Archive | Musings RSS feed for this section

The absurdity known as life

29 Sep

I believe I am innately bored by many things.  Although I appreciate silliness, I tend to find most things wry and just okay.  People will criticize this but it’s honest which tends to be the point of everything.  Further I would like to add I have read a million self help books and embrace therapy to find the ‘art of happiness and fulfillment.’  I believe in the value of living in the moment.   I just require more practice.   

This leads me to my next thought; the laws of attraction.  My husband is my polar opposite in regards to outlook.  Obviously environmental factors have shaped our fundamental differences.  My childhood was steeped in dysfunction and the gravity of shitty choices.  While Mike’s childhood was perhaps not idyllic for all, it provided him a sense of security and happiness.  Mike remarks after most encounters “that was fun.”  The other night when he said this I thought to myself ‘that’s overkill, it was a movie.’

I write this post with admiration for the people around me who share this optimistic vantage point.  I am in unbelievable envy of merriment and giddiness.  Although due to me being myself, I rarely think people’s gaiety matches the life event taking place.  Most people who exude abundant happiness seem to approach every day with the same flavor.  Of course it’s unseemly to tell people to tone it down when they express happiness from working out or eating at a restaurant. 

Today was one of those days where I felt perhaps my true family is with the curmudgeon down the street who waits for the mail-person to deliver in order to rant about his misfortunes.  I may not share his negativity but I do get him. 

Today my six-year-old and my husband waited roughly three hours outside for dirt to be delivered.  My husband was convinced the truck was right around the corner at 2pm.  By 4:30 I crossed my arms and stepped outside.  I looked at Mike and said “really, you have nothing better to do.”  I felt like I was running a group home with my family waiting outside for something, anything to take place.  I say this with tenderness because I worked in group homes for years while in college.  The residents rarely have an agenda except to wait. 

I asked my daughter “what are you doing outside?”  She replied with a wide grin “counting red leaves!”  To this, I had nothing to add except , “alrighty then.”   I did wonder how both father and child found their current activities so amusing.  Mike looked over at Anni and smiled “great pile.”  

My other daughter is far more like myself.  She always seems to have intent and purpose.  Mike asked if she wanted to come outside and she asked “why.”  When she heard the answer was waiting for dirt, she said “no, I will take a bath.”  She’s three. 

I am bemused by my in home residents; daughters that differ so completely and love me entirely.   And I feel so lucky in love with the goofiest  time jack that is Mike. 

Perspective

11 Sep
You know where you are when your day turns from ordinary to wish I had a redo?!
My day fell into the redo category quickly. 
 
It began with a school aid having to pry my daughter off of me when I dropped her off this morning.  Anni has adamantly decided she does not like school and would rather stay home and draw all day.  She also has a rather rigid teacher for her first grade year and Anni is adjusting to new expectations.  This is the aspect of parenting that is difficult; teaching your child to nurture their sensitivity in tandem with  adaptation of structure.  Academic settings in the elementary schools do not typically foster emotional sentiment and creative endeavors.
 
Next pitfall was my physical discomfort while marathon training.  I am having recurrent stomach issues while running that make performance arduous.  It’s beyond frustration when the human body reminds us how vulnerable we are.  This leads to my next sidenote; time is so limited.  Self explanatory, my to do’s seem longer than the wane of daylight hours.
 
Other WTF today, my husband flys out again for work tomorrow.  With only a day’s notice, I feel tired.  When I vented to a friend, she remarked “at least he has a job in this economy.”  Sometimes these remarks minimize the aggravation one feels privy to express.  Yes, truth be told we are lucky my husband is gainfully employed.  However I felt like telling my friend that was not the irritant expressed so let’s focus on the topic.  
 
To wrap it up the direct tv technician arrived unexpected as my dog decided to go on a garbage binder in the neighborhood.  I broke three Pyrex containers.  As they shattered in the kitchen my three-year old urinated on the couch. 
 
Just when I wanted to lock myself in the bathroom and drown myself in my uncleaned toilet I hear a tribute on tv for the victim’s families of September 11th. 
 
 Here is what is important; I am able-bodied and can run for accomplishment not out of need, a marriage based on respect and commitment, children with big ideas that may lead to even bigger dreams, a home that is so much more than a house and friends wise enough enough to express their love not just their opinions. 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 

Crazy about summer camp

23 Aug
My husband and I took the kids this summer to YMCA camp in Missouri, along with close friends and their family.  I thought we would find it kitschy, sit by a campfire and later laugh about our odd vacation spot. 
 
Needless to say I LOVED camp and would venture to say it was one of the most memorable times I have had to date.  There were countless activities to fill the balmy days for kids and adults.  Some of the activities included zip lining, paddle boating, alpine swing, under water basket weaving and my personal favorite paddle boarding!  I relished the fact I could easily zip across the lake on the board and my ever competitive husband could not stand erect!  Check out photo below as proof of my awesome ability and then imagine my 6 foot four-inch husband clutching the board while horizontal in water-really.
Summer camp reminds me of some of my best childhood memories at Camp Lutherhaven.  I remember the way the rustic cabin envelopes you at the end of a long day as camp winds down.  I love jumping into a cool lake early in the day as the sun dances on the water.  I even enjoy the camaraderie of eating in a mess hall, planning the days activities.  All events free of the mental exhaustion that typically accompanies life’s banal day-to-day.  Although I am not a dedicated Lutheran to date I still adore camping in a cabin and singing songs fireside.  Huge props to YMCA family camp in the Ozarks! 
 
Recently a girlfriend directed me to this arty website regarding cool, adventure seeking family camp!  Look how incredible this place in Wisconsin looks!  Fun to be had in the great outdoors!

Midwest Lake Vacation Spots: Wandawega Lake Resort

Posted Chicago magazine

A summer-camp–like stomping ground just two hours from Chicago

By Jan Parr
 
 

Rope swings at Lake Wandawega

ELKHORN, WISCONSIN

DRIVE TIME: 2 HOURS
LOCATED BY: RED CEDAR LAKE
BEST FOR: NATURE LOVERS

If your idea of a lake getaway involves cabins, beers resting in an ice-filled cooler, and a rope swing, Wandawega Lake Resort in Walworth County is your summer camp away from home. Minutes from the shopping and dining options of Lake Geneva and the hiking and biking trails of Kettle Moraine State Forest, Wandawega has a colorful history. The site served for decades as a retreat for Latvian priests, until two creative directors at Ogilvy in Chicago bought it in 2004. Tereasa Surratt, one of the owners, has described the resort’s carefully cultivated vibe as “cottage chic at its best. In fact, camping indoors is a nice way to think about it.”

Actually, calling Wandawega a resort may be a tad grandiose, considering that Surratt warns visitors they may encounter ladybugs or caterpillars on their pillows or small critters in the shower. During my stay there one hot summer weekend, I encountered no such pests. In fact, my husband and I spent a long afternoon in the lake and on the dock, serenely unbothered by intruders. When evening came, we bought a pizza (although secluded on 25 wooded acres with a private beach, the resort is still close to civilization) and enjoyed it on our cabin’s deck. The cottage itself was utterly charming, as if Martha Stewart had redecorated an authentically rustic campsite with cheery linens, blankets, books, photos, and quirky ephemera. An air conditioner stood at the ready, but we never turned it on. It is possible to rough it even more by renting the vintage Boy Scout tents, which are canvas cabins on wood platforms, outfitted with beds and chairs.

Perhaps dangling your feet in the lake over the edge of an inner tube doesn’t provide enough stimulation. There’s also basketball, shuffleboard, volleyball, tennis, bonfires, fishing (for panfish, largemouth bass, and northern pike), horseshoes, rowing, and hiking. When Surratt and her husband, David Hernandez, are around, which is most weekends, guests may visit the main lodge and partake of its amenities—billiards, darts, and movies. Here’s a fun idea: Get a crew together and rent the whole place for a weekend. We’ll join you.
 

DAY TRIPS

Kettle Moraine State Forest’s Northern Unit (262-626-2116) offers tons of hiking and biking trails through the glacier-formed hills of Wisconsin; the Ice Age Visitor Center (920-533-8322) explains it all. If you’re craving classic tourist stuff—fudge shops, adorable boutiques, great restaurants—Lake Geneva is close by; don’t miss a boat tour of the mansions on the lake (800-558-5911, cruiselakegeneva.com). Many of the fab vintage items adorning the Wandawega cabins come from the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market (Walworth County Fairgrounds, 411 E. Court St.; 414-525-0820)—Surratt’s favorite. Catch it if you happen to be around on June 26th, August 14th, or September 25th. Elegant Farmer (1545 Main St., Mukwonago; 262-363-6771, elegantfarmer.com) is a local grocery that’s been lauded by The New York Times and Gourmet for its homemade apple pies baked in paper bags.
 

THE DETAILS

W5453 Lake View Dr., Elkhorn; wandawegarentals.com
Rates are $200 to $300 per cabin per night (two-night minimum), with discounts for multiple rooms or by the week. Also available are Boy Scout canvas cabins: $100 per tent, must rent all three tents for two-night minimum.

Tick Tock

15 Aug

When my daughter was two and a half and just learning to articulate herself she would ask anyone “you healthy and happy?”  My parents thought it so adorable she seemed concerned with the welfare of others at such a young age.  One Christmas she went around the table and asked everyone in attendance if they were healthy and happy.  She waited for each response before continuing to the next guest.  Children are like mina birds at that age, repeating well used phrases they hear.  For our children Mike and I did and do wish good health and an abundance of happiness that will shield them from the other ebb and flow that is the natural rhythm of life.  I know they will experience their fair share of hurt and loss.  Perhaps it’s natural parental ignorance to think  a strong immune system and a goofy smile will shield them from the messiness and chaos of life.

I registered my oldest daughter for school the other day and could not believe the summer is almost over and another season will be upon us.  I feel anticipation permeate my bones the way cold weather affects an arthritic body.  Hope is my mantra at the beginning of this school year.  The laundry list grows long as I reiterate to Anni what a great year she will have.  I wish for her kindness that is reciprocal, a love for learning and retaining knowledge, friendship and giggles that comfort, the experience of failing and trying harder until you achieve.

The pressure to excel and perform is much greater than when I was young.  Today school shootings are rampant in the media.  Our youth have to discriminate moral consequences when they are least prepared to understand the ramifications.  Kids are texting nude pictures of themselves and facebooking about one another without comprehending how fragile the child ego can be.  Children are asked to complete achievement standards to advance a grade.  Academic testing is administered as early as kindergarten. 

I want Anni to be socially aware without robbing her of the innocence that should be a rite of passage as a little girl.  I want Anni to work diligently without concern for measuring up to her peers.  Are these expectations too grand or unrealistic I wonder.  As I watched Anni this morning wiggling her first loose tooth in the mirror I silently hoped she would be engaged with the pleasures of childhood for a long time.  She turned to me and smiled a big goofy grin and exclaimed “the tooth fairy is magic, right mom?”   

After taking Anni home from the hospital as a newborn I was overcome with the nervous feeling of loving her so much I felt fearful.  I wanted to protect her from the hurts I experienced and knew it would prove an impossible task.  I can now articulate what I wanted for my daughter was trite, simple and pure.  I wanted her to be happy and healthy.  School is another imposing fear, we have to take our children from their protected environment and let other people stongly influence her.  I hope she is surrounded by teachers and peers who believe in magic as my little Anni so honestly believes.

Bucket list before you kick it

24 May
In the last couple of years I have spent a bit of time contemplating my dream wish list.  Oh and my mortality because I am morbid. 
 
In all seriousness my husband and I lost a very dear friend; he died of a heart attack at 38 and had thought days prior he was having muscle fatigue due to lifting his young son in the pool.  So many circumstances surrounding his death are tragic to me; his age, his wife and young son left behind, he was at the beginning of a really successful career and he remained close to a group of his childhood friends who will miss him so very much.  At his funeral I watched his childhood friends carrying his casket and thought ‘this is nonsensical bullshit, life is not short, it is a damn eye blink!’ 
 
If we stop too long we miss living.  Many of us become stagnant, complacent, and fall into as good as it gets predictable.  At night sometimes my husband discuss our bucket list dreams, some lofty and some attainable.  I signed up for my second marathon as a result of some of this ruminating.  Running is a box checked; more ambitious goals are writing a book, traveling to the state parks with our best friends and young children, fixing up an old wooden boat with my husband, learning to sail and making peace with some skeletal remains in the closet.
 
I have a friend ask why I care to establish ‘before I kick it lists’ and I guess because it keeps me challenged, inspires me and also make me appreciate the fact that I am able.  I will always wonder if our friend had achieved many of the things he had hoped.  Now when I think of it I ask those around me what they hope to glean from the future and whether they are enjoying the journey they are traveling.
 
Saw this on the googler and added to my list…

The Best of America’s National Parks

Bass Harbor Lighthouse at Arcadia National Park (Getty Images)

Spot a manatee… hike down a canyon… see how early Native Americans lived… go deep inside a vast cave… just plain get away from it all, with great adventures in 10 of America’s best national parks.

Acadia National Park, Maine
Best for watching wild waves and serene sunsets

Toward sunset, a long line of cars roll up to the summit of 1,530-feet-high Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s coast-hugging Acadia National Park, where visitors traditionally gather to toast the setting sun (champagne preferred). Acadia is a gracious, gentlemanly national park, created on land donated by John D. Rockefeller, who also paid for construction of more than 50 miles of carriage roads, part of a larger network of 125 miles of park paths. If you have to pick one, the six-mile bike trail around Eagle Lake, dotted with colorful canoes and kayaks, is lovely. Save time for lunch at pretty Jordan Pond House, circa 1870, and famous for its creamy lobster stew and popovers. Book a park-ranger-narrated boat cruise. Head to Bass Harbor, also part of the park, on Mount Desert (the locals pronounce it “dessert”) Island’s southwest shore, for great lighthouse photos. Watch the lobster boats roll in. Campsites sell out far in advance, but Bar Harbor, the island’s biggest town, offers rooms at a wide range of prices. The Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina ranks high for luxury. 
 

A covered wagon used to haul borax in Death Valley National Monument (Getty Images)


Death Valley National Park
, California and Nevada

Best for desert landscapes and curious characters

In summer, the temperature in the 3.3-million-acre Death Valley National Park regularly tops 100 degrees, but, as the locals like to say, it’s a dry heat. Famous for fabulous contrasts, Death Valley is below sea level at Backwater Basin, yet also boasts towering snow-capped mountains. There are long stretches where nothing grows, and then sand dunes give way to fields of fuchsia, purple and yellow flowers. Visit Rhyolite, the valley’s most accessible ghost town, once home to 10,000 people and 50 saloons. Stop at the Harmony Borax Works, where borax (used in making soap) was hauled out by the “20-mule teams” of TV’s “Death Valley Days” fame. Book a room at the Inn at Furnace Creek for unexpected luxury (open mid-October to mid-May). The Ranch at Furnace Creek, open all year, even has a swimming pool (the water is very hot in summer), as well as restaurants and a general store. Don’t miss Scotty’s Castle, a white Spanish-style mansion in the middle of an oasis called Grapevine Canyon. The National Park Service guides bring history—including Scotty’s rather eccentric character— to life.

Denali (formerly known as Mr. McKinley) at Denali National Park (Getty Images)


Denali National Park
, Alaska

Best for wilderness scenery

American school children learned to call it Mount McKinley, but today North America’s tallest mountain goes by its native Athabascan name of Denali (“The High One”). The mountain, like a wise old sentinel, totally dominates the six-million-acre wilderness park that surrounds it. Many park roads are closed to private cars, so book the 90-mile, 12-hour-long Kantishna Wilderness Trails Tour (a bus ride through the park, including a stop at an old mining town), well in advance. Sharp eyes can spot big grizzly bears, moose, caribou, Dall’s sheep and lively little red foxes. Splurge on a flight-seeing tour that lets you get up-close looks at glaciers and a different perspective on wildlife moving across the landscape below. Whitewater rafting, in a wet suit for warmth, is another option, as is hiking the handsome Savage River Trail. In summer, it’s possible to see as many as 167 different species of birds flutter in front of your binoculars. It’s pleasant to camp in the park, but a good alternative might be to book rooms at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge (outside the park), or Kantishna Roadhouse in the park.   

Boardwalk running through Everglades National Park (Getty Images)


Everglades National Park
, Florida

Best for peaceful encounters with sub-tropical wildlife

That the Everglades National Park—the largest tract of true wilderness east of the Rockies—exists at all is a major miracle in over-developed south Florida. In fact, the park is thought to be so important that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Once inside, highways and tract homes are forgotten, as you paddle your own canoe, hike, bike, and perhaps join a park ranger on a bird walk, seeing everything from massive anhingas to a graceful white ibis to the rare roseate spoonbill. Birds are just the beginning. The looks-like-old-men West Indian manatees, slightly scary alligators, and American crocodiles may also join your walk on the wild side. The adjacent Big Cypress National Preserve, protecting 729,000 acres of swampland, is a great place to kayak. The Oasis Visitor Center there lets you view massive alligators from a wooden observation deck. Take a naturalist-narrated tram tour, and in winter, catch the 50-minute Anhinga Amble around Taylor Slough (from Royal Palm Visitors Center), or the Early Bird Special, a 90-minute bird walk starting at the Flamingo Visitor Center. 

View of the Grand Canyon from the rim (Getty Images)


Grand Canyon National Park
, Arizona

Best for getting to the bottom of things

There are as many different ways to experience the Grand Canyon as there are visitors. For some, the best choice is to book a room at the classic El Tovar Hotel, which has perched on the canyon’s South Rim since the railroad started bringing in passengers in the early days of the last century. For many guests there, strolling along the canyon rim and attending ranger-led interpretive programs are sufficient pleasures. Bright Angel Lodge is the place to stay if you have booked a mule ride down to the canyon floor, since it is the check-in point for the journey. Folks who choose to hike down to the canyon floor also tend to favor the Bright Angel Trail, as water is available en route, and you can rest under the shade of cottonwood trees at the pretty Indian Gardens Campground about halfway down. Some very tame deer there are likely to try to befriend you (rangers request that you not feed them). The Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch offer rustic accommodations on the canyon floor. Phantom Ranch provides separate, 10-bunk-bed dorms for women and men and 11 private cabins.

 
 
John Oliver Cabin at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Getty Images)


Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

Best for experiencing the way life used to be

A lot of history is hidden in the half-million-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee and offers a good look at 19th-century mountain life. Cades Cove, the heart of the park—and still home to deer and wild turkey—is now also a vast open-air museum. You can drive past original pioneer homesteads, barns, churches, and mills, but also save some time to amble through fields thick with wildflowers. Some eight to 10 million people pass through this most-visited national park each year. Many folks camp, and spend pleasant hours fishing, horseback riding, or looking for deer, elk, or black bear. From mid-March to late November, travelers who book in advance can hike the Trillium Gap Trail (watch out for the llamas hauling in groceries) for a stay the rough and remote LeConte Lodge. Sixty guests sleep in bunk beds in rough cabins or lodges complete with wash basin and bucket, kerosene lamps, propane heaters, and porch rockers. Family-style meals are simple and good. The privvy now has flush toilets. And the silence is so thick you can almost hear it.

Lava flow at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (Getty Images)


Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
, Hawaii

Best for seeing smoke and smelling sulfur

Millions of years ago, five fire-spewing volcanoes created the Big Island of Hawaii. One of these, Kilauea, is still at it, making it a leading contender for largest active volcano on earth. Another, the more sedate Mauna Loa, ranks as the world’s biggest volcano, rising a mighty 56,000 feet above the ocean floor. Visitors can meet both of these powerful wonders with a visit to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Start with the exhibits and films at the Kilauea Visitor Center, and ask about scheduled ranger walks. Jagger Museum, a few miles from the park entrance, is a good place to see volcano ash and monitoring gear. Just outside the museum, you can actually peer into a caldera, seeing volcanic ash and smoke at work. Drive or bike the 11-mile Crater Rim Drive (sometimes closed by eruptions). Chain of Craters Road gives a good overview of volcanic activity, taking visitors down to where hot lava crossed the coast highway in 2003. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is hiker and camper friendly. Rangers are up to date on where to go to see smoke pour out of vents in rock and red molten lava flow. Guided bike tours of the national park and Kilauea are available. A helicopter tour gives you a bird’s-eye view of the steamy action.
  

The Rotunda at Mammoth Cave National Park (National Park Service)


Mammoth Cave National Park
, Kentucky

Best for getting a good look at a great cave

Mammoth Cave, deep underground in western Kentucky, is, to date, the longest cave system ever discovered. Every year, some half a million people come to experience what it is like inside this vast limestone complex. About 392 miles of the caverns have been explored, and many more await investigation. Some visitors choose a short walk, typically the easy Mammoth Passage Tour, entering the cave in the same place that early Native Americans did 4,000 years ago.  Frozen Niagara, with its lovely limestone formations is another favorite. The truly daring don helmets, headlamps, boots and knee pads to climb cave walls and crawl through narrow (some nine-inches-high) spaces, on the “Wild Cave” or “Introduction to Caving” tours (book in advance). Above ground, savor the quiet of the forest while going horseback riding, canoeing on the Green River, or birding. Families enjoy the evening campfire programs at the Visitor Center, and later, amateur spelunkers tuck into tents on 105 separate campsites, in rooms at the Mammoth Cave Hotel, or in motels in nearby Cave City. 

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park(Martha Smith/National Park Service)


Mesa Verde National Park
, Colorado

Best for exploring castles on the cliffs

While most of America’s national parks focus on natural wonders, Mesa Verde provides a rich dose of Native American history along with its splendid scenery. In fact, the park’s cliff dwellings—one might almost call them precursors to today’s high-rise apartments—are glorious examples of the ingenuity of the Ancestral Puebloan People. No one knows why the residents abandoned Mesa Verde about 800 years ago, but the site was forgotten until a couple of cowboys literally stumbled on it in 1888.  If you have time to visit only one dwelling, take the guided tour through Cliff Palace, the largest complex, and the one that dominates most of the postcards (check for possible closings for repair this summer). The beautiful Balcony House, also only available with a guide, requires climbing a 32-foot ladder, crawling through a 12-foot tunnel and making it up a 60-foot rock face. It is definitely scary, but worth it. (You must purchase tickets at the Visitors Center for these two tours.) The handsome Spruce Tree House, the best-preserved dwelling, is accessible via a 32-foot ladder, is open all year, and doesn’t require a guide.

View from the valley floor of granite walls and waterfall at Yosemite (Getty Images)


Yosemite National Park
, California

Best for granite gazing (or climbing) and grand hotel stays

Yosemite National Park, in central eastern California, is one of the most visited parks in the entire system. Credit for that goes to its rich natural beauty; its nearly 1,000 miles of trails, some taking travelers deep into back country; and its lovely Ahwahnee Hotel, as grand as it gets. Add to that the immense popularity of rock climbing in this granite-rich park; the countless ribbons of waterfalls cascading over rock walls, and begging to be photographed; and the lovely green-and-gray scenery that has drawn visitors since before Ansel Adams snapped his iconic Yosemite photos. Visitors can also ride horses through Yosemite Valley, go on photo and art walks from spring through fall (pretty Bridalveil Falls is a favorite stop), and in winter can master cross-country skiing. Observe the tradition of watching the sun set over Half Dome, turning the granite into shimmering gold. Save time to savor the quiet elegance of the Ahwahnee Hotel, or book into the classic Wawona, a white clapboard inn harking back to the 19th century, with its old-fashioned long verandas. It is also possible to rent cabins and tents.

       

Path to grace

19 May
Sometimes I struggle with grace.  My father always told me it was more important to be kind than to be right.  I can lean on the side self indignation at times.  In particular lately I have felt my boundaries crossed, social courtesies not extended, people riding my patience until the line is too taunt, too frayed like my nerves.
 
Some of the most enjoyable people I know don’t keep a scorecard, don’t find the process arduous.  They are enthusiastic about the journey and are honorably grateful to give and receive love.
 
I believe if I practiced my meditations more often, perhaps I would live in the moment and not wonder what is next to come.  I know my greatest goal yet to be achieved is to be fully present during this life.  My mind races on some days like the stock exchange ticker tape calculating the days priorities. 
 
The other day my daughters were discussing cloud shapes, which I observed you had to do from your back lying in the grass.  I could not remember the last time I had bent in the grass without a weed agenda.  I laid down and looked at the sky and felt myself exhale for the first time in weeks.  I remember when I was young my sisters and I would climb trees and compare caluses on our palms.  Lately I only seem aware of my body when it aches from overexertion, not from exploring. 
 
I think all of this is related; the tedium of have to’s, feeling less gracious and the disconnect from childhood pleasures.  Today at my gym my machine faced the pool and an elderly swim class was being held.  Simultaneously, a group of about twenty older folks started clapping and cheering for a man who entered in a wheelchair.  He beamed from ear to ear and took an awkward sitting bow.  I asked one of the trainers what has caused the ruckus to which she said he is terminally ill but attended one last class.  The cacophony of happiness touched me and reminded me for a moment that some days we work too hard, too long, so thoroughly without climax!   The man was happy to attend one last class.  Trite but true life is short for all of us, it’s not a race just inevitable over at some point.  It reminds me of a woman I once knew who always ordered dessert first.  When asked why she responded, “life is so uncertain and I love pie .”
 
My father is right, kindness to others is important.  Perhaps he should have also reiterated if we are kind to ourselves it might make the outlook easier.  I told myself I would spend more time with the girls discerning cloud shapes, but who knows what tomorrow brings.  Today we bought a small tent.  My first th0ught- I have to mow, pooper scoop and then assemble.  My second inclination was the look of absolute joy that only a child knows-pure giddiness at the possibility.  So giddy won and tonight we will wish upon stars.  Yes, I often fall from grace, but tonight I’ll wish for some.   

Where the wild things are

11 May

Maurice Sendak, illustrator and author of children’s book ‘where the wild things are’ has died!  This was one of my favorite childhood books, and now I read it to my daughter’s to which my youngest says “I am a wild thing.”  It was ground breaking for the mid-century because of the dark content.  ‘Please don’t go, we’ll eat you up, we love you so.’  Until this book was published children’s books were light, fluffy and always depicted sweet, cheeky characters.  His book is now praised for moving the children’s books genre beyond silly pictures and rhymes.  He captured a message that was real and honest which was to face your fears and one must make tough choices to find their way home.

Sendak said in an interview, “Children are willing to expose themselves to experiences. We aren’t. Grownups always say they protect their children, but they’re really protecting themselves. Besides, you can’t protect children. They know everything.  Children drift in and out of fantasy, teaching adults to dream and imagine.”

I adore the end of the story when Max travels by boat in and out weeks to the safety of his bedroom with a meal waiting for him.  I hope my children always feel the safety net of their childhood home and cherish the memories created.  I hope more than this, they take great risks and learn about life through loss, connection, loneliness and love.  These are the themes that give our lives gravity so we can learn and grow.