With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Peyton Says It

Denver is in the thralls of Super Bowl / Bronco mania this week, and half of the newspaper contains stories on the game. I confess to reading many of these stories, as I am a big Peyton Manning fan. Today I found even more to like. In an column entitled "Manning Gets More Human as he Ages" (Mark Kiszla, Denver Post, 1/30/14),  Peyton lays down his thoughts on legacy:

 "If I had my choice on what my legacy would be, it would be I played my butt off for every team I ever played on, I was a really good teammate and I did everything I could to win. Whatever else comes along in that time is fine with me."

In other words, his legacy is maximum effort / use of his own abilities and connection with friends and teammates. In Denver it is widely observed that he has lifted the performance of everyone who plays with him. That's a much finer legacy than the W - L balance sheet or playoff wins or even Super Bowl wins, and I am glad he put it out there.

I don't know why it takes "aging" to get us to this perspective, that life is about connection and using your gifts for service. It's so painful to get through all of the stages of ego, perfectionism, concern about image, and worry about what "they" think - I wish we could skip them all. I have an unreasonable hope that perhaps I can help the kids skip over some of it. Wouldn't it be great if we could all be "more human" with ourselves and with others - from the very start?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

God and Perfectionism

"Excellence is a wonderful goal but it can turn into something driven and idolatrous when it becomes about achieving flawlessness or maintaining a certain exterior. Perfectionism can stem from a wrong view of God’s character (conscious or unconscious). If we on some level believe God is a harsh, demanding God, constantly finding fault, needing to be appeased, we will serve Him fearfully, convinced what we produce will never satisfy Him. This driving perfectionism robs us of the joy of relationship and serving Him."
- Youth With A Mission, Perth, Australia http://www.ywamperth.org.au/articles/four-cures-perfectionism/

It's hard to believe that God likes messy. Yet when God made us, the "very good" exclamation point on the story of Creation, God made a whole lot of little messes. I'm basing that on my own experience; please don't be offended.  Growing up, I heard the message, "be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:44 - 48) and thought that meant flawless. As I grew and recognized the large and small flaws that shaped me, I also became ashamed. I tried to look as 'perfect' as possible on the outside, with grades, sports, and activities, but I knew the real story, and I did not want to own up to it.

Religion has done a lot of damage in this way. The pastors at our church remark on how we dress up to go to service and put on our good clothes and Sunday faces. Often, we don't want to admit weakness or ask for help, because we don't want folks to see the real darkness in our lives. Our teaching pastor told me a story of one family that had two parents with broken bones - and three small children. When he went to ask if the family needed anything the father waved him away, "Oh no, we're good here," he said. Our pastor was astounded, and he was so surprised that folks would put on that show at church. I'm not surprised - church is a place where I learned I was supposed to be real good - even perfect. When I was ill last year, only the desperate state of my mind and soul kept me going to church, walking past the kind but shocked faces of all who saw me.

But if we can believe that God creates, and takes joy in creation, not perfection, can we not only feel loved and blessed but also that we can create? And in creating works of art that cannot be graded, boxed in, judged by any standard rubric, that we can escape perfectionism?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Few Words on Perfectionism

"Healthy striving is self-focused: How can I improve?  Perfectionism is other-focused: What will they think? Perfectionism is a hustle."

"Perfectionism is more about perception than internal motivation, and there is no way to control perception, no matter how much time and energy we spend trying."
- Both from Brene Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Well, that's going on the refrigerator, was my first thought when I read the top quote. I have inspirational and instructive quotes on index cards taped to the front of my refrigerator (since the front is sadly not magnetic and the sides have no room), and I don't know if anyone but me reads them, but they will be stuck there until we move or buy a new refrigerator. I'm finding this chapter on perfectionism to be full of good quotes and painfully en pointe, and I'm wondering not only how to absorb this information for myself but convey it to the children, who have all been identified as "perfectionists."  Brown says that all humans are on the spectrum somewhere when it comes to perfectionism, but I fear that genetics and environment have given the kids an extra boost.

I can have my oldest two kiddos read the book, but I think the discussion around these ideas is most important. We need to air out the flawed idea of trying to escape blame or shame or criticism by being 'perfect' - which has the dual disadvantages of:  A. not working and B. being impossible. Then we could discuss how "perfectionism hampers achievement," (Brown again) and what that means for our lives.  Lastly, we could look at how God's instructions on how to live: they do not include the commandments "Worry about what others think" or "Live 'perfect' lives in order to escape criticism and blame." In fact, a quick glance at the Bible gives us Moses, Noah, and Jesus, who followed the will of God and ran smack into mockery, criticism, indignation and hatred.

Finally, we could talk about how despite the best words of PhD's and the Bible, it is still hard to face criticism and blame. How a 42 - year- old mom can be learning how to do this with her 8 - year - old son, and how a team effort will be required to help all of us rise above cultural norms and society's standards.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Homework Dilemma

On our way back from Winter Park last night we caught the tail of a tremendous traffic jam. The kids were tired and hungry from a day of skiing and ate through our supply of snacks in a hurry. Daniel and Aden turned to their books and iPods contentedly enough, but William was stuck doing makeup homework from the two days he missed last week. Between coughing fits and complaints, he required an hour to do about three worksheets. When I took some of his papers to help explain what was needed, I realized that he has about five more hours of work to do on a book report that comes due this Friday. As you might guess, he had barely begun.

Despite my intentions to stay calm and never add more stress to this already-stressed small person, I felt the ire rising. Had he even read this page of requirements? Did he not wonder when the quotes, essays, scene descriptions and artwork would get done? In combination with this project and his regular daily work, he has a science fair project and a time capsule project due in the next six weeks. Did I mention that William is only 10, and in the fifth grade?As I confessed to Rob later last night (so much of my pillow talk seems to be confessional), part of me just wanted to say, "screw it." Just don't turn it in - the screaming, tears, self-hatred (William's) and disgust (mine), are absolutely not worth it. But how, exactly, would that benefit my child?

So we struck a happy medium; we both took hot showers and got tea (which he promptly spilled over the keyboard) and made a plan for the week. Using all of his available time before and after school this week, he should get all of the work done. I was as calm and rational as I could be, complimenting him on all of the work he had completed, and his usually good study habits. I told him to ask me for help anytime the work gets overwhelming (which is often). The teachers tell us to 'let them fail' but I can't do that. I won't do the work for him and I won't ask teachers to make exceptions, but these kids need our help. Adulthood is stressful enough, I just hate to see my kids stressed out and negative about their lives. I often don't know which way to go, and can only conclude that with homework as with anything, parenting is the hardest job in the world.

Friday, January 24, 2014

From the 31 poems everyone must read . . .

Occasionally on a Friday I like to give you one of the poems from Anne Barngrover's list of 31 poems everyone should read. It's the equivalent of scheduling a "Bill Nye the Science Guy" video for my middle school science class, which I did on tired Fridays over a decade ago. In both cases, the substitute writer / speaker is more knowledgeable than I, and certainly in this case Sylvia Plath is a far better poet.  Enjoy!

Stars Over The Dordogne

Stars are dropping thick as stones into the twiggy
Picket of trees whose silhouette is darker
Than the dark of the sky because it is quite starless.
The woods are a well. The stars drop silently.
They seem large, yet they drop, and no gap is visible.
Nor do they send up fires where they fall
Or any signal of distress or anxiousness.
They are eaten immediately by the pines.

Where I am at home, only the sparsest stars
Arrive at twilight, and then after some effort.
And they are wan, dulled by much travelling.
The smaller and more timid never arrive at all
But stay, sitting far out, in their own dust.
They are orphans. I cannot see them. They are lost.
But tonight they have discovered this river with no trouble,
They are scrubbed and self-assured as the great planets.

The Big Dipper is my only familiar.
I miss Orion and Cassiopeia's Chair. Maybe they are
Hanging shyly under the studded horizon
Like a child's too-simple mathematical problem.
Infinite number seems to be the issue up there.
Or else they are present, and their disguise so bright
I am overlooking them by looking too hard.
Perhaps it is the season that is not right.

And what if the sky here is no different,
And it is my eyes that have been sharpening themselves?
Such a luxury of stars would embarrass me.
The few I am used to are plain and durable;
I think they would not wish for this dressy backcloth
Or much company, or the mildness of the south.
They are too puritan and solitary for that—
When one of them falls it leaves a space,

A sense of absence in its old shining place.
And where I lie now, back to my own dark star,
I see those constellations in my head,
Unwarmed by the sweet air of this peach orchard.
There is too much ease here; these stars treat me too well.
On this hill, with its view of lit castles, each swung bell
Is accounting for its cow. I shut my eyes
And drink the small night chill like news of home.
- Sylvia Plath

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Never An Original Thought

"My new commitment to setting boundaries comes from the twelve years I've spent studying Wholeheartedness and what it takes to make the journey from "what will people think?" to "I am enough." "
- Brene Brown in Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead

Well, smack me upside the head with a codfish. Here I was just a few days ago writing about my sticky note "I am enough" and lo and behold, my new book by Brene Brown has whole chapters on the issue. Brown writes about being enough in the context of shame, which she defines as: "the fear of disconnection -- it's the fear that something we've done or failed to do, an ideal that we've not lived up to, or a goal that we've not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection.  . . . Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging." (Brown, location 832 on Kindle edition).

That's powerful stuff that hits home. Another bullseye was the fact that all humans experience shame. It's not our fault if we have this reaction; to the degree that we seek connection, it's hardwired. The good news is that we can develop what Brown calls "shame resilience." Though we can't escape shame we can move through it "from shame to empathy" and heal. Brown lists four elements of shame resilience, which are below in short form:
1. Recognize shame and understand its triggers
2. Practice critical awareness
3. Reach out - own and share your story
4. Speak out - ask for what you need

I'll stop quoting here and just give you Brown's website; http://brenebrown.com/. Today  I'm going take advantage of the fact that William is home sick and chat with him a little about shame, and how he is an amazing kid and loved no matter what he does or doesn't do. Then I'll plot my 'attack' on the other kids, because I want them to grow up with shame resilience, and not be as hijacked by this emotion as I have been, especially over the last 12 years. All of you who read my story and offer support and encouragement are part of my healing process. Thank you so much - and good luck on your own journey today.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Taking On Jabba

After such a fun and relaxing weekend at Karen's re-entry was difficult. I was thrilled to see the boys and Rob, of course, and to get caught up on all of the basketball adventures and special treats they had while we were away. The loads of laundry, cooking and cleaning and shopping were all waiting for me, but they weren't the most difficult part of coming home. It was assuming the weight of my identity here, complete with expectations.

In Los Angeles, when Karen had to introduce me to someone, it was "my sister, Laura." That's a simple label with  few expectations (that I was meeting by visiting and having a great time). It was free-ing. At home again, I feel the weight of expectations crashing down around my neck, like the chain that tied Princess Leia to Jabba the Hut in Return of the Jedi.  Do you remember that opening scene, where Leia is dressed in an awful metallic bikini with a super-long loincloth flowing between her legs? Jabba lets her walk around or dance a little and then every so often he yanks hard on the chain and she goes flying (and choking) back into his ugly fat folds. For me, each link in that chain represents my own expectations of myself, my perceptions of other people's expectations, society's expectations, familial expectations, church expectations and more.

I seek contentment and peace, which would mean escaping or erasing the chain that binds me. Leia ended her captivity by choking Jabba to death with his own chain. I could try this, but I don't have the luxury of companions with light sabers, and I don't know how much of Jabba is really me, so I don't want to strike that death blow in a hurry.  I'll have to brainstorm different ways to escape like Leia, sans skimpy gold bikini and hover craft (though they might come in handy!)

Monday, January 20, 2014

General Hilarity at Karen's

Aden and I had a wonderful weekend at Karen's enjoying unseasonably warm weather, good food and lovely sunsets. We watched both Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks (about the making of Mary Poppins) discussed JK Rowling's best characters, and enjoyed a correspondence with our youngest brother, James, who now lives in Petaluma. Our texting with James began during Saturday night's dinner prep of stuffed peppers when Aden was sedately reading in the other room. I've included choice comments and amusing asides below:

James: "What are you guys up to tonight?"

Laura and Karen giggling - 'what should we say?'  'Just the usual / just the yooj - hey how do you spell yooj, anyway?'  Karen picks up her phone to find the correct spelling at urbandictionary.com while Laura types in the completely untrue yet snort-inducing message:

L / K: "Ordered some male dancers in for Aden; our little girl is all grown up :-). JK, just the uge: chocolate binges, shared Harry Potter dorkdom, a Mary Poppins marathon."

Karen says, 'no, no, not uge - the spellling is yooj or usge to be closer to the original "usual."

James: "We are doing the exact same thing! Male dancers but minus the potter poppins 'thon."

L/K: "Thong?!  B****, if there is a Potter / Poppins thong I . . .Want . . .It!"
L/K: "That was Karen . . . ."

James:  "I knew it, pirate mouth"

L/K: "Did you auto correct potty mouth? Or is that the name of one of your dancers?

James:  "totally on purpose - pirates speak RRRRR - rated."

L/K: On the floor laughing, manage to type in "Touche."

If the spontaneous ribaldry above does not tickle your funny bone, I strongly suggest you hit up  Urban dictionary and look up the word of the day. Today's is "Effective Monday" which means the start of a work week on any day except for Monday, usually due to a holiday like today. Tomorrow is our "effective Monday," and I hope it's a good one for all.


Friday, January 17, 2014

A balanced approach

I saw this poster at Arapahoe Community College on Wednesday night, after I dropped the children off at water polo. Here are the three items they list as guidelines:

1. Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes
2.Eating that values pleasure and honors hunger and satiety.
3. Finding the joy in moving one's body.

 I love its measured, balanced approach to fitness and health. So many times our culture tells us we are "too much" or "not enough" with regard to our bodies, and I have allowed those voices to live inside my head. Whenever I start to get harsh with myself with regard to my body (which will never again look as long and lean as it did when I was running 30 + miles each week), I am going to remember the words of this poster and honor my choices each day.

On an even happier note, Aden and I are off to visit my sister, Karen, in Los Angeles. You may remember Karen from the Flat Daniel video or the hilarious fan letter to JK Rowling (http://wildspecifictangent.blogspot.com/2013/09/absolutely-hilarious-guest-writer.html), both posted previously on Wild Specific Tangent.  I look forward to seeing her new condo, taking good walks on the beach, perhaps a movie, and general hilarity. Who knows what literary greatness could come out of this meeting of the minds?!  Stay tuned . . .

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Don't Be so Hard On Yourself

"Don't be so hard on yourself. . . . .Don't cry. You're not alone. Don't cry tonight, my baby. Don't cry, you will always be loved."  - song lyrics to "Don't Cry" by Seal

This morning I drove up to Boulder to meet with my wonderful spiritual director. A herd of five deer greeted me with cool stares as I drove up to her little office in the foothills. With a brisk wind blowing and warm tea in my hands I felt ready to be directed, but I should have been more wary, for truth hurts. We began by talking about some challenges that the children are experiencing, and how they can be so hard on themselves. Guilt stirred in me as I talked to Dominie about these precious little people, because undoubtedly I model self-judgment and harshness, when what I need to model is self-kindness, self-compassion.

It's hard to model what you haven't learned, and so self-compassion is a focus of my work. Dominie explained that all humans need and desire love above all else, and our fears around this need center on three thoughts: 1. I'm too much 2. I'm not enough 3. I don't belong. We can have all three thoughts but we usually fix on one in particular. My central thought is easily behind door #2. In fact, I have a post-it note on the bathroom mirror that says "I AM enough," which hasn't done much to help me, other than identify the problem. So now I'm highly motivated to learn how to bathe in the warmth and openness of self-love, how to fully accept and trust in the love and compassion of God and of other people. My goal is to model this for Aden, William and Daniel, to spare them from carrying my burdens. If you are also interested, here is a book recommendation: True Refuge, by Tara Brach. As we read, remember, don't be so hard on yourself. I'll try to do the same.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Viva la Change

My new favorite word is "awesomesauce." I've seen it in a few places, which likely means that it's already lost its novelty and is uncool to use. Who cares? What a delightful combination of awesome and applesauce, which have alliteration and warm fuzzies going for them as a duo. Just thinking about my new word makes me smile. I had a similar happy reaction to"chillax" last year, though chillax doesn't quite have the same cuddly vibe as awesomesauce; it's more like a teenager than a cute preschooler. When I use these words in front of Rob he snorts and says "what?!" like I am too old to try for new vocabulary. But no one is too old to get a few new words, and we had better keep up; according to the website The Language Monitor http://www.languagemonitor.com/, there is a new (English) word created every 98 minutes. That's 14.7 new words every day! The times, the language, the technology - it's all changing, every day.

We know that things change, but do we believe that in our core and do we embrace it?  Change is uncomfortable, and in many polls, is the number one fear of human beings. But it is an unassailable part of life. It seems to me that by embracing change we free ourselves to look for the best of what is available right now, whereas when we cling to the old ways, we are really looking backward. When I embrace my wrinkles, sunspots, dietary and exercise restrictions, humble role as mom and wife, and amateur poet, I can really look around and make the best of the way things are. No wishing for something different or wanting to go back, just a firm desire to write every day and use the word awesomesauce in a sentence. Goal attained for the day! Hope it was as fun for you as it was for me.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Yin and Yang: Weight lifting and Yoga

I think my experiment with Crossfit is over, after a nearly sleepless night pondering the pros and cons of this new exercise routine. As I've mentioned before, I am an addict when it comes to exercise, and since this addiction almost killed me I don't take it lightly. I enjoyed the new skills involved with Olympic weightlifting, and the immediate changes to my body in terms of strength and even mobility, BUT, the competitive nature of my personality combined with the class structure set me straight back on the ramp to increased demands on myself and increased risk of injury. That's totally on me, by the way, not on the gym or coaches. I have trouble, as well, getting the advice of my doctor out of my head: avoid chronic cardio and avoid High Impact Interval Training, which comprises a part of every CrossFit workout. The HIIT portions are short - only 7 - 15 minutes - but so intense that I got really revved up on days that I did those workouts, even to the point of not falling asleep at night. That could be a sign that the adrenals are stressed, and I am taking no chances.

So it's back to the drawing board. I spent some this morning researching the balance of yoga and strength training, which I find I enjoy. There are some good articles written on how strength training can aid yoga practice and vice versa. Yoga already incorporates strength training with body weight, but extra exercises and slightly heavier weights can increase your abilities.The yin of yoga and the yang of weightlifting. Potentially a perfect combination - for me. I just need some help figuring out which weight - oriented exercises to do, and how to politely phrase my quick withdrawal from the Crossfit Gym. I'm not playing around this time, but it's still hard to turn my back on the things that hurt me, but which a part of me still loves.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Some Words from Ms. Browning

After a few entries on love this week, I feel compelled to end with my favorite sonnet from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Rob and I had this poem printed on the program at our wedding, and it's one of the few pieces of literature I have (partially) memorized. When you read it, please read out loud - the best way to appreciate poetry of any kind. Best wishes for a restful and joyful weekend.

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

 
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15384#sthash.Byh9AkpZ.dpuf

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dependent, Powerless, Weak, Drowning

"People often asked me then as they do now, 'How do you do it?' The answer has never changed and it is so simple: I don't. It's just a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus. This plan, these 'accomplishments,' they are so not my own.
     I am dependent.
     Powerless.
     Weak.
     Drowning.
While these adjectives may sound scary, they put me in a beautiful place, a place where I couldn't go one minute without crying out to my Father or I would sink."
- Katie Davis in Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

I wish I had read these words in the days (years) after adopting our own precious boy, Daniel. My family and I followed the call we heard and we did not doubt through the difficult two - year process. I prayed and my covenant group prayed, and 'magically' he came home to us one month before the country closed its doors to adoption. What did I do then? I gave thanks and immediately forgot that I was not the solution. In the difficult months that followed I was powerless, weak, drowning, and despondent; I felt like a failure because I took all the responsibility (and honor, and results) for myself.

When you are accustomed to control, to taking care of all of your own needs and the needs of your children, any lack or shortcoming feels like failure. I forgot that I was just a conduit, a faulty and flawed conduit, to a greater power. If the Christian language of Jesus and Father God presents an obstacle here, feel free to substitute the Creative Spirit, the One Connecting Power, Loving Mother, or other term that works; the key point is that I am not the end-all, be-all. Something more powerful is at work and can work through me if I let it, if I stay humble and ask for help, while accepting my weakness.

I struggled for years under the heavy weight of self-imposed requirements, shored up by my ego which told me over and over that not only could I do it myself, I should do it myself. My poor, misguided ego - it gets me into so  much trouble!  Finally my illness brought me to my knees in an entirely new way: powerless, weak, drowning times 10. I recalled again that I was not required to do it myself - absolutely could not do it myself. Through loving hands that helped for months, through the power of prayer groups across the country, through doctors and counselors, I finally improved. Now that I am well, will I slip again into the trap that my ego sets for me? I cannot, because truly, it's not I who does anything well, it's the power of the Great Spirit that I borrow, that will be there for me as long as I turn toward it and ask for help. Many thanks to Katie for her honest words that remind me of the truth.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Universe Knocks on My Head

Every once in a while the universe will throw books, movies, personal encounters or just random events at you in startling combinations that knock you upside the head. Or at least, it does this with me. As our family makes the re-entry into busy routines and routine worries, I was jolted by quotes from two different books that remind me to focus on the central issue as a mother, wife, sister, friend and daughter. Here are the quotes - I am willing to bet that you can figure out the central issue:

"God reminded me again that day that I have one purpose, in Uganda and in life, and that is to love. I could ask for no greater assignment."
- Katie Davis in Kisses from Katie, p11http://www.amazon.com/Kisses-Katie-Story-Relentless-Redemption/dp/1451612095

"I understood that since the Church is a body composed of different members, the noblest and most important of all the organs would not be wanting. I knew that the Church has a heart, that this heart burns with love, and that it is love alone which gives life to its members. I knew that if this love were extinguished, the Apostles would no longer preach the Gospel, and the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. I understood that love embraces all vocations, that it is all things, and that it reaches out through all the ages, and to the uttermost limits of the earth, because it is eternal.

Then, beside myself with joy, I cried out: "O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love! Yes, I have found my place in the bosom of the Church and this place, O my God, thou hast thyself given to me: in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be LOVE!. . .  Thus I shall be all things; thus will my dream be realised . . ."
- St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul,

See? Two different books, two different authors, same day. Oddly, both books were written by young women in their early 20's, though they are separated by over a century. Both Katie Davis and St. Therese claimed to be small and insignificant, though they have both affected hundreds, if not thousands of people; Katie through her work with children in Uganda, her blog and her book, and St. Therese through her autobiography, Story of a Soul.. Their words came so closely together that it shocked me into thinking again of my purpose and plans, and how I should really lay these down to be open to God's plan for me. In the meantime, you can never go wrong with love.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Failure's Alternative: Do Nothing

" In fact you need dreamers to stretch. I probably have failed more times in my life than almost anybody I know. But that's because I've tried more things. And I'm not afraid to fail because the consequences of avoiding failure are doing nothing."
Vinod Khosla, in a 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl, 1/5/14

I went to a Crossfit workout this morning which was more frustrating than all my previous workouts put together. I don't know how to lift the weights, my back was so tight that I needed remedial stretching, and I had trouble doing each of the three exercises that comprised the rounds of our workout. Shoulder to overhead lifts were the easiest of the three, whereas "toes to bar" and "double unders" are still mysterious, speaking euphemistically. I know we should embrace a beginner's mind in all things, but this was ridiculous!

Then I remembered watching 60 Minutes last night with the family, and I took heart with the recall of Vinod Khosla's approach. Khosla's a venture capitalist that made it big in Silicon Valley and then moved into "green energy tech", an area which has struggled tremendously with birth and growing pains, especially since the recent boom of native natural gas. The kids asked me why we should keep pursuing clean energy when so many efforts were struggling and I pointed to the Chinese investor who has bought many US green energy companies. He notes that the payoff is not now or in two years, but down the road. We have to have patience, continue to try new things, and not be discouraged by failures. Someday the gas and oil will all be gone, and we will need new ideas in the pipeline before that moment.

So I'll continue to try new things and fail, and hopefully the children will learn to do the same. I don't want them to be afraid of failure, to always bet with the current "in thing" or trusted safe strategies. Dreamers dream and dreamers fail, but dreamers also progress; in fact, they are the only ones who do. The alternative to failure is doing nothing, and I don't plan to use that strategy until I am lying in the cold hard ground.Which may be soon if I keep trying to lift heavy weights.. . . .

Friday, January 3, 2014

Re- Solutions

I need a couple of re-solutions for 2014 in key areas of my life. Foremost among these are: children putting on clean underwear and socks each day, children brushing twice daily and flossing at least once per day, and last but not least, preventing the dirty clothes from mating like bunnies and the socks from immigrating. I had thought that daily changes of socks and underwear were a given in the household, but apparently the boys did not get that memo. I discovered my error when peeling Daniel's five-day-old socks from his amazingly stinky feet (his feet had been bathed several times in that period, but the socks were resurrected from the laundry basket on the sly). I recruited Rob and the two of us made it abundantly clear that regular bathing and clean underclothes are required for continued residence under this roof.

After that re-solution, I took all three children to the dentist. Just as I filled with self-congratulation for getting all of the kids in for a cleaning on a non-school day, the hygienist emerged with a look of condemnation. You know the look; it's the devastatingly accusatory stare that says, "if you don't start getting your kids to floss, I'm calling in the feds."  I had thought that just having the floss on the bathroom counter would be sufficient encouragement for the children to start up their habit, but apparently I misread the situation. So my re-solution is to painstakingly guide each child through the process in the evening  until they get it right. Sheesh. I didn't even start flossing until I was 39, so I thought we were ahead of the game!

Lastly, I  need a re-solution for the dirty clothes. I hate to sound judgmental, but the dirty clothes at our house are just - well - slutty. The jeans get with the shirts and the sweatshirts roll around with the pajamas and suddenly there are five new families of dirty clothing just demanding to be washed. I wish the immigrating socks balanced out the equation, but alas, they only leave me with the odd singles, who mope about their dating status and develop holes.  I don't have any re-solutions for this problem - please contact me with any thoughts or recommendations.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The First 2014 Adventure: Flat Daniel

A perfect morning so far: slept in, memorized a new verse for meditation, took an hour walk in the newly fallen snow and soaked in a bath for an hour whilst devouring John Green's amazing book, The Fault in Our Stars. Get this: NO ONE bothered me during the entire bathing experience. That has to be a first. As an aside, John Green is quite the writer, and I have gulped down two of his books this week, the aforementioned best seller and Looking for Alaska, which is excellent though a trifle advanced for Aden, it's original intended reader.

But I digress! In between relaxing activities and preparing meals for my hungry brood, I picked up roughly 2,000 of those rainbow loom rubber band-its and put away three loads of wash. All this, my dear reader, was but a prelude to the main event of the day, my viewing of  the You Tube video: The Adventures of Flat Daniel. A bit of background knowledge before I send you to the link; Daniel's second grade class read a book about Flat Stanley, a two-sided character who went on adventures around the globe. His teacher created a marvelous assignment for which each 2nd-grader drew their own flat namesake and sent him / her to relatives in various locations throughout the US. Relatives then return the flat selves with photos or post cards from their locale. Daniel sent his Flat Daniel to my sister, Karen, who teaches a fourth-grade class in the Los Angeles area.

True to her creative genuis - y self, Karen took F.D. to school, to the beach, and then on a plane to visit my parents, brother James and SIL, Molly, in Polson, Montana, where all had gathered for the holidays. In a burst of brilliance no doubt enhanced by Schnappes and a wealth of free time, she produced this award-winning vehicle for F.D.'s adventures. I laughed, I cried, I hit replay. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is The Adventures of Flat Daniel: http://youtu.be/0VUcVST53SI.