January 25, 2010

Thank you for Commenting!

As promised in my post last week, I have donated a dollar per comment to the Doctors without Borders organization. Due to the number of comments on my Facebook page, my Care2 page, and here, while some overlapped, I donated the full pledge.


Thank you for making it fun to make a difference! Please visit my blog again.

January 24, 2010

Ten Things I Love

This was a simultaneously difficult and easy exercise. My first reaction was to list true “things” like dark chocolate, Springsteen, roses and other assorted brown paper packages tied up in string. However, I realized that those things are as close as my next thought. The joy elicited by each of the aforementioned items is equal whether it is a tangible moment or not.

Instead I decided to list moments in life that can be repeated and evoke multiple layers of memories, joy and love. There is no particular order to these items; I prefer to think that at any given moment I can love all of these opportunities equally.

One of the things I most love is a full night’s sleep. It is a simple pleasure, but an unusual one for me so I truly appreciate it. Since becoming a mother, I have been plagued with insomnia. Even when the children were old enough to sleep all night, I have not yet mastered it. Therefore, I appreciate going to bed and waking up a full 6-7 hours later. Incidentally, I just had a full night’s sleep and I am basking in joy.

Even if I cannot sleep well, I at least take pleasure in my children sleeping well. Another love of mine is tucking them in at night and waking them up in the morning. I cherish those moments even more as they get older, ever cognizant that their time at home is dwindling. However, for now, their cocoon is home and I am the matriarch.

I like sleeping outdoors. I love the symphony of nature. I love the stars over my head; I love the fresh morning air. While I do not love the act of packing a tent and setting up camp, or even roughing it too much, the love of sleeping outside is worth all the effort. This leads to my next item, watching a sunrise over the ocean. As a college kid, I slept on the beach and woke up in time to watch the sunrise. My days of sleeping on the beach are long past, but I never miss an ocean sunrise when I am near the water. Lest I come off as obsessed with sleep, I am more fanatical about rejuvenation. One of the most important gifts we can give ourselves is the true time to pause. Like the story of creation, time to rest is crucial.

This comes to my next love. I love believing in God. I love the absolute faith that what we know is not as good as the universe gets, but that something more wonderful than we can even imagine waits for us. I love that I can trust in something I cannot prove. I love the simple knowledge that I am unique, loved, and a work in progress. I love knowing that eternity waits for me and that life on earth is merely the beginning of the wonders of creation. I take extreme comfort in my faith.

My faith teaches me about my next love, my love of listening and learning. I put these together because you cannot learn without listening and you cannot listen, truly listen, without learning. Flip sides of the same coin. I love knowing that I do not have all the answers and that the possibilities are endless to acquire new information. People fascinate me; everyone I meet has something new to teach me, bringing gifts of wisdom from the path of their own lives.

The next three things I love are skills I have learned over the years. When I was a child, my grandmother taught me to bake bread from scratch. Kneading the dough, watching it rise, punching it down, smelling it bake, all this brings me love on many levels. It also explains the title of my blog, from a personal level. (Ironically, the blog originally was titled Pillow Talk, referencing my love of sleep!)

Another childhood skill was learning to play piano. While I never was an excellent pianist, the joy of sitting at the piano and playing Fir Elise by heart thrills me. I played it for a competition and just hearing the first few notes of that song brings back the challenge of preparing for that recital. Because I took lessons, I have an appreciation of music on a level I may not have otherwise. I know what work it is to make music, true music.

The third love in this category is a recent love. I ran my first 5K this past fall. I plan to run several more this year. I love the challenge of pushing my body past where I thought it could go and competing with myself to improve.

My last love is the love of making a difference. Whether that difference is for others or for me, the only permanence in life is change. Change is not scary if I am actively seeking it and hoping to better the world. I have always been in love with a good cause and love finding creative ways to improve the corner of the world I inhabit. I have a gift of expressing myself with words and I am grateful that I am able to use them make a difference.

If you have read this, please share with me something you love. Alternatively, consider yourself tagged and create your own list of 10 things you love.

Thanks for tagging me, blog friends. This was a beautiful way to start my day…

With love,

January 20, 2010

Haitian relief efforts


A lovely member of several writing groups I participate in has pledged a dollar to Doctors without Borders for every comment left on her blog from now until Friday.

Thank you for paying it forward, and you've also inspired me to pledge the same, via this blog. I also will donate a dollar (up to $100 dollars) for every comment left here. I will post the final receipt from the donations next Monday.

Spread the word, my friends!


Not even 12 hours into this "comment-athon" we're at $20. Additionally, my writing colleague, John Ettorre, has pledged to match funds to $25.00. I am truly overjoyed and humbled by the support everyone is showing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

**UPDATE #2**
Tomorrow is the last day, we're about halfway to my full pledge... I've never had so much fun giving money away. Help me reach the full amount and tell your friends to come sign!

January 19, 2010

"One more year from being a child? ...

... That does not sound like growing!"

(from Richard Bach's There's No Such Place as Faraway)

An ongoing discussion in our household is when to allow certain privileges. Sometimes the law mandates such discussions a moot point. My children cannot drive until they are 16 nor can they vote in elections or get married.

Some of the other privileges are more ambiguous. It is not easy to determine the age when certain privileges are granted. My firstborn had to wait an inordinate amount of time before we allowed her to have contact lenses. Movies were another issue; we only saw G rated movies for several years. I remember the first PG movie we went to see, at age 5 and 7. PG because a minor character dies offscreen. I wasn't too concerned, and rather was excited to see my little ones growing up and it was an animated remake of a childhood favorite of my own, Treasure Island.

It proved to be an error in judgment. We got fast food toys that tied into the movie during lunch before the show. My 5 year old was thrilled with her little guy and couldn't wait to see what sort of character he was. You guessed it. He was the one who died. After the movie, she declared she would never smile again.  As I heard her announce that, my heart fell. A month later, she did decide to smile again, and even chose the movie as her birthday theme, which helped me feel much better about my decision.

Since that moment, I've tried to be mindful of age appropriate privileges, to weigh parental responsibility against peer pressure. No cosmetics until 7th grade, but leg shaving came when they started to feel self-conscious; no age discussions even took place. It's a delicate balance to walk. No dating until 10th grade, but they can go places in groups with both boys and girls.

Our latest issue is about the social network site Facebook. My 12 year old insists all her friends have one except her. Without one, her social opportunities are stunted. Indeed, I have some of her friends on my own page, and also I see they have fudged their age. I'm torn on this one. While I see nothing inherently dangerous or wrong with participating in such a venue, I also do not want to endorse lying about her age. It may seem harmless today, but I wonder how it will seem if she's "just fudging her age" a bit as a young adult to get into nightclubs? I also stress the opposite side and refuse to misrepresent their age to get a meal or admission discount.

I wrote last week on another blog how sometimes just the answer "because I said so" is adequate. This however, seems to be the opportunity for a deeper discussion. I'm not likely to change my mind, but I am hoping to make my stance more clear. Under the category of knowing what I know now, there is indeed a time for everything. We have the rest of our lives to do the adult things. I often tell my kids that now is the time for them to do things only kids can do, like be in marching band or speech and debate or school plays. My time has passed for those things, but I don't want them to miss it because they are too busy using their time doing things they have the rest of their lives to do.

What about you, my reader friends? What are you age limits for certain privileges?

January 14, 2010

Because I STILL Said So

"When religious leaders such as Pat Robertson attempt to explain the earthquake disaster in Haiti as part of a pact with Satan, he insults all of Christianity. The self-importance he spews to attempt to explain natural disasters in the framework of God’s will is horrifying."

to read more and participate in a very lively discussion, click here

January 4, 2010


Since the New Year began, I have been ensconced in office cleaning. I am not the sort of person who thinks organization matters, until I cannot see what I’m doing. I adhere to the slogan, “organized people are just too lazy to look for things”, and yet I silently envy them.

Organization is not something that comes naturally or easily to me. When I worked at the grocery store and literally was responsible for nearly a million dollars/week, I had no choice but to be organized and have a militant system for such organization. We had spreadsheets and weekly balance charts that required as much. I never wavered from my rule, do everything in the exact order, every time, the same exact way. It was my way of ensuring organization. I’ve even preached it to my daughters.

However, I digress, as I often do. You see, were it not for my lack of organization, my memory never would have been tweaked with today’s joy. I discovered a penlight, from a church retreat in 1982.

The memories flooded. I was 15, going on 16. Only a year’s difference from my daughter today. It feels like yesterday, especially when I tell stories or give her advice. She has a crush on a boy and wants to ask him to the Sadie Hawkins dance. My point of reference is my own nerdy self at that age. As we’ve discussed strategies over the past week, I never imagined that I would discover a memento that would bring it all to light. Marvelous Light, even.

When I was almost her age, I went to a state retreat with my church youth group. I had a very pretty and cool best friend. She went to another school, which was almost better. We never had to discover how cool or not cool we were once we left the walls of academia behind. So we arrived on a Friday evening, her parents were the youth leaders. We were in Orlando, Florida. We sat at the group rally, wearing “high energy” surf/ski shirts and expressing our coolness as much as we could. We spied a few boys in the group next to us and that was it. That age, those desires we cannot deny… we met the holy grail of youth gatherings, “cute boys”.

We arranged our workshops to spend time with the cute boys and in the best 80s effort imaginable, we were in constant contact. That Saturday evening was an outdoor church service, where everyone in attendance was given a penlight. We stood in a field, hundreds, perhaps thousands of us, shining in the dark, singing with praise, "Into His Marvelous Light". We were so uplifted. After the service, a dance followed.

I froze with fear. My joy evaporated, replaced with terror. I had never danced. I wanted to dance, my soul ached to dance, but my feet knew there was a better time to dance. This was not such a time to subject myself to that level of humiliation. The “cute boys” were less than enamored with my refusal to dance. One cute boy danced with my friend, but my cute boy found others. It happens.

After that retreat, I spent weeks in my room, behind a closed door, counting steps, listening to things I’d rather not admit to now, practicing, dancing, and almost replicating Napoleon Dynamite. No way was I ever going to be somewhere I wouldn’t dance again. I learned, I danced, I succeeded, but that isn’t the point of my tale.

This week, my own lovely child is working up the courage to ask a handsome young boy to join her in a splendid dance. I do hope… they dance. It doesn’t matter who is or isn’t watching. I hope she dances. I look at my now dead battery of a long forgotten penlight and think, indeed, that light once shined. I want her to step gracefully into that marvelous light, I want her to shine and love and breathe and live. Today is now. The moment is here.

Shine, my baby girl. Don't let your battery die, let your light glow.



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