Five Minute Friday: STILL

Five Minute Friday Still

Five Minute Friday: STILL

Here is a stillness that I can’t fathom in any way, shape or form: the stillness of the lost lives of the children in Sandy Hook who were massacred six years ago. Also, the stillness of the migrant child who died after she and her father crossed the US-Mexico border seeking asylum.

I have an acquaintance in a running club who used to ask us to run every year for Chase Kowalski, one of the children killed in the massacre, who was one of her child’s classmates. I looked her up today. I’ve been a little out of the running world (okay – I’ve been totally out of the running world but it is still a huge part of my social life). There she was, still running in Chase’s memory along with her own child, now (obviously) much older, just like Chase would be.

It is unfathomable, still, that Chase is still. So still.

The same for the 7-year-old from Guatemala. As I heard her name, Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, read, I thought, “is it possible I met her or one of her family members of community members when I went to Guatemala?” Guatemala is a big country, so it’s unlikely, but all of these people seeking asylum immediately bring to mind the people I met in Guatemala, the little girl (Estela) our family still sponsors.. Tenley and I were looking at her most recent picture the other day. She was so little when we first started sponsoring her in 2011. Now, seven years later, she is becoming a young woman. Her uncle said to me, as we were meeting her for the first time, “how much would it cost to come to America?” And it didn’t matter, because any amount I had said — $6, $60, $600, $6000 — would have been out of reach. But the question was one, not of “how can I have an easier life?” but “how can I have opportunities to work, freedom to say what I think, a vote?” (Obviously I am just inferring what I think he meant, but no one I met there would be unwilling to work hard, strenuously hard, for the opportunity to make a decent living and have safety for their children.)

***end of five minutes***

I usually listen to music while I respond to the Five Minute Friday prompt, and I often try to choose something related to the theme.

Tonight, I left the the music silent.

It just doesn’t seem fair to be entertained by having the air filled with sound when the souls of the Sandy Hook children and the little girl from Guatemala are so still.

Five Minute Friday Deep

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: BALANCE

FMF Balance

Five Minute Friday: BALANCE

Balance is misleading. Keeping balance looks like something that takes supreme caution — being exquisitely tuned to each breath, each movement, each thought.

The irony is that balance takes a certain amount of letting go of all those microscopic “what if this doesn’t work?” types of thoughts.

If you have ever paddle boarded, you probably know what I mean. Once you’re on the board, the process of staying on the board and out of the water takes an orchestration of your physical body, your mental senses, and whatever goes on in our inner ears to give us the sense of balance.

I have only been paddle boarding once, sadly, but that one time gave me the sense of what it takes to stay balanced. It isn’t what you would think watching paddle boarders from shore. It takes a wide stance (to give yourself a more solid base). It takes looking ahead and where you’re going rather than down at the water around your feet (yes, the water you could potentially end up in if you lose your balance!).

Most of all, it requires trusting yourself.

Just like in other situations where we must seek balance, if we spend the whole time second-guessing our choices, we are likely to sink emotionally.

Five Minute Friday Deep

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: DEEP

Five Minute Friday Deep

Five Minute Friday: DEEP

Here’s something I desperately need: a deep conversation.

I’m not sure when that kind of thing fell out of my world. I suspect it was around the time I left my Healthy Kids job (four years ago). I do know, in retrospect, that the kinds of things you end up sharing when you are in a traditional office (vs. remote) are, to an extent, a function of the fact that you’re all together all day long.

What I mean by that is … it’s a bit of a false intimacy. You share some pretty in-depth details of your life and how you feel about things because you’re all together anyway.

When I ended up being at home, and being with my father-in-law all day every day for so long, there was a shift in how I spent my time. The opportunities for superficial conversations to go deeper dried up, and I became a bit more insular.

Ironically, deeply life-changing things have happened over the four years since I left that job. My father-in-law’s day-to-day life, his two bouts with cancer, his death. My mom’s death. The emptying of the nest when my son moved out the month after my father-in-law passed away.

The “deep” things come at odder places now: an unexpected personal interaction on Slack. A conversation with a stranger that takes a personal turn for the a moment of more personal sharing.

But I need to hear other people out and be the sounding board for them as much as I need to share things myself.

I think I ended another FMF post this same way, so maybe there’s a hint I’m supposed to get, but it’s time to schedule some coffee dates.

Five Minute Friday Deep

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: VALUE

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: VALUE

Our values show in what we say and in what we omit saying.

My Thanksgiving with family was wonderful in every way, truly.

In retrospect, however, there was a moment when I froze at a when I could have upheld my personal values better. In addition, I started the problem.

An extended family member now works in an extremely rural area of the South. We were discussing all the things that are NOT in the area (decent restaurants, sufficient shopping, etc.). I asked about schools: “I guess there’s one of each (elementary, middle, high)?”. The other person said that was correct, and that there is also a private school.

I said (with, I acknowledge, a healthy dose of my own snark), “It’s probably a super-Christian Bible academy right?”

The family member said it was an “academy,” but not necessarily a religious one.

They went on to say most of their coworkers send their children to the “academy” because the public schools are “dark.”

I. knew. exactly. what. they. meant. and. said. nothing.

My initial assumption about Christian schools was no more fair than the other person’s insinuation that the reason public schools are less desirable is because they have a higher-than-average minority representation.

***end of five minutes***

Every conversation these days (many of them, anyway) seems destined to divide us rather than bring us together.

I have opinions about ultra-conservative Christian schools that are probably overgeneralizations. Having been active in a pretty conservative Southern religious tradition when I was younger, having knocked on doors when I was 17 trying to “save” people, those opinions are mainly built on the fear that they don’t teach young men and women about the array of options in our world (in a variety of ways — gender, body privacy choices, what to read/think/do), but I can’t say they all are that restrictive.

I do, however, know people in our society are doing stupid, fatal things because of the fear of people who are “dark.”

As my acquaintance Susan Turner wrote in the Holocaust Education Resource Council’s response to the Pittsburgh tragedy, “Character is one’s only possession.”

I don’t know what I could have done instead of staying silent in that interaction (besides not initiating that conversational path in the first place) that wouldn’t have created a rift or moment of tension.

But I know it is a manifestation of our privilege that children throughout our nation (and right here in Tallahassee) are still getting worse educations because of their skin color and socioeconomic status — and we haven’t found a way to insist strongly enough that this be changed.

If the idea that “every child matters” is part of our value systems, we won’t make any progress if we stay silent in those one-on-one moments.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: ONE

Five Minute Friday: ONE

One offer.

That’s what most everyone has said would happen as we tried to sell our house. One offer (the first) that would be the highest we were going to get.

We turned that one offer down; it was much lower than what we were asking. We couldn’t accept it without being underwater, so we persisted.

And here we sit, nine months after originally listing it, three months after parting ways with our first realtor, and trying to figure out what to do.

Everything about the “potentially underwater” part is no one’s problem but ours (we made our bed and are lying it it…).

Maybe it’s magical thinking, as I know selling a house takes work, plain and simple, especially if you don’t use a realtor, but I keep thinking there is one family out there for whom this is *the* house. It certainly was for us.

We didn’t turn it into the showcase it has the potential to be. We extended ourselves so much to get it, we didn’t leave much room for enhancements (see the “underwater” part a few paragraphs above).

But it holds within its walls all the energy created by a family going through so many cycles of life — almost all of Tenley’s and Wayne’s school years, my father-in-law’s last years, the bulk of my Healthy Kids career and subsequent career change, Wayne’s layoff by the Florida Senate and the rough road that led to.

Maybe there will be rough roads for whatever family ends up here next (all families have them), but I hope to find the one family for whom it is the perfect repository of all the best energy too.

Five Minute Friday

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: BURDEN

Five Minute Friday Burden

Today’s Prompt: BURDEN

The main thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “burden” is how Wayne’s parents and my parents all said over the past few decades “I don’t want to be a burden when I get old.”

I don’t know many people whose attitude is “I’m going to be a stone around the neck of my adult child as I grow more incapable and need more care.”

Yet, the problem we face is the reality of what happens as aging parents age. Either:

  1. They made no plans for their later years (not blaming here, just being honest), or
  2. The plans they did make don’t work out (the long-term care insurance they paid into so diligently turns down their claim, the “healthier” partner dies first, whatever condition assails them is so much worse than they anticipated.

That is where the “I don’t want to be a burden” crashes into all those times we adult children said something like “don’t be silly, that’s what I’m here for.”

I’m in enough caregiver groups online, left over from the three years Wayne’s dad lived with us, to be exposed daily to the candid truth of how difficult adult children’s lives are as they accept that burden.

It’s difficult, but the people in these groups (and people I know in person) accept the burden with such grace and competence it floors me. Having a place to vent doesn’t in any way detract from the grace they show, the love they share and the weight they shoulder.

If you are a caregiver struggling under the weight of the burden, I send my support. If you are not a caregiver, find one and share a word of support, Even a kind word will lighten their load, I promise you.

Five Minute Friday

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Five Minute Friday: REPEAT

Five Minute Friday Repeat

Today’s Prompt: REPEAT

I often stream CNN while I am sitting at my desk. Because I am watching the streamed version, they handle the commercial breaks differently. Often, they repeat the same commercial over and over again, three or four times.

I could tune it out (maybe), but it gets on my nerves. During election season, it has gotten on my nerves because they play a commercial for the opponent of the candidate for whom I plan to vote, and once is MORE than enough. Three times in a row puts me over the edge.

My observation: I am living with it (and complaining about it) rather than doing something. I have so many options: stream something else, listen to the radio instead, work in silence (honestly that one isn’t so appealing, but….). Yet I just harrumph through the break and wish the program would begin again.

Allowing the negative (or what is negative for us) to repeat when there are other options is a pattern that is far too easy to fall into.

A round of annoying political commercials is one thing (and those should be over in five days, blessedly), but are there other things in your life that are repeating, sucking your energy and joy as you endure them?

I have a small suggestion/challenge for the day: don’t be passive in the face of the negative repeat. Change the “channel.”

Five Minute Friday

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 Day 31: CLOSE

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: CLOSE

I have been in some situations where I have a shared log-in to a particular website with other people, people who are physically in other places. If I don’t close out of the website, they can’t get in. (For some websites, it doesn’t matter if multiple people are logged in simultaneously.)

There is a metaphor in that (needing to close out so someone can get in) for our lives and relationships too. It is easy, and the emotional default, to keep lingering on something (an issue, an opinion, a bias) long after it serves us rather than putting it to rest and moving on.

There are assumptions I have reached about certain relationships in my life based on one incident or conversation that didn’t go the way I wanted that have probably kept me from enjoying a potentially fruitful situation for both of us.

And I’m wondering how we “close that tab,” silence our minds, and put those assumptions to rest.

The people in our lives deserve better.

I know I have been given a second chance by people I have wronged or not given sufficient time or space at first.

Thank goodness.

(And a heartfelt thank you to Kate for hosting another 31-day writing challenge!)

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 Day 30: VOICE

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: VOICE

I was trying to wrap up my tasks Sunday night so I could get to bed. I had CNN on in the background. I kept stopping to watch, because Lisa Ling wanted to connect with her grandmother.

Lisa Ling has a show that airs on Sunday evenings, and this episode was centered on a town in New York that is known as a haven for mediums. Besides sitting in on another individual’s session, Lisa did her own session where she tried to connect with her beloved grandmother, who died some time ago.

Lisa’s asked her sister, Laura, to join her. As they sat with the medium, trying to conjure that treasured connection, things didn’t seem to be yielding any kind of result to speak of.

Therefore, Lisa pulled out an old-fashioned cassette tape recorder and popped in a tape that contained a recording of her grandmother’s voice. The grandmother was playing the piano and singing a Christian song.

The session didn’t yield any clear moment of “Grandma hovering in the room” or “Grandma’s spirit making itself known” or “Grandma mysteriously conveying through the medium some secret piece of information only Lisa and Laura would know.”

The medium told Lisa and Laura to look for more butterflies as that was  a way the grandmother’s love would manifest itself to them.

***end of five minutes***

I was sort of rooting for a more dramatic moment during the reading (although I have conflicted feelings about that type of thing in general).

Even without a transformational interaction with Grandma’s spirit, I was moved by the reassurance the sisters gained by listening to that old recording.

It’s the kind of reassurance that may alight in their own spirits again, as silently and unexpectedly as a butterfly.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

FMF31 2018 Day 29: TOGETHER

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: TOGETHER

I have been thinking, since the deaths of brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal in Saturday’s shooting in Pittsburgh, of a pair of sisters who went to my hometown church when I was a teenager. They lived together all of their lives, and worship was clearly a primary part of their routine. They always sat toward the front of the synagogue.

I read that Cecil and David made it a practice to greet everyone who walked in the door warmly and enthusiastically. What a comfort that must have been to members of that synagogue, to run into them each time the doors were open and begin their worship knowing they had been acknowledged, greeted, interpersonally embraced.

I tend to do many things by myself. For the lengthy time that I worshiped at St. Francis, I would slip into a back pew. I was still happy to be sharing the service with others, but didn’t necessarily want to be part of the mix.

That all changed when I had children. It changed because a) babies are a people magnet and b) as my children grew older, they were gregarious and pulled me into the social life of the church (whether I wanted to be there or not!).

I (an only child) married someone who is the oldest of six, who tends to be the organizer of groups. There is such a difference between the way we approach gatherings of large groups.

Even though Wayne and I approach that kind of thing differently, neither of us would be the ones to say, let’s get there early and stand there, making sure everyone feels acknowledged and welcomed.

What a loss to the world that Cecil and David will no longer be doing so.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.