Monday, March 31, 2014

Happiness Jar: Ninjas and Bridges

I have fallen out of habit once again.   The happiness jar sits on my stereo, half full.

But now I'm reminded to fill it with the upswelling of love that continues to float around my heart.

Like observing how  Elliot is cultivating a source of joy for his life through acts of giving.  Last month he raised 125 dollars for his cause through a bake sale. We delivered the funds on Friday.  The conversations he shared with the organizers at the IRC day center can only be described as effervescent.   Elliot is bubbly on an ordinary day, but was popping with charm in this special place where people gather to simply "be."

 While we drove away to celebrate giving with ice cream, he said "I feel so happy.  This is the best feeling."

Elliot is learning that giving is a renewable resource for feel-good living.   When I asked him what the highlight of his weekend was, delivering his "ninja bread" money to help people experiencing homelessness was at the top of the list.

It was even more special than wining first place in a bridge building contest.

And that teaches me something about my own ambition.

After the bridge competition, Elliot went back to "work" on a new t shirt design based on his original Elliot's Ninja character "Ninjability."  Ninjability represents the spirit of ability in the face of adversity and challenge.  This character developed in collaboration with our friend James Terpenning, who won a contest on Elliot's Ninja Art Facebook page.  James helped Elliot to understand that people who navigate the world by wheels often have abilities that exceed normal expectations.  As a member of the basketball team "The Rolling Hoopstars," winner of Extreme Home Makeover, and one of the orphans who were flown out of Vietnam during Operation Babylift, James inspires us by his incredible life story and the impact he makes in his community.

Here is the latest version of Ninjability, which Elliot plans to list in his Etsy shop this week.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Living History

This weekend, we were spectators of war.

It was part of our unit study on the Revolution.  Elliot and I have been learning about the events that led the colonists to unite and declare independence. Each spring, there is a battle reenactment on the grounds of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.  It is an impressive display of gorgeous costumes and camps.   

Elliot was able to sit near the front row of the battlefield.  

We learned that the Religious Society of Friends set up a temporary hospital in the meeting house.  A mass grave of Revolutionary War Veterans from both sides exists in the cemetery. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I noticed this today

I noticed this today.   A disengagement of interest happening.  I am less interested in activities that used to bring energy into my heart.

Where have I drifted?

I do not know what it means.  I do not know if it matters.

Right now I'm reading a book on writing.  I am going to share a passage so that when I copy each word I will remember that it once changed my writing.

From Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg:

     Who's going to give you the authority to feel that what you notice is important?
      It will have to be you.
      The authority you feel has a great deal to do with how
      you write, and what you write,
      With your ability to pay attention to the shape and
       meaning of your own thoughts
      And the value of your own perceptions.

      Being a writer is an act of perpetual self-authorization.
      No matter who you are.
      Only you can authorize yourself.
      You do that by writing well, by constant discovery.
      No one else can authorize you.
      No one.
      This doesn't happen overnight.
      It's as gradual as the improvement in your writing.


Blue Sky Weekend

      I took this picture two days after our last big snow/ice event, feeling so thankful that we made it through without any damage. We were one of the lucky families to keep our power.  During the storm, many trees were lost, inflicting damage to businesses, homes and vehicles.

       Winter here is different than I was used to during my life in the north.  While incredibly heavy snows and steady sub-zero temperatures have been  frustrating  maddening for my family in Michigan and Ohio, I cannot even mention the weather without seeming ridiculous.  Yet when winter strikes us in NC, it means damage and danger on the roads.  It means layers of ice, which makes it unsafe to go out.  During a typical Michigan winter, one embraces the snow, straps on a pair of skis or skates, and enjoys the white wonderland.   Here, we are lucky to have a few hours for sledding on a half mud, half snow covered hill because as soon as it snows, the sun generally appears to melt it.  And in the short time that winter descends in all her ferocious glory, people have to struggle with loss of heat, water, and lights, closed business and schools, and cabin fever.

       The cabin fever that arrives after two days of ice tells me how soft I have become in the last 12 years.  Living in an extreme climate instills an undefeated resilience within.  For years I lived in remote areas of northern woodlands, isolated from community in winter and spring, where melt water made the roads so muddy that it was impossible to drive.  We used to park our car nearly a mile away and hike in to our home.  I would put our groceries in a plastic sled and drag them to the house.  When it was time to take Emily to preschool, I covered her in snow pants and boots and we walked to the car in mud so slippery and deep that she fell several times.  When we got to school the teacher wondered what in the world could have happened.
   During the heaviest snows, I went for weeks without going anywhere or seeing anyone other than my child and my husband.  Cabin fever was a big reality.  I've noticed that here in the south, where I am used to getting out every single day, two days of being stuck inside can bring on a grumpy mood.   I am completely spoiled.

Recently we had snow that came down in feather sized flakes, so much more magical than the icy slush storm.   For Elliot, snow is peaceful and magical.  I hope he always keeps that sense of wonder.

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