The Path of Least Resistance
I found my bravery this morning with the help of a giant sea creature. Turns out my fear wasn’t buried as deep as I thought.
I left our safe canal with my paddle to venture out into the wide open spaces of the Gulf, but not before a manatee as big as my board came up to examine me. He encouraged me to follow his wake into the open space where I stumbled upon schools of fish making their way to class, sponges that looked like giant brains, and two stingrays enjoying the morning sun as much as I was.
It was an overwhelming journey.
Today’s lesson for my little ones: Following the path of least resistance will never get you anywhere. In the past, I used fear and sometimes the idea of saving myself sanity as an excuse.
But those are just excuses.
Be brave and resist the urge to take the easy way. Had I stayed within the walls of our canal, I would have never been fortunate enough to see all the beauty that was on the path least taken.
No risk, no reward.
I’m pretty sure I may never see that same manatee again, but if I do, I’ll thank him for the generous helping of courage and the push. Or in this case, the “follow”.
Day 14 - “Need”: I very rarely wear my ring. My tiny and simple wedding band suits me just fine on most days. The few times I do wear it (upon the annoyed requests of your Dad), I take her off at night so she can comfortably watch me sleep from my nightstand.
A few months ago she went missing. I frantically searched everywhere for her to no avail. I finally resorted to the idea that I had vacuumed her up and threw her out with yesterday’s trash.
Then one day, she showed up, buried deep within our carpet.
I bought this amazing, handmade ring holder from Etsy last week. I can’t think of anything I “needed” more.
She may have been missing for a while and thoughts of her not caring crossed my mind, but much like your Dad, she was always there. A nice surprise indeed.
4 Walls of Hell
Day 8 - “Shape”: Being trapped by the 4 walls of steel of our car is always a hectic ride when you two are in tow. You endlessly fight and poke at each other from the minute we get in, till the minute we get out; like a bunch of caged animals.
Which ultimately leads to me losing my shit on you, followed by extreme guilt for my lack of self-control.
Obviously you both think this is hilarious.
Today was no exception and I was in no “shape” to deal with it. If I could invent a divider for the car to place in between you guys, I’m convinced I’d be a freaking billionaire. At the very least, a little more at peace.
Fractured Pieces Glued Together
Day 6 - “Broken”: This is an old picture of my dear and amazing friend Chris. His equally amazing wife, Lori, is about to birth their new little boy after years and years of disappointment trying for him. Doctors convinced them they’d never have more kids; that they were broken, but I’d say their spirits were the things that were broken.
Today is redemption day. Today they become whole and complete again. I imagine the sound of that little boys cry will be the sweetest sound they’ll ever hear. And I hope his ten little fingers and ten tiny toes magically wedge together all the fractured pieces of the past.
They are broken no longer.
Hope and faith win again.
Welcome to the beautiful world baby Finley! You just won yourself an amazing family.
You are the man in my life with a thousand faces, who thought it’d be a good idea to shit your underroos 4 seconds before we had to walk out the door for school.
As I silently and cautiously cleaned you up, you looked at me with one of those thousand faces and said, “damn it, damn it, damn it”, in a completely apologetic, disappointed tone. I couldn’t even correct you because it was the perfect response for the situation.
At least it wasn’t the “F” word this time. Progress.
Today’s lesson for ME: apple juice is always a bad idea. You will always remember and repeat EVERY word you hear. And putting Kahlua in my coffee prior to leaving the house is always acceptable in these situations.
Sometimes You Just Have to Turn the Page
Day 1 – “I Bought This”: I’ve been asleep for 6 months. I went to bed one night with all the colors and all the words, and when I woke, they were gone.
The words drifted away like memories of a dream from the night before; submerged under the water. I stopped taking care of myself. I stopped reading. I stopped learning, and I stopped growing.
I’m not going to beat myself up for it; I’m just going to move forward, and I’m going to do my best to resurrect them and leave the ghost that has haunted me buried deep in the water.
I bought this 3 pack of recycled journals to replace my used up gifted journal in hopes of inspiring some creativity. I’m hopeful the brightly colored orange on the cover helps me finds all the rest of the colors and the words that have been locked up.
Fresh starts are necessary at times. And sometimes it’s as easy as just turning the page.
Picking Up The Pieces
It’s amazing how the mind works.
I replayed the horrific scene in my mind throughout the following days after the tragedy. A place I had never visited and knew virtually nothing about.
I imagined a bright florescent-lit room with a lot of windows. A room filled with writings and colorful pictures of scenes from students’ childhoods. I imagined the birds singing outside on a bright sunny day with a crisp breeze. I imagined silence. I imagined little children sitting at their desks working quietly while daydreaming about what would be under their trees and teachers keeping a watchful eye.
I took the few images I had seen on TV and coupled them with experiences from my own life and pieced them together like some random puzzle.
One real puzzle piece here, one imaginary piece here. They locked together to form a fairly complete picture. A picture that was impossible to look at. A puzzle that was too horrible for you to fully understand at your young age, thankfully.
If my brain had the power to reconstruct a scene I was never a member of, then it should have the power to take apart the horrific puzzle and reconstruct a better image; an image of hope and compassion and love.
In the days following the tragedy, humanity did something extraordinary - they loved. They went above and beyond the scope of human decency. They carried out wishes and fulfilled grand ideas like “26 random acts of kindness” for mankind, and offered goods and services for those who needed it the most. They supported, they cried, they shined through adversity and pain. They showed unity.
This puzzle is a lot nicer to look at.
I saw a flock of birds flying overhead the other day. They floated back and forth as a cooperative front. I placed my estimate on the amount of birds at about 26 or so. Without much thought, I saw the faces of those children in those birds. I imagined them flying anywhere they wanted to go; flying to see everything that they were going to miss out on. The only thing stopping them would be their own will and determination, and not a man with a gun and a disturbed mind.
I liked that idea.
It’s amazing how the mind works. It’s a powerful tool and the world is still fundamentally good. And that puzzle, is beautiful.
“I Have A Dream”
The election is over. 61,170,405 Americans declared that President Obama would lead us for the next four years.
Over the last few days, a lot of people have been very angry about this fact. A lot of people have made some horribly disrespectful and downright cruel comments aimed at those 61,170,405 people that cast their vote for our President. We’ve been called “lazy freeloaders”, “Un-American”, “Socialists”, and “Commies”, “haters of free enterprise” and “Allah loving idiots”. We’ve been told to “enjoy our free crap”. And they’ve worked very hard at scaring us that the economy is going to fall off a cliff and that the unemployment rate is going to soar under the direction of this President.
It’s hard for me to remember a time when I felt so excited and proud, and at the same time, equally disappointed and sad. I cried when our news reporters declared President Obama the winner on Tuesday night. But within 30 minutes, my tears turned to anger after reading some of these comments.
I don’t remember a time when we as a nation were so very divided, so angry. Maybe I was too young to remember, or maybe I was filled with more idealism back then, but the reality of this made my heart heavy.
Some have charged the President of invoking class warfare in this country. An unusual charge from the Republican Party considering they were the ones who would like to lower the tax burden on the rich to the lowest level it’s been since the early 1930’s. They’ve done their best to assemble teams of lobbyists to obtain additional tax loopholes and subsidies for themselves and their companies. And obtained bailouts when their bets went bad.
But there IS a war going on with our class system.
Some argue that the President and the Democrats would like to provide long-term dependency for the “moochers” with welfare assistance and public housing. But that is simply not the case.
This President is committed to providing opportunities to that population. A solid public education and more government loans to earn a higher education (which was accomplished through severe opposition) are high on his priority list and something I’m very passionate about as well.
I read on Facebook a few days ago a post by a friend/neighbor whose daughter goes to a great private school. She said that the school had a mock election and that Governor Romney won by 79%. My first thought was surprise. I was surprised to hear that the number was so low; I figured it was going to hover around 95%. My point is, those children get to experience a great quality education that their parents pay for out of pocket and they share the views of their parents. They probably get to experience a lot of finer things in life solely because their parents worked hard to earn a comfortable living, or if they were really lucky, their parents had money passed down to them from their parents. Their children will most likely grow up to do great things financially because that’s how they were raised. And more importantly they grew up seeing success. Their opportunities are abundant, solely because of their social and financial standing in society (and sadly a lot of times the color of their skin).
It’s a cycle.
Now take a child who isn’t fortunate enough to be raised in this type of household. Maybe they live with only one parent or a relative. Their parents are on drugs or in jail (a somewhat dramatized example). Statistics show that they will follow in their parent’s footsteps, and being raised around crime only furthers their chances to live a similar life.
It’s a cycle.
And it’s a cycle I’m hopeful we can break if we invest in that population. I know it may seem easier at times to oppress them or demonize them, but try to remember they’re working with an empty basket compared to the other sides’ full basket to start.
There will always be people who don’t want help. People that live contently with very little. But my argument is that no amount of money thrown at them or lack thereof will change that mindset. Some people are programmed to succeed, while others are not. But we’re ALL Americans and we’re bred to honor success and strive for it. Cutting them off from society does nothing but make us a barbaric people. But giving them opportunity and compassion will only help to drive ambition. And I would argue that ego is a lot stronger in this country than most people give it credit for. I mean do we really believe that side doesn’t want to do better? But how can they when half the population acts like they’re the scum of the earth?
You asked me a few weeks ago Olivia why I’m not a Republican. And this was my answer: I will always believe the answer is to invest in our people. ALL of them. I’m far too young to stop believing in people, even though it gets harder and harder to do so when we’re faced with a group of those people that would rather demonize half of the population than believe in the power of the collective good. We’re here to give, not take. And when we all work together and extend our hands out to those who are struggling, we ALL win.
There Are NO Victims in This Household!
Today is 10.11.12; a group of numbers stringed together to form a cute talking point around the water coolers. Which got me thinking about superstitions and how a lot of us have a certain few that we like to refer to from time to time. Like the ever so popular 7 years bad luck if you break a mirror, or how walking under a ladder will somehow bring you a vast supply of misfortune. This epidemic has even spread to the Internet in an annoyingly convincing way. We all know the ones: the “important” messages that will somehow lead to an eternity of doom if you don’t repost it or forward it on. Those are the worst.
These silly myths have the ability to take over people’s lives. A friend from what seems like my past life felt if she didn’t wear a certain undergarment everyday to work, her day would ultimately be ruined. Do you think the genius that crafted these superstitions had any idea they would spawn a whole league of people who now have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
There’s enough fear in our everyday lives without all these ideas. Maybe the person who originated these superstitions did so because it seems far easier to put our faith into the uncontrollable? And being responsible for our personal daily choices would be far too hard. After all there’s enough chaos in the world and our lives that’s unmanageable, isn’t it easier to blame it on some higher power or something out of our command?
That’d be the easy choice, but it’s not the right choice. Be responsible for your decisions. You’re going to make mistakes, but fear not, getting lost is how you learn. When you need help, I’m here to offer assistance, but take accountability for your choices. There are NO victims in this household and NOTHING is out of your control.
“I Hope I Die Before I Get Old”
Your great-grandmother has been alone now for almost 4 months. She spent 73 of her 88 years of life with your Dada. Every waking minute was spent together. She never had a job outside of their home and never seemed to develop any outside interests without him. He was in the very sense of the phrase, “her whole life”.
I imagined that after the initial shock of his passing she would discover a whole new freedom. A freedom to explore new options and activities, but she hasn’t, not even a little bit.
I worry for her that she may never fully discover her new wings.
Granted this was a huge blow, and this new world we’re all living in must look very foreign to her. Hell, on most days it looks pretty unusual to me too. But getting old and becoming content with doing nothing but your same old routine is very strange for me. A turtle that must live in his shell in order to survive at least has the option of exploring new sights and eating different grass.
Are you just so tired from life at that age that it just doesn’t matter anymore? Or is she just so paralyzed with fear of the unknown that she’s more comfortable hiding in her shell?
I may never understand the reasoning or the logic on why some people choose a sedentary life, but I will say this: I sure do “hope I die before I get old”.
I miss you too Dada….
The Stampede: I Swear I Really Am Only 34
We are living in a new world. I can safely say that technology has officially taken over us. Virtues of the past have become extinct. Hell I went into Office Depot today to look for a floppy disk to save my work on. Those two words will mean absolutely nothing to you two, but back in my day we saved our work on 5 1/4 inch disks that slid into your computer like a small book. They came in a lot of cool colors and I collected them like trading cards. The man behind the counter looked at me as though I was a dinosaur when I asked him for one.
The whole world is now on steroids.
Long gone are the days of hand written letters, mailing pictures to loved ones and sharing news face-to-face. We now have social media to handle all these things for us. We have become over-processed, over-exposed, and fully public.
I’m worried about how you two will fare in this new world. I worry that because of this overload of information at your fingertips that you could possibly become a self-entitled human like so many of us today. Someone with little patience and people that feel they shouldn’t have to work too hard to get what they want. Hell lets face it; the answer is just a click away.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this new world we’re living in. And I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the absence of privacy. But I’m smart enough to understand where we are moving and how to get things accomplished in this new technology obsessed world. Evolution can be good, and honestly you have two choices: keep moving forward or get left behind.
So I’ll move forward. But no matter how crazy things get or how loudly the stomps of the stampede come rolling thru, I’ll never let you two read a book on a device. The feeling and smell of paper in your hands just can’t be beat. And with the repeated changes going on around us, there should at least be one constant. Grant me this favor at least.
My sister, your Aunt, has been gone 15 years today. 15 years.
When I think about her I feel guilt. It’s not so much sadness about missing her, more so sadness about feeling like I never really knew her.
She was always running away; for some reason she seemed to hate living with our family. My only real memories of her from when we were kids are of doors slamming, and a lot of screaming. But lately I’m not even sure if I remember that because that’s what I was told about her or if those really are my memories. It’s funny the things you remember and the things you don’t.
My only good and tangible memory of her was what felt like an enormously dark bedroom and the waterbed that I would crawl into with her when it was storming. I can still see and feel that abstract-patterned, pastel comforter. If our relationship were a metaphor, it would be just that: an abstract comforter.
Incidentally I listened to a Podcast the other day on NPR about how most people can’t remember anything before the age of 3 or 4. I felt envious because I can’t remember hardly anything until at least Kindergarten, and even those memories are hazy. But I digress.
We didn’t have the typical sister relationship. I only really talked with her a few years before she got sick and died. I could blame it on the fact that she wasn’t ever around, but if I’m being honest with myself, it was probably because she lived so very differently than I wanted to live; changing jobs a million times, and living paycheck-to-paycheck in a trailer behind the cemetery she’s buried at. She never really got to go anywhere, even in death ironically.
I wanted more for her.
I wanted her to figure it out in time.
I’m not saying the trailer was bad (in fact, some days I wish it could be that easy), I guess I had just hoped she didn’t have to live that hard. Stability is a nice thing.
I don’t really miss Kelly. I miss the opportunity to know Kelly. That guilt will haunt me for all the remaining days of my small life.
I hope wherever she is, she’s happy, and I hope that when I get there, we’ll have time to talk and get to know each other.
2nd Time Around
I didn’t feel the same way I did when I dropped you to preschool for the first time as I did with your sister. I didn’t cry, which really surprised me. I felt excited for you; excited for you to meet new friends and to learn new things.
It made me think about how the second child really gets the short end of the stick, because your “first” is really my “second”. I knew what to expect and I was prepared. So much so that the tears I figured I had stored for the occasion didn’t come. This reality was sadder to me than dropping you off today, but I suppose tears are overrated anyway. I’d much rather feel joy and excitement any day of the week.
I wore this smile on my face all day. I don’t think I could love you anymore than I already do. I can’t wait to hear all about your exciting day. ♥