Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Commentary on family events

As a family, we have been going at a breakneck speed for the last few weeks.  The dance recital was an absolute blast.  I can cross an item off my bucket list... dancing to Michael Jackson music on stage with lights, choreography and, get this... my very own sparkle glove!!

We also had state standardized testing, preschool graduation, a Birthday party, field trips, and overnight family guests. When I saw this clog of activity coming toward us in the pipeline of our family calendar, I braced for a stressful time.  It was a wild ride, but the intensity came to a conclusion on Sunday evening with the closing curtain of the dance recital. 

Whose bright idea was it to put this huge event in the same time frame with state testing (you know, get lots of sleep and eat a good breakfast!) on a Sunday evening during any normal family's dinner time??  I am blaming this inconsiderate timing for the all-time best sibling smackdown grudge match in the parking lot that was so loud and obnoxious, we will be embarassed to be seen in these parts for a while.  Fortunately, this was after the recital so no costumes were harmed in the action.

Here's the funny thing.  Last night was the first night in over 3 weeks we weren't running a rat race.  Dear Hubby and I did not know what to do with ourselves.  After speedily cleaning up from dinner at the pace to which we've become accustomed, we looked at each other, bedraggled, befuddled and wild-eyed and said simultaneously, "OK, what's next?"  We crept over to the family calendar and peeked sheepishly.  Could it be?  Was this possible?  There was nothing there!  With confusion, we wondered, "What do we do now?"  Eventually, we came up with some normal evening things to do like relax, read a book, bathe the children.  You know, luxuries.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sublime Moment

Ever just have a moment in life you wish you could take a snapshot and keep it forever (yet there's no camera around and the moment probably wouldn't have happened if there were?)

So yesterday, me and the kids are madly trying to get to dress rehearsal on time.  I am dressed like Michael Jackson.  My oldest has hair and make-up on for the recital so she looks like an 8 year old vamp.  I just picked up the smallest one from preschool, where it was Pajama Day.  She is wearing Ariel pj's.  We are quite a sight, the three of us!  I am jamming because it helps soothe me in traffic when I'm late.  I'm sipping a pina colada smoothie (non-alchoholic, of course!  What kind of mom do you think I am?) I stop and realize that my kids are singing Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith... and they know the words.  One is playing air guitar and the other is rocking the drums.

OK don't answer that question about what kind of mom you think I am.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Finding My Voice

In so many areas of life, a theme seems to be developing for me... finding my voice.

In terms of writing, I think all aspiring authors have to navigate the process of finding their unique voice.

At work, a small boy looked up at me (during my compelling lesson on Trustworthiness) and said, "You don't sound like her!"  He was referring to the previous guidance counselor whose position I filled mid-year.  Stunned, I asked him, "Well, how did she sound?"  His reply, "Soft and nice."  Hmmmm.  So, for the next few days I tried my very best soft and nice voice.  I heard other testimony that the former counselor was rather high-pitched.  I tried to take it up about half an octave.  I sounded like an idiot!  It just wasn't me.  My voice just won't sound right that way.  I have to find my own special Elementary Counselor voice that is soothing to children, stern when necessary and suitable to my personality.

(This is the same little boy who exclaimed loudly a few days later that my arm fat jiggled when I demonstrated the motions to the Respect song.  Flattery is not his strong suit.)

Last weekend, I visited my childhood home.  That's when I began to realize that this whole voice issue may go a whole lot deeper.  I was reminded how my voice gets lost in the clamor of family dynamics.  Usually, I just give up and go inside my shell of detachment.  I wonder if truly growing up, for me, will involve developing a confident voice among my family of origin.

There are days, as a mom of my own busy family, that I feel as if my voice makes no noise at all.  Being ignored is one of my greatest pet peeves.  It's more than a peeve, really.  The message reverberates into my head, "what you are saying does not matter to anyone."

I just want my voice to matter.  That's the most important thing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Welcome today's guest...

This is a great poem I just heard for the first time, yet it was written over 800 years ago.  It teaches me that daily mood diversity must be a part of the human condition.

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~ Rumi ~

So, I extend a hearty welcome to today's guest:


I first noticed I was irritated early this morning when a flood of practical concerns filled my head.  I get bogged down like a computer with slow band width.  I can't get any thought out because they are all trying to cram through the door between my brain and my mouth.

Work had its' fair share of irritants.  Let's just leave it at that.

When I enter my home after a long day of work, like most people I assume, I am ready to find a comfortable place to flop and decompress.  This wish does not come true.  Empty the car of backpacks, lunch boxes, purses and spare clothing or shoes that were removed on the ride home.  The dog urgently awaits her pm constitutional and meal.  I need to start dinner.  Homework has to commence.

Throughout this course of events, I am hearing the most IRRITATING sound on the planet in my opinion and it is called ingratitude.  My kids... well, they are kids.  They are precious but oblivious to the sacrifices that others make to keep them healthy, happy and never the least bit bored.  No matter how much I serve and accommodate their end-of-day mullygrubs, I am met with a continued barrage of "Can I have... Can I go... Can you get me... Where's the... Why do we have to... "

And then there's the second most IRRITATING sound on the planet... whining.

I realize that the third most IRRITATING sound on the planet is probably a mother's guilt trip, and boy do I lay them on!  "Yes, I'll be glad to come out and turn on the sprinkler as soon as I get finished with the 87 other nice things I'm doing for you that you don't give a fart about."  Oh, I have a ton of them!  All very unbecoming, unsympathetic and ineffective at getting me what I want. (Enter the dark shame Rumi mentioned.)

I identify with Rodney Dangerfield, why can't I just get a little respect?

Welcome, Irritable, I wasn't expecting you today.  I'm having difficulty laughing at your arrival.  I've so enjoyed the last few days without you.  Listen, buddy, my kids, my husband and my students do not deserve to endure what you do to me.  You are so obtrusive.  I try to shove you back into the container you came in, but you just bust out all over, without my permission.

So, according to this ancient poet, I'm supposed to treat you with honor.  OK I'll try.  Do you care for a beverage?  So, what new delight do you come to make way for?    Give me a reason to be grateful for you, dear Guest. 

A message?  What's that you say?  (long thoughtful pause)  Yes, I suppose I have been rather burdened lately.  Since you've been housed in my mind today, I guess you've noticed the clutter.  Good grief, YES, I'll admit it!  I'm a mental hoarder.  I'm suffering under the weight of worries, from practical to extreme importance.  Yet, I just keep piling it on.

Are you just here to accuse me and point out this tragic flaw?  (pause)  No?  A warning?  Why do you seem kind of friendly all of a sudden?  I can't believe you came today just to tell me that you want my life to be a more peaceful and rewarding experience.  You must really get what is wrong with my life.  I've wanted for people to see it for so long, but the world just keeps demanding more and more of me. 

I feel a bubble of a new emotion in my chest when I say a quiet, "Thank You."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Creating Space

A developing central theme in my life these days is: creating space.

Something said by One Proned to Analogy recently has gotten lodged in my brain.  (Were I writing a real publishable memoir, I'm sure my editor would demand a few paragraphs of character development here, but I'm just not going to do it.)  She is moving to a new, larger space, just like I did two years ago.  She said, "If I can't find a space to get away in that house then there's something wrong with me."

There's something wrong with me.

I moved into our spacious monster two years ago, with aspirations that it would fix many operational flaws in my life, and it has.  There is more space for my family.  There is more space for the stuff we have and the stuff we do.  But life is not about stuff.  Life is about living.  Why haven't I outfitted my house for how I want to live?  Or at least some portion of it?

We have a spare room opening up soon.  That's a long, yet poignant story about my tendancy to give away gifts that I do not first have for myself.  I gave this room to ungrateful people when I despirately needed a room for myself.

Within the next few weeks, we should be getting this room back.  I immediately jumped to the plan of using this space for family fun and activity... a play room.  I'm not sure how that would be much different than most other rooms in my house.

I have been starving for a personal space for creativity, quiet, reading and other things that nourish me.  Yet, this never even occurred to me as the possible use of a free room.  Until my best friend mentioned this.  I am so grateful that she said it, even though she probably had no idea it would affect me so.

So, I'm dreaming of a room with lots of open space, a comfy chair, lots of books, music, color... and that might be about it.  Dear Hubby has requested that there be some sleeping facility for guests.  I realize he is probably right, even though my recent experiences at hospitality have been disasterous.  I'll consider it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Is anyone else fascinated by those nonsense words that you have to type when commenting on a blog?  Today I encountered the word "ingotart".  I think we should define them for fun.

Ingotart: n. a Sweedish dessert made of goat cheese that is consumed after yodeling.

On to another topic....  (remember, I have no thesis statement!)

My day yesterday was so poetic...

A professional development workshop at a local University.  There is something so opening about being on a campus of higher learning.  This one in particular has a deep spiritual sense of rootedness.  I always feel better as soon as I go there.  And that's before the workshop even starts.

This workshop was on Creative Arts Therapy.  We learned by doing.  It was as much self-care as it was professional development, maybe more.  The experiences were just a tiny bit short of too crunchy for me.  But my soul bought in to the process and I got completely lost (or found?) in the contemplative atmosphere for 3 hours.

From there to Wal Mart.  As I sat in the McDonalds and ate two McSnack Wraps, I arrogantly thought about how I was probably the only person there who spent the morning doing sculpture and poetry.  I suppose the lady in the pleated peg-rolled jeans and frosted big hair could be an artist?  I'm such a snob sometimes, I'm ashamed of myself!

From Wally World back to work for a while, which is an elementary school.  The culture of activity, structure and conventionality settles on me quickly.  Not an entirely bad thing, I'm just observing the various faces of my life.

Not much later, me and my daughter are off to Michael Jackson practice.  Every bit as nourishing as the self-care workshop, but in a completely different way.  Today I'm quite sore.

After MJ, off to a Ladies' Night of Encouragement at church.  To see this event through the lens of my diverse day was perhaps not the most encouraging thing.  I still found my sacred space with the Divine.  But I was struck by how the crunchy counselor types at the workshop seemed more effective at facilitating a spiritual experience than the church folk.  And I don't say that lightly or condescendingly, because I are one.

On to a new day and all that it offers...