Five Minute Friday: WHERE

Five Minute Friday Where

Five Minute Friday: WHERE

“If explorers only thought about the destination they’re trying to reach, they would never see it. In a cave, short-sighted tunnel vision can be a lifesaver.”

Shannon Gormley wrote the above line as part of Into the Dark, an article about the Thai cave rescue.  I was riveted by this article — I doubt many of us missed the news of the rescue itself last year, but the exhaustive research by the author that shed light on every angle of the rescue made me think at every twist and turn.

Knowing that I would be writing to the prompt “where,” I did set that quote aside. It aligns with so many quotes about life’s journeys, but it held a special poignancy to me as I thought about the efforts to get those boys (and their coach) out of the cave.

I know I am a better foot soldier than I am a general, and this situation was full of “generals” — and people who were accustomed to being in charge. They had to deal with cultural differences, language challenges, a perilous situation and the constant scrutiny of the media.

Even though the article is so thorough, I still walked away wondering exactly how the rescuers finally arrived at a plan and carried it out. Some of the techniques used were terribly unconventional, and showed drastic risks on the part of those who participated.

BUT EVERY ONE OF THE BOYS AND THEIR COACH LIVED!

Those boys and that coach certainly did not plan to end up where they did — deep in a cave with virtually no egress. But another group of people ended up being where they needed to be to contribute to a successful rescue. If my kid had been one of the boys in the cave, I would say grateful prayers forever.

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.)

Five Minute Friday: CONVENIENT

Five Minute Friday Convenient

Five Minute Friday: CONVENIENT

“It’s not what I asked for.”

How often is that true for all of us? We end up in a situation that we didn’t plan or want. It’s the opposite of what we dreamed of.

This lyric is part of “She Used to Be Mine,” one of the songs in the musical “Waitress.” I saw it last Thursday night, starring Sara Bareilles, who wrote the music. The song starts off relatively calmly and quietly, but by the time it reaches the end, the singer is leaving it all on the stage.

As an audience, we had a moment as Sara reached the end of this song. The events that had occurred and inconvenienced her character were things we all had invested in by that point.

As I was standing outside the theater after the show, at the stage door waiting and hoping to see some of the stars, someone else who had been there said, “this show makes me want to be a better person.”

I knew exactly what she meant. Theater does that for me, too. This show is “about pie,” but it’s about so much more. It’s about overcoming insecurity, about claiming your body back from someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. It’s about doing what you have to do when you inconveniently end up being responsible for another innocent human being

***end of five minutes***.

Two families that are friends of mine are dealing with very ill babies right now. One baby has gone home, and the other goes home within the next day or two. They have different prognoses, but for now each one is going to require extremely intensive medical care, both from the parents and from medical assistants. In each case, a family and their older child/children have found their lives completely turned inside out — emotionally, financially, logistically.

It’s tempting to say, “I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be what I asked for.” I don’t know these two families intimately, but I know them well enough that I’ve seen how their situations have evolved. Despite all the complications and inconvenience, I have watched two families fall in love with their babies. They want support, and I have watched them learn to ask for what they need. But I have also seen them do what caregivers the world over have done for as long as issues have arisen with loved ones: figure it out. Love. Be Mom. Be Dad.

Convenience can wait.

Note: Here is information about my friends’ babies. Thoughts, prayers if you are the praying type, and support are all appreciated.

Jesse: Facebook page (Pray for Jesse). GoFundMe.

Lydia: Facebook page (Beautiful Warrior). GoFundMe.

And here’s Sara Bareilles singing “She Used to be Mine”:

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.)

Five Minute Friday: INFLUENCE

Five Minute Friday Influence

Five Minute Friday: INFLUENCE

When I rented a car yesterday, I accepted the keys and paperwork from the representative, then went directly to the spot he had indicated: E2.

When I was handed the fob for a keyless entry car, I thought “I can do this.” Even though my CRV is a 2005 and anything but keyless, Tenley has a keyless car. Other people in 2019 have keyless cars. I COULD DO THIS.

I was a bit surprised that it was a Cadillac, but figured he gave me what he had on the lot, even though it was an upgrade beyond what I ordered.

I pressed the button to start the ignition.

Nothing.

Nada.

A weird note on the screen, “place keyless device in pocket.”

WHAT POCKET?!

There I sat, for about 10 minutes, watching YouTube videos of how to start a keyless entry Cadillac. I found the glove compartment and the old-timey paper manual and looked up how to start the thing. No luck.

I finally gave up and decided I needed to walk back into the airport, where the rental car counter was, and ask. I wasn’t happy about this development, but I needed to get going.

Then the voice in my head suggested something:

“Why don’t you look at the little tag on the key and make sure you went to the right car?”

Hmmm.

[Picture me here looking at the little tag.]

[Picture the little tag saying “Acadia,” which is NOT a Cadillac.]

[Picture me walking to spot E1, pressing the “start” button on the Acadia, and the Acadia starting right up.]

The rep didn’t intentionally send me to the wrong spot, but his confidence influenced me to go there.

It took 10 minutes for me to stop being frustrated, stop searching for a way to start a car I didn’t have a key to, and to explore the evidence right in my hands that I should think differently.

What do you need to re-think today that might shed light on a message someone told you, confidently, that wasn’t factually correct and resulted in you not getting anywhere?

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.)

Five Minute Friday: BETTER

 

Five Minute Friday Better

Five Minute Friday: BETTER

I had a conversation on Twitter a few days ago that has given me an earworm of “Rainbow Connection,” the Muppet song. (The person tweeting said they had failed their child because their kid had not heard the song.)

The conversation got pretty amusing (to me at least), because it sent me down memory lane. “Rainbow Connection” was the song we walked to as contestants in the Miss Union County High pageant in 1981. Is there a less pageant-y song anywhere? It was cute in context, though. The whole theme was essentially rainbows and happiness.

I am not pageant material. However, participating in Miss U-Co-High and a pageant I did in college are things I think about frequently. It’s not that those times in my life were better times (not at all), but that being in those contests helped me be a better person. They also give me a better understanding of pageant culture and a certain angle on what pageants have become in our society.

I remember clearly my talent at Miss U-Co-High (I played “The Entertainer” on my flute and created a “jazz” kind of feel — I had on a vest-type thing and brought out an old gas lantern I had borrowed from my aunt.) I also remember Mary Annette Shadd’s talent (she won! congrats!) — she sang “The Rose” and clinched the deal by accompanying herself on the piano, something she ended up deciding to do somewhat spontaneously. I’ve always felt that addition of accompanying herself gave her an edge (can you tell I was first runner up?!).

For the other pageant I did, it was one of the scads of for-profit pageants that are around, the kinds featured in reality shows. I had no clue what I was doing. I got a dress with a hoop skirt (in a situation where most women aim, to an extent, to demonstrate that they are in good physical shape — I obscured all that). What I remember most clearly is how hard it is to smile CONSTANTLY. My lips were quivering. My knees were knocking. It was nerve wracking.

Despite the nerves, I am still glad I took a stab at sharing my better self with the world. It taught me a few lessons that stay with me decades later.

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.)

Five Minute Friday: WITH

 

Five Minute Friday WITH

Five Minute Friday: WITH

There is a particular construction I find myself using in my writing at work, and each time I do, I question if it is the best choice.

Any of you who know me will know “I question if it is the best choice” is something pretty common to my thinking.

In our work, we only have two sentences into which we have to fit enough information to give a reader the gist of the story that we are linking to, but not so much that we lose their valuable attention. It’s a balancing act. My “with” is usually an attempt to squeeze in some secondary point without spending a whole sentence on it.

I couldn’t find a perfect example (I’ll find one the minute I press “publish” on this post, I’m sure!). But this is sort of what I mean:

“UNICEF reports that 1 in every 10 Ebola virus cases in the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo involves a child younger than 5 years old, with a third of all cases being children. Children are vulnerable when they act as caregivers for people who are ill with the virus.”

There are other words that would have worked here, such as “and.”

Why do I go to “with” so much more frequently? I don’t know which is better grammatically, but (just to share my personal preference) I really dislike a sentence that has a comma, then an “and.” In this case, “… involves a child younger than 5 years old, and a third of all cases are children.”

***end of five minutes***

Maybe it goes back to Mrs. Bowen in sixth grade (she was great!) and her dogged determination to get us to memorize all of the prepositions.

Maybe it’s instinct.

I usually think, “what would sound best if I were saying it to a companion?” That’s a bit of a false equivalency, I know, because a conversation has the advantage of body language and shared enjoyment of each company going for it. Come to think of it, I would never naturally say, “I have plans in New York City this January, with two of the days committed to visiting friends.”

I would be more likely to say, “I have plans in New York City this January and two of the days involve visiting friends.”

I think it’s the comma before an “and” that strikes me as less-than-elegant.

But we didn’t come here to watch me break down a sentence, right?

The parallel that I would make between “Paula thinks really hard about how sentences should be put together” and life is this …

The concept of being “with” someone or something often sits more comfortably with whatever is already happening. An “and” feels like more pressure and takes the focus off of whatever the initial priority was.

And keeping priorities straight is something I’m working on right now. Maybe Kate helped me find my word of 2019?

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.)

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.)

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.)

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.)

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.)

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.)