Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday January 29, 2015 Walk Out to Winter Sun

Sunglasses on
Walk out to winter sun, warmer than ever in January
The neighbor waves, a new puppy is introduced
On past blooming camellias pink and dainty

In sunbeams warmed
Tiny white ribbons, sarcacocca flowers
spice the air
The small dark shiny leaves punctuated
here and there
 by glossy black berries
for the birds, its nectar for the bugs

A sleeping garden, just waking
Nascent snowdrop just emerging
A tight white pearl hanging from an emerald arch.

Up ahead, the shivery anxious skeleton of a tree
Etching dark gray and black against the sun
Its long branches all reaching upward, those lines
Up from the earth like energy flashing into the sky

I pass violets in sunlight and vinca vines, blue
flowers and curling vine twining round the trunks of trees
And then to encounter a beautiful wintersweet,
  the waxy pale gold flowers so subtle and filled
With the musk of dreams, oriental and exotic.

On homeward, passing the stone-pathed gardens
Gray and black with brush to be cleared in spring
Bright green alive with new growth close to the ground
I spy my garden and see the wild geranium and love-in-a-mist
 breaking the ground with their tender starts
The green swords of narcissus and tulip emerging
The fluttery gold petals and red centers of my witch hazel
 Which never seems to have a scent, so odd

And then, I know
I will plant a wintersweet in the backyard to make up for it. 


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wouldn't Trade a Moment

It's 8:23 on a Saturday morning and our family is doing what we've been doing more and more often lately; we are all in our own corners, taking our time to start the day. Joe was downstairs in the office, checking on his work, ESPN's homepage (and playing a bit of his favorite video game, why not?) and now he's getting ready to go for a run. Kiddo is in the living room, folding paper airplanes out of recycled paper and watching Schoolhouse Rock. Here in the kitchen, I've got my buddy Thelonious Monk playing, a bowl of eggs and rice in front of me and a book waiting...

It was when I had picked up the book that it occurred to me how much more of these mornings we've been having lately. It's a pleasant sort of peace, all of us minding our own business. Honestly, within the context of the day, this sort of moment will be long forgotten later when we are negotiating going to the store with a recalcitrant youngster who doesn't think it's fun. You know, the moments when parents quietly question their previously-held idea that having a kid would enrich life somehow. They pass: we bite our tongues, restate reality to the child and try~try~ to move forward.

These are the moments that I still would not trade for anything. The hard moments have a purpose-- they shine a light on what in our lives needs our thought and attention. Please know what I am not saying-- I am not saying that we are always better for the hard times which befall us, that there's always a reason or purpose. I am most certainly not saying that at all and it would be arrogant of me to simply because we all know better; some of us feel that every minute of our life is divinely ordained and that is a faith I have great respect for while still not necessarily sharing that view. Some moments are simply flat-out senseless and terrible.

I am lucky, because I do not have that to look back on. I would not trade my moments because none of them were so traumatic I'm still being affected. Those moments have given me great chances to learn good things about my life and about other people. For example, we've had a few moments where I was dealing with severe pain and friends were able to take Kiddo for that time. That's a blessing, to know that there are people in our lives who have our back. I have a very good husband, who, no matter how frustrated I can become at times, is head and shoulders a better partner for me than anyone else. My best friend. How great is that? We have really worked over the thirteen years we've been together to develop this sort of union that allows for some stress and flexibility as we grow together in life and in our relationship with each other.

Moments are something to hold gently, preciously. Memories are so transient, we can see so clearly how fragile they are. More ephemeral than any other thing than a moment, memories are the one thing we have very little control over the possession of in our lives. We rely on them and yet, they are capable of disappearing without our even having known.

This doesn't frighten me, but it does make me take heed. This is why some sort of journal (this blog, really) is so important to me, dear reader. See, sometimes you get to chuckle with me at my life and this mother's silly  foibles and Kiddo's rather random, witty moments, however, this is really meant to be a testament for myself, my son.... what raising him was like. What becoming a mother is like, how it stretches you in uncomfortable yet necessary ways. The moments we might wish we'd been able to avoid do have sometimes have something to teach us. For example, last year we had a lousy trip to the beach and it's helped to shed some light on some family dynamics which need changing. The lesson is there if you look for it.

If we are willing to look at our part in our relationships, if we are willing to be responsible in doing what we can to improve things, life becomes so much better.

So, this fine morning in our mellow house, that's what I'm thinking about. How lucky I am to not want to change a thing, how we continue to learn from what challenges us and to grow as a family. Can't say I would trade that for anything.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rethinking the Golden Rule

Happy New Year! Like most people, I am not immune to the idea of a New Year's Resolution. The only problem with them, at least for me, is that usually the resolutions include lots of specific details. You know, things like "I will not eat carbs after dinner" or "I'm will strive to lose 30 pounds" or "I'll get up at 5 in the morning every day and write for an hour before my family wakes"... You know, those sound great on paper, but in real life? Buh-bye. Most friends and family know I'm a person who lives by a few rules for myself, but that most of those rules involve being on time and having a sense of propriety. Those rules do not involve proscribed times for some chips and salsa or dieting or getting up any earlier than absolutely, positively necessary.

Yet, I also found myself noodling on the idea of a resolution: if there were one thing to dedicate this year to being mindful of, what would that be? That answer was fairly easy: The Golden Rule. You know, treat others as you would wish to be treated. This is something I reference very often and it's especially handy to pull out when Kiddo is mulling over moments of  social conflict. This morning he was complaining about an fellow student: "Mom, he begs and begs me to play with him and he has lots of friends but says he doesn't". Well, okay, so lets say your favorite buddies were all playing with other kids? Don't you feel sometimes like you have no friends when that happens? (well, yeah). Okay, so if you were feeling that way and asked someone to play with you, how would you want them to respond? Kiddo's proposed answer was suddenly more gracious, "yes, I'll play with you later".

The Golden Rule is very useful like that. Nearly anything can be referred back to it. That said, some of the goals I have this year are for better overall health and fitness. For me, saying "I'm going to do X every day" is sort of a recipe for failure. I'm not so disciplined that I'm going to happily go for a vigorous walk in the rain. I mean, there are people who do this and I admire them for it, but I know my proclivities and so, I needed some way to figure out what would work for me.

This morning I took a walk after dropping Kiddo off to school. My goal was a cross-street location, 60th and Belmont. Round trip, it's about 2.25 miles or so. Arms swinging, I did a brisk walk up the hill between Stark and Belmont; it was at 58th that I faltered. Only two more blocks to go, but really? Did I have to do them? That part of the walk was really not attractive... yet I knew that if I chose not to hit my goal, it would stick with me. Two blocks (okay, four total round trip) wasn't any great shakes, yet I knew that it was really less about the exercise and more about actually completing what I had set out to do. I hit the cross-street, made a mental note to myself to make my next walk goal further over the hill where the walk is prettier, and felt good.

On the way down the hill -- stop at the store first for groceries, then home-- I realized that I could apply the golden rule to myself, if I absented myself from my body. Suddenly, the idea came to me: "what if I stepped out of my own body for a few days? How would I want someone else to treat this body?" This was a fun trick which helped me gain a bit of objectivity. Of course I would want my body to be taken out for exercise, some walks, some sunshine and fresh air. I'd want that 'user' of the corporeal Hazel to be nice to the body, to be sweet with it and get it a couple glasses of water. To make sure it got enough rest and to stretch it and move it regularly, lest it get all tight and achy.

It's this sort of funny perspective, I suppose, that gave me compassion for myself. I'm past healing from that pesky appendectomy surgery and now getting my groove back. I can wear jeans again (phew!) but damn, that took a while. I'm hoping I can be gentle yet firm with myself, to Positively Discipline myself if you will. To treat myself as I would want to treat someone who was getting back in shape from a rough time and who is wanting to make the small changes instead of the big, more impressive feats of cleansing or running a marathon or dropping five dress sizes. Instead of ideals, my goals should reflect where I am right now, and they should honor my initial level of ability and provide some impetus for pushing myself a bit (hey, a nicer walking route helps immensely) while being an encouraging experience so that I can continue in growth.

So, thinking of the Golden Rule, and how it can be applied to my own self as well as others-- this is the goal for the year. To keep this devoutly in my head. I'm sure that I will fail many, many times this year, but I'm going to try to keep focused on continuing to make the effort to be kind and gracious to others and to myself. I mean, if you can't use the Golden Rule in how we consider our own selves, it's a lot harder to have that empathy for others and their flaws. I'd love to keep this in mind all the time-- new year or not. We're coming up  on another busy year-- we'll see how things go!