Thursday, March 29, 2012

some tweaking

"All great changes are preceded by chaos."
-Deepak Chopra

Please bear with me...I'm doing a little rearranging around here...a little spring cleaning, if you will.  I'm trying on some new layouts and designs so don't be surprised if things look completely different from day to day around these parts.  Plus, I will be adding some pages that won't be complete at first.  I just ask that you be patient with me.  I'm looking to strike that delicate balance wherein this space reflects both who I am and that whom I would like to be.

No pressure or anything...

If you have a comment or two, feel free to share them.  That way, I'll know who's actually haunting these pages.  Please know, though, that if I don't implement a suggestion, it's nothing personal.  I'm just kind of stubborn that way.

Thank you for reading and meeting me in this space.

Friday, March 23, 2012

stringing pearls

This week has been...difficult.
I have felt the push and pull of parenting...the stretching and tightening that comes with growing...the painful ache of humility settling into deep what has seemed like every.waking.moment.
It has been tiring, among other things.

Interesting, too, as I consciously started the week with a renewed commitment to mindful and gentle parenting.  My reasons for said resolutions were multitude, many of which I'll have to explore in later posts, but my overreaching desire was to consciously, intentionally, and wholeheartedly be fully present in each moment.

“Respond; don't react. 
Listen; don't talk. 
Think; don't assume.” 
― Raji Lukkoor 

I really thought that mentally preparing for such a mind shift would have won me half the battle.
It appears that I might have been mistaken.

Parenting is weird and wild stuff, I tell you.  It's crazy enough that my sweet love and I could bind together so powerfully and magically that new life spilled forth.  Twice.
And then, that "those so fresh from God, would love us" (Dickens) and we, in turn, would love them...well, it's quite lovely, really.
And even though, at times, love can trump the foulest mood or turn something unbearable into something else entirely, loving is still really hard work.

And you have to get up and do it every day.

So, for me to have this desire to do all of this loving and responding and listening and thinking and to do it while present and aware..well, I feel like I kind of set myself up.
For failure, that is.

But that's okay.  Because I've learned this week that my failings, my weaknesses, my brokenness, even, can be used for good.

Actually, I've seen this week that what I am really doing is stringing pearls.

Miraculously, I have been given this fibrous parenting strand, this "complex of fibers that have been twisted together" and, each day, I pick it up and hold it in my hands.  And as the shafts of sunlight parade across my floor, marking time with shadows and silhouettes, I have a choice.  

Again and again, I am handed moments, wrought from the Source of all time and entrusted to me to round out with my patience, my presence, my personhood.  One at a time, they are gifted to me and, one at a time, I either receive or reject them.  

When I receive these gifts, these moments, they are made complete and they reflect the beauty of their Maker.  And as I hold these lustrous orbs I am reminded that pearls begin first as grains of irritants inside the shells of oysters...and I rejoice that 
pearls are actually shimmering drops of grace
and, thus, 
there is hope yet for me.

And that brokenness that I spoke of...that I experienced with such depth this, too, has a place on this strand.  When I am not able to receive the gift of each moment, when I am closed off or tuned out, or when I flat out reject the opportunity...a knot is formed on the strand instead.  Because nothing goes unnoticed and all of our actions have an equal and opposite reaction..and all of this is reflected on the strand.

So I find myself looking back at my week, at all of the times when I had to make a choice between receiving and rejecting and I pause.  Because although there are a fair amount of knots circling my neck, symbols of my brokenness, my weakness, my failures...they are outnumbered by the pearls. 

So much so that I am literally 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

On raising children and flying kites

We go to the park while the wind rushes and the sun shines.  Clasped in our hands we have squares and diamonds and angles of colored nylon--a dragon and a pirate--and string.

We've come because this is the kind of day you're supposed to do these kinds of things.
And because they have asked us to.

And as we spread across the field, taking our positions, readying ourselves for the task, we realize that the wind is really strong.

This is harder than it looks.

You would think kite flying would be intuitive.  Wind + kites + running = kite flying.
Not exactly.

And then it hits me.
Raising children feels a lot like flying kites.

On a Spring day, it comes easy.  Just free up the string and away it goes.
That kite knows what to do and with the ease of thought that rides on the shoulder of wisdom,
it flies free.

Diving and darting and dancing.
As if it has been doing this forever.

Except on the days when it doesn't.

Some days the kite seems to favor the ground more than the open air.  Like a crazed dervish it spins and whirls on the wind and then drops like a leaden anchor to the earth.  And no matter how fast you run, or pull, or throw it back up into the air, it refuses to fly.

It is on these days that I can become quite stubborn and simple minded.  I talk myself through the steps, again and again:
Wind + kites + running = kite flying
Again and again and again I try.
Again and again and again it doesn't work.

And I don't seem to understand.

Evidently, kites work for two reasons:
how the air flows over and around the kite and the kite's resistance to that very same wind, which is provided by the string attached to the kite.
When a kite become airborne, it essentially changes the flow of air around it.
When it first meets the wind, it blocks the air, forcing it downward.  This air moves slower than the air that is flowing above the kite thus creating a downward force.
The inevitable outcome of this is lift.

These children come bounding into our lives and they literally change how the air moves.

Before I had children, I think that I believed that I knew how the air around me flowed.  But honestly, I'm beginning to think that I didn't ever actually notice the air around me.  I just breathed in and out.  Sometimes calmly and openly.  Sometimes quick and hard.  But that was all it was.  Breathing.  And that was good enough.

And then I had children.

And, yes, breathing is still very important.  In fact, some days, that is still good enough.

But sometimes, the winds come.  And they blow from the North and they are cold and relentless and they don't even stop to catch their own breath.  And there I stand.  With my kite.

The kite and I, we are connected by a string that, sometimes, seems too thin to be strong enough.  But I am told these strings are made for this job.  The treetops could tell me a lot about their strength, I suppose.

And so I plant my feet and I release my kite into the wind and I watch it do what it was meant to do: change the way the air moves around it.  The kite buffets against the wind and, slowly, it rises.

But it will only continue to rise if I provide some resistance to that same wind.
And only
if I continue to let out the string.

And that is the hard part.
Because the kite can fly right nicely when I keep it close, thank you very much.  In fact, it can be controlled quite easily when I keep that string short.  In a way, it doesn't even seem like the winds affect it too much.  Aside from a few crazy spins from time to time, it seems to stay aloft and righted.

But that isn't really flying.

And kites were meant to fly.

I need to be the towline that tries to balance the airflow around the kite, effectively keeping the kite in one place but simultaneously causing the kite to soar upwards.

And isn't that the dance of parenthood?  Navigating the continual flow of life and events and feelings and challenges so that we can keep our kids grounded on one hand and yet free to rise on the other?  Oh, to continue to let out that string is both scary and exhilarating.  Daunting, yet tempting.  Painful, yet necessary.

Yes, flying kites is a lot like raising children.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Message in a bottle (kind of)

LEAP DAY!!!!!!

I've never really caught the excitement of a Leap Day before.  For whatever reason, it was just this weird phenomena that was lost on me and, honestly, I only ever gave it a passing nod when it rolled around.

Enter my two boys.
Their young perspectives changed everything.

So, when this year's extra day appeared, we just had to do something to commemorate its novelty.
Enter Pinterest.
Although it can be a major time sucker, Pinterest can also be the source for some wonderful inspiration.
And that's where I saw the idea of a time capsule to be created on and opened on Leap Day.  Perfect!  Time capsules have always fascinated me but they always seemed to get created and then forgotten.  But the very elusive nature of Leap Days/Years would make remembering this one easy.  Plus, the shorter wait time between the construction and the re-opening of said capsule would make it more worth the effort.

I created a simple sheet of questions for the boys to answer.  Height, weight, shoe/clothes size, and a list of favorites.
 We then drew outlines of their hands so that we could compare them to their size four years from now.  I also clipped a bit of their hair to see if the color would change any.  If we had done this last Leap Year, we would have noticed a huge difference as both of my boys used to have blond hair.

I then had them dictate letters to themselves.  It was interesting to see what they were curious to know about their 13 and 11 year old selves (yes, that's right, I will have a 13 year old in four short years!)
August was really curious as to whether there were flying cars yet or if he had his own computer type device.  At the rate we're progressing, one of those is probably a given and the other one not too crazy of an idea.

 Then, I wrote a letter to each of them.  I tried to capture the essence of their personalities at their particular age right mentioning to Aidan that he climbed into my bed to cuddle every morning... you know, the stuff that might change drastically by the time he is 13.  I also told them what I loved about them at this age, what I thought their strengths were, and a prediction or two of what they might be interested in at the time they would read the letter.  This will be interesting....

We also included a grocery receipt and a couple of pictures.  Then, we sealed it up and labeled it with explicit instructions.

It will be fun to see how much of who these boys are today still remains in four years time.  It's funny, we spent some time this morning watching old videos of the boys from when they were very young. I found it remarkable how, despite the passing of four or even five years, you could still see, so very clearly, the personalities that we know and love today.  How fun it will be to compare, again.

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  ~Henry David Thoreau