Monday, November 28, 2011

Shutterfly Holiday Christmas Cards

Tonight I worked on our family Christmas cards (AGAIN) and discovered that if I share them on Blogger, I will receive ten dollars off my next order!  After using a Target Promo code, this first set of cards came with a $20.00 discount.  Looking back, I wonder if the 20 dollar coupon was included in our order because the clerk felt sorry for we were obviously blind and unschooled in photo editing basics.  I'm so glad that life sometimes affords do-overs!

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

I write for my friends

Wise professors once instructed, "ask first, who is the audience?"  This thought is the door I walk through during blocks that turn white pages into content.  I have difficulty keeping up with a regular paper and pen journal because the audience is boring old ME, who's brain is already full of my voice. It is easier to begin writing when I address the top line,

"Dear Friend,"

Writing is about reaching out into the void, connecting oneself to another.  It is about sharing the beauty of one's imagination, desires, philosophy.  Writing is a brave act.  It is the stamp that says

"I was here."

To write a book that is published in a publishing house, a physical book with paper pages and a binding, must be the ultimate validation for the writer's existence.  The problem for me with this type of writing lifestyle is that while buried in a huge writing project, the physical world fades.  I don't go outside much.  Family and friends hang in my peripheral view, not front and center.

During the beginning of our romantic journey as friends and lovers, I wrote for Richard.  Long letters, poetry, post it notes, greeting cards.  The rest of the world fell into a haze.  For the first time, I was experiencing something only read about in books, yet intensely real and three dimensional.  It used to be that a good book would satisfy my mind and emotional well being for weeks.  I haven't read anything that did that in a very long time.  Perhaps my tastes have changed.  Perhaps I've discovered that I no longer need my armor of books to live a brave, experiential life.  I looked for love in books.  Occasionally I discovered it in a secondary kind of way.

Emily's middle school English teacher once said, "books are my friends.  They have been my friends all my life."

At the time, I related to that statement.  Not today.  Today, books are books.  They are not my friends, although I do enjoy being entertained by writers and the classic authors.  Books are not friends.

  People are.

And this is why blogging is a good habit for me. Whereas books brought me to more books, blogging is bringing me to people.  It is helping me to answer that question, "who is the audience?"

The audience are my friends.  They are light hearted, faith-filled, inspiring people.  They have helped to shape a new world view; one that is not dominated by the news media's lens that shows only a dangerous, fearful world, perpetually on the edge of self destruction.

So that question, "who is your audience?" is now answered in a way that I did not expect.  I write for my friends, although I did not know they were my friends until I reached out into the void.

And they write for me.  It is a gift to receive their stories, pictures, humor, and thoughts on life. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Dog Needs Pants and Other Musings

If it weren't for Richard's attention to detail, the following photo, in it's unedited version, would have made center stage on our 2011 Family Christmas Card.  In fact, the cards were printed and ready for envelopes and shipping. 

Now I finally understand why people put clothing on their dogs.  Ours needs a pair of pants.

 Richard must be psychic because he seems to find this situation hilarious before he even realizes what's going on.



  When I was younger, the holidays made me cranky.  This year is already different, because I'm learning to let go of ingrained tradition and experience the flow of abundance that surrounds us.  This Thanksgiving weekend was full of love.  Perhaps it is selfish not to travel, but staying home allowed us to make time for friends and neighbors.   Our friend Tom is now in a rehabilitation center, receiving care for a complication due to a tumor in his throat.  In between the days of feasting, cuddling, dancing and leaf raking, we were able to visit him in Meadow View, where there are no views of a meadow. It was the only place where he could receive care for his trachea.  I know he did not want to go to that place, and as his son Gary related,

"tears were shed at the thought of it."

We will return to that place, as often as we are able through the holidays and beyond.  Two days before Christmas, Tom will be receiving another dose of Chemotherapy, a dose that might send his heart into cardiac arrest.

While in Meadow View, we walked the halls.  Elliot covered his nose, and hid behind me when one lady approached him with her arms out.  It was a startling situation, as she seemed to have no boundaries even from her chair.

The rooms and halls were full of people in really unfortunate conditions, and it nearly sent me to my knees in sadness.  So many stroke patients.  So many whose gaze drifted to the ceiling in a state of unknowing.  Then, we saw Elizabeth.

She was dressed in a matching purple sweat suit, with her hair pulled back.  Her eyes were bright and sparkling.  Within that ancient face, weathered and soft, her smile beamed when Richard held out his hand and said hello.

We followed his lead, and held out our hands out too.  We asked her name, and then introduced ourselves.  She noticed Elliot hiding behind his dad, and said "may God bless you and that baby."

She told us her story of being the last.  Her children grown and "gone away".  Her husband dead, her friends gone too.  "Me and God, just me and God" she said.

  I know I'll never be the same after being blessed by her prayers for us. Through Elizabeth, I felt God's love.  For a fraction of a second, I could see her face surrounded by light. It is not often in my busy life that I remember how close the afterlife is to all of us.

Her love sent me to that place of silent reverence for life now, for life to come. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giveaway Winner Announced

True Random Number Generator 2 Powered by RANDOM.ORG
 Congratulations to Thisisme at Southamsdarling!  To accept your prize, please send an email including your shipping information to Jenny at  I look forward to sending the hand warmers your way!

* * *

I hope you are all enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday.  I had a beautiful day full of love and wonderful food.

I'll always remember this year's Thanksgiving, when Richard was the first one to turn on the Christmas music and prepare our turkey with dressing.  He prepares our bird every year we are home together.  There's something about this holiday that makes my hard working husband extremely happy.  Riding the wave of his good cheer, we sang and danced in the kitchen while the aromas of roasted poultry and a cherry wood fire burned in the hearth.

I don't know why I'm so blessed...


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Giveaway

Hi Friends,
I hope you are all off to a great week.  Today I'd like to share a new seasonal item in my shop.  These hand warmers are trimmed with silky novelty plush fleece and made with ultra cuddle polar fleece.   They slip on easily and are so soft that they inspire lots of hand holding, which is important during this often stressful time of year.  Please leave a comment to be included in the giveaway.  The winner will be chosen using a random number generator on Friday, November 25. Prize includes one Mrs. Clause Hand Warmers, and one pair of Grinchy Green Plaid Hand Warmers.   If these will be a gift for someone you love, I'm happy to include free holiday gift wrap and a card with your personalized message.

I'm truly thankful for my blogging friends.  You have enriched my life with your gifts of friendship and love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Elliot's Fifteen Minutes of Fame

I wish I had a video to go along with this post.  I'm certain that words will not be enough to convey the amazing event we experienced on Saturday.

Richard, having a love for adventure, signed us up to compete in a race to win a Chevy Sonic. 
I really had no idea what this was going to involve, except that it was a scavenger hunt, in which we would earn points by completing challenges at certain areas around downtown Greensboro.  It was to be a race on foot that would last approximately three hours.  (Thank goodness I've been keeping up with my running!).

Before the race began, a local radio station was there to energize the crowd of over 200 competitors.  This radio station kicked off the day's event by hosting an impromptu dance contest to win a fifty dollar gift card.

I love to dance, and Elliot was with me, so we joined a handful of people willing to make complete fools of themselves in public.

Elliot was the only child that was competing in the day's event with his parents.  I think most people felt that their children might slow them down, or that it would be too exhausting for a kid to run all over town for three hours.  Knowing that he could keep up as we've included him on long hikes in the mountains, we weren't concerned.  I think the radio DJ thought it was cool that a kid was going to compete.  So Elliot and I were chosen to dance first.

When the music started, Elliot blew up the place with his moves.  Inside I was thinking "Wow! I can't believe it! Since when.????"

  The crowd cheered him, loudly and with lots of clapping.  My jaw must have been hanging open while I lamely tried to keep pace.  The poor sops who danced afterward said, 'Geeze, who can follow that!'

The last dancer to perform also sent a wave of cheering and clapping.  Suddenly, Elliot and I found ourselves having to dance again for a tie breaker.
And he blew us away again...and ended it with a front flip.

I am not kidding.  My son did a front flip and landed it, without having practiced.  I had no idea he could do that.

With that stunning finale, the crowd went crazy!  But in the end, they cheered louder for the last dancer, who we discovered later was a professional night club dancer.

During the race, people who were competing for the car would stop to tell Elliot that they rooted for him.

Even though we did not win the car or first place in the dance contest, all of us left feeling incredibly uplifted from the experience.  I think I may have to search for a place where Elliot can dance with a group or a class.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Living my dream, one hour a week

Underneath my photo to the right, you'll notice that I've included "teacher" as one of my personal adjectives.  This week, I've questioned whether or not I should use that word.  It was my life long dream to be a classroom teacher, a dream that was wishful thinking.  I wonder if by using that term I'm misrepresenting myself.
 Fellow blogger Shelly from Le Tejana is a real classroom teacher.  The kind of person who gives her heart to many, many kids on a daily basis, year after year.  Her stories are uplifting, and sometimes incredibly tragic.  I thought about Shelly in her classroom this morning and I tried to imagine myself in that role.  After considering the enormous responsibility and expectations, I began to see why I've not taken the next steps into that role.  It's just too big for me at this point in my life.

Maybe I should change the word "teacher" below my picture to "home educator." While it's true that I took on a teaching role as licensed child care provider, taught preschool for several years and also worked as nanny, the time I've spent teaching in a public classroom is limited to my hours either as a volunteer or as a college student earning hours for my Ed Studies concentration.  Which was supposed to be my major.

In the middle of that, along came Elliot.
And I wanted to be with him more than I wanted a license.  I hated that torn feeling.  Hated it.  Having to keep searching and trusting various care givers so that I could keep taking classes was difficult.  I was not willing to seek a full time day care situation so that I could complete student teaching.  It was a selfish act.  Elliot was my baby and I wanted time with him.

One day, my compassionate English professor and academic advisor suggested that I could finish my undergrad degree and return for my teacher's license later, when Elliot was older.  This idea sent a wave of relief through me and I took it and ran...

Then I was left with a fresh diploma and the desire to work a little.  I was eager to use my new skills and confidence that was brimming inside.  So I went to the library and worked second shift.

Which was great.  But still it was not teaching.

And the little teacher flame still burned within.

I know I could be a substitute and do this every day.

Yet Elliot and Richard and I are happy with homeschooling. Everyday I learn more about the kind of teacher I am.  Because my son loves wildlife biology and the natural world, my mind has opened up to a whole new discipline.  It's an intensely fascinating journey.  Last night I thought it would actually be possible to book a cruise to the Bahamas and arrange for Elliot to meet the amazing Doc Gruber, who is currently compiling the largest data collection on lemon sharks in the world.  I appreciate the freedom that I couldn't have in a brick and mortar school. 

I have this other little thing...this homeschool writer/illustrator workshop.

There are four students now.  They have all bonded with one another and have asked me to organize things to do outside of our class, and also to keep going with it next year.  One of my students said today,
"I love this class.  It's more fun than school!"
For one hour a week, I feel like a real teacher in a real classroom.  I feel validated and uplifted by their enthusiastic participation.  It fulfills me in a way I cannot really describe.

It was a big risk to make up a course and pitch it to an administrator.  I can't believe it was accepted and that I'm actually doing this. 

Have you lived a dream in a big or small way?  How did you make it happen?  Or was it completely accidental?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rushing the Season

What is the rush?  The day after Halloween, Walmart was playing Christmas music.

This year, I was ahead of the folks at Walmart in the race to Christmas glory.  Our outdoor lights have been up since last year!

Another reason for my happiness today is that in a very small and humble way, I've reopened the shop.  While taking my work vacation, the idea of reopening kept nagging me.  What a relief to just have it over with. It was painless because I've decided to keep things very simple.  During this stressful time of year I intend to offer only what I have already made and not accept further custom orders until after the New Year. 

Lately I've also been thinking about ways to simplify this Christmas.  The thought crossed my mind that I could bake salt dough gingerbread boys for our tree and skip the whole unpacking of boxes in the attic.  In case Elliot would miss seeing some of his old favorites, I could send him up with a flashlight and allow him to go on a scavenger hunt.  And Diane, if you are reading this I can hear you say EEEK! 

Since the Christmas lights are already up, I only have to find an extension cord and plug them in.

I could order a pizza and invite my family to help with all of the Christmas cards.

I could buy our tickets for any upcoming holiday shows now, so that by mid December I'm not disappointed that I missed everything.  

In the end, the big season is going to arrive and I'll never be fully ready for it.  But then I wonder:  

Why are we racing?  With whom are we competing?

This week I'd love it if you would share the ways that you will keep things simple this holiday season. I hope to remember this Quaker saying "don't do something, just sit there!"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Swirling Leaves and Wild Wind

We are having an incredibly beautiful fall this year.  The sunny dry days have illuminated bright reds, yellows and orange leaves that are gathering in heaps around town.  The early darkness is inspiring more dinners with candlelight, and nights of quiet sleep as windows stay shut against the cooler temps.

  This morning I woke early enough to make a dash for coffee before Richard went to work.  Driving with the windows down, the cool fresh wind rushed in while leaves swirled around the road ahead.  Suddenly I realized that my appreciation for life in all it's changing seasons is more complex.  The young version of me would have wished for more sunlight, the older me enjoys the colder darkness.  I passed a runner and thought that it wouldn't be so bad to wake at five am and greet the day before traffic clogs the air with exhaust.  It might be thrilling to run in the dark, and comforting to return and see the light of our kitchen window, where Richard would be waiting.

Today is the day that I plan to reopen the etsy shop after a nice long break.  Today is the day I'll stop procrastinating.

I hope it will be different this time; that I'll make more time to stand in swirling leaves and wild wind.

Monday, November 14, 2011

This Blank Page

It's Monday morning, and the bright white of this blank page is searing my eyes.  Perhaps that's because I spent the night being interrupted by Elliot and Ozzie.  Elliot watched a show on Sunday morning called Mystery Hunters, which is supposedly for a young audience.  He was intrigued by the "mysterious" aspect but then unnerved by the subject of Alien life forms and the possibility of them hiding here on Earth.  The whole morning was spent discussing his fear and how to manage it. 

Perhaps feeling confident that fear is a manageable emotion, in the evening he decided to watch the Jim Carrey version of A Christmas Carol.  This made me a proud mom, as he has always loved this Dickens classic, yet irritated because I was again reminded that the holiday season looms.

Finally at bedtime, having spent the day filling his mind with aliens and a terrifying ghost story, sleep for Elliot would not come.  So, despite Richard's grumbling, we all piled in our bed and tried to sleep.  After a few minutes, my guys were snoring away, while I attempted to balance on the edge.  Ozzie, feeling left out, decided to join us on the floor, but made sure to keep jingling his tags every so often. 
When all was quiet, I crept into Emily's room.  Then Ozzie followed.  Too groggy to care, I fell into a light doze and then woke again at midnight when Richard carried Elliot back into his room. Upon waking with the sudden motion, he asked for his light to stay on all night. 
After more doggie jingling and finally a short nap, morning arrived.

The only coffee is left over from yesterday.

I know I have plans and expectations for this fine Monday morning, but there's not enough organization or focus between my ears.

 Every day is a fresh start.  Even one that has to begin with stale coffee.

Maybe Monday should begin with a walk in the woods.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Creative Business, Creative Family

   Soon after writing a few goals down for the near future, things around here got busy.  One of my goals was to find or create new packaging for Knees and Paws products.  During my research on packaging, I discovered several wonderful books on box design with templates, while Richard showed me the amazing Container Store website.  In the end, I chose to use our webcam box as a template.  It was just the right size with a window. I used a manilla folder for the prototype, and when it was finished I realized that it could be converted into a finger puppet theater by cutting a round hole in the back. 

  This was a project that Elliot helped with, and I love his suggestion that we make a pet house design around the hole in the back.  Our new packaging now has three uses: one for housing Knees and Paws with a matching finger puppet, one use as a mini theater, and one as a pet house for tiny stuffed pets.  When it's no longer useful, it can be recycled with other cardboard and paper products.  

An unexpected result of starting a handmade business is that my family has become more creative.  We now work out many problems as group projects, which builds a strong sense of togetherness.  I used to be intimidated working on anything with Richard because he likes "exact" details.  I know this is a consequence of working on airplanes all day.  He has to be exact in his job for the safety of people who fly.  Sometimes at home, I've felt intimidated by his skills and expectations for high quality.  When we began to paint the outside of our house, I decided to bake pies instead of work side by side with a brush.  There were just too many instructions and expectations.  After an hour or two, I just gave up trying.

Things are different now.  I did not write this down as a goal, but Richard and I are now able to work on projects the same room, at the same time.  This weekend, we put the finishing touches on our updated dining room, which had been empty for months.  Last winter, our new dog Ozzie and our cat Annie had a territorial pissing contest on the carpet.  Ultimately we had to lose our carpet and subfloor, and Annie had to be relocated to the covered porch in the back.  

   When it was finished, I sat down and felt a complete sense of peace.  I realized that I'm never going to be the kind of person who can sit in an empty room to achieve a meditative state of higher consciousness.  I need a cozy home with candle light and pictures of my family.  

My experience with goal setting was positive in some ways, and I plan to keep moving forward with it. However, I noticed that while I was accomplishing a great deal, inside I felt a little manic.  It was unsettling to have so many ideas for projects going on all at once.  And now that the holidays are approaching at WARP speed, I need to remember that I need plenty of time for rest and activities with no "end result."  

Like taking naps.
And rollerskating.

And reading books.

And sitting in candlelight.    


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I think you can do this

My teacher friend once shared that learning is like a spiral.  We continue to move out and upwards by revisiting familiar concepts, and stretch our range of understanding in ever-broadening circles on the climb. 

For some of us, riding new learning curves takes great courage, combined with the belief that extraordinary achievements are possible.   As a child I was thrilled by rollerskating in the basement, taking the same route over and over again like a hamster on a wheel.  This activity made me supremely happy.  It didn't matter that three feet of snow was piled outside, I was sweating and flying around listening to the vinyl version of Jan and Dean's Dead Man's Curve.  I never wondered about taking lessons or imagined that I could challenge myself by switching to ice skates and learning spins and jumps.  If someone had said these magic words

"I think you can do this"

My life would certainly be different today.

This post isn't really about how I regret not making skating my lifestyle.  It's about understanding how to get the mule inside me to move on, to take action towards something that I'd really love to do.

I was thirty seven before I learned that in the south, female donkeys are called Jenny.  My ears might not be quite as long, but the stubborn part is right on.

Five years ago I was required to make a web module for my senior capstone class.  I had no trouble with the research and writing portion, but when it came to working with Front Page, I choked.  Anxiety dominated my days and sleepless nights.  I experienced periods of anxiety so fierce that I lost my ability to listen to my family members and have telephone conversations.  At the time, Richard was recovering from knee surgery and I was useless as a caregiver.

In desperation, I finally called my professor and asked for help.  She suggested that I contact one of my classmates to set up a tutoring session.  Feeling comfortable with the person she suggested, I found a scrap of courage and explained my situation to this fellow student.  He was kind and agreed to meet me in the computer lab on the lower level of the library.  When I sat at my screen I was wondering how to explain that the only things I knew how to do were to perform searches, write papers using Word and check email.  That was the entire extent of my ability.  I think I just said,

"I can't go forward.  I don't understand how to do any of this."

And he said, very quietly,

"Jenny, I think you can do this."

And then, the donkey moved forward.

Was or are there things that you needed to learn but never did?

Friend, I think you can do this.

 This month I need to learn how to set goals. Yet I'm stuck here at the screen, completely resistant to pen, paper and a calendar. (The IRONY!) Maybe there's an online tool for goal setting and planning that might help.  Maybe you have learned how to do this well.  I'd love to hear what works for you. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Falling Back in Nashville

This was a fun activity, jumping from bale to bale at the Department of Agriculture Park near Nashville Tennessee.  It was fun until Elliot made a last leap and didn't quite make it.  In a split second, I watched in paralyzed horror as his head hit the last bale and he slid like a rag doll between the hay.  Richard picked him up and for a fraction of a second his neck seemed too relaxed, his body limp.  Then, all of a sudden he looked around and said,

"Cool! Can I do that again?"

I almost fell to the ground in my relief and thankfulness.

It was the weekend to "fall back" for daylight savings...but we remember it as the weekend Elliot fell back on the hay and his daylights were saved.   

If the Department of Agriculture folks were there to witness this, I'm sure they would have restricted this area of the farm to the public.  I don't know why I didn't take a proactive stance and insist that jumping on hay bales this large is dangerous.  I must have been overly confident thinking that boys need to be free to run, jump and play without nerve wracked mommies prohibiting their natural desire for risk taking and adventure.

Enter a new phase of motherhood:  coaching an adventurous, athletic, curious boy with a fascination for extreme sports and a body that loves to climb and jump.

Otherwise, the weekend was full of love with a bittersweet ending.

My brother has lived in Nashville almost as long as I've lived in North Carolina.  This month he'll be moving back up north to take a job with the State of Michigan.  A visit was long overdue. I still had a cold but knew that if we didn't go this weekend, we might not see him again until spring.  Elliot loves his uncle with a passion that melts everyone's heart.  On our drive over the mountains, he was imagining spending a day watching football and eating chips with Uncle Roger.  Suddenly I recognized a new Elliot; a more mature version of the child who once begged for extra time with his uncle to build with legos and play video games.

  This weekend he wanted to play soccer, to sit close and have conversations, to watch football and to play guitars.  When it was time for us to head back over the mountains, Elliot wrapped his arm around Roger and refused to leave.  We all stood for quite a while, simply feeling the weight of that sad goodbye.

And then it occurred to me that I could help my son cope with difficult, sometimes painful situations.  I used this teachable moment to introduce the empowering skill of making a goal and planning for something good.  I wanted him to understand that goodbyes and endings can actually become wonderful new beginnings.

I told Elliot that what we needed was a plan. For my part, I would make good on my promise to purchase a new web cam and install it.  His part would be to set up a time to have weekly Skype calls with Uncle Roger.  He could use that time to have a guitar lesson, to talk about life or just to say I love you.

This thought was the only thing that motivated him to get in the car.  I know it seems like bribery...but the idea of having a plan helped so much.  Elliot was quiet for a solid hour in the car, saying that he was "sad all the way to heaven."  But after a while he talked about all the good memories of our weekend together.

Like seeing the horses at the farm.

Having long conversations...

...and investigating new places.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Great Day to Be Alive

Today I'm down with a cold, but I refused to let it affect my experience of a glorious fall day.  My mom shopped for ingredients for chicken soup and made a large pot for all of us.  After enjoying a steaming bowl of some delicious broth I perked up and went out. On a whim, we visited the campus of Guilford College to view some fall color and the incredible stickwork art of Patrick Dougherty.  Elliot was enthralled with this castle made of sticks and asked if we could return every day.  This masterpiece is currently inspiring the development of a stick fort in our back yard.  Visiting the sight of Dougherty's castle is a great way for Elliot to discover that artistic expression is not confined to paper or digital media.

While we walked, Elliot remembered visiting the campus when I was a student and then later as an employee.  He wondered,

"Mom, where are all of your old friends?"

Even with temps in the mid sixties and trees bursting with color, not many folks were out.  We decided to venture into Hege Library, a building that is a sacred space for me. Eight years ago as a new student, the library felt intimidating with its stacks of complicated, dense and dusty books. By the end of my academic journey in 2007, the library had become my sanctuary and a rich resource for writing.  Later, as a member of the staff, Hege became my home away from home.  Although I left my position in order to venture into business, being the library's housekeeper was a spiritually fulfilling experience.  I'm drawn to libraries the way some people love to be in church. 

For months I've wanted to return to Guilford.  Yet I needed time to shed the last residues of that uncomfortable "I used to work here and I'm just a tiny bit resentful and ashamed of my status as a common laborer" feeling.  Staying away for a substantial amount of time helped to restore those wonderful feelings that attracted me to the campus from the very beginning. Today while walking under protected and revered trees, I felt a deep appreciation that Guilford College was a part of my life's path.  There were years of slow going struggle and triumph, of excruciating choices between books, a new baby and a new relationship.  My constant companion was an all pervading sense of anxiety, of being judged and evaluated. There were tears and joy in learning to write deeply and critically.  An unexpected benefit has been the gift of being able to confidently speak publicly and to ask more from life.  Years later, I'm still discovering that it's okay, that it's essential, to take the leading role in changing my personal circumstances and life path.

From Guilford I also received a new faith practice and now enjoy the bliss of silent worship.

Today even the harsh memory of overly critical and demanding English professors did not make me feel small and insignificant.  I'm no longer more of a "reader" than a "writer."  I no longer feel like a worthless, impoverished single mom starting an academic journey with no connection to anyone.  Those days are thankfully behind.  I am not the cleaning person.  I am not even the greenhorn graduate who is clueless about job searching, networking and letters of recommendation.  Today I was June's daughter and Elliot's mom and we were out together, smiling and taking photographs on a great day to be alive.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Festive Night for Friends

Holidays are meant to be shared.  In my past, the worst Halloween nights were those when Emily and I ventured out together in search of just the right neighborhood for trick or treating.  I was new to Greensboro and being anonymous meant that there were no invitations and no recommendations for fun locations.

This year there was no reason to be alone. After spending the day making homemade chocolates and carving pumpkins, we donned our costumes and set out for an evening of fun with our friends, who live in a friendly, beautiful neighborhood.  (Our street is a dark county road with no sidewalks, and therefore no trick or treaters.)

The evening was chilly but sparkled with festivity, as people decorated their yards with strings of colorful lights and kid friendly, and some not so kid friendly, decorations.  It felt like a return to the traditional Halloween of my childhood, with neighbors gathering outdoors to share in the excitement of children filling the streets.  Being in the crowd of families made me wonder why we don't close our streets one night every week...or even every month, to let the children play. 

To play outdoors at night has a bigger appeal than candy.  While children will remember the taste and smell of trick or treat goodies, this holiday's real meaning lies in the community it creates.  Halloween brings families with children together with their friends and neighbors.


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