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Monday, May 25, 2015

Giving Cookies to Strangers and other Random Acts of Kindnesses

I’m a broken woman.  At least when it comes to offering cookies to strangers.  I’m reading Deepak Chopra’s ‘The Future of God’.  OK, ok if I’m being TOTALLY honest I also MIGHT be reading a smutty romance about a half dragon, half human man who falls in love with an all human woman.  I’m reading these two books at the same time, depending on my mood and how much time I have.  How I switch back and forth between those two books is a mystery to me but I do, quite fluidly.  How I manage it with a 12 and a half month old, that is a minor miracle all on its own.

Anyhoo - I was just reading the section about giving.  (In the Chopra book, not the dragon romance book).  It was about giving without worrying about lack.  I thought about all the times I have held back from giving because I felt like I wouldn’t have enough for me.  I vowed to be more generous.  (This was yesterday).  Anyone who knows me might say, what a minute, hold the bus, you’re pretty generous.  Yeah, to people I KNOW, and LOVE.  That’s easy.  What’s hard is being open and generous to strangers.  So.  Today while we were having a picnic under a giant Oak tree (so Norman Rockwell of us, yes?) a little girl approached me.  (Well, approached Ellie) with her father trailing behind her, trying to get her to come back to him.  She toddled right up to me and smiled, waved, waved at Ellie.  She might have been three or maybe four.  So, in the spirit of giving, I offered her one of Ellie’s Arrowroot cookies.  There weren’t many left, and my initial hesitation was over a concern I wouldn’t have a cookie at a time of crisis.  This is a genuine concern, one borne from experience.  Nothing quiets Ellie like an arrowroot cookie.  From full melt-down to peaceful, blissful calm in seconds.  Ahhhh.  So offering the cookie was a big deal for me.  I guard those cookies with a ferocity that can only be equaled by a mamma bear with her cubs.  Grrrrrrr.  Stay.  Away.  From.  The.  Cookie.

So I offered this cute little girl a cookie (after asking dad first).  I immediately felt good.  I’m a good person.  So kind and generous.  Giving a little girl I don’t know a valuable cookie.  Good for me.  Then he told me, in broken English, that he had SIX kids….of course Universe, of course.  Three of his six kids then came running over, older than the little girl by quite a few years and not nearly as adorable.  I was at a fork in the road.  Offer them a cookie too or keep silent?  What kind of monster doesn’t offer the siblings a cookie!?  Well, me.  Except this time, I did, trying not to check the supply when they were done.

They left and I felt good.  I felt like God was laughing at me, but I felt good.  Then I thought, wow, I THOUGHT I was a good person, a generous person.  But it literally look a book about spirituality and a lot of second thought to OFFER COOKIES TO CHILDREN…what is WRONG with me!?  Either way there must be something broken inside when I don’t offer cookies to children.  Even children I don’t know.  Am I being too hard on myself!?  Maybe.

And then the thought occurred to me that baby Ellie is watching everything I do.  Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of watching me have a tantrum at the latest idiot to cut me off in traffic, she saw me doing something good?  Or, at least, that she ALSO sees me doing good deeds.  Let us be realistic, yes?  Even if those good acts are small, quiet gestures of good will.  I think that’s what makes the world go round, really.  Millions of people showing small acts of kindnesses, showing impulsive acts of mercy and compassion, a glimmer of generosity day in and day out.  It isn’t the grand gestures of billionaires that will change the world.  It’s the countless every-day people with a mind to make their corner of the world a little better, a little brighter.  THAT is what keeps the world from going to a million little pieces.  There’s a quote by Emerson I really like.

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. 

I used to look around at what was happening all over the world and just felt totally useless.  There are so many problems, so many huge issues that need our help, attention, and money.  Where do we begin?  I have learned (I think) that we begin where we are.  I will never provide clean water for Africa or solve the AIDS epidemic or cure cancer.  But I CAN give cookies to kids who wander by.  I CAN give love, loyalty, and care to those children who wander into my sphere.  I CAN read to my little girl at night.  I can do these small things and trust their ripples will grow bigger than the acts themselves.  And if not, I’ve led a good and happy life along the way.  Who can ask for more than that?  Tristan can, that’s who.  Ah, Tristan, you half dragon, half human, all heart man you.  What a dreamer.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Amazing Poo Incident of 2015 with a Side Note on a Rice Throwing Debacle

Where to start?  There was another epic poo incident.  Poo literally running down her legs and up her back.  At a loss, I plunked her down into the sink and hosed her off with the spray nozzle.  I kid you not.  Bill doesn’t believe in spending money on adjusting the indoor temperature to human being levels.  So it’s 82 degrees inside and perfect weather for a poopy baby to get naked and clean.  Well, rinsed off anyway.  Ew.  Ew, ew, ew,ew,ew.  EW.  How does poop so runny it leaks out her diaper and down her leg STICK TO THE TAG of her shorts?  It defies physics.  My baby’s poo defies physics.  How’s that for a proud mom bumper sticker?

There was also a rice throwing debacle.  Great she’s eating rice.  Awesome she’s got the micro-movements down to be able to pick up the rice and fling it at me.  No, no, I’m exaggerating.  She wasn’t throwing it AT ME, just all around in a 360 degree explosion of amazing manual dexterity and rice.  And baby drool.  Sigh.  Ew.

Bill trundled off to New Jersey for the weekend to help his dad with another garage sale.  His dad scours garage sales all spring, summer and fall, then they turn around and sell it at HIS garage sale.  Only when the goods have reached the ceiling, of course.  Or start to bust out the vents.  

Anyhoo - Ellie and I were permitted to stay in Virginia this weekend as his father’s house is not exactly kid-proof.  With the garage sale going on it’s a lot of pressure on me to try to hold a squirming baby up on the couch where she gets bored in the three seconds it took me to sit her down and pull up her socks.  We cannot let her down on the ground.  Besides being questionably clean it’s really not kid-proof, it’s barely adult-proof.  Well, barely ME-proof.  I can’t count how many times I’ve almost fallen down the steep stairs, or tripped over pots on the floor in the kitchen, or stumbled down the rickety steps into the garage.  It’s a wonder I’m still alive, really.  Honestly, he’s got a puffer-fish (yes a dead puffer fish) hanging on the garage wall RIGHT at my head-level.  Aren’t they poisonous?  I always get a slightly alarming quick close-up whenever I stumble.  I suppose I should be suspicious.  Is he TRYING to kill me?  But no, it’s just the state of affairs in a home that a brilliant and bored hoarder has lived in for forty-odd years.  

So.  The girls stayed home, Thursday morning to Sunday night.  No problem right?  She’s a BABY.  I’m an ADULT.  A reasonably smart, usually rational, totally operating within normal parameters ADULT.  And, actually, it was no problem for the most part.  FOR THE MOST PART.  She IS crazy-crawly baby right now with a priority mission to up-end Toby’s water dish and/or crawl up the stairs and/or pull apart the plants I set stupidly on the floor within reach and/or crawl DOWN the stairs and pull open, down or out ANYTHING not tied shut and locked down like Fort Knox.  I’m not exhausted, I’m beyond exhausted, what is that?  Like, way past tired.  I’d say I have baby-watching PTSD but I wouldn’t want to make light of the millions of real people who have seen REAL bad poo, and not the literal kind although maybe that too.

Anyhoo.  I survived.  She survived.  Toby survived.  What was my point again?  Oh…right.  I don’t have one.  Points are for people who have the time and energy to make them.  I just wanted to vent.  Well, thanks for listening.  Now trundle off, eh?  Oh, wait, don't go yet, I have one last confession to make.  I just had to LOOK UP WHAT YEAR IT IS for the title.  Yes, yes I did.  Tra laaaa.  The end.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bunnies Revenge

People often compare me to small, docile, often furry animals.  It’s true.  I try not to be offended.  I try not to be amazed that no one sees the raging lunatic that thrives just below the surface of all my laid-back attitudes.  Maybe it's my height (knee high to a leprechaun) maybe it's my non threatening way of dressing (read...bargin-bin, slightly rumpled).  Maybe it's the fact that even when I DO wear make-up you can't tell I'm wearing any.  I suspect it's mostly because I'm usually happy (I'm still ALIVE, yippie!!!). And I tend to avoid confrontation.  Anger makes me SUPER uncomfortable.  Anger in PUBLIC PLACES?  Eek!  Insanity!  What is happening?  I'm reduced to what is probably the exact look a bunny gets right before she's eaten.  I don’t love this about myself.  Emotions, feelings being expressed, usually negative feelings.  Ick.  Insert appropriate joke here and vacate the premises quickly.  

I dragged Bill and Ellie to a vegetarian restaurant for Mother’s Day.  I’ve been struggling with my meat eating again.  I don’t even kill spiders (I’m not TERRIFIED of spiders anymore but…let’s just say they’re one peg higher than the bogeyman.  One notch better than a horde of Zombies.  But not by much) and I have been killing some ants lately that have gotten into the house but only out of necessity and I feel pretty badly about it.  I was picking them up with paper towel and putting them outside but they just found their way back in and then called all their friends to come too.  Well I don’t know if they were the SAME ants.  It’s not like they wear little sweaters or anything.  And even if they did they would probably all be the same dull brown.  I could MAKE them sweaters of course, then I would know for sure who was who but then, they could just be taking them off outside, or borrowing one another’s sweater so I could never be sure.  

Anyway, we’re selling the house so I don’t want to leave an ant problem for the next people.  So.  I’ve been killing ants.  And it really, really bothers me.  And then a lightbulb went off in my head.  It was like the universe smacking me upside the head.  I sat there, feeling bad about the fifth ant I just killed, eating leftover chicken and I looked down and I thought…holy crap.  The way I eat is not lining up with the way I live my life.  I will go out of my way to displace instead of make dead a dreaded enemy (the SPIDER) and yet I will happily chew away on the dead carcass of a higher life form?  I already don’t eat pig (they’re very smart) or lamb (sooo cute!) so cutting out chicken, turkey, and cow shouldn’t be too hard, right?  Wrong, really.  So many traditions are rooted in eating meat. Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, summer (BB-Q) winter (Meat stews).  Not to mention Bill already thinks he’s suffering enough living with a woman who doesn't eat bacon, or pork chops, or lamb chops, or duck a l’orange…

Anyway, I’m still struggling with this and that’s for another blog.  So.  We’re at the vegetarian restaurant and the placemats are the Chinese horoscopes.  Ellie is the horse, Bill the monkey, me the sheep.  Right?  Of course.  It said I was gentle and calm, loving and timid.  Bill laughed and said it was me to a tee.  Really?  TIMID?  I looked at him like he was an alien creature from another planet.  How can someone who is MARRIED TO ME, think I was TIMID?  I’m not TIMID!  He does call me bunny sometimes but I assumed it was ironically.  Suddenly our whole relationship was thrown into question.  He took another bite of his veggie tempera, then grimaced.  He shook his head.  They didn’t do this right.

I stare at him.  “I’m NOT timid.”  I said again.  Then Ellie sneezed and snot went everywhere and we were occupied with cleaning the table, chairs, ceiling and floor of the sneeze-juice.  She’s had a runny nose for a week.  I’ve been sick too but getting better.  Also, I’m an adult so I’ve learned to aim my snot into appropriate receptacles, like a kleenex.  Or Bill’s ear.  See how timid he thinks I am THEN.  Heh heh heh.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Beauty and Joy, Spleen kicking and First Birthdays

May the Fourth be with you everyone!  There is no try, there is only DO.  (Yoda)

First I have to say...happy almost FIRST EVER birthday Ellie!  A year ago this time I was blissfully chowing down on cupcakes and reading a smutty romance, thinking I had another month to go before I met you, instead of just one day.  You were early, you were tiny, you were cranky, but from the first time I felt you drop-kick my spleen I was in love with you.  You've done nothing but amaze and exhaust me since.  You are truly a gift I don't deserve.

Now to get serious.  More serious.  Seriouser.  I can't talk about what I want to talk about today.  Someday I will be able to, but not today.  So, mysteriously, instead I will just say that:

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. - Rumi
I saw this quote in a writers digest newsletter I subscribe to today. (Free, of course).  This quote is beautiful and reminds me there are many ways to feel joy, to give back, to be grateful.  In the article she used this quote to encourage writers to quit writing.  Well, not writers per say but people who THINK they're writers but aren't really (?) to give up and find their true passion, their true joy.  Well.  How is one supposed to know THAT!? Am I a writer only if I'm published?  Only if I'm published on a regular basis?  Only if people BUY what I've published?  (Moms don't count...)

I've often said my job is what I do, writing is what I AM.  It's what never changes.  It's what I do when I feel lost, or sad, or angry, or happy, or grateful, or's what pulls me back to center when I'm feeling out of place.  It's what connects me, it's what I do to 'plug in', to myself, to the world, to God.  To that place I can't see but only feel, to where I feel 'right' even if everything else is 'wrong'.  

Does that make me a writer?  

Do other things give me joy?  Sure.  Ellie.  Yoga.  A good book, a roaring fire.  Toby.  A baby kicking my spleen.  (Notice I didn't mention hubby.  We give each other love, companionship, support, excitement, adventure, challenge, happiness, confusion, support, FRUSTRATION, humor but A marriage is too tangled with expectations met and failed, hopes, dreams and needs to be a source of pure joy.  Joy needs to be spontaneous and uncomplicated.  Sunlight through the leaves of an old tree gets me in the joy spot.  Ellie's belly laugh, Toby's scamper after a toy, sun salutations IN the sun, a good sentence aptly written that perfectly expresses how I feel - THAT is joy.

So.  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground - and I won't let a silly thing like 'success' determine how and when I kneel.  Rah.

Happy almost birthday Ellie, I hope in the birthdays to come you find your joy and you hold on to it, even if people tell you not to, or you shouldn't, or it's a waste of time.  No one can judge that but you.  The world is a dark and wonderful, dangerous and magical place.  You find your joy and you stop the world for it because a life without joy isn't LIFE at all.  Rah one more time, for good measure.