Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Best Day

According to Elliot, yesterday was the best day of his life.

It wasn't his birthday.

It wasn't Christmas.

It wasn't a day at Disney World, or Emerald Point water park.

It was a perfect spring day in April.  We finished school and pulled our bikes out of the garage.  We rode four miles to the park, stopping at Herbie's Diner for a coke.

At first, he didn't want to order anything but the coke.  But after fifteen minutes of seeing the cake sitting on the counter, he debated aloud,

 "there's only about three slices of that cake left.  Maybe a family will want it."

I encouraged him.  "Elliot, I would love to treat you to a slice of that chocolate cake if you really want it."

Finally, he relented.  When the server returned with our tiny bill, I asked her to add a slice of cake to the order.

When it arrived, he dove into the gooey fudge frosting and moist cake with bits of it landing on his nose.  It was so rich he couldn't finish it and asked for a box.  When I paid the bill, he said "this was the best service I ever had!"

Back on the trail, he said "I feel GREAT! This is the best day of my life!"

Any day that Elliot is having his best day, I am too.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Richard!

If you are like me, the impending arrival of your husband's birthday is a little anxiety inducing.  I find myself wracking my brain at the last minute for just the right gift.  I tend to forget how easily Richard is moved by simple gifts from the heart, a delicious meal, and loving hugs from his family.

In Richard's past, the person he was sharing life with never took his picture.  He said that if someone takes his picture, he feels loved.

This is a gift from Elliot, a book of his Elliot's Ninja Art that we ordered from Shutterfly.

Richard was also gifted with a visit from my brothers and my new sister in law and niece.  It was a weekend full of love, adventure and laughter.  We are still flying high from the excitement of simply being together.  Each year, family visits become more sacred to me.

Ken, Felita and Melina    
    Felita is scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan later this year.  We are praying  for a safe and swift return.  She is a professional singer with the US Band of Flight and frequently tours.  Her music heals, uplifts and inspires! Her heart for all people is extraordinary.  Just like my wonderful brother and sweet Melina.

Our best friend Cae also helped Richard celebrate with a generous gift of a meal at the posh Green Valley Grill at the
  O Henry Hotel in Greensboro.   Thank you Cae!  We love you!

When the actual day of Richard's birthday arrived, I still did not have a gift.  I was feeling rushed and trying not to panic.  The thought that I didn't have time kept popping up in my consciousness.  It nagged me while I washed the dishes and baked the cake.  It pestered me when I was making the beds and sweeping the floor. Finally, I sat down at my desk and wrote about this idea of not having enough time.  It came out like this:

I Won't Have Time

I won't have time
to prepare all the gifts
I wanted to give to you

I won't have time to tell
you just how full of
gratitude my heart
has become

While we share this 
moment of flight,
soaring like two arrows

I won't have time 
to tell you that I had fun,
that everything was 

That I came to understand
deep, loving peace
and tenderness
and compassion
and acceptance

Because these are gifts
you give to me.

I won't have time
to tell everyone the truth
of your humility,
your intelligence,
your loving.

Let them discover
on their own.

I won't have time
to say I love you,
that I've really been loving
the idea of you
before I knew you to be real
and present
right in front of me

in flesh,
in spirit,
in the mind.

I won't ever have enough time
to share all the big, unfinished
ideas that roll into this lifetime
of learning and dancing
to Balkan Disko,
sharing ale at sundown.

I won't have time
to explain that it wasn't 
dish washing
that sparked love in my heart.

That it was you 
and all of your beauty
and kindness
and vulnerability
and strength.

It was you
and is you
and I won't have enough time
to explain that fully.

But time isn't really real
according to J.T.
So I'll stop needing 
to have more of it, that illusion
of passage, 
and remember

this is all happening in an instant.
Right now.

So I want to say right now
that I love you,
my love,
my lover,
my friend.

I love you now 
and after 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Secret Of Life

Some musicians are healers.  It is this healing aspect of music that I'm so comforted by today. After much prayer and acknowledgement of my feelings and stress, I've come to realize that loving actions are all around us, despite terrifying events of destruction.  It's still spring here, and I have plenty of love in my heart, purpose and passion to live on.  While I recognize that on a daily basis I need more positive messages, positive thoughts and positive energy (like vitamins and sunshine) I must remember to seek those specific things, to notice the good operating in the midst of life's soup.

Lately Richard and I have noticed God showing us something, pointing us to something that I cannot ignore or brush off as coincidence.  There have been signs in the last few weeks that it's time to begin a music education program for Elliot with professional instruction.  While I have been working like mad on two big school musical productions, (105 pieces in 15 days!!!) we recently met a wonderful friend who speaks fluent German, teaches piano, and lives within biking distance. Last night, we discovered that a new sitter we interviewed is a music teacher pursuing a PhD in education.  Elliot has been taking some preliminary online piano lessons and is picking up some songs very quickly.  So we are inspired to give structure, purpose and some investment into opening up this path.

Today I'm dedicating this song by James Taylor to my artist-ninja boy-musician in the making-lego building-wilderness biologist-philanthropist son. Music has a healing, comforting power, which is necessary for life.

Welcome to the human race.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pain, Pain, Pain

I have no words, except maybe this mantra, spoken under my breath in repetition: "pain, pain, pain."

The communal pain we all feel when our society suffers tragedy.

In the crowd yesterday, an eight year old boy.

I stop breathing when I think about it.

In silence, my heart hurts.  In silence I look around my life, this little micro-shelter, this tiny pocket of the world where I feel safe.  And I am thankful.  I am confused and afraid of the world outside.  I think of the people whose hearts were full of excitement, not knowing that they were standing next to a bomb.

I feel sick.


So terribly sad.

My excitement about today being the day that I complete the spring musical costume pieces, my excitement about being able to burn 900 calories at the gym, my happiness about planning a lovely birthday event for Richard and my joyful expectation of an upcoming visit from my brothers is muted.

This is just how I feel now.  More than ever, I feel called to pursue a new path in compassion and compassion education.

When I'm down, I feel the pain fully, but also recognize that there's also a quiet sense of gratitude.

For these quiet, peaceful moments.  When Elliot learns to play "happy birthday" while his stuffed dog named "red eyes" holds the music book.

Pain, pain, pain.

He's so beautiful it hurts.

Dear God, send comfort and love and healing to all those who are grieving such devastating losses.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mary Gordon: Meet Baby Mei

Is this my higher calling,

the profession for which I have been preparing my whole life?

To become a Roots of Empathy Instructor...

To be a pioneer and bring this incredible program to North Carolina?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Silence in Which Another Voice May Speak

I have a simple poem to share by Mary Oliver today:


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't 
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

The value of poetry is that it inspires me to be thoughtful and attentive to life in the simplest of moments.  It reminds and calls me to craft some of my own.

Here is a patched up version of my life at the moment:

A Weekend In April (the best destination)

Singing crystal bowl meditation at the Friend's Meeting house
the vibrations lift us up by the ears,
calling my attention to the weightlessness of my soul.

A new sitter for Elliot
Delightful, young, compassionate soother of
parental anxiety and a very shy dog.
Someone to listen to everything about Lego building
and Ninja Art
And game playing.

A blast of sunlight so warm
we wore shorts,
running sweaty through woodlands
waking up the snakes
meeting the Barred Owl in the last rays 
of a spring foraging adventure.

Neighbors who invited Elliot for play
every single day.

Let our boy's lonely heart have 
many many many friends.

Two gardens tilled and ready 
for seeds.

Two sprouts of asparagus giving hope
for a future feast.

Food that becomes a sacred act of 
gratitude, daily meals
 packed with flavor and strength.

The tall man at a sink of dishes
who loves me.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Racing through the clouds

I recently ran my first 5k, and it was more fun than anything I've done in quite a long time.  Inspired by my friend Shelly at La Tejana, I signed a waiver as soon as I learned that Color Me Rad was coming to Greensboro.  I invited several friends, but when the morning of the race arrived, I was the only one on my team.  Richard and Elliot came along to enjoy the spectacle of people in tutus and clown wigs throwing colorful fairy dust.  At first, Elliot was so embarrassed to see his parents dancing among the jovial, vibrant group that he plugged his ears, tucked his chin to his chest and pretended to be invisible.  By the end of the morning however, he was joining in the crowd, reaching for color "bombs" and having a good time.

When my wave was called, I found myself in a crowd of 7,500 people who were full of positive, happy energy.  A couple in their 70's stood next to me, while a mother with her baby in a stroller was ahead.  Families with young children, groups of college students, people of all different fitness levels, ages and nationalities gathered for a morning of fun.  Some ran in memory of a loved one who had passed into Heaven.  I ran without fully knowing what my purpose was.  Perhaps I just wanted to be a part of something exciting and frivolous. Every time the crowd of runners moved forward, I got a tiny burst of adrenaline.  Finally, the group was really moving, and I was thrilled to discover that I could really run!  On the treadmill at the gym, or running the trails near our home, I feel like a heavy beast with magnets on my feet.  On race day I felt light as a feather and surprised myself by running at a challenging pace up and down hills, weaving in and out of the crowd.

Some people sang all the way, and some marched in a group shouting out silly cadences.  Some flew by me like drivers on the freeway, while some stopped often to send text messages and take pictures.  Like Forrest, I just kept on runnin'.  Because it felt good to fly.

It was over before I was ready for it to be over.  I crossed the finish line, grabbed a water and headed through the crowd to search for Richard and Elliot. I expected to find them standing at our designated meeting place.  They were not there.  I thought maybe nature was calling, so I tried not to be nervous and just waited.  After fifteen minutes, I headed over to our car.  For some reason I couldn't find the car and thought there might have been an emergency.

My phone was in the car.  While I was gathering courage to ask someone if I could use their phone, I decided to return to our meeting place and just wait a little while longer.  Still pumped up by the feeling of running in the crowd, I tried not to let fear grab me.  After fifteen more minutes of thinking good thoughts and enjoying the sight of people celebrating around me, Richard and Elliot arrived with hugs and faces full of smiling relief.

Instead of returning to the meeting point about 30 minutes after I started, Richard had decided to take Elliot to the street to see if they could watch me cross the finish line.  Apparently they missed me entirely and worried that I wasn't able to finish the race.

Happily reunited, we returned home to a blissful shower and a refreshing lunch.

Then, the sneezing began.  And kept on going all day and into the next.  Apparently, I am allergic to cornstarch,  which is the main ingredient in the color bombs.  My first real allergy attack sent me to bed with a Zertek on Easter Sunday.  Then, once the sneezing was under control, I started to get a migraine that lasted nearly all day on Easter Monday.

Thankfully I'm recovered today and excited to start looking for another race in my future, a race without color but not without fun. I learned that I can run longer and do more than I thought I could.  It is a wonderful feeling to be empowered by breaking down my limiting perceptions.  I'm learning that fitness, for the most part, is a  mental challenge.  I didn't expect it to be like this.  To be strengthened in body is to be strengthened in mind and spirit.  If ever there are times in my future that I feel a loss of connection with God, I only need to step out of my self preservation mode, my lazy, excuse making mode, and move myself into a place of strength.  Grief has weakened me over the years.  The sadness and loss I feel over Emily living up north and my father's passing have affected me in ways that I have not really acknowledged.

Maybe I will never fully be released from those hurtful pangs of loss and regret.  Yet, when you are missing someone, it's important to stay positive and think good thoughts and remember that soon, you will be reunited with the one you love.  You might even become reunited with yourself.

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