Saturday, June 25, 2011

Some Thoughts

1. If nothing else, having some time to just be 'mom' this summer, has made me realize how precious this time is. I love getting to see the ins and outs of my darling boy's day. I love the way he loves to read, to sing (complete with . . . piano . . . accompaniment?) - the way he's learning a new word daily (usually 3-4), the way he giggles, the way he knows who his favorite people are, the way he dances, the way he jumps, the way he has moments of pure sweetness.

Just today, I was sitting on the couch after working at the hospital. He climbed up, and say "ees" which translates to "squeeze" and proceeded to give me a big hug. Then he snuggled his way down between me and the couch and just laid with his head on my arm, like we were the best of pals.

Tonight, as we were driving home from Brent's mom's house, Bruce was babbling in the back. All of a sudden I heard him say, "Happy, blsi bla sgli, meow meow, li bifel pomef, 'du' (meaning 'juice') sdljlj weml 'Ene' (meaning Jene)." A loose transcription - forgive the gibberish in between. I marveled at the way he was trying to tell me that he was happy, and then proceeded to tell me why he was happy. (Jene is Brent's mom's husband, and he's one of Bruce's absolute most favorite people on the earth). It was a moment of connection for me and my boy. He has such a sweet, happy personality.

2. Jene has graciously been helping us with our challenges of late. Basically, we're having car trouble. Not major, but enough that we probably shouldn't drive the thing until it's fixed. It's due for a tune-up anyway (much to my husband's denial). For the past few days, I've been pondering the wisdom of Jene. He said, off-handedly, that when you're facing a problem with the car, it's always smart to pursue the easiest solution first.

I think this little gem is a life lesson that I need to ponder more deeply. I think, far too often, when faced with a problem, I look at every possible solution, and I'm usually guilty of trying the difficult ones first. What a waste of energy! This is definitely something I'm going to have to work on.

3. Speaking of pondering, I've had several interesting experiences lately to remind me of the value of taking time to be still. Brent graduated a couple of weeks ago (Huzzah! [pictures to come as soon as I find that camera charger . . . ]), and the commencement speaker mentioned specifically the importance of taking time to be quiet. To be free of distraction. I know that, for myself, when I spend even ten minutes quietly contemplating, I always feel more centered and focused. Ten minutes. I do even better with longer. That's one reason I love to journal. It's a time for me to stop, and ponder, and feel, and breathe.

I'm concerned that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to make the time and mental space to do this. There are plenty of things to distract us. Both external and internal. I've been interested to see self-help books all over about being 'mindful' or 'fully present.' The biggest way for me to do this is to un-plug. To turn off the television, to close my laptop, to put my phone on silent and just focus on what is right in front of me - be that my garden, my projects, my son, my patients/students, my husband, my friend, my sister, my mother, my father, my brother, my neighbor, or even myself. Technology is amazing! There is so much we are enabled to do because of what we have at our fingertips. But if we can't be away from it for more than an hour, then it's an addiction. And addictions limit our capacity. Addictions bind us in chains that grow thicker the more we feed them. (Audrey II, anyone?)

All I know is, if we don't engage with our lives, we miss out - on the chance to learn, to form friendships and bonds that last longer than the time you spend perusing Facebook. I see it all the time in my line of work. As a Speech Pathologist, especially one who works with children with autism, I constantly aim to connect with my students. To teach them how to connect with another human being. Some people have to work so hard to gain a basic skill that is intrinsic in others. Others who too often let that skill lie dormant, unused, under-developed.

But engagement benefits all of my students, not just those with autism. If a student becomes an active participant in their treatment, they improve faster. When we become active participants in our lives, we are able to grow and become more than we ever could passively sitting on the sidelines. "Your life is an occasion: Rise to it!"

I suppose the simplest solution is to consciously make time every day to be still. To ponder. To commune. To connect to another human being - spirit to spirit, not across wires. Make time to rise to the occasion that is your life. I know, for me, the more I consciously make time to be still, the easier it becomes. Like all things, I have to plan for it, or it is far less likely to happen. I'm sure there will be more to come on this topic as I study it out, but in the meantime, thank you for being patient with my ramblings.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Infinite Power of Hope

Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,
Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;
When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart:
Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
And fright him as the morning frightens night!
-"To Hope" by John Keats

I had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend this weekend, a friend who is currently struggling with infertility. This wonderful woman is someone exemplifies what it is to have a 'mother heart.' Sadly, someone who is so qualified for the job, must wait.

As we spoke, she talked of dealing with the Disappointment that can lead to Despair. They were at a great place in their marriage, they had a new house that was bereft of the little feet for which it was bought. She had prepared. The time was right. And yet it wasn't. That was a bitter time for her. I could feel the ache in her words. And my heart pondered that bleak plain. I know that I cannot adequately understand her pain - we have been blessed with such a happy little boy without the trial of waiting that many couples face.

She told me that she knows that she and her husband will have the opportunity to be parents. She even said that she knows that she will have the opportunity to be pregnant. She has faith that these blessings will happen for her and her husband. But, I was struck once again how we may have knowledge of certain things, or have faith that all will work out, but we still must bear the trial. Some call it "enduring to the end" - a nice phrase until you're in the middle of an unbearable trial. Even with faith, we can find ourselves giving in to despair (the parent of disappointment) if we do not hope.
Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness. Its absence—when this desire of our heart is delayed—can make “the heart sick.”

I may not understand her trial exactly, but I understand what it is to feel heartsick. I understand the bleakness that is despair. In listening to her, and supporting her, sister to sister, I could feel hope swelling in me, as I hope it did in her. When hope does take root, the weight of despair is lessened. I think "hope is sure, unwavering, and active." We spoke of her plans, her action, to combat and cope with her disappointment and sorrow, many of which involved serving those within her sphere of influence.

Once again, I was reminded that hope is what carries us through. Hope is the bulwark that protects our spirits from sorrow and despair. Hope helps us keep proper perspective. And, I also learned again that we need each other in order to fully hope. We need to be able to share what we know, to express what we hope for, and to express wherein we place our hope. And sometimes we need to rely on the strength of others to help us through those bleak experiences (easy to say when you're not in the middle of it, I know, but if I say it aloud, maybe I'll remember it when it's my turn to need strengthening).

Quotes from here

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

In all the craziness of the last several months, I have neglected the blog. I'm looking forward to catching up in the next couple of months. One major event that I omitted was Bruce's first Father & Sons outing (also known as 'Mama's first night away from her munchkin').

The boys went out to Hart's Flat for some manly bonding. The highlights included s'mores, horseshoes, barbecuing, sleeping in tents, campfires, and lots of friends. And dirty socks. The boys had a great time. Brent even took another neighbor's son with him because the neighbor was out of town. They are now buddies for life.

I didn't sleep at all. There's a difference between quiet house and empty house. I don't like the feeling of empty house. But they had a great time. Camping is definitely in the plans for this summer!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Quiet Morning

With the end of the school year, Brent promised me that I could sleep in yesterday. That's right, I got to sleep in. All the way to 8:00. Which is amazing, considering that I haven't gotten up later than 6am since who knows when.

So, today, when I woke up at 7:40 (which still feels like sleeping in), I was amazed that my house is still silent with slumbering boys. Bruce never sleeps past 7, so I was sure he'd be awake at any moment. Not so, it's just me and the happily singing house finches outside me window.

I appreciate the quiet. The time to study and ponder without any darling little distractions. Or just as darling big ones. I am amazed at how much lighter I feel without all of my looming end-of-the-year deadlines. The only deadlines I really have for the next couple of months are self-imposed ones.

Books to read, projects to finish, letters to write, days to swim, walks to take, piano pieces to learn, a cello to practice, research projects to start, food to make, family vacations to take, memories to make.

Mostly, I'm excited about having some time to devote to becoming a happier, healthier me. Call it mid-year's resolutions. I'm very excited to see what this summer holds.

Spiritual enlightenment here

Saturday, June 4, 2011

They're Going To Think We're Crazy

Well, we're all moved in, and currently our home is "decorated in the style of 'Early American Cardboard,' but now that school is out for the summer, I'll have some real time to work on opening everything. The kitchen, bathroom, and washing machine are functional, so we can go on living here happily for quite some time.

The front of the house was a mess, which is to be expected when the house has been vacant for over a year. Hooray for foreclosures! The previous owner (there's a story about her for later, remind me) moved into a house across the street and a few houses down. Apparently, when she walked away from this house she took all the landscaping with her. She told us it was just going to die anyway, so she might as well take it. Funny thing is that there were several plants left that are still doing quite well. Tell me how that works.

Anyway, since she took everything and left the weeds to take over what was left of the flower beds, we spent the first Saturday in the house cleaning out all the dead plants and the weeds. Then, later this week we went to Lowe's just to get some color for the front yard. And some trees. And a lawnmower.

Anyway, we went after I got home from work late. By the time we got home, we had to feed the baby and get him in the tub. Basically, by the time his nighttime routine was complete, it was dark. We decided to plant anyway.

In the dark.

I just kept thinking about Willy Loman, out planting his garden in the middle of the night. And I thought about how our neighbors must think we're crazy. We planted with a frenzy of flung dirt and mulch. And we talked. That's probably my favorite part, the spending time with our fingers in the dirt, deep in conversation about anything. We laughed and contemplated and reminisced and planned, and all the while we created something beautiful together (not that we could see it until the next morning).

I'm sure there are some deep spiritual implications for this. I'm still pondering. In the meantime, I'm enjoying spending the time together to make our house our home. Pictures to come, eventually, . . . whenever we find our camera charger . . .