Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm not political or funny

Please bear with me today.  It's Monday.  I've missed a few hours of sleep but it was worth it.  Last night we stayed up watching Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell.  I rented it because on occasion, people who I meet suggest that I bear a resemblance to Tina Fey.  Please excuse me for living under a rock, but I have never seen a full episode of 30 Rock.  I did manage to see one of Fey's Sara Palin skits on SNL.  I love her wit, her funny northern accent and the way she works with randomness.  Like Robin Williams (but not quite as outrageous), she slips in and out of alternate "voices" and inserts odd, random ideas and images into the flow of conversation.  
Her comedy is like soup with  unexpected flavors.  She's alternately a boring potato and a red hot chili pepper.  
When people mention that I look like Tina Fey, I'm glad it's the Tina version and not the Sara Palin version (thank God my hair is no longer big and I dumped the wire rims!)

When people say "you look just like Tina Fey" I say "It's too bad, because I'm not political or funny." 

But sometimes I can be a little of both.  Unfortunately I haven't figured out how to write funny here on the blog.  Here I seem to work with insights and memory, not comedy.  I remember a time when my words brought an audience to a sustained, rolling laughter.  It was a powerful experience.

Like the time when I felt called to deliver a message during Meeting For Worship.  Those of you who have never attended a Quaker Meeting should know that during silent worship, the Holy Spirit sometimes prompts a person to stand up and speak to all who are gathered.  The prompting feels like an electric current through the heart, and the more resistant one becomes to standing up, the more current one feels.  To resist is to experience a feeling like one's heart will burst, it pounds so hard.  Hence the term "quaker."  Officially, the name for those who gather in this way are participating in The Religious Society of Friends. 
In any case, I was new to our Meeting for Worship and the topic was about faith and stubbornness. 

At the word stubborn, my heart felt fluttery.  I was afraid to stand up, and after much resistance I popped up from my seat and began to say "I connect with this idea of stubbornness.  In fact, I am 37 years old, and for the first time in my life I understand that the name "Jenny" is the southern name for a female donkey."  
After a great pause, the congregation laughed.  The laughter paused and I stood there.  Then they laughed again, louder, with more voices joining in.  This went on through another pause.  I'm not sure what I said after that.  I think it was something about my bull headed determination and my holding on to things that I should let go.  Later, someone spoke to that message saying that being stubborn is sometimes a very good quality. 

So I am not funny on a regular basis, but I think I could learn to see myself and my habits in a more humorous light.  My life is funny in it's own private way.  If you could see what I look like before I sit here in the morning, and what goes on thirty minutes before I stick my fingers to the keyboard, you might wonder if I was Rowan Atkinson's sister (Mr. Bean).

My life is comedy of the physical sort.  It's getting up at 6:00 am and trying to get through three long-hand pages of stream of consciousness journalling while the dog and cat alternately interrupt this process with food and bathroom needs.  In between my service to them, I try to manage filling the coffee pot and toast a slice of bread.  I sit down for a moment only to stand up again with the prodding of a doggie nose or the sight of the cat rapidly pawing the window as if she could rub a hole through the glass.

It is a life that is as boring as a potato, but sometimes as exciting as a red hot chilli pepper.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Family Date Night

Hi Friends!  I'm up this morning with happy memories of a full yet relaxing weekend at home.  Hurricane Irene has left North Carolina, and while I worried about the people and the beautiful beaches of the Outer Banks, the hurricane did not directly affect us.  We only had a few drops of rain and some wind. For all who are affected, we are praying for safety and recovery.

Here are a few photos of our evening at the ball park.  The night air was warm and breezy, perfect for lounging on a blanket in the grass.

Downtown Greensboro is one of my favorite places.  I love the happy vibe of people and traffic,  historic buildings, culture, events and especially this beautiful ball park.

Elliot was the smallest boy in his preschool and kindergarten classes (also the youngest).  This year he grew like a beanstalk on miracle grow.

The game went into extra innings, and we were too tired to stay until the very end.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ozzie and Me

It's all John Grogan's fault.  If he hadn't written Marley and Me, this place would still be a one cat household.  Don't get me wrong, I love dogs.  I grew up with dogs, dogs as house pets and dogs that were my father's hunting companions.  Then, several weeks after moving in to our house, I was viciously attacked by a neighbor's dog.  This attack happened in the presence of the owner of the dog and several other people.  When the dog attacked my behind, puncturing it nine times, the neighbor's other five dogs formed a circle around me, barking loudly.  I felt that they had formed a pack mentality and would drag me down and tear me to shreds.  The owner of the dog remained seated in her lawn chair during this dramatic event, either too afraid to act or characteristically evil and malicious. (Now that she is a TSA official I have a tendency to think she's not only afraid, but evil too...)

Thankfully, the man next door (who's residence I was visiting) grabbed the attacking dog by the neck and threw it over the fence.  The remaining dogs disbanded at this action.

I ran home, in rage and in tears.  My in laws were visiting us for the first time in our new home.  My father in law was a Catholic Deacon.  To my great shame, I released a spew of swear words to make a sailor blush.  The attack was vicious and the circumstances frightening...but in stead of crying, I seethed rage.  HOW dare they keep a dog like that?  If my son (who was then one) had been there with me he would have probably been killed.
In fact, the reason for my visit that day was to make them aware that during the day, the dog would come to the fence and harass us with barking, biting the fence and shaking it so hard that the caps on the posts fell off.  He would do this regularly whenever we went into our yard or when I would hang laundry on the line.

I suppose he had been warning me.  But I was invited by the neighbors to come over that day, and saw my opportunity to kindly make them aware of the situation.

After my wonderful in laws and my husband got the full story, I went upstairs to assess the damage.  Already large bruises were forming around the punctures.   I went down stairs for ice and to my surprise, found the woman who owned the dog standing in my kitchen.

I'm so sorry to admit this, but in front of my kindly, spiritual and completely loving in laws, I said the f word.  Very loud.  In fact I might have let it slip several times in my blast of rage.

Later, I was spared shame because it was revealed to us by another neighbor that this dog had attacked or bitten neighbors on five other occasions but no one reported these instances out of some type of fear from the owners, or because the bites did not require medical treatment.

Mine did.  And so when I saw my doctor, he said that he would not treat me unless I promised to report the incident to animal control, to which I gladly agreed.  The dog was put down and that side of the neighborhood does not speak to me in kindness anymore.

Well, the fake kind of niceties are exchanged if we happen to meet.  Sometimes even pacifists have enemies.

Afterwards, I spent the next three years afraid of dogs and their teeth.  Can you imagine how I felt hiking with the black bears?
People think I'm unreasonably afraid.  Well, it's not that I'm afraid of bears and dogs as creatures, but of the potential harm that they are capable of inflicting.

It got to the point that I would wince if I was taking a walk past a fenced yard and a dog would bark while charging the fence.

It is amazing to me now that I was so afraid for so long.  I needed some kind of therapy, and it came in Grogan's bestselling book, Marley and Me.

After loving the book and enjoying the movie, I was able to put away some of my fear.  Then, we were blessed with seeing my parent's chocolate lab Bear, who is a gentle giant.  Bear helped me to trust the presence of a dog again.  When we offered to pet sit while my mother recovered from surgery, the last of my fears melted and I considered myself a recovering dog lover.

Last fall we began a search for the right dog for our family.  In my mind I hoped this dog would be medium sized, quiet, obedient and gentle.

My wish came true.  Ozzie was born after his mother's human owner had passed away.  Ozzie's mom attempted to survive with her pups alone.  Unfortunately, all the puppies in this litter contracted Parvo.  Ozzie is the only surviving member of his family.  What that must have been like for him to watch all of his siblings and his mother die, one after another, with no one to help him....

But he lived, and was eventually rescued.  He is afraid of people the way I am afraid of dogs.

He is our steady, loyal companion.  A gentle, sweet dog who loves toast, long walks and cuddle time.  He likes our cat, Annie and would love to play with her more, and she has gradually come to befriend him.

Two days ago, we took him for a walk and discovered a neighborhood where people gather in the late afternoon to let their dogs play in a common area, free to romp in a clearing, unleashed.  These neighbors were kind and invited us to let Ozzie play.  After a little while,  a boy came out to play with his dog, and suddenly Elliot made a new friend.

I was so delighted with the sight of Ozzie playing with his new friends, and Elliot playing with his new friends, and my husband talking to the neighbors, that I forgot to be afraid of dogs and their teeth.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Letting go

I had to let her go back.  There was no choice.  We've been sharing her since the divorce 10 years ago.  She'll go back to her dad, and it's okay.  But we cried.  We cry every time.  I hate this for her, the traveling back and forth every summer, every holiday.

One more year of school, and then maybe she'll be here with us, attending college and entering the beginning of her adult working life.   I do not know if this will happen, and so I try not to think too far ahead.  For now, our house is a little messy but a lot more empty.

So I know what my mother feels.  What my father felt.

Enter one of the trickiest words in the English language, the biggest hurdle on my path of faith.


Trust is what we must do in order to move forward.  I say a little prayer if I'm in a scary traffic situation, or if someone I know is going through a difficult time.  I say "angel wings over my love (s)".  This helps me to sink into the mindset of trust.  I'm saying it now for Emily.  That every day, unseen angel wings give protection over my lovely daughter.  She has experienced pain and frustration in her young life, along with many happy times and adventures.  She's experienced things I never would have imagined for her when I held her as a baby, so small and soft with big beautiful eyes and blond curls.  I have to keep trusting that God has given her everything she needs to live a happy life here on earth.

On our last day together, we attended the wedding reception of my friend Sandie and her new husband Danny.  The party was hosted by Danny's brother and sister in law, who for many years struggled with debt from law school and life in general.  In the evenings, this couple worked on a patent. They had an idea about a collapsible pill.  This pill was supposed to help sick pets take their medicine without feeling a round cumbersome pill disguised in a treat.  The idea was pure genius...they worked on it at their kitchen table, truly a home made invention.  A big company bought the rights to their patent for millions.  At the time we received our invitation, we had never met this couple or heard of their story.

We arrived at the party dressed in our best (thankfully I decided to let Emily give me a make over! I even wore my heels).   As we stood with our mouths nearly agape at the sheer size of the estate, I worried a little.  I hadn't expected the party to be in a grand house with a small party of guests that I barely knew.

But the party was a smashing success, and we all enjoyed ourselves.  In fact we were made to feel like a part of the family.  Sandie and I were very close friends in school, and those feelings of intimacy, love and respect have survived through nearly twenty years of absence.  I was delighted to see her mother and father, her sister, brother and nephews.  It was like a family reunion.   Their presence put us all at ease.  I enjoyed watching my children relax and have fun, swimming in the pool and making new friendships.    It was a fantastic event to give closure to our summer with Emily.  It was like a happily ever after ending to our time together.

With my heart full of love and happy memories, I return to my work and ordinary daily life. The ordinary actually brings a sense of purpose and calm. It is Monday morning and there is much work to be done.  Fall is the busy season for Knees and Paws.  I have several sales to ship out today, and more work to do on the Writer's and Illustrator's workshop. The YMCA director has agreed to meet with me about my proposal for a class.  I am scheduled to make a presentation on this Thursday.  It will be an amazing opportunity to teach a small class of my own creation and I'm nervous and excited at the same time.

Thank you for visiting and for the wonderful comments.  I look forward to catching up on your adventures this week! 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Life without written words

Hi Friends,
My week of reading deprivation has come to a close.  I'm feeling refreshed and full of life experiences. It was difficult to stop my habit of reading, and at least once I gave in to peek at your comments (thank you for your wonderfulness!)

While away from the world of text, time slowed.  I recognized the arrival and release of various emotions.  I felt less distracted and enjoyed reconnecting with my husband, children and neighbors.

On Thursday, Richard and I decided to have an adventure downtown.  At Cheescakes by Alex, we shared conversation in the fading light, enjoying the sights and sounds of passing traffic and people.   At heart, Richard is a philosopher and I get wrapped up in the way his mind unfolds. 

It felt like we were in Europe.  At a sidewalk cafe, he enjoyed a scone and tea, while I munched on an Italian biscotti and coffee.  After our desert, we walked leisurely with hands clasped, under streetlamps, over cobblestones.  Passing great old buildings, we found ourselves admiring the marquee at the historic Carolina Theater.  We had arrived just in time to catch one of the summer film fest movies.  Inside this grand, old theater with huge marble pillars, we were carried to a past era of grand ambition.  We sat in the balcony, feeling small in the vast space that was lit with low lights on the side balcony seats.  The place conjured images of opera, of live theater and symphony.

We sat enthralled, watching ocean waves and surfers on the screen.  The film was Point Break with Keeanau Reeves and Patrick Swayze.

  What else could a girl ask for? I've always had this longing to go back in time and meet Richard in our younger lives.  Watching an eighties movie helped to make that illusion feel real.  Like teenagers, we skipped the boring parts of the movie to explore the theater and found a ball room on the third floor.  While the movie played below us, Richard twirled me around the dance floor in the dark.  The only light came from frosted glass windows, giving the illusion it was snowing outside.

After the movie ended, we returned home to the kids, all cuddled up and ready for sleep.

Today we are spending the last full day with Emily.   Yet we'll share a closing adventure as a family.  We have been invited to a wedding reception in Raleigh.  We've booked a hotel in our State Capitol.  I'm looking forward to wearing my new green dress, to seeing my high school friend and her prince charming. 

Last night I dreamed that Elliot boarded the plane with Emily.  I ran around the terminal searching for my son.  Then, around a corner appeared a security officer, waving.  Elliot was running to me, and slammed into me with wide open arms.  It was a message to appreciate the child still left to me.  That although I must release Emily for a while, Elliot is still here and is feeling this loss too. 

We will do it together.  Make it though until we are together again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Filling the last five days

  This is goodbye week for our family, as Emily will fly to Michigan for her senior year of high school.  I have intense feelings about this.  However, when thinking about all the parents who are sending their teens to college this year, I feel a sense of hope and comfort.  I have hope that when the time comes for higher education, we might be having a homecoming instead of a tearful goodbye. 

But a year is a long time, and there are many paths to choose.  I realize that one day I'll be standing here and they'll both be off living adult lives. 

Staying present in the everyday moments is all I can do.  The truth is that sometimes I practice avoidance because I feel nagged.     

So I'm here and not here and it's okay.  

I might have to avoid the blog while we make this transition.   I once read that a good way to prime the artist's well is to go on a reading hiatus and to absorb images and feelings instead of text.  The end of summer seems like a good time to experience a week of reading deprivation. 

I look forward to reading your posts and comments on my return, because you will be missed!  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Travelling Insights

Once and a while, going away affords new perspectives and inspiring thoughts.

             We have just returned from a lovely camping adventure in Virginia's Fairy Stone Park.  While there we enjoyed gentle breezes, sunny skies, a cool fresh water lake, funny stories, laughter, ice cream, hot dogs and toasted marshmallows.  On the afternoon of our second day, a group of families with 10 children under age seven arrived.  Elliot enjoyed making new friends and sharing the freedom to run, bike and play spies.  At night while the orange flames of campfires danced, children wearing headlamps ran giggling through the trees.  While viewing this delightful sight of uninhibited joy, I thought they must be magic firefly children.

     Just as we were feeling sleepy, a thunderstorm arrived, bringing gentle rain to douse the fires. Elliot reluctantly came in, anticipating the morning with his new friends.  While he slept and we dozed in our sleeping bags, a terrible sound cracked the quiet night with its gently falling rain.  A child had fallen into a campfire and burned his hand.  We prayed in our tents as he kept wailing in agony.  We all felt helpless and sad.  After an hour, we wondered why they had not taken the child to ER.  In the guise of a trip to the bathroom, we approached the scene.  The child was being cared for by two doctors and a nurse who were part of the group. After another hour, they decided that the boy could not be comforted and finally took him to the hospital. 
Afterwards the campers next to us complained loudly about a missing flip flop.  When I finally fell into a fitful, uncomfortable sleep, I was awakened by Emily, who said that her side of the tent was under water and could I make room for her on the air mattress.  I spent most of the night like a crayon shoved in an overfilled box.

     Today I'm a little sleepy and recovering from our adventure. The neighbor's loud complaint about an insignificant flip flop so soon after after the sound of a child suffering intense pain has stuck in my mind. 

  I've decided to leave my annoying, neurotic fears and stop complaining about inconsequential things like aging or what to do in my professional life. 

     While we were camping, I also felt a new feeling that the universe is friendly.  I realized that in the past I have invested a great deal of time imaging that things will be much worse than they actually are.

In that spirit I'm making plans to teach a writer/illustrator workshop for home schooled children at the local YMCA.  Once I've made the lesson plans for an eight week course, I plan to reserve a classroom at the Y and to advertise.

As part of the course, students will enter a writing contest that is sponsored by our PBS station, which also hosts an awards ceremony for all participants.  This ceremony takes place at Great Wolf Lodge and includes a free admission for the writer and their family to the water park. I have a vision that long after the course is finished and the stories submitted, the children and their families will gather as a group for this event.

I've decided that it's time to teach my first real class and expand what I've begun in our home.

I've also decided to regularly contribute items for the etsy shop.  Elliot suggested that we make furry slipper paws.  Since he thought of this fantastic idea, I intend to pay him for every set of slippers we sell.    

Thank you so much for your recent visits and kind comments.  I enjoyed coming home to your happy words of encouragement!

Photo by Elliot Hoppins

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Confronting Age Through Self Portraits

The truth about fear is that it goes away when you confront it.  I'm afraid to age.  This is one of my secret anxieties.  There are three things that help me to walk on this path of growing older.  The first is to take a walk or a run every day.  The second is to occasionally take pictures of myself without make up.  The third is to keep moving forward with my decision not to color my hair.  Recently I was introduced to a young woman who had made this choice.  Her decision to go gray and to be her natural, authentic self had the effect of highlighting her youthful, happy face.  Instead of having young looking hair with an older face, the old looking hair made a stunning contrast to a young face. 

So in order not to be afraid of growing older, I'm going to share a few of the self portraits I took this month.  They are unedited and taken in the morning light on my back porch.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Your Back Stage Pass

Anxiety. Stage fright. The proper word for "worry."  Not quite fear or paranoia, but the little nagging feeling that you're going to be judged by something or someone with power, that this judgement will be negative, and that your work is substandard and weak.  It doesn't matter that you actually enjoyed the process of the work, the outcome may in truth be absolute junk.

Don't believe it.  If you take care of the quantity, God will take care of the quality.  Think about that for a minute.  Especially if you have children.  People are literally filling the earth with new babies right now...and God is responsible for the quality.  My first attempt at making a paw came out looking like road kill, but I kept making more...and am happy that the result of letting go of the desire for perfection brought me here.

The cure for anxiety in creativity (or whatever work you do) is to let God take care of the quality while you work on producing the quantity.

For someone who feels blocked creatively, I needed this cure. (Have you noticed how few of my posts actually relate to the shop?)  There are two reasons. The first is that I'm not really producing new items. This comes directly from anxiety, a kind of long term suffering that says I need to slow down on the making of insignificant stuff and get to work on other things.  It's like having a psychic virus.  I worry that people will think I'm a complete fool for doing what I do.  The other reason is that readers don't want to be advertised to.  I respect my friends here so much that I do not want to offend them with spammy ads.  So I have a dilemma.

How do I include my creative work here while writing the bits and pieces of my reflections?  I have decided to create a new blog page and to keep filling it with pictures and thoughts about the material items I'm sharing.  It is my hope that you will check that new page now and then to see the many changes that I feel are on the horizon.  This page will be called  "Your Back Stage Pass"  Behind the daily monologue you read here, things are going on behind the curtain that will fuel and sustain this blog, my life and my career. 

So far, no one has actually come out and said that I am a complete fool, except me!  In fact most of my wonderful friends here are incredibly supportive of my journey and understand the deeply rooted conflict I feel about being an artist mom at home versus a professional in an office or classroom.   I am happy to share that yesterday I knew for certain that being an artist mom at home was the best possible gift!  There was no conflict for my attention; my family ended up hanging out with me on the couches and chairs around my work station.  It felt like family togetherness and a business and fun all at the same time.  We listened to music and talked about wishes and the Japanese translation of Ribbit (kero kero kero, guap guap guap!) and simply enjoyed one another.  Today I am excited because I have more ideas to create and list in the shop. 

I hope you are filled with energy and happiness, and that something good will happen today.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Life is full like this

Life is full like this...

Full like driving around with Emily, trying to catch the light of the golden hour.
And her laughter.

And discovering that since we'd last visited Guilford's campus, artist Patrick Dougherty created this fabulous stick castle.

 Like remembering that we were mad at each other in the early afternoon, but finding a way through the mad to the good, happy place we hold in our hearts.

Life is full like this.

Full of images.  And Memories.

Of simple, unplanned moments stolen from the daily grind.  Shared moments stolen from our compulsive, habitual living.  

Something good is going to happen today.  I expect it to.  I believe it will.  I know it's happening right now while the house is quiet and my children are sleeping.  
But sometimes in saying these words, I find myself facing a dilemma.  Is it self deception to continue to wake up every day with this intention?  We are currently in the midst of a family tragedy.  On the day that I wrote the "something good" post, Richard's nephew died unexpectedly.  It has become difficult to keep up my Pollyanna cheeriness.   It's a devastating loss and I have no idea how Richard keeps going on to work, functioning and hurting and wanting to be at home with us while wanting to be home with his family.  I understand that torn feeling and the confusing vertigo.    We are praying that God helps make a way for him to go. 
We are remembering to enjoy the smaller moments that make life full.   Remembering to notice the good that keeps popping up in every day, even when we are sad.  


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Something Good

Magic words for happy living.  Say them.  Right now.  With no plan for making it so.  Say

"Something good is going to happen today"

Then let your heart and mind be open to the possibility.  Something good is going to happen today.  I don't yet know what that will be.  Yet it's an uncertainty I can live with.

Isn't it always the "not knowing" that we find unsettling as adults?  We feel a constant need to produce outcomes, a need to plan, prepare and organize.  A need to take control of our lives.  Planning is our way of seeing the future.  We create expectations and execute the actions toward meeting a goal or deadline.  This is the training we have been programmed to act out.

Even though I am the inventor of Knees and Paws, I don't see myself as an executive.  And executive executes.  Execute conjures images of execution, of hangings in the wild west or of medieval France and the guillotine.

It's true that sometimes I entertain a fantasy in which I wear beautiful business attire and work among professionals in a climate controlled office with big windows and potted plants.  In this vision I have an office with my name on the door and a wastebasket that the housekeeper never has to empty because I remember being the housekeeper once.

Something good is going to happen today.  I won't be walking into the fantasy office.  It's Saturday.  Today I get to enjoy our comfy home with my beautiful children.  I am blessed with time to work on creative projects and to write this blog.  I might take a walk or catch a double feature at the drive in theater.  I'm not really sure how everything will unfold.

Something good is already happening. 

You are here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Basics Matter

Dear Friends,
Today I said  that something good was going to happen.  I did not know what this might be.  I merely kept my mind and heart open to the idea that something good would come my way.  
Recently I've felt a connection to the inspiring tweets of Sweetie Berry.  If you enjoy twitter, I recommend following Sweetie.  She'll make you feel good about your potential for success in life and work.
She's sweet like her name, but not artificially so.  I find her philosophy to be inspiring and intelligent.  She has values that I appreciate. 

Today, Sweetie wrote about Knees and Paws on her blog, Basics Matter.   Her post helped me to see potential uses for my product that I had not previously considered. In particular, she suggests alternate uses for Knees and Paws in educational settings.  Her recognition of these uses has energized my purpose in going forward with my endeavor.   While I read her kind words, I was reminded  of a conversation I shared with Richard.  We were in our final week of preparing the Patent Application.  Richard mentioned that the activity of playing cats and dogs in childhood is not just for entertainment.  He believed that kids who pretend to be pets are having fun but also learning compassion for animals.  In the act of pretending, children shift in an out of different perceptions.

Sweetie writes,

" Our Madison, at 15, works with young pet owners to train them to treat animals with respect and she has already put in her order this morning for a set of these wonderful enhancements to her presentations."

In addition to writing about Knees and Paws on her own blog, she  has also agreed to be a guest writer here.  I look forward to sharing my new friend with all of you! 

Thank You Sweetie! You made my day!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Where I'm From

This post is inspired by Bigger Picture Blogs.

I am from a low land garden, from a cottonwood tree swing and clothespin dolls.

I am from an east facing room with pink walls overlooking a raspberry farm.

From a home made bright by sunrise, from peony, lilac, sweet allysum and Great Lakes.

I am from LaRocks and Carters, Bernadette and Emma, poor and generous, disabled by injury and disease, faithful and strict.

From you can be anything in life if you work hard enough and from respect is earned.

I am from Catholic and Protestant and a discarded Native American way.

I am from Michigan and Canada and France and England, from giant pots of home made soup and lemon merangue pie.

From the grandmother who had 15 babies and died when the youngest was two, and the great grandmother who's breastmilk was poisoned by an abscess from an unhealed injury and whose first four babies died from drinking this milk without her knowledge.

I am from the bookshelf on Brendonwood drive and from the memory of my mother who knows all the stories.  I am from my children's stories they'll tell in the future and from library books about girls in the country coming of age who find love and hardship.

Photo by Emily Holmstrom

If you'd like to share in this great writing exercise, I invite you to visit 
 and post your version inspired by the template.  

Some Quiet Thoughts

These beautiful deer arrived in our neighborhood just before sundown. Emily took these photos while I watched the fawn eating an apple, tossing it around playfully.  It reminded me that animals in the wild engage in play.   Currently scientists are researching these occurrences in nature to gain insight into the role that play has in our lives.   Perhaps it's quite obvious to us that play naturally heals our self destructive tendencies, but our overworked culture ignores ideas that don't come with the stamp of scientific research.

Perhaps the fawn's play was a reminder for me to slow down and relax. Lately I haven't felt inspired to play.  This has to do with the discovery of a job opportunity.  After spending many tense hours working on my resume, I realized that I am not qualified for the position. The job title was "Digital Communications Coordinator"  which would have been a good fit for my degree in English.  I was excited about the idea of writing for a college website. However, I felt I was unqualified for the additional expectation of managing the institution's intranet.   I have no formal training in the digital part of communications. I have no idea how to describe my skills in the necessary terms. There is no time to meet to meet with someone before the deadline, which is today. I'm letting it pass and I don't know if I'll regret this decision.

I also realized that even if I were hired, I intend to keep moving forward with my business.  I want it to someday take me places and challenge me to be more actively engaged in life. 

All this was going on in my head when I remembered that there are less than twenty days before Emily returns to school up north.  She'll be a senior this year. I have less than twenty days to tell her how much I love her in person.  To be here at home with enough energy and time to enjoy living together.  I'm sad that we have to start making plans for her return. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

From Jenny, Richard, Emily and Elliot!  We love you so much and hope you have a fantastic day!

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