Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Great Deal of Life is Attitude-
If we have much or little,
its been wisely said that we don't
own a thing but our names.
Everything else is on loan,
and there is only today.
--So pick from this day, at nightfall,
every joyful story,
every beautiful face,
every crumb of understanding,
--roll them up and climb into bed
and rejoice!
~Harriet Beckwith
(my grandmother)

We had Thanksgiving dinner today with our friends Amy & Carla & their kids. It wasn't much different from any other night we eat dinner together - delicious food, good friends, a place to feel comfortable. We didn't even talk about what we were thankful for, or say grace or anything. (Not that any of us subscribe to an organized religion. At least, not that I know of)

BUT I'm not criticizing, please please don't take it that way. It was delightful. I don't know exactly what it is that makes me so happy when our families are together. Everything seems to work - we can take over from one another in almost any situation. I've never had friends like them. I am so so thankful that they are part of my life; of my family's life.

And boy, am I thankful for that dinner - I won't need to eat until the real Thanksgiving now!

Isn't it funny though - today my dad emailed me the snippet from my grandmother. He's been going through his notebooks (he writes every day and has for YEARS) and he found that in a note from her. She was a wonderful woman, and I'm glad I got to know her so well. I miss her every day. She died 11 years ago next week. I still have dreams that I'm at her house, and she's just in the next room. I try and try to find her; to introduce her to the kids; to give her a hug, but I always just miss her. I can smell her in my dreams though - Paloma Picasso perfume, a little baby powder. I think of her when I comb my daughter's hair - it's the same fine, soft stuff. I hear her when I cook, when I have a cup of tea, when I'm getting a little manic trying to do everything all at once. She was a great one for living in the moment, but learning from the past.

Wow, 11 years - that is a lifetime ago. (My son's lifetime, at any rate!) She was one of my best teachers; one of my best friends. That's what I'm going to roll up tonight. Time to climb into bed...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I sat in that room listening, the fire blazing, my heart full. Have you ever been in a place where you knew you belonged? A place that you had been waiting for? Been with a group of people who made your soul vibrate?

All last week I anticipated that meeting - a few, concerned educators trying to figure out how to best help/teach kids. People who are so tired of fighting the system - we know what works. Now we have to figure out how to do that without starving ourselves and our families. I was so worried that the meeting wouldn't live up to my expectations; that I'd blown the whole idea out of proportion; that others wouldn't have the same kind of dream that I have. All that worry was for naught.

There is something about kindred spirits - when we find each other, we KNOW. You remember that bubbly feeling of Possibility when you start a new relationship? It was there. The passion was palpable in that room. I looked around the circle and thought: Do I want to do this? With these people? Do I want to argue, orate, cry, laugh, scream, dance, work, and cry with these people? (I cry a lot) The answer was Hell yes! and Yes! and Yes! again. I have been waiting for so long. I am humbled. I am excited. I know there is a TON of work to do, and I cannot wait.

Monday, November 05, 2007

My mom & I were talking about seeing people in extreme poverty, or people who have repeatedly made poor choices, or people with that "victim" attitude and we were wondering how to deal with it. What can we do to help, if anything? Is this a situation where we let Faith take over, recognizing that they chose (in a metaphysical way) that path this time? But that doesn't erase the need to be compassionate, does it? I mean, I can't just turn my back on them & say "well, that's the life they chose". I know me, and I know that I'd want to do something. (at least help teach them how to chose differently!) But then again, I don't want to be sucked into that victim-void either. I wish I could see the Big Picture sometimes, just for a second.

The reasons why people behave the way they do seems to keep reappearing in my life. I had a boss who used to say "Everybody wants to be Somebody, Nobody wants to be a Nobody" and that's why people behave the way they do.

Somehow, some way, everyone needs to be noticed - needs that acknowledgement that they aren't in a void.

Another theory I really like is from the book Helping Kids Help Themselves by E. Perry Good. This theory is that people behave in order to fill their needs, specifically Love, Power, Fun & Freedom. (Love can mean acceptance, Power can mean control, and freedom can be the freedom to choose.) I've seen this work well, and often, I've forgotten to take that moment, that deep breath just before yelling, and remember that my kids aren't behaving just to piss me off. For example, my middle son had a complete meltdown in the car before we even left school today. He was screaming and red-faced-angry. Finally I got out of him that he had been picked on most of the day today by a certain kid. We talked about strategies (he'd used most of the ones we had talked about last time) and he seemed to calm down a bit. Of course, his little sister was sitting in the very back seat, just trying to push his buttons all the way home. (grr) Once we got home, I thought he might need some control over his life, so I gave him some choices. He decided to help me with dinner, setting the table, cutting up veggies. (Yeah, great idea Lysne, give the angry 7-year -old a knife...) He was fine though, and was much calmer during & after dinner than I've seen him in days.

Ya know, it works even better when I remember to look at my own behavior/needs before I let the kids get to me. If I can find a place to hide - the bathroom, under the stairs, in the closet - and take quick stock of what I'm missing right then (Love), I can address it (Honey, can I get a hug?) and then be on a more even keel. Perhaps even remembering to look at behaviors... and not taking things personally.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Copyright 1952.