Friday, June 12, 2015

Madrid, Day 1

First day in Madrid.  Feelings?  Driving to the airport yesterday morning, I jostled between anxiety and excitement and fear and sadness.  Saying goodbye to my best friend and boarding a plane for a new experience made for a bittersweet day.  Once on-board, my feelings calmed to resignation and optimism, readying myself for what lay ahead and trying to not think too hard on what lay behind.  It was awesome to see the kids so excited for the airplane ride.  Take-off was absolutely perfect!  I think I captured my eldest's expression of sheer elated joy at the moment the plane lifted off the pavement.  Although she's been in the air before, it's been so long that she has no memory of it.

Today, arriving in this foreign land, my feelings were jumbled.  We were all exhausted from the long plane trip with little sleep, a bit culture-shocked from this new land, although that didn't come until later in the day, and more of a "what's next" feeling than anything else.  We are here and are staying for a while.

It's 9:40 pm and the day is still pretty light.  The street has come alive with voices ringing out loudly from every window in the neighboring buildings.  Children are playing, friends are greeting each other, neighbors are chatting.  My house is quiet.  The kids are sleeping, their nanny is processing her own experiences, I am ready to close my eyes.  Strange.

I am glad to have made this happen, very lucky to have had all the details worked out with so much family support to lean on.  But I miss the man I left.  Every day will be filled with new sounds, tastes, smells and sights, filling my thoughts and memories.  But each day I will miss the man I love.  Ah well.  Such is life.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Now

So you wanna know the scoop, eh?  The long and short of it is, my heart is singing with the sounds of joy as I walk hand in hand beside my Love.

Life is a journey, yes?  A process, with a million decisions that each can take us down a varying path.  Is there one way to travel?  One path to search out and distinguish amongst the myriad of choices at our hand?

If that is so, how do we know when we've found it?

And what if we never find it?  Our calling, our destiny, our fate, never realized because we couldn't get hold of the right color in this tangled mess of choices? 

Perhaps.  But perhaps not.

What if the journey, the process was more like wading in a river, heading upstream.

Each step brings with it choices, but there is not a clear right or wrong.  There are currents and eddies that push against us or pull us back, sometimes strong and sometimes gentle but never yielding.  We choose to maneuver through or around always, constantly.

We wade with a goal and determination, heading upwards, progressing forward.  If we stop or let our gaze be distracted, we regress and find ourselves looking at the same landscape we'd just escaped, having to face the same struggles we thought we were past.

Our feet tangle in plenty.  Organic growth, naturally a part of the earth that we journey through, can easily become a snare if we have no awareness of the beautiful design of the natural world.  Pollutants of man that can tear and scar our feet, stain our skin, threaten our very breath, lie in wait in the waters of life.   Sand bars that rise us up unexpectedly, and deep holes that drop us beneath the surface of the waters can come without warning.

Every step is an act of faith.  A step into the unknown.  We trust in...what?

We trust in God to guide us through?  To a degree yes, but we all know that regardless of our faith, there are pitfalls that are unavoidable.  Bad things happen even (and perhaps especially?) to those of deep faith.  I trust in God to give me strength to endure what is to come.  To make good decisions that help me continue in my progress forward.  To keep my eyes open, aware but not distracted.

We trust in the past to make us conscious of and expectant of the things that could be in store for the future?  To a large degree, I think this is so. We cannot predict the unpredictable, but we can learn to recognize patterns, signals, warning signs of impending disaster and use this knowledge to make our journey less painful.

We trust in our instinct.  The feeling that tells us, without reason, to not step there.  To pause.  To move four paces over.

All of this is an attempt for me to say why I, why we--my Love and I--have chosen to journey together rather than keep the distance that we had decided on before.  From time to time, I adopt the Tangled Yarn philosophy, searching for the Right path, the way that will bring me into my destiny.  Into the will of God.  Our separation was a bit of that.  I had sensed that there was a lesson in waiting that I was supposed to learn and hadn't quite gotten ahold of.  When news of the Lie came, I felt like this was God's payback, so to speak--well, dear, you didn't want to listen to Me when it would have been easy, so now you have the pleasure of discovering patience and perseverance in the most difficult of ways.  If I could grab that string and follow it for it's length, perhaps it would lead me to whatever that thing was I was supposed to have gotten...

 We had a Month Of Silence that was interesting and impossible--a sort of quasi-separation that introduced a hundred strange things.  It was so, so, so sad and lonely for a while, knowing that he loved me and desired me and I him as equally and intensely, and choosing to not engage.  We each were determined to keep silent and disconnected completely and were successful...for a few days' stretch at a time.  A brief, "I miss you," and an avalanche of carefully balanced emotions would come crashing down, weakening my resolve and seemingly forcing out a cry for his hand to touch mine.  Just hold me for five minutes, and then I'll disappear again.  Let your lips rest on mine, tasting my tears, just once and I'll go.  And oh, the tears!  They were never far from my cheeks, falling night after night in an unceasing flow of sorrow.  Even when the sorrow was gone, the tears emerged on the slightest provocation, reminding me that my heart was still engaged.

It was upon the third encounter with this man that I love that I realized what unhealthy habits we were creating.  The hyper-dramatic state of being I was neck-deep in.  The desperation each time we were together.  The overly-inflated ideal of what the future could hold if we could just control x, y and z.  The focus so fully on recreating a foundation for that potential future, that we forgot about the present.  Or I forgot.  Strange.  Odd.  So unlike how I live my life.

There were and still are many good reasons to stay apart, and they are very valid.  But to reap any benefit from the separation, it would have to be complete, with no nothing.  No hope to be together someday.  No waiting for the other.  No calling, texting, FBing, IMing, anything-ing.  No stalking profiles.  No playing at other-frequented parks.  No phantom drive-bys...(should probably stop my confessions before I scare everyone!).  No quasi-separation.

But we chose a different route.  We chose to stop running from the mistakes we've made and turn to kiss them.  To stop trying to control the unknown variables in this complex equation  and let them be.  To stop planning for the potentially glorious future and collect experiences that draw us together. To live a bit of the Life Magazine credo: “To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed.

We chose to wade in the water, forgoing the desperate search to find the "right" path, and allowing ourselves the freedom that comes with maneuvering in the flow of Life.

There's always much more to tell, to share, to discuss, but it is once again late and I am once again tired.  Perhaps I will find a window to pleasure you with the details of my romance, or frustrate you with the details of my decisions, but for now, I will leave you with a beautiful picture of the wonderful, fulfilling, deeply touching, spiritually uplifting, inspiring, desirous Love that I have with a most amazing man.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shaken not Stirred

I've always been a firm believer that faith must be pushed around a bit, questioned, challenged, sometimes beaten to a pulp in order to prove itself, and I've finally thought of a good nature analogy: trees!

A few years back, my dearest and I watched a special on an enormous ecodome out in the desert somewhere that held an amazing rainforest within. It was quite remarkable what modern technology can create, and the show walked us through the specs of the dome. One thing that stuck out to me were the massive fans they installed after they saw a number of trees die from shallow roots. See, a tree is designed to be pushed and shaken by the weather so that its roots grow deeper in the ground and hold firmly. Without that force testing its strength in its early years, the tree will grow beautiful in appearance but with the first major storm will topple because of what it lacks beneath. In the ecodome, the trees initally had no wind forcing them to grow deep and so died from nutrient deprivation as the canopy filled.

So the next time you're facing some serious challenges to your life, your faith, your being, look outside and remember that the more forceful the winds, the deeper your roots become.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Plastic Soup

We've got a major problem. Over 2/3 of our oceans have become a plastic soup, churning in these cesspools off our coasts. Captain Charles Moore, from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation recently spoke at the TED (Technology, Engineering and Design) conference about the situation:

Algalita recently completed a 13 week effort to raise awareness of the plastic gyres by sailing the JUNKRAFT, made from plastic bottles, from Long Beach to Hawaii. Their journey is sad but important for us to see the devastating effects our plastic usage has on our environment.

My friend Erica emailed this morning asking what we've done to reduce the plastics in our house, and I figured this was as good a place as any to post my list. I started with my plastic tupperware. IKEA has some inexpensive glass storage containers that have a sealing ring, so you can use them for storage and for reheating. Pyrex sells sets that have plastic lids and glass bottoms that my folks purchased for me and my siblings, which are good for storage, but I don't like to heat the lids (looks like Sears has a 10-piece set for $15). Anyway, I've been able to eliminate all my plastic tupperware so far.

This year, we decided to purchase the stainless steel water bottles to replace ALL our plastic cups. Somehow, we still have a few cups lingering, but it works for when we have company over. The kids primarily use the stainless steel ones, which we bought at Target (pretty pricey, but worth it), as do I. We also wanted to change their dinnerware, and so I found wooden bowls to replace their plastics and bought mango-wood plates from Cost Plus for their plates. We switched their silverware from almost all plastics to these cute little IKEA toy metal cutlery ($5 for set of 4).

We also have switched to canvas bags for groceries (even when we go to Target--people look at us funny, but I look at them funny right back!). My sister Tami found a great use for all those plastic bags you have piled up in your storage thing--she folded then ironed the bags then sewed them together to make her own waterproof material that she then used to cover her children's highchairs! Nice one! A friend of mine recently used the same technique to make a very cute reusable grocery bag! I've even seen plastic bags made into yarn then used in knitting or crochetting things like waterbottle holders and handbags. Check out this website for some great ideas and nice photos! I love the raincoat!

So, although I've taken some steps to eliminate plastic usage from our house, this news about the plastic sea that we've created is definitely making me rethink everything else we use that is plastic--namely, plastic packaging from groceries. I've heavily been leaning toward the local is better idea for food purchases, and now have another reason for that--buying local usually means buying less packaging because the food doesn't need to be strongly protected from travel and so can be in a more bulk-style delivery. When I go to farmers markets, I think I'll start bringing my own bags so I don't bring home any more plastic bags. That'll probably mean having to store leftovers in leftover containers instead of baggies, but I can adjust. The only question I have is what to store my bread in. Ideas?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nature walks and Bugs!

Thought I'd show y'all what we've been up to lately. Last week for our nature day, we checked out the Cosumnes River Preserve, which was absolutely gorgeous!! The weather was of course perfect with a light wind, and everything was in bloom. What was only a few weeks ago underwater was now a sea of purple flowers! Pictures just don't do justice to the beauty of the area, but here's a little sample of our day:

Fellow homeschoolers!

Stroller Brigade.

Today in kindergroup (that consisted entirely of us and our closest friend), we read a lot of cool stuff about bugs (did you know there are slave-maker ants who invade black ant nests and steal away the pupa to grow them into their own personal slaves who feed them, scavenge for them, dig tunnels and raise their fellow servant pupa?!) then I let the kids have at it with a mound of craft stuff and their creativity to create their own bug thing. Here's where we started:

And here's what we got:
This was Shaenee's. She said they were ant eggs on a log. She really just wanted to get gooey with all that glue and paint!

This was Siena's. She probably didn't get the "bug" idea...She did, however, enjoy filling three of these eggs with glue and paint and very carefully mixing each and closing them. Meditative, perhaps?

And mine. We had a lot of fun. I had more things planned, but the kids enjoyed this so much (and took so long doing it) that we just kept to this. If you're curious what my "lesson plan" was, here's what I had lined up:


Read: Bug Safari by Bob Barner

Read: Animals in Action (an old but excellent science book) from A Child's First Library of Learning

Sing: The ants go marching

Sing: Head, thorax, abdomen, legs (head shoulders knees toes)

Play: Ants in a line (follow the leader)

Art: Make a bug

Activity: Go outside and catch a bug. Research what kind, what it eats, what its habitat is, and try to create a habitat in a glass jar to keep the bug.

Snack: Ants on a log (celery w/peanut butter and raisins)

We've also in the past done a snack bug where we set out marshmallows or strawberries for the body and all kids of stick-type snacks (like crunchy chow mein noodles) and eyeball-type snacks (like raisins). The kids LOVE this snack/activity and it is a great time filler!

Reclaiming the Rainbow

Why is it that if I wear my joyful rainbow earrings, I'm considered either childish or homosexual? I love color! It's full of life and gives fullness to things otherwise blah. The earth is filled with vibrancy! Rainbows are a beautiful gift and if you believe in the scriptures, a reminder of God's promise to us. So if I choose to wear my rainbow shirt with rainbow earrings and rainbow hair clip, I am choosing to celebrate life and life abundantly, not revealing my adolescence or proclaiming my sexuality. And I hope to spread the joy and reclaim the gift of color. Let us not be fearful of being branded by what we wear, but wear what brings us life and personality! Okay, so this sounds a little kookie, but you get the gist.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why we should ignore our kids

I learned dance in a cafeteria. I was in high school at the time and had joined our school's Colorguard, which was like baton-twirlers on steroids. We danced with flags, sabres, rifles and whatever else could spin, but we also learned modern dance (which is now really called contemporary) to a moderate level. Because of our practice weapons, we needed space with high ceilings, and because we weren't as popular as the cheer squad, we got the cafeteria.

You can guess that our cafeteria didn't have the wonderful full-wall mirrors most dance studios have, so as we learned dance, we learned how it felt on our bodies. We learned how our muscles responded to off-balanced or sickled positions. When asked to extend further, we felt what that meant and pulled from within. We, or at least I, were very in-tuned with our bodies and could adjust things according to how we felt, not how we looked.

When I started college and began taking real dance classes in the studio, I was suddenly in front of myself every lesson and began watching how that person danced. The result was that I began dancing out there and lost touch with how it felt within. In a sense, I began dancing to perform, even for myself, rather than dancing for the love of dance. Looking back, although I was a better dancer as a result of the years of classes, I really had much more fun and enjoyed the movement more in the cafeteria.

In a way, I feel like we're doing this to our kids when we give them so much attention and praise for menial things. If left alone, they'll explore their world, come up with novel and creative ideas, do things because they're self-motivated and interested in challenging themselves. They'll dance in the cafeteria. But when our kiddo runs up to us with a scribble on a scrap paper and we exclaim how wonderful it is, first we're not encouraging them to do better, and second we're helping establish in their minds that they need to do things for external approval. They'll start dancing for the mirror instead of for themselves.

If you haven't heard of it, check out Muffy Mead's book, Confessions of a Slacker Mom. She has a great, amusing chapter about this idea. She even suggests not attending every soccer, swim and dance competition your kids participate in, with the thought that they might realize who they're doing these things for. I remember when I was in Colorguard, my folks would only come to the competitions down the street from our house. Despite their apparent lack of interest, I always felt completely supported in my ventures and really learned to find out what interested me and go do it! I was ignored quite often as the 5th of 6 kids and I think that is a large part of what turned me into the self-motivated doer I am today.
So go ahead, ignore your kids a bit! You'll be doing them a favor.