Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beauty and Spiders

Originally written September 2008 for a writers workshop

Fear in my head looks like the Robot from Lost in Space.

With arms waving, a sweet mechanical voice yells, "Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!" 

Instead of being a prison which confines, I consider Fear's advice. It no longer controls my decisions. When the kids were afraid, I would share the tools of overcoming. Our most remarkable victory was GirlyK’s fear of spiders.  

            It began when she was two. In Mammoth, spiders were rare. In this Central Valley town, they are everywhere. Those small sphered creatures with that bit and sucked and eight creepy crawly legs that seemed to work independent looked the creature from The War of the Worlds come to life. 

Photo taken by xandert
            She would be alone, in her room playing. Out of the corner of her eye that creepy crawly would dangle. Toddler legs catapulted her out of the room. With a glass shattering shriek, she would beg for someone to come kill it.We tried to explain that her shoe was bigger than the spider She could take care of it herself.

 She looked at us like we were aliens.

The final straw came when she was eight. We were working in the yard and she went inside to use the bathroom. Moments later, that blood curdling scream.

I raced toward the house thinking GirlyK had lost a limb. She sped around the corner and crashed into my stomach. Her body blurred with vibrations as she wailed,

"There was a GIANT black spider in the bathroom!"

With a deep breath to stifle the giggle, I took her quivering hand as we charged into the bathroom to face this gargantuan invader.

Nothing was there. 

I checked all corners, curtains and the trashcan.  Tears streamed from green eyes as she asserted, "There was a giant spider!  There WAS!"

I said, "I believe you. I think when you screamed you scared him as much as he scared you and ran away." 

She stood blinking, dumbfounded at my conclusion. 

The spring air warmed the chill of our winter bones a few weeks later at a craft fair.  We perused a booth filled with resin-encased insects. Necklaces, bracelets and earrings filled the space. I admired the encased butterfly wings when GirlyK approached me with a medallion necklace.

Lifting it into my eyes she plead, "Mom, will you please buy me this necklace?  I think it would help me conquer my fear of spiders." 

My eyes focused upon a yellow spider, about the size of a nickel. Its abdomen shaped into thorny points. I looked deep within those green eyes and thought,

How can I say no? 

I paid the lady. GirlyK proudly put on the necklace. Her brothers looked on dumbfounded. Holding her breath and standing a little taller, she led the way out of the booth. 

Serendipity visited a few weeks later through my friend Jeff Klingler. I looked through his online portfolio and loved his ability to capture the beauty of small, insignificant things. Casually scrolling through I caught my breath.

I called GirlyK from the other room. Her breath caught. Eyes widened and a wind of freedom blew across her face.

We saw before us iridescent beads of dew hanging delicately from a small portion of a spider's web against a liquid chartreuse background. 

"Mom!  That is what I want to do in my room!  We can paint my ceiling that color and make a giant crystal web over the whole thing!  I can sleep under the spider web. It will glitter and sparkle and be beautiful."

GirlyK spent the next weeks creating different ways the web could fill her whole entire room.  With liberation she could now walk into empty rooms without the fear of a creepy crawly lurking in the corner. She created a way to face a crippling, silly fear, and the result was a possibility to see beauty. 

2014 follow up: The reality of a whole room spider web was daunting for this Crafty Mom. She settled on a few different lighting options that hung over her bed. GirlyK collects spiders to this day. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful #32-The Anniversary Edition

Ten Things of Thankful
This week, The Counting Mutant and I will celebrate being married for 24 years. I kind of like the number 24. Not too big. Not too small. It is just right.I met the Mutant at the lowest season of my life. I spent years working at being the perfect Christian girl and failed miserably which you can read more about in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. I thought the perfect way of celebrating would be to write a special addition Ten Things of Thankful.

I am grateful for that first date: Chinese food, frozen yogurt and Robert Downey Jr’s A Pick Up Artist. I watched in horror as my beautiful plan of pick up a guy and drop him was played out on the big screen. He surprised me with a gentlemanly kiss and goodnight. He showed me honor among men existed.

I am grateful for singing: those first few months were filled with awkward moments. My church produced a Christmas program each year called The Singing Christmas Tree. Yes. It was the first year I was able to be involved and I invited the Mutant. Because of choir practice, we had to work together. He taught me that dating and friendship worked together.

The Mutant was really into Norman Vincent Peale and the Power of Positive thinking. Both of us wanted big possibilities in our lives and together we challenged the other to grow as a person. Leave the past behind and create a future. Through this, I learned to put feelings into a logical perspective and allow them to control me. He taught me about balance and healing could be found within faith.

Our spontaneously planned wedding. Mutant was in his final year of university when our original long term plans of a wedding fell short. Mutant decided he needed to spread classes out for a extra semester because he was burning out. This meant our grand summer wedding plans were not going to be free and relaxing. School would still be in play. On the eve of Thanksgiving I was laid off from my job. On our drive home we decided to just go for it. Mutant’s Dad was kind enough to help us out and within six weeks we were married. It was the wedding I had dreamed of. Every year I am grateful for my Father in Law’s generosity. He taught me that dreams are possible.

Our first nine months was a honeymoon. Mutant had a few classes, I found a job and we lived on The Central Coast. Weekends were ours to flitter away walking along the beach or taking a drive. No stress. He and I together were family. Whether we had kids or no, we belonged together. He taught me that normal is more than simply a setting on a dryer. It can be in life.

The LA years: After the Honeymoon months, growing up was hard. Counting Mutant was laid off with in the first six months from the accounting firm who recruited him from college. 1990 ushered in a recession and we were one of the first ones to fall. He found a new job after a few months which provided an MBA eventually. I hopped around the area teaching in preschools, finishing my preschool career with Disney. Floods, riots, fires and an earthquake shaped the way we tackled life. Just because we thought something would work out didn’t mean that it would. We learned to adapt and improvise. He taught me how to dance in life.

Once the Mutant had his MBA, he went looking for a bigger and better job. The thing he kept hearing was, “We wish you had a CPA.”
With a new baby and one on the way, we packed a truck and moved to the Central Valley town where we met. He spent the next two years logging hours and passing the CPA exam. Once an Official Counting Mutant, our journey began anew. He taught me that Do-Overs are possible

Leaving this Central Valley town, we landed in the Bay area where the girl was born. Finally we rested at Mammoth Lakes. For the first time in my childhood, I felt at home. Fall colors. Snow 20 feet high. Sub-zero temperatures for the boys to walk to school in. Spring green-it is a real color, not simply a crayon-and summer thunderstorms. We were there two adventurous years. He taught me that California could feel like home.

The dream job is still a job and jobs don’t always work out. So, we packed a truck and three kids in tow we journeyed back to the land of Do-Overs. Mutant got his real estate license and used his CPA experience in commercial real estate. Things moved along well until the mortgage bubble popped. In all of our 11 years here, through feast and famine, our kids have seen miracles, learned the value of hard work. They understand what value and worth look like. He taught us all about self-reliance and how faith keeps it motivated.

In all of our 26 years together-24 of them married- we have seen plenty and scarcity. Fire, floods, crime, job loss, suicide, earthquake, riot, injustice, laughter, dancing, promises fulfilled, friends, family, love and adventure. Each day is a new mystery with that deep quiet well of a man. I never know what he is thinking or feeling. Never will I really know what makes him tick. BUT the biggest lesson Mutant has taught me is that life is an adventure and it is worth living well filled with love.

Ten Things of Thankful #32

Ten Things of Thankful

Every year our homeschool group has a Valentine’s Party. The kids have to bring a box to receive Valentines and cards to give out. My favorite classroom craft growing up was paper mache. When the boys were schooling at home, it never worked out time wise, but with the girl it has. I get so excited each year. This is our fourth year doing the project.

I take the weeks before teaching this fantastic form of sculpture. Having a few friends to help makes the project even more fun. This was our first week. Any guesses of what these might become?

More on the creative front this week was our homeschool group’s Craft Day. I teach about one a quarter and January’s was Joy Jars. With Dollar Store containers, Modge Podge and tissue paper, each one was unique and beautiful. The idea with a Joy Jar is anything good that happens, write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Next New Year’s Eve you open the jar and read all of the good things that happened.

We had weather this week. In the Central Valley of California, it doesn’t happen often. We have fall, a week of winter and spring then summer. Here in Cali, when the atmospheres collide over dry ground we get dust storms. When it does, I savor every moment: the music of howling wind and a sky colored by a light orange hue.


When the windstorm is over, it will be worth it. Our area air is one of the country’s worst. Once calm, the sky will be blue and I will be able to see the mountains again. At least for a few days.

I have a confession. I love Barbie movies. I am so grateful GirlyK hasn’t grown out of them. The latest one has these short episodes on them. Both episodes are worth it. Watch out for the reference to Lord of the Rings, The Godfather and Bond.

Along with the shorts, the Barbie movie had a music video. We all agree that it should be Ase’s theme song. He IS Ken.

Along with the windstorm today, the gardeners were working on our area’s irrigation pipes. That meant they had to turn everyone’s water off. I had things to do today: laundry, dishes, cooking, a shower. While I was rattling around the house today, feeling very inconvenienced, when a word of correction which humbled me. My water will turn back on. There are others who will never have it.

Life hiccupped yesterday. So we curled up and watched Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Each time I watch it, something new is inspired. This time it was the line, “Life is an occasion. Rise to it.”

Things my kids say which humble me:
GirlyK: “Why does it matter that they are gay? I don’t understand why it is a big deal. They are people. When I grow up, I want a gay best friend like ___. Because they’re fun, give great fashion advice and are just great friends.”
Zany: “My friends are shocked when I say; I don’t care if people are gay. I think they are people first and that’s what matters. Who they are attracted to is none of my business.”

Loving your neighbor, in action.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Ancestral Dimension: Freedom or Bondage

Photo taken by Sgarton
Growing up, family gatherings were filled with tales of blazing a trail within a land of opportunity.

On my Father’s side, my Great Grandma Pfiester came to America from Switzerland at the age of 11. She married my Great Grandfather Dooley a second generation Irish immigrant- originally it was O’Dooley, but they dropped the O’ because it sounded too Irish.  They were Pastors, inventors and rebel rousers. If you thing Italians are passionate, wait till you spend time with the descendants of a Swiss German/ Irishman.

On my Mother’s side, tales of Great Great Grandparents traveling the Mormon trail to a land of hope and religious freedom. Names like Gould, Pearmain and Coombs followed the call of Brigham Young to fill the promised land of Deseret. One of the Grandmothers died within weeks of reaching Fountain Green. Another, my Grandmother remembers speaking in a Cockney accent.

Other immigrants within my family tree I am not so close to. Those trace back to the Mayflower, Revolutionary war and some mystery as to if we are related to Mary Todd Lincoln.

What all these people have in common is this: they wanted to be here. They all came hoping for a better life. Fighting, blending in, and sometimes separating themselves from a world they saw as evil for the right to Life, Liberty and Pursue Happiness/property. 

But what if…
Photo taken by Sgarton

What if at those family gatherings, the stories had been different. What if they were filled with disillusionment and injustice? What if those Great Greats didn’t have a choice to come to this country? What if my Grandparent’s stories were filled with denied opportunity.

All my Great Grandfather had to do was drop the O’ from his name in order to avoid discrimination. To be able to get a job. A name like Dooley would have been accepted freely, promoted and granted liberties. A person cannot change the color of their skin.

For them, this was not a land of opportunity. It was a land of bondage. During the Revolutionary war, those who fought were promised freedom, only to be denied it in the end. The Astonishing Life of OctavianNothing is a brilliant series dealing with this very subject. My Revolutionary war ancestors' stories now have a deeper dimension. 

Around the tables of color, family stories of triumph in the face of adversity instead of hope and promise. They talk about how to love an enemy in the face of violence. The value of hard work is flavored with tales of injustice, being passed over and sometimes hopelessness.

Drew Hart wrote about his own experience as a black man. In a town where discrimination is still prevalent I often frustrated with those who say:

Slavery was long ago.
Why does it matter now?
Can’t they just move on?
Racism does not exist anymore. 

Photo of Cape Coast Castle by Ricorocks
But just as I am a product of my lineage, so is my fellow man. My privilege of having immigrants who journeyed because they chose to, can be named. The ability to know exactly where they came from blinds me to those whose only point of origin is the name of a continent. The slave trade decimated cultures in Africa. They don’t have the luxury of a cultural diversity as I do within: Irish, Swiss German, English.

My story would be much different if all I had to say was: my immigrants were from Europe.

It is my responsibility to remember the persecution my own Irish heritage felt. To keep in perspective the isolation my Mother felt as a non-Mormon growing up within a Mormon culture in the 1950s. It is for these reasons my parents marched with Martin Luther King for equality and I endeavor to teach my kids to live these same values- Love your neighbor, no matter the color of the skin. Share the hope of opportunity. Build those up around the corner because the cause of equality starts with me. Living within White Privilege

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ten Things Of Thankful #31

Ten Things of Thankful

As weeks go, this one was a little better. A smidge toward the norm.

My Sister: I had planned on going to church, but just before I pried myself out of bed she called. A full time working mom with three kids, we usually catch a few minutes in the car on her way to work. Over the holidays and other things, moments alone were scarce for her. That long, yummy conversation with my sister was the perfect “church.”

Daisy- This is Daisy. Our whole downstairs is tile and, what we didn’t know, is very cold on Dachshund feet and low slung bellies. When the sliver of sun is gone for the day, she insists on climbing into my jacket for warmth. If I let her, she would stay there all day. She often keeps me scanning fb and twitter long after I should because of… THAT FACE!

Weekly Giggle- Saw this in flight safety video from Virgin Airlines. I already feel safer and learned something too!

Blogs- This was the week when EVERYONE had something fantastic to say. Some of my favorites were:
@DruHart on twitter has opened my eyes to the nuances of White Privilege and I have accepted the correction. He wrote about his own experience this week and I have been chewing on it ever since.
@StrngeFruit posted on the same topic. I spent the whole of Monday, with a dog in my jacket, reading and feeling divine changes happening.

Friends- I moved when I was a kid until my parents staked their claim in this Central California town. Most people are born here, schooled, work and die here. I struggled to fit into their small world. Finding friends who saw the world as a big place were few. Kelly, however did. Growing up we saw each other on occasion, but whenever we did, it felt like no time passed.

Long story short: she went to England with her family over the Holidays. They toured The Globe Theater in London. Perusing the gift shop, saw this cup and thought of me. After Bible Study on Wednesday, we had lunch and caught up, she gave it to me. Each time I look at it, my soul waxes with warmth.

The black eye is gone! No more skulking around for me- not that I really did that-but I did avoid certain places: Anywhere out with Counting Mutant-people looked at him funny. Bible Study/Church- all those gooey, comforting concerned people who want to smother with sympathetic looks.

20th Anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake- I am still working on the post about it. So many amazing things happened; it is hard to fit into a neat 500-800 word post. We were five miles from the epicenter in Woodland Hills, living on the fourth story of a wood constructed apartment complex built sometime in the 60s. To say we felt like a marble in a box is an understatement. Counting Mutant said that DeBie Hive’s post summed it up perfectly.

Ice Skating- Friday our homeschool group had a field trip to the ice rink. GirlyK is an apple from my tree when it comes to falling, but armed with hockey skates, she shimmied around for a while. Hanging with girlfriends as quirky as she is was the cherry on top.

Jr. High requirements- A sermon/speech is a requirement in our Jr. High program. She missed the Sermon night earlier in the year because of Nutcracker. After many reschedules, GirlyK’s group of friends gathered at our house to listen. Her chosen topic was Rahab. To listen to her articulate how Rahab the prostitute was a woman of faith and inspiration to her caused me pause.

Senior things- It was Zany’s Senior Winter Formal. He was on the fence about it until last week because he didn’t have a girl to take. As usual, he decided last minute to go. He didn’t want flowers, or pictures. He just dressed up and went to hang out with his friends. He did pause long enough for me to snap this.

Did you find any normal in your week?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful-#30

Ten Things of Thankful

Last week was a doozy of emotions. While I did write in my gratitude journal, I was not able to hop in the Ten Things of Thankful crowd. This week however, wild horses will have to drag me away.

Nerf War: My weekend finished on the highest note. It was exactly what I needed. GirlyK got a Nerf Rebelle for Christmas. Of course this meant Ase and Zany needed to update their armory. While I was attempting to gather myself and write last weeks post, Ase, Ase’s girlfriend, The Counting Mutant, Zany, and GirlyK gathered their weapons together and burst through the back door. The squealing in the back yard blasting the crap out of each other lasted for an hour. My harmony loving heart is full and happy. It set the tone for the entire week.

My Mother in Law: Counting Mutant’s Mom fell this week and broke her ankle the day before New Year’s Eve. At 85, she is still full of love for those around her. I learned graceful patience from her. I learned about joy, laughter and the art of conversation from her. She taught me that joy was possible in this job of Mothering.  She had surgery and is now in rehab for a while.

The Holidays are OVER! Normalcy came on Monday, with Counting Mutant and Ase at work, Zany back in school, GirlyK’s homeschooling schedule could resume. We intended the day to be super productive, but we ended up basking in the stillness of the house. Moving at our own pace through the assignments and To-Dos.

Science Fair is DONE! The homeschool group we are affiliated with is through a private school. The official classification is Private Satellite School Program (PSP.) One of the requirements for Jr. High is to participate in the school’s science fair. Girly K loves her science-just read the Dead Cat story-but she’s not a fan of the presentation/art side. This year she decided to focus on that. The three days she worked on her board paid off. The number's sweater and the promise to dye her hair with Kool-aid helped her motivation.

And of course she is already planning for next year-BUT for now, the lab is empty.

Frozen:That film. On Tuesday, after the Science Fair, GirlyK and I celebrated by lunching and a movie. It seemed a perfect bookend. The film started our holidays so it should end it. Simply the reminder that love thaws fear added to my week’s focus.

Gracious friends: Typically in January, after the holiday rush, my fibro tends to flair. This week has been no different. Anxiety attacks have been a regular visitor to my afternoon, along with a touch of fibro fog. This usually means I limit who I speak to because what comes out of my mouth is so unpredictable. Wednesday at coffee with a friend, I sounded like a cell phone call breaking up. Incomplete sentences, forgotten thoughts and out of context replies were embarrassingly apparent. My friend never even blinks or looks confused, just happily sits and we converse like everything is normal.

Dogs: Yup. Them again. Part of the flair up this time was pain. I think my body is still complaining about falling. It is great to HAVE to walk them because it makes the pain phase process faster. They help me remember, if I rest, I only make it worse.

Slaughtered the Laundry Monster: Somehow the holidays knocked the laundry schedule off its ear. Counting Mutant’s pile was taller than me. It only took me two days to get it all caught up and put away. It is the little victories.

Clean food: I am back on the no soda, refined sugars/flour-only whole foods wagon . Once through the detox faze I know I will feel better and the fibro will calm down. I am already sleeping better. For a basic run down of what clean eating is, check out Fit n' Fab's meme

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Zany and I saw it last weekend. Throughout the week, others in the house have gone as well. I loved the original with Danny Kaye so much, I was a little concerned about what Ben Stiller would do to it. The result is a breathtaking, thought provoking story. It is worth seeing it on a big screen.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Finding Good Enough

Photo taken by arien
I am a perfectionist.

Not the kind that does everything perfectly, but the kind that gets anxiety when things aren't perfect. 

When I see a flaw I feel shame. I feel the need to repent. I want to crawl into a hole and lament.

It is the perfect first ingredient in making an anorexic. When I was eating only one meal a day, I felt in control. The little mistakes didn’t hurt as much because my body was in perfect discipline. The best days were when I never even felt hungry. I took Jesus’ words, “Deny yourself and follow me” a little too literally.

Then I found recovery.

First on the agenda was acceptance. I was not perfect. I would make mistakes. I had flaws. The point was to grow from mistakes and strengthen my weaknesses. Jesus knew I was filled with shortcomings. That is why God sent him.

To fulfill the Law.
To make me free.
He was perfect so I didn’t have to be.

Photo taken by chelle
The most important application of this new flaw filled life was the need to accept “good enough.” Often I wouldn’t start a project because I knew mistakes would be made. I would measure once and then cut twice. In painting, the outside of my hand would pick up a dollop of wet color and smear it outside the lines. I would panic. Wanting to throw it all away and try again I would hear Holy Spirit’s sweet words:

“It’s an opportunity.”

The blob of paint became a flower.

See, the point was not a perfect project. The point was showing up. Starting, working through the middle and then finishing.

So armed with this new discipline, I began to manage life.
Housework- good enough.
Cooking-good enough.

Now, marriage is not perfect. In fact, it is the opposite of perfect. Marriage is exasperating, refining, puzzling and laughter filled. One of my major snags with Counting Mutant is this:

He’s an accountant.

Photo taken by clarita
 An auditor to be precise. He loves to look at a pattern and find the flaw, then point it out so it can be fixed. Then… perfection. With his wisdom and logic, short comings can easily be rectified. Mistakes can be fixed. All of the columns add up.

Earlier this week I talked about my new found freedom of falling. He lovingly messaged me a few errors I might like to rectify. Of course I immediately felt hurt. Vulnerable.  Then I walked through the mantras:

I need to take criticism well.
It is for my own good.
It’s not personal.
He loves me, that’s why he points out my flaws.

Then Holy Spirit turned on that light of understanding:

A Perfectionist married an Auditor.

I realized it wasn’t personal. It was simply a clash of perfectionism. I looked at the critique again. Fixed what I thought was important. Not every mistake needs to be fixed. Sometimes they are left to remind us of grace.

To teach us about Good Enough.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pattycake With A Bear

Originally posted November, 2001
Photo taken by kornrolla

“I know this is supposed to be a dream job but, this drama drives me crazy and I don’t know if I will ever fit in. It's just so inbred. AND I don’t get to see the kids because of the late hours." The Counting Mutant's shoes thudded against the back of the closet. Working at a ski resort had an unseen price.

I sat in a small stuffed chair wedged in a nook that held a narrow north facing window.  The outside chill seeped through the blinds and up my neck, it stung a little. It pained me to hear his dream drowning in a sea of monotony.

I studied his face, those creases between his eyebrows look like the Grand Canyon.

I followed Counting Mutant into the bathroom patiently listening. His mass filled the mirror as he brushed his teeth. I washed my face and ducked his elbows. I interrupted silence with a summary of my day: school for Ase and Zany was good. I made it to the gym with GirlyK.  Homework was a battle. The tedium was getting to me. I stopped talking when his eyes drooped from exhaustion. I lost him. The night’s window of conversation closed.

Counting Mutant opened the blinds on the western window to a full harvest moon and glittering stars. I turned off my light to welcome the pail liquid light. Escaping the cold, I nestled into bed. He rocked as he fell in and cuddled for warmth.
Photo taken by kamuelaboy

A growling, scratching, tumbling noise reverberated below the small northern window.

“What’s that?”

“I don’t know,” he groaned.  He listened more attentively.  “It’s something.”

“I know that!" I paused, "Maybe coyotes?”

“Hmm?  Probably raccoons.”  Then a snore.

I was curious, but the bed was perfect warmth.

The boys’ door opened down the hall. I bristled to hear where the pair of feet would go. With a relief, I thought; Just the bathroom. He doesn't need a cuddle or a tuck in to go back to bed. I rolled over and sank into sleep.

Morning came too soon. The day beckoned: boys off to school, baby girl to feed, kiss husband good bye. I stumbled down the hallway, Counting Mutant's face washed in shock as he stood at the boys’ doorway. My heart jumped and I rushed into the room. Ase, six, listened to Zany, five, as they stood next to their window. Blinds pulled tight to its top.

Zany, continued acting out the story “…And then the Mama looked at me!  Her cubs were playing right over there, rolling around.  She walked to me, stood up and put her paws on the window!  So I put my hands on her paws.” He put his hands on the window. Big blue eyes turned to Austin, “We played Pattycake! Then she put her nose on the window and I kissed it.” He pressed his lips to the window, and turned toward us. His hands fell with satisfaction. “And then she dropped to the ground and walked away. Her cubs followed her. Then I closed the blinds and crawled back to bed.”
Photo taken by ali110

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“My dream! I played Pattycake with a Mama bear and her cubs were playing right, over there.”  Zany was breathless.

I looked at a Counting Mutant. I took a deep breath and gently said, “Zany, I don’t think it was a dream. I think it was real!  Dad and I heard something outside last night when we went to bed. We heard you wake up and go to the bathroom.”  I looked at Counting Mutant, eyes pleading for support, “The noise was the cubs playing.”

Counting Mutant stood silent.  Zany was emphatic, “No Mom. It was a dream!”

I looked at my son. His magical imagination often got him into trouble but, this time was different. He needed to know that.

Squaring myself I encouraged, “Honey, I believe you. I know you are telling the truth!  I think you really did see a bear and her cubs. It wasn’t your imagination.  It was real.”

Counting Mutant's “Spock” eye brow met my gaze.

“Remember? The noises we heard last night? It was bears!” His silence continued. I marched to the back door, “Fine! Let’s look.”

He cautiously followed.

Along the side of the house, pine needles rested on powdered dirt. I scoured while he surveyed. Puffs of dirt covered our shoes.

“Could be…” Counting Mutant's succinct answer.

"I found a paw print." I cheered.
Photo taken by kakisky

He glanced at it. Moving on, the analytical review continued.   Probing the landscape, his face brightened. With a quickened step toward the Boys’ window he muttered, “She saw the trash can.”  Stepped closer for examination, “Filled with garden waste.  No food in the can. Undisturbed.”

With a satisfied nod, he strode to the back door. I scurried behind him.

“Zany,” Counting Mutant announced, walking through the door.  “Come here.”  They sat across from each other at the table.  Ase and I joined them wondering what the verdict would be.

A serious brow, looked into wonder-filled eyes, “Your dream could have been true.  The pine needles were disturbed.  There was a faint claw print in the dust.  It is fall; the Mama was looking for food to get ready for hibernating. She saw a trashcan by your room and became curious; she didn't smell any. When you opened your blinds, you surprised her.  She investigated through the window.  You did play Pat-a-Cake with a bear, Zany!”

Zany’s deep blue eyes sparkled with satisfaction. Self-doubt melted away.

A hope filled our hearts. Wonder happened in spite of monotony. With an awareness of magic, Counting Mutant and I faced the day looking for unlikely possibilities. 

A Mother Life

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Art of Falling

A week ago I fell.

A complete and total face plant walking Watson. My fantastic Audrey sunglasses scratched. Both knees scraped and bruised. My right shoulder still complains when I lay on it.

And… What happened in that fraction in of a second revealed a complete freedom.

Photo taken by krosseel
On 8mm film, when I was 3 years old, flickers an odd little thing which is the perfect picture of my basic personality.

I run as fast as I can.
I stop.
Step warily over a garden hose.
Then continue running.

I remember at 5, learning to ride without training wheels. I was a two wheeling success for three days. Then my Grandparents came over. They wanted to see me ride my bike.
Photo taken by cohdra

Proud, and feeling quite invincible, I pushed away.
Began pedaling down the sidewalk.
I was great riding in a straight line, but the bike decided to turn. I hung onto the bike as we both found the rosebush at the end of the apartment row.

I refused to ride my bike for the rest of the summer.

I. Hate. Falling.

Then I had boys. They jumped. They climbed. They fell. Ase was cautious and I realized very quickly he looked to me for bravery. I had to lead by example.

These were our mantras:
Being brave is being afraid and doing it anyway.
If you fall-point your toes. (Patrick Swayze’s Mom told him that.)

Then we moved to Mammoth. Counting Mutant worked for the resort which of course meant Ase and Zany learned how to ski.  Here they were, wanting to hurl themselves down an ice covered mountain on waxed wood pieces.
I was the parent.

I needed to set the example.

I needed to get my ass on a chair lift and learn how to ski. In throwing myself upon the mercy of gravity a truth emerged from the ski/snowboarding culture: falling is an art form. All falls are braggable accomplishments, because it means you tried.

Life happened and we moved into the Central Valley. The boys, now with sister in tow, decided dance would be their new passion. I would watch through the window of their classes, or in the audience during rehearsals. Beautiful, graceful dancers flowing across the stage would fall on their face. They would bounce up like a rubber ball, smile firmly in place and continue. It reminded me of what my Mom used to tell me when performing a musical piece: “If you make a mistake, keep playing. Don’t pause. Don’t start over. Just keep going because the audience won’t know you made a mistake. You are the only one who knows the music.”

I have listened to people the last week, express concern, sorrow, regret and warnings to be careful in the future. Each interaction leaves me a bit befuddled. I fell and it was spectacular. It was the rare person who could revel in the beauty of my wounds. Who could celebrate with me that I was alright in the grand scheme of things.
And I realized today:

Falling is not the worst thing that could happen. 

I bounced back up.
Smile on my face.
Bravely facing the next moment.

Never afraid to fall again.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Grace Is New Every Morning

Originally posted on January 7, 2013

Stalled. I insert the key, turn with hope and hear the engine grind and pop. No ignition.

It is the New Year. Social feeds are engorged with New Year's resolutions. How to pick them. How to fulfill them. How to ignore them. I on the other hand feel stuck.

For a week now I have mused the topic. Old lists materialize in my mind: Create a working schedule for cleaning the house. Figure out regular times of worship with The Creator. How to save dinner so all of us can sit at a table and touch base about our individual days. Clean up my food. Loose 10 pounds. The response to each problem is static.

I am now in a transition. My oldest, Austin, has his license. For a year and a half now he has his own schedule. His own entrances and exits. Many times Zachary, the second son, is with him. Other times, I drive Zachary has his own agenda needs to be fulfilled. Kacey, the tag along girl, has a merging life of her own. No longer does she follow her brothers around, she is finding her own call and purpose.

I reflect on Christianity's agenda for women as inspiration. I slap into another wall of dryness. As an empty nest looms, my purpose is undefined. Long gone are the days when the kids' schedule was under my command. Dinner could be timed. The house cleaned on schedule. Bed time controlled.

I pray for them all. I push through chronic illness to keep it running smoothly. Laughter is present. Listening is active. On the slippery side, dinner is often self-fetched. The house is tidy with littered corners. Here I sit now, with a dog curled up in my jacket because she is cold, sharing my heart's struggle.

With The Loving Creator, New Year doesn't exist. "But in my mind I keep returning to something, something that gives me hope- that the grace of ADONAI is not exhausted, that his compassion has not ended. (On the contrary,) they are new every morning! How great your faithfulness!" Lamentations 3:21-23

I am brought back to what matters. His call for me in today. My personal normal. Meals need to be better planned-I know he has a plan for that. If I listen to the still quiet voice instead of my own static the plan will be made clear. Everyday is an opportunity for change. Waiting for the first day of school, New year or the beginning of spring is redundant. Today can be my beginning. My moment to change the flow. If the Creator's grace can be new for me every morning, then the grace I extend myself can be likewise.

A Mother Life