Friday, January 23, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The end of the week. It was a bit of a mess of mismanaged appointments and events, car troubles, sickness and lots of leftovers, but we made it through.

The water went off after last night's dinner dishes were done and back on before bed so I could take a warm, albeit rather wimpy, shower.  It made me realize how good we have it, and how much I take for granted.

Miss Bit loves her voice lessons.  She came out of her session chatting away about how awesome it was...will be.

Clementines also known as cuties.  Such a perfect snack.

My elliptical. We've spent much time together this week.

An existential crisis before it's too late to do anything about it.


Permission.  Permission to return Station Eleven to the library unfinished because it wasn't grabbing me, permission to cut my workout short because I was exhausted, permission go to bed early, permission to put extra honey in my tea and to eat a yogurt bar right after dinner, permission to grant myself time and space.

Patience and persistence too.

A van full of 14 year old boys.  I love being a fly on the wall to observe their banter.

This line from Oliver's Blue Horses: Maybe the desire to make something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us.  And this one from Forgive Me: If I were a perfect person, I would be bowing continuously.

Snow is in our Sunday forecast.  Of course, Ted has a ski trip tomorrow and we're in the midst of another January thaw.  This has not been the winter for snow enthusiasts.

Parenthood.  I sobbed through the show last night.  Probably as much owing to content as to the fact that next week is the series finale.  I know I'm being dramatic, but I am going to feel a void without my weekly dose of the Bravermans in the same way I did when Thirty Something and Brothers and Sisters ended.  I just don't think one more hour is going to be enough.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Under Pressure

This past week Teddy and I had a conversation about college sparked by recent placement testing.  He was online researching what it takes to get into a "good" college.  There were 9 important things that colleges are looking for that he identified.  One of them is honors classes and another overall GPA.  He was trying to decide whether he should take as many honors classes as he is eligible for or cherry pick.  He was weighing the likelihood of a higher GPA in non honors classes against the benefit of accepting the challenges of tougher classes.  He wanted to know what I did.

When I was in 8th grade, college prep wasn't even on my radar.  I expected that I'd go to college because I was a good student and it was expected of me, but I wasn't concerned with GPAs, ACTs or SATs.  I was concerned with what I was going to do over the weekend not in 4 1/2 years.  My high school didn't have "honors" classes.  Some people took Algebra Freshman year and others took Algebra II.  I took them both twice and still was on the National Honor Society and somehow managed to get into my first choice school.  I didn't know it was my first choice school until late in the application process so I am to this day eternally grateful for my Mom for filling out and sending in the application sans essay or glut of referrals.  Somehow she knew that I wasn't going to be happy at Connecticut College or any of the other small faraway colleges I was focusing on.

On one hand, I think this early preparation and awareness is a good thing.  It puts kids in the position to know what they are working so hard for.  It gives them goals and incentives.  It sets them up to be active participants in their education and futures, which is highly motivating.  They are invested whether they like it or not. On the other hand, it stresses them out and ekes a little bit of the fun and freedom of being a teenager right out from under them. Every decision is calculated and with consequence.  Every class, sport, activity, relationship becomes a means to an end and not an experience in and of itself.  They are forced to grow up faster as they internalize the magnitude of every decision they make.

I wonder how my college experience would have been different if I had more of an awareness about myself and the experience.  There are few things I would change, but one that I would is a biggie.  As big as my major.  I think I would've majored in education instead of English, and I would've focused on Spanish instead of Women's Studies.  I think if I had been looking further ahead, I would have made more precise and practical decisions.

Gone are the days where T. Bone dreams of being drafted into the MLB.  He talks a lot about business these days.  He's interested in architecture and making a lot of money so he can own fabulous homes in all the places he loves.  He's 14 after all.  I'd be worried about him if his dreams weren't lofty or if they were too whittled down.  He's still got a whole lot of growing up and learning to do, but the countdown has begun.  Tick tock.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Coach for working with me on redoing this desk.  He has much more experience, and while I am aware that it's not his favorite thing to do, he is...we are.


The 5th grade choir sang The Circle Game during their performance this week.  It's one of my favorite songs.  I was first introduced to it in college.  It was a song that my sorority sang at each and every ceremony.  Sororities have lots of ceremonies, but I never tired of it.  Now it will remind me of my sweet faced daughter.

Her voice lessons start tomorrow.  She's a little nervous, but I think it will help her gain confidence over what she possesses...namely, a beautiful instrument.

But she was aware that the story you think you know is never the real one.  I read Lily King's Euphoria this week and give it the big thumbs up.  It was a compelling drama borne out of a quest for interpretive insight.  Margaret Mead made a most interesting protagonist.

Lily gave Teddy almost half the earnings she made helping me cat sit this week.  It was the right thing to do since he came along and played with the cats too, but what fills me with gratitude is that she made the choice of her own volition.

The combination of almond and coconut milk on my cereal.

Honey in my tea.  My tea in a pretty cup.

It's going to be warm enough for a walk tomorrow.  It'll be nice to give the elliptical a break.

A road trip is in the planning stages, but coming this summer.

Tonight I earned back my backgammon title...House Champion.

Packer party on Sunday.

No work or school on Monday.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2 day pass

for a weekend that held few commitments,
it felt rather full.
i can see i'm existing between polarities.
on one hand, all i want is to sit and soak up the silence...
to put myself in neutral.
on the other, i have this overwhelming urge to kick things into gear and (insert any number of verbs here).
the whole ping pong routine - hurry up and get lots done so you can enjoy doing little - is not my idea of peace.
that's because there is always something more that begs doing.
i find myself questioning what is enough?
i dislike that e word almost as much as the b word...(busy).
suffice it to say that the house is dechristmased, closets are getting organized, lily's new desk is primed and well on the road to beauty, and clearly the doing is winning over the being.
and those are all worthy tasks, but what truly inspires me are the moments i spend before dawn on the frozen beach watching the sun rise and feeling its warmth even in winter, and losing myself for patches of time with a mug of tea and a book...this weekend the compelling Euphoria, and taking the girls to lunch while eavesdropping on their easy conversation, and making big plates of spaghetti and meatballs for the boys after a day of skiing and before a night of open gym, and shopping around the italian market with mike admiring ingredients we might use one day, and gathering together in my dad's great room to watch the packers win.
it's all about finding that balance...
that happy place between being and doing, doing for others and doing for oneself...
between togetherness and solitude...
between observing and creating...
between looking out and looking in.
finding that balance and then maintaining it.

Monday, January 12, 2015

On My Mind Monday

El Condor Pasa

I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail

Yes, I would
If I could
I surely would

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail

Yes, I would
If I only could
I surely would

Away, I’d rather sail away

Like a swan that’s here and gone
A man gets tied up to the ground
He gives the world its saddest sound
Its saddest sound

I’d rather be a forest than a street

Yes, I would
If I could
I surely would

I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet

Yes, I would
If I only could
I surely would

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Forever and Ever. Alleluia.

There are times I do things because I want to, and times I do things because I have to.  This morning after seeing T. Bone off for a long day of skiing, I found myself bundled up and headed to the beach to watch the sunrise over a Lake Michigan shrouded in sea smoke.  The Wild soundtrack I jubilantly received the day before was in the midst of El Candor Pasa as I left. This song, in particular, has been haunting me since I saw the movie Tuesday.  I surmise that's because it could have been plucked from my own childhood.  Music is one of the main portals to the past.  Songs are straight gateways to my pains and paths to my pleasures as well.  If I Could leaves me feeling naggingly nostalgic for a youth of promise and potential.  A time in my life when I felt protected and whole.  But the honest truth is that even as an innocent young girl, I knew that feeling wouldn't last.  It's been inherent in me for as long as I can remember to know on a cellular level that things are always changing, and that life is short. 
I am five years old and my mom is toweling me off after a bath.  It is mid-summer.  The air is sweet with lilac blooms and the sun still high in the sky despite the fact it's almost my bedtime.  My mom turns her attention to my younger brother.  I'm watching them from my bed across the room.  She's tickling him and he's giggling.  I smile too, but inside I am sad and scared.  I'm sad and scared because I want us to be this way forever, and even at this tender age, I have a strong inkling that's not possible.  I bring levity to the lightness when I ask what happens when we die.  I blurt it out and everything stands still for a second.  But my mom is not one to gloss over things or tie them up with a pretty bow.  She tells me we are gone then.  Gone forever.  She may mention Heaven, but I cannot say for sure because it doesn't mean much to me yet. I bury my face in my towel to stifle my tears, and the darkness makes me picture a black hole.  "Forever and ever and ever and ever to infinity?" I blubber needing to know while wanting a different answer.  "Yes, forever," she concedes, "But no one is going anywhere for a very long time."  That night and many after, I am afraid to go to sleep.
Yep, all that from one song.  I'll spare you where I went for the other 14 tracks, but suffice it to say it was an emotional drive.  As I pulled up to the beach, I was relieved to see it was deserted.  I'll take -2 degrees any day if it means I can have the sunrise all to myself.  I walked down the path while I watched the giant egg yolk of a sun emerge from the steam hovering over the lake.  The billow looked like a battalion of misty ghosts haunting the horizon.  I wasn't scared like I was that summer night so many years ago though because I know a little more about myself, the world, life.  And when I see the sun burning bright dawn after dawn, I cannot tell you that I think any of our sprits are ever gone forever.  I just cannot.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

My son, the poet.  He may have let it slip the other night that he's been published.

Taking the long way to work this morning.  The sea smoke over the lake was so otherworldly and beautiful.  I thought about taking a picture, but decided that what I could see with my own two eyes was impossible to capture and keep.

Pasta Bolognese tastes even better after it's been frozen for a couple months as if that's even possible.

Cleaning out the freezer.

Miss Bit was mostly excited to get up every day this week because she had 5 day's worth of new outfits each one cuter than the next.

Nivea hand cream.

Books and the library.

Dellalo whole wheat pasta.  Especially topped with a little roasted broccoli, shredded Pecorino, EVOO and a perfectly poached egg.

Yasso frozen Greek yogurt bars.  I most love the chocolate fudge.

Closet organizers and organizing closets.

New cheaters from the dollar bin at Target.  

Good luck charms especially when they work.  Prayers especially when they are answered.  Grace always.

Better new year habits like healthy eating, less television and simplifying our surroundings.  Taking care of our minds, bodies and spirits.