St Thomas and the lovely afternoon we all spend snorkeling in turquoise waters and feeding schools of yellow and white banded fish. Family vacations are maybe more about grabbing those good moments and making memories rather than "relaxing". Even our own family trip to Disney was far more stressful than I imagined. It was a long day of picking rides and waiting in lines, finding something she would eat in the park that wasn't sugar-based and keeping it together waiting along hundreds of screaming, tired children after one of the boats went out of service. There were moments though, back at the house when we could sit by the pool and let her play, where we relaxed. It made up for the frantic bustle of the Magic Kingdom, which by 3:30pm, hadn't seemed all that magical to me.

Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise
DAY 734 March 11, 2016
Some personalities are high energy all the time, others so low energy you wonder if they're awake. Where do you think you fall on that spectrum and why?

Most days I feel like I fall dead center on the energy spectrum. I think it depends on the time of day too. If I get enough sleep, I tend to be a morning person. I enjoy waking up early, taking the dog out before the sun. That quiet time of early dawn makes me feel open and engaged. I envy high energy people, they seem to operate with limitless reserves.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sentimental Spring and Electronic Ink

I have watched the blog assignments and prompts go by the last few days...and just been unable to move myself off center. Recently something I wrote upset someone deeply and even though it was written from a perspective that was authentic and true, it still bothered me that something I wrote caused emotional distress. This isn't the first time and I'm certain it won't be the last but it gave me pause and stalled my creative discipline while I considered the fallout from writing in such an unscripted and raw way, as is the nature and very design of blogging. I think when I write this way it's for myself and not for a submission, not for a publisher's consumption and it becomes like a form of therapy. I don't think about people actually reading it or being interested in reading it. I guess I feel like its a kind of literary ambient noise, its just out there in the background. The truth is...words have power. I should remember that, not for the purposes of self-censorship because that would make me unauthentic as a writer, but to understand that my writing something, putting something out there gives it life in some form and that reality comes with responsibilities to address any issues or emotions it may evoke. It may start with electronic ink but it may need to continue with something more. And now for the prompts...

Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise
Day 733 March 10, 2016
Prompt: Write about the word sentimental.

I think overall I'm a sentimental person and I think that gets me into trouble sometimes. I attach sentimentality where I shouldn't at times. My sentimentality has made me an enabler in the past, which isn't good. Feeling sentimental about something or someone can cloud judgment. It can also been endearing too. My grandmother talks about her past, sentimental insights from being a young girl during WWII, about being a poet, a dancer...the sentiments give her memories a glow that is warm and touching, they engage you and involve you in those times. In the right terms and in the right hands, sentimentality can be a beautiful thing more often than not.

Blogging Circle of Friends
DAY 1212: March 10, 2016
Prompt: this is March, now, spring has come! I love spring, things grow nicely after a winter's nap. Tell me a story about spring. Make it a love story, horror story, or even a science fiction story.... but make it a good one. remember the ides of March are coming.

Today doesn't feel like a day for fiction, so I've got this instead: Yesterday in our part of New England, we hit record temps in the high 70's. My daughter bounded from the car with unbridled enthusiasm at the prospect of playing outside before dinner. She shucked off her uniform and re-emerged in cotton play clothes, sans coat, and headed for the backyard. I watched her from the porch, moving about the yard, discovering the new signs of Spring all around her. This morning there were red breasted robins in the backyard, squawking about. The dog tore across the yard after them then pranced about with his nose up sniffing the fresh air.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Why a rescue? For Our Ricky Bobby

Why Adopt a Rescue? ..For Ricky Bobby

We lost our 6yr old dog Ricky Bobby to a rare and aggressive mouth cancer. The decision to put him down was agonizing but we knew it was the right thing to do for our beloved family member. Ricky was a rescue, and his story, like that of so many rescues, is a story about turning a second chance into a life with a loving family for however long that life lasts, be it 6 years or 16.

It was actually my husband that found Ricky. We had made the decision to adopt a companion dog for our little red Min Pin named Turk. After missing out on several nice dogs, my husband sent me a picture of a dog named Rick. He was twelve months old and had recently arrived to a local foster home from his native Tennessee. His back-story was that he had been abandoned in a cemetery with his litter mates and the kind woman who had taken in the entire pack, had managed to find homes for all of them but Rick. She was about to lose her home and fearing Rick would end up in a kill-shelter in the South, found a rescue group that agreed to bring him to the Northeast for placement.

Rick was listed as a short-haired Terrier-Sheppard mix. He reportedly had a gentle disposition, was house-broken and good with other dogs. He was younger than we had planned but we made the call and arranged to meet him at his foster home, over an hour away in Berlin. The foster home was bustling with dogs of all shapes and sizes. The pack swirled around our feet until Ramona scuttled them all away and let Rick in. He raced around the corner and right into my heart.

Rick was tall and honey-colored, a shade lighter and browner than our Turk. He was tall and had sickle-shaped tail that beat the air happily. You could almost make out the distinct breeds that might have been part of his genetic landscape, coming together in the most appealing of ways…the strong lines and large feet reminiscent of a Ridgeback and the perky, jaunting ears and face of a Collie and the soulful dark eyes of a Beagle, trimmed in black liner, that tracked our every move. We would soon come to recognize the other traits that made Rick that once in a lifetime dog…the protective instinct of a Sheppard, the loyalty of a Pit, the gentle grace of a Greyhound.
Turk and Rick hit it off immediately; they even looked like a matching set! We left that foster home with a peculiar ache in our hearts, leaving him behind after just now finding him.

After a series of meetings and home visits, we received that call that we were hoping for. Through grateful tears I listened to Ramona explain that she had chosen our family as the best fit for Rick and that we could pick him up as soon as we were ready. The next day, my grandmother and I made the trek back up to get him. We brought Rick home that afternoon, making it official by immediately amending his name to Ricky, which seemed to suit his playful, goofy demeanor much better than his more formal moniker. A few days later, while watching Talladega Nights together, I spontaneously called out “Ricky Bobby” in a really bad French accent and Ricky practically bounded across the room and into my lap. The nickname and the bad accent stuck.

Ricky Bobby, we often joked, was big on looks but not too brainy. He was often distracted by his own enthusiasm. He was prone to wild, happy spinning fits when excited, something my sister lovingly dubbed his “willies”. He adored the snow, bounding in and out of the drifts like a gazelle and snatching snowflakes out of the sky with his snapping jaws. He loved chasing the squirrels and jumping, surprising us with his athleticism by easily launching his big body three or four feet strait up off the ground. He loved to cuddle, leaning against you while you watched TV, casually throwing one of his large legs over your lap. He would always sneek into bed after he thought we were safely asleep, curling his body up like a cat at our feet or boldly sneaking under the covers to lie against us in the cold nights. He also counter surfed, something we had been warned about, and occasionally ate shoes (he preferred the most expensive ones). He dolphin-poked strangers, once even nipped a particularly undesirable one in the butt. He snored, loudly at times and snatched food from our daughter’s unattended plates and occasionally from between her fingers. He also never had an accident in the house, never showed an ounce of aggression toward our daughter, even in those intrusive toddler years and never failed to make us smile or laugh.

The vet said the cancer was probably there all along. Given that he was a rescue and his history was unknown, he could have even had a genetic failing in his line and we would have never known. Regardless, we were devastated to learn that we would only have six short years with this amazing, loving dog who’d barely made it to mid-life. We expected much more for him, for us.

I started this out by asking, “Why a rescue?” Why take the chance of taking in a dog with an unknown history, questionable breeding and their own unique set of challenges? I can tell you simply and without hesitation that the answer is, because that dog will love you with everyone inch of their grateful hearts. They will love you and love you with the most unconditional, graceful love you can imagine. They will make you better people, over and over again. The right rescue will fit with your family like they were born into it. There may never be another Ricky Bobby, but as long as we are able, our home will always be open to another rescue, our hearts will always be open to that special connection with a dog looking for that second chance.

We all miss Ricky. It hurts every time we come home to not have him at the door, grinning and bouncing up and down on his big feet. We will miss you always, our big goof, our enforcer, our protector, our love bug and silly whirling dervish. RIP Ricky Bobby and know that you were our good boy and we loved you like crazy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Daughter, A Gift

Tomorrow my daughter turns six. In the quiet corners of the day I have found myself marveling over how rapidly we have both reached this milestone, my baby girl and I.

The last year has brought a host of new adventures and challenges and each one Jaden has embraced with a fearlessness that has both surprised and delighted me. She has blazed through kindergarten so far, adapting to life in her sprawling, bustling urban school better than we could have hoped. She has begun making friends, all the right kinds, and has set herself apart in the eyes of her teachers as a kind and contentious student who works hard and has the desire to participate and always do her best. Her father and I are very proud of how she is learning and maturing.

She is not always sunshine and smiles however, for with her independence, there has come defiance and rebellion. Jaden is coming to understand that as an only child she wields a fair amount of control over our daily routine, something she is learning to exploit for her own advantage at times. Challenges come, and we all do our best to navigate the lessons that life gives us with minimal frustration and fewer screaming fits.

So, on the eve of her 6th birthday, what can I preserve about my daughter at this stage in her life? What testimony can I leave in this electronic ink for her one day?

Jaden, at nearly six, is still our cuddle bug. She loves to park herself between us on the couch or lever herself in between us in bed. She prefers to fall asleep next to us, wrapped protectively around one parent or another. She is a fitful sleeper and I often wake with one of her legs thrown casually over one of mine or her elbows pressing into my ribs. She loves to sleep in when she can, snuggling up against us or inviting the dog to burrow under the blanket with her. I have to drag her from the bed on school days, often carrying her into the bathroom, still groggy and grouchy. She's discovered the joy of slipping on her toasty uniform after its sat warming on the bedroom radiator. She would eat Nutella and toast for breakfast every day if we let her. By the time I get her to the school, she's rushing from the car too soon, shrugging her backpack on and heading toward the doors. She never looks back anymore. She's making new friends but still prefers the company of her preschool crew, eager to reconnect when she can. The affection she shows them is testament for me of how sincerely she forms bonds and treasures friendships even at this young age.

Jaden loves art and music, constants from when she was very young. She is serene when she's working, connected to the creative part inside her. I watch her with my grandmother, the artistic force in our family, and I know they are kindred spirits and nothing makes me happier. She also loves science and math. She is interested in experimentation and I can see she responds to the rules and form of mathematics. Her favorite new show is Project MC2...a show about tween girl science geeks and inventors who's motto is #smartisthenewcool. This also makes me very happy, as I continue to shamelessly promote and plug the STEM agenda in our household. She is also reading, falling in love with the library as I did myself at her age. We read each night and I love listening to her sounding the words out under her breath.

Jaden loves being outside with her Dad. In the wave of unseasonably warm winter weather, she has spent long days kicking around in the yard and walking in the woods with him. She misses the boating and the ocean as much as he does even though she's eagerly awaiting snow angels and building snowmen in the yard. She is a child of the seasons, finding reasons to delight them all.

Jaden, at nearly six, loves her family most of all...her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, her cousins, her parents. She loves with abandon, drawing pictures and giving colorful, vibrant life to the stick figure representations of all the people she loves. She is affectionate and caring. She has an amazing sense of her place in our family. She's her cousin Kyra's biggest fan, the little sister to her beloved Desi, she is Tyler's devoted audience, never failing to deliver laughter at his antics...she is something unique to each of her cousins, older and younger, learning with them and from them at every opportunity.

Tomorrow we will celebrate another birthday with our growing girl. Despite all the changes and challenges to come, I hope all the things that are true about her nearly-six self are always part of her personal landscape because they are lovely and wonderful. She is lovely and wonderful.

"A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future." ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

All the Difference in the World

I am not always good at juggling life. Some days I do better than others. Some days, not so much. For whatever reason, this morning I had a breakdown.

Jaden and I were running behind schedule. I was struggling to get her into tights, the same tights she wears every day, and she was fighting me. Her squirming gave way to outright protests and she broke away, running off after she banshee wailed, directly in my face. The epic headache bloomed behind my eye sockets.

I'm trying to yell less, trying to be more patient. I started to race after her. I tried, for a moment, to find the parental humor in her dashing around the house with her little butt hanging out and her navy tights pooled around her ankles like elephant skin. Rather than laughing, I surprised myself by starting to sob.

I think I was worn out from worry, from frustration, from not being enough - having enough time to be enough. I think my reserves had been driven too low from dealing with chronic pain over the last few weeks and the constant concern about what those aches and pains might mean. Whatever the reasons, I just snapped. I heard myself crying, and they were ugly, raw sobs, the kind that hurt when they finally break free. I left my daughter, hiding half-dressed, in the bedroom closet and ran downstairs.

I sat myself down in the kitchen. I tried taking deep breaths, tried to calm myself down. Breathe, the voice in my head commanded.

I looked up through tears to see Jaden standing in the kitchen in her stocking feet. She walked over and put her arms around me.

"Sorry Mom," she said, and hugged me as tight as her little limbs could manage.

And I hugged her back.

After a few minutes, we wordlessly went back upstairs, hand in hand. We finished getting dressed without any further trauma and even made it to school on time.

Maybe its not a bad thing to show a little weakness now and then. The people who love us best know how to best bring us out of the darkness. Sometimes all it takes is a heartfelt hug from the right person or a kind word of encouragement to spell away a bad moment. A little love in the right places in life makes all the difference in the world sometimes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hero Kings and the Lovely Life Mundane

“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.” —John Updike, WD Do you agree or disagree? How do you make the mundane interesting?

One of the most wonderful things about writing is that it is all relative to the reader. Individual readers can experience something completely different when reading the same exact passage. If the writing is good, it will evoke emotions and impressions in them that are based solely on their specific experiences and interpretations. Something that is mundane to one reader might be interesting to another based on who they are and their individual perceptions. For example, a friend of mine writes a blog devoted to her life as a working mom. Her pieces are often filled with little details and insights that some might find mundane but I identify with them and often find them delightful and charming. I can relate to her life, to the challenges and also the humor of balancing a work life and raising young children.

I take issue also with Updike's assertion that our lives are "basically mundane and dull". Our lives are fluid and beautifully complex. No one lives a life completely devoid of color and character.

As far as being "past the age of heroes"...I also disagree. We have become more jaded in recent times. We sometimes we erroneously highlight our villains when we should be remembering and honoring the victims. We sometimes get lost in the issues, in the politics and we forgot our human connections to each other. Still, there are those among us who rise up and remind us that we can be better than we are. There are those who's courage and love inspire us and restore our faith in our own humanity.

These days our heroes may be brave like Malala Yousafzia, who stood up to the Taliban for the right to get an education or Nicholas Winton, who saved the lives of more than 600 children during the Holocaust. In these times our heroes may be faithful and devote, dedicated to peace like Pope Francis. Heroes are the veterans who return, injured and maimed from combat, with a new mission to turn their disabilities into the ability to inspire us all with their perseverance and determination. Heroes are single mothers who work hard to raise responsible children who grown up to contribute to society in meaningful ways. Heroes are the fathers, who like my husband and my father, instill in their daughters the respect for themselves and the belief that they are amazing gifts and they can be and do anything in this world they wish .

Hero Kings, we may have not but true heroes do exist. Just like there is beauty and wonder even in the mundane, so there are heroes to light even our darkest times.