water

The morning started with my son wanting to wear black fleece lined cargo pants and a flannel button-up shirt to school.  Had I been on top of things at Easter and bought him a proper suit, he would have chosen it instead.  I had not, so here we were, discussing wearing winter wear at the end of May – in Georgia.  I let him do it because his reasoning was good, for a nine year old.  He NEEDED to look professional, as his job today was NARRATOR.  Jeans were not professional enough.

I needed to be sure we got to the play on time to see his narration skills and the prince costume on his friend that he had borrowed from our costume chest.  I had enough time to run a quick errand and still be a good twenty minutes early.  As we left the errand, I slipped on my very large sunglasses and we went driving back toward school.  The speed limit was 55 and we were going down a hill and it had been raining very hard just minutes before we found ourselves on this stretch of road.  It was now raining lightly and my little was in the back, telling a very intricate story at an inappropriately loud volume.

I’ve always considered myself a “bad driver.”  I am not exactly bad at driving, but I am nervous.  With a new license in February, I went driving out to my high school job that was in the country.  The road had not been treated and as I slowed to make my turn, the ice picked up my two tone green bronco and whipped me in circles and deposited me, screaming, into the ditch.  Luckily, an old man was coming down the road at approximately the same time.  He watched the whole thing, bursting out in laughter (probably imagining the fun I had just had) and then pulled the bronco out of the ditch.  This was just the first of a long line of example of ‘nature’ picking up the vehicle I command from the found and put it in the ditch.

Driving down that little hill, I felt the vehicle pick up off of the pavement.  The current of water between the wheels and pavement was weaving me toward the center of the road and then toward the curb.  I sucked in my breath and though “shit!  I am hydroplaning.”  I didn’t hit the brakes or the gas, I just held my breath and waited.  Woven to the right, then the left, the right and… the wheels touched down!  We went on down the street and I verbally verified that the two children in the back were properly belted into their seats.

We got to the class fifteen minutes early.  I am lucky enough to be looking at him, when my boy sees me. His eyes light up and I can only smile at him as I notice the other boys in class have on under armor shirts and shorts.  He sits tall on his stool waiting for the play to begin, so that he can say his memorized lines.  I see the friend who is wearing our costume and I watch him scan the room.  I already looked for his parents and they are not there.  Out of his mouth slips the comment “Where is MY family?” and my heart breaks a little.  I am sad for him, but also realize that it could have been MY boy confused, had the hydroplaning gone differently.  In the moment, I am so very grateful that we are safe and together in the room together.

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The fourth at two

He joyfully points out letters with his tiny fingers, yelling out the names of letters he has learned before.  The letters make him so happy.  Secretly I can hardly wait until he starts lining the letters up into words.  Then the words can be questioned and rolled around in his mouth.  He will get to learn the art carefully taking up the words that will whittle out the thoughts or feelings sitting in his throat.

Even as a toddler, I believe he will be a wordsmith.  Like his older brother before him, his mother and father, his Auntie and even further back still.  I believe he will sit with a large dictionary, finding just the right word or evolution of phrases like I remember doing in the fifth grade.  He won’t think it’s a gift because it will just happen for him.  He will use the words because they are there before him.  Doesn’t everybody?
Pushing him?  How could I?  While he was knitted together in my womb, I didn’t get to choose the threads to how tightly or loosely the weave.  I was only the carafe for the maker.  I have no wishes to ‘push’ but instead to stand back and observe what this one will do.  He has surprised me before.  I expect he will do it again.

Dear Creator

If I spoke every single grievance from the beginning.
If I cried every tear that ever bubbled up from my throat and acknowledged every sadness and disappointment, would it make it all better?

Could the human immune system try to annihilate the host body of a person due to it’s disappointment that it was not considered, not cared for, not protected?
Stress causes inflammation.
Inflammation causes disease.

Is there enough love in a lifetime to offer a heartfelt apology and “make friends” with those black and white immune cells?

all of the words

I need you to pat my hand and tell me how good I am
Tell me how I can move you by peddling some words together
because
I don’t trust my own estimations.

Honestly, it’s mostly the word. There are rules, but sometimes, no rules.
Words can be dripped out in silence or sung to a melody.
Rhyming, word counts, the forms. What are the forms?

I don’t have the master blueprint or know the specifications, not out of laziness but because
there is freedom in being the novice.

Neither failure or pride are owned by the pupil.

What it is

So, you are telling me that I can weave together a wonderful story
where some things are very specific
and others are left out
by accident or purpose
and you will
happily
listen, knowing you will receive no answers?
Oh, the power and obligation!

Dirt

I only wanted to put my name on the land
so I could
dig
plant
prune
decorate the view
to the specifications
of my own liking.

Sorry I don’t follow conventional rules.
I realize it may irritate you
but I see you pass by
staring into my gardens
where all of the lovelies grow
and the look on your face is
sometimes awe
curiosity
or pleasure.

Whatever you are feeling when you look at my garden
don’t think I may not feel something similar when I look at yours.
I have tips and pointers that sit in my throat when I smile and throw up my hand in a good morning hello.
That’s what good neighbors do, right?

Fourteen

Around 13 years and 363 days ago we had left the freezing icy cold MCI and found ourselves standing in an open air airport on a sleepy island.  Our baggage was lost (standard airline experience for me) and by the time we realized the baggage wasn’t coming, we had missed the “last call” for our rental car company employees and the taxi services AND we were stuck.  What do you do in a situation like that?  Well, I found a discarded wheel chair and started wheeling myself around in a sitting area of the parking lot.  An unlikely airport employee saw us and asked us if we needed a ride.  I bet he felt duped when I stood up from the wheelchair and walked over and jumped into his great big truck!
That was the start of my ‘new life’.  I wish I could say that I had a good attitude in the face of a night outdoors with no luggage on an island in January.  I did not.
But even still, that guy I had met around 16 years prior thought it a good bet to go ahead and marry me exactly fourteen years ago – today.

There are not words for the joy I feel for the “yes” be both picked.  I sometimes wonder if he asked me to marry him – as a personal ‘project’ in turning me into a “nicer” version of myself.  Independent of his intention, he has done just that.  He’s been a quiet, guiding force and we have made a nice family that I am proud of.  This husband that has improved the quality, width and happiness of my life beyond what stories, quick conversations or writing could explain.  I know it’s a common thought that “You can love more than one person in your lifetime.” but I think it’s only true because those who believe that didn’t fall for him before me.  Happy fourteenth husband.

A reason to hush

Sometimes she looks up at me with wide blue eyes and says “you are the best mom I ever could have wanted.”
Truthfully, it takes my breath away.

But still I wonder why, when I truly feel that she’s the BEST daughter I ever could have birthed.
I also wonder at what age she will stop feeling that way.
I generally tell her “I am so glad you feel that way today.  I hope you feel that way for a long time to come, because one day you may not…”
As it slips from my lips, I both nod to myself in truth and kick myself, under the table.  Why can I not allow the full and true joy to pass over me at such an amazing compliment?
And yet, I still wonder how long they will find my a good or acceptable mom.  I am fully attune to my faults.  When will they see them for what they are?  Do they already, perhaps but simply lack the words to call them what they are?

All manuals of development tell me that there will be a day that they don’t like me anymore.  A day when they won’t understand how I have made my decisions or why I stand for my convictions.  The manuals say that while hurtful, it’s also celebratory – as they are coming into their own.  They are moving toward adulthood.

I know these realizations and feelings are years off.  I know I have time to enjoy the family joy, but the planning side of me wants to be prepared for the heartbreak of the future.

But this year, I am going to try something different.  I am going to lean even further into mindfulness.  When the future me tries to whisper into my ear to warn me about how things will change, I will say “hush”.  Not because what she says is wrong or invalid.  The reason I want her to hush is because I don’t want my memories to be salted with her words.  I want a memory of my girl telling me I am the best ever without the doubtful words of “forever” from my planner.

This year she will hush.

Just people

I surrounded myself with women. Women teachers, employers and friends. I did “work out” in a predominately male sport, only so I could learn how to “game the system” if I ever needed to “defend myself” from a man. However, I realized that I would be “safer” when I stayed out of the sight and reach of men. I can’t explain where this compulsion came from, but in the days after the “me too” movement, I am glad I listened to that quite voice deep within me.
I was fully out of college before I had an employer and managers who were male. I was a complete adult with a student loan payment, rent and a car payment before I ever met the “glass ceiling”. Yes, I did have college professors, but I considered them my employees. I had my safety net – that included their fully understanding that I a) pulled no punches and b) kept no secrets.
The first “evaluation” under a male manager had me literally in tears. I explained that I hadn’t spent time around “men” – having always had female managers etc. I explained that these felt like very uncertain waters and I didn’t really know “how to be” as an employee. The total confusion on that poor mans face, I still cringe for him even today. His beautiful reply has stayed with me nearly twenty years now. “Well, we’re all just… people.”

“We’re all just people” was so true and so false that it still stings a bit to say it aloud.
From his mouth, it was true.
I’m sure he never had higher ranking managers brush off his ideas to his face and then run to the owner of the company and present them as their own. I did.
I’m sure he never has those same managers tell him he would be so pretty if he just smiled more.
I feel pretty certain that he was never ‘forced’ to watched female upper management adjust her breasts in the bra cups like I had to watch, first hand, the scrotum pulling/scratching/etc of higher up management.
And really, what a funny situation to be put into – DARED to increase sales and improve the quality of the product and improve customer retention (with a contract and my signature). You know, to be asked to do all of the things that a manager would do WITH a pay raise, but not the title – because of a lacking… scrotum (literally).
I bet that very nice manager was never taken to a conference room and sat down and then demanded to disclose other sources of work. Names of companies that *he* gig’ed for because he wasn’t receiving a living wage WITH his college degree in said field.
‘Cause, see, those things don’t happen to everyone. They often don’t happen to men. They happen to scrotum-less women. Women like myself, back then. But please don’t worry. At some point, this particular company realized that a better fit for them would be to move their “workload” to India (true story). I don’t know if they now employ men or women. Whatever their employment practices, while we are “all, just people” – I have no doubt that it’s still not EXACTLY how everyone else sees it.

Coffee, my love

For nearly a decade, I have used a coffee brewing method that makes one cup at a time.  There is a vessel that fits over my coffee mug and a plunger that moves the fluid down the vessel, past the coffee filter into my coffee cup.  I used it happily for over a year, but then the plunger stopped fitting the circumference of the vessel.  It was too skinny and would no longer move the fluid.  Instead it would fit IN the vessel and make a huge mess of boiling hot water and coffee grounds that would spill out over the vessel and fall into the coffee cup and the counter top.  I replaced it.

The new unit would intermittently stop working.  Always stymied, I would throw it in the dishwasher.  That may or may not help it work again.  Over the last decade, I have probably replaced the coffee maker four times.  I shouldn’t have been surprised that this winter it stopped working again.  One day it was fine, and then – just like that – it was done.
My mornings are VERY hectic and I do better AFTER a cup of coffee, so you can imagine my frustration.  I am not a huge fan of cold brewed coffee in the winter, a counter top unit or Kuerig are not appealing to me – at all.  I considered all of the options, then, I did something different.  I walked it to the sink and poured boiling hot water over the plunger and then walked back to the coffee unit and it worked like the very first day it came in the mail.

There are times, that I find it appropriate to turn off the heat and air in the house.  It’s generally in between seasons when it gets chilly during either the day or night and then very hot on the other side of the day.  I don’t like asking the house machines to try to play “catch up” and heat the house for half of the day and then cool it the other, so I turn it all off.  I have an outfit for the cool part of the day (heavy pants and a fleece) and for the warm (capris and a tee) and I consider that I am living closer to the trees and flowers outside.  Taking the moments of constant change, as nature does for the duration of its life.
In truth, my house is well insulated, so the temperatures don’t swing wildly inside.  With that said, I am a creature of comfort.  I don’t like to be too cold or the air to be too dry or the house to be too loud…  Somehow, in these “in between seasons” I manage because I consider it the appropriate choice in the circumstance.

We all have to consider and change with the environment, right?

“Even non-living things?” they ask me.
The answer is “of course, my love.”  Something happened, and society lost the ability or the value of “consideration”.  There are some that still teach and practice it, but not like before.  We want to practice it here, but know that it is a tricky thing to learn.  Look, my decisions about the heat and air could wreck my morning coffee – and it took me nearly a decade to figure that one out.
How often in our lives do we make a decision that is best for the circumstance – unaware of how it will change other areas of our lives?