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Who knew?

I read an obituary today.  Someone I knew a long time ago passed away.  Just one of those things, you know?  Young, healthy I guess, I don’t really know, and then, boom.  Brain aneurysm.  You might suppose I’m writing because I’m tortured by the reminder of my own mortality.  Here, one of my peers*, is gone so soon.  A life so brief.  That’s not it, though.  I’m Catholic.  I know my scripture and my theology.  We know not the day nor the hour.  My personal end could come at any time with no warning.    No, but there are two things, somewhat related, that I keep turning over in my mind.

The first is that whatever I think I knew about “that kid” I’m now pretty sure I never knew him at all.  Look, nobody is their resume, but I’ll admit to being surprised to find out what he had accomplished in his life, where he had been, where he was going.  I saw one facet, but there was more. A lot more.  It is so easy to make assumptions about people based on a very small amount of information and it’s hard to accept that sometimes our assumptions are wrong.  And while I understand that 14 short paragraphs can’t express the fullness of a man and that accomplishments don’t equal happiness or virtue, these paragraphs, taken at face value, tell the story of a successful, content man.  One of my favorite quotes from the obituary: “When asked, “What kind of a day did he have?” he would stop, smile and answer “My day was perfect/wonderful! How was yours?” Or “PERFECT…..BLISS” He was truly content with his life”

And this leads me to the second thing I can’t stop meditating on – the person who wrote this obituary (and I believe that it was his mother) loved that man.  Understood that man.  Accepted that man.  I knew him as a boy.  A boy with some…quirks.  Which was okay, because it wasn’t unusual for my group of friends.  But now I’m a parent, and I wonder. Do I accept my children wholeheartedly the way this mother accepted her son?  Can I?  Sometimes I get so caught up in my need to shape, guide, mold my children that I forget that they are their own selves.  And I need to love them, accept them, meet them where they’re at and follow their interests.

So that’s what I’m thinking about tonight.

*One of many who should not be forgotten and who I’m thinking about tonight.  Jonathan, Laurie, John, Dan, Will.

Friendship

Lately I have been pondering friendship – where it is, how to find it and how to recognize it.  I have few very close friends and ironically, none of them are physically close.  The women I truly count on live in places that require effort to reach.  A day trip, maybe, but a day trip that must be planned for and carefully executed.  There are no casual meetups for coffee, no impromptu dinners, no fellowship after Mass.

People say that when there is trouble look around and you will find your friends.  I think that is true, but not in the way I used to think it happened.  I always thought this meant that no one would be around to help.  That hasn’t been my experience.  When the bad comes, people don’t abandon you.  Sometimes people flock to you.  Trouble brings out the best in people because they can demonstrate sympathy and offer their best advice.  It’s easy to make a meal or give a donation.  But your true friends are the ones who when they ask, “How are you doing with everything?” you don’t think twice about giving an honest answer.  It could be good, or it could be bad but it is honest.

I have challenges in my life right now, but there are precious few people that I will share them with.  Oh, I know that many would offer sympathy or advice and be happy to listen to me “vent” but that’s where it stops.  It’s not the action (or lack of) that bothers me, it’s the simple fact that the relationship is not reciprocal.  Those well meaning people never share their lives with me.  I know there are good and bad parts of their lives, but they don’t see me as a place to lay down their burdens and to celebrate their joys.

Is it a matter of being comfortable?  It is a matter of being open?  Is it “chemistry”?  Or is it fear that being open will bring judgement rather than sympathy?  I think it is the fear that people will see us as complainers, as ungrateful for the blessings in our lives, or as less of a person for not being able to shoulder our burdens alone.  We are not meant to carry these crosses by ourselves though.  God has given us the blessing of friends to help us in our time of need.  But we often reject his gifts, in this case choosing, in our pride, to rely on ourselves.

Today, instead of lamenting the distance between us, I am grateful for my friend.  I am grateful that I can share my burdens with her and that they are lighter because of the sharing.  I am ever so grateful that she often shares her burdens with me and that we can happily celebrate our joys together as well.

[This post was inspired by a blog post I read yesterday over at GeekMom.]

In 1992 listening to music meant sitting in my bedroom with the door closed and the stereo playing my favorite mix tape.  I knew what songs were coming and in what order.  I was ready to flip the tape when Eric Clapton told me I was “Wonderful Tonight”  (what?  that song wasn’t written especially for me?????) and I knew that when I did flip the tape that Journey would still be mine, “Faithfully.”  I don’t remember every song on that tape, but I remember how I felt listening to it night after night.  Later, there were CD’s, all kinds, from popular music to Broadway musicals to classical symphonies and I knew them all inside and out.  I had an intimate relationship with music.  When I listened to music I did little else.  Oh, sometimes I sketched a little in a journal or if I was with friends we did sometimes talk over the music, but often our conversation revolved around the music.  We participated in a shared activity – listening to music.

Now, 20 years later, I occasionally listen to playlists I have created on my iPod or with Spotify, but more often I simply allow Pandora to choose my music for me.  There are songs I like and songs I skip, but there is no familiar pattern to latch on to; what songs play and when they play remains random.  I listen at home while I make dinner; I listen in the car while I drive the kiddos to school or other activities; I listen while lifting weights at the gym; I listen in the living room while I blog or surf the internet.  But ultimately, I don’t actually listen.  Music has been demoted to background noise.  Even when I am out running errands, music is everywhere.  There is music in every store and professional office.  No one escape the constant music.  But what is it doing to us?  How much of our passive brain function is spent filtering out peppy songs and occasional ads?  How much of what we are not actively listening to is affecting us in ways we cannot imagine.  And what is it doing to our ability to actually listen to good music?

As I reflect on my past and present history with music I find myself not only reminiscent, but also regretful of what I have lost.  I want to stand up and make some grand pledge, that from here on out I will listen to music with purpose; that I will find time to stop and listen to a favorite album or that when listening to music I will refrain from checking email or playing Angry Birds.  I’m not going to do that.  There are far too many distractions in my day and in my night that prevent me from making such a pledge.  What I will do is simply say that if the opportunity presents itself at the right time then I will stop and I will listen and I will embrace the music.

Leave a comment – What was your favorite album in your youth?  Or what were some of the songs on your favorite mix tape?

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 171)

In honor of Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you!) a specially themed quick takes edition – If Star Wars was about Homeschoolers………

-7-

Yoda (to a new batch of homeschool moms): Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Homeschool Moms. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Homeschooler must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All her life has she looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never her mind on where she was. Hmm? What she was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Homeschool Mom craves not these things. You are reckless.

-6-

Yoda (on Public School):  Stopped they must be; on this all depends. Only a fully trained Homeschool Mom, with the Force as her ally, will conquer Superintendent Vader and his Emperor, the Secretary of Education. If you end your training now – if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did – you will become an agent of the Public School. *

-5-

Yoda: You must unlearn what you have learned.

Experienced Homeschool Mom: True dat, Master Yoda.  True dat.

-4-

New Homeschool Mom: I won’t fail you.  I’m not afraid.

Yoda: You will be.  You…Will…Be….

-3-

 HSLDA Rep (to nosy School District): You don’t need to see her lesson plans … These aren’t the truants you’re looking for … She can go about her business … Move along.”

-2-

Homeschool Mom: Help me, Obi-Wan-Online-Charter-School, you’re my only hope!

-1-

Chewbacca (after a long day of homeschooling): AAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!

*Humorous parody does not indicate blogger’s actual feelings about Public School or Charter School or Homeschooling.  It’s just funny.  Because it’s Star Wars.  And Star Wars is cool.

Battle of the Sexes

SPARTAN

VS.

The Fabulous Mrs. Momo

 

Girls are fun.

Expired

I just finished a much needed purge of our kitchen and bathroom cabinets.  Perscription medicines, otc pain relief, otc cold meds, lotions, creams, vitamins, pregnancy tests (sorry guys!) and cleaning products collect in those cabinets waiting to be used.  I filled a large trash bag with all sorts of expired materials.  As I finished and gloried in the open space I began to wonder, how much of what we carry around throughout life is expired?  What are we collecting that will never get used?  What do we hold on to even when common sense tells us to throw it away?

I don’t mean just the stuff we carry around.  I know all of us could stand to go through purses and closets and pockets and such.  I mean the non-tangible stuff of life that we continue to bring with us into new years and new relationships.  For example, have you ever felt a particular way about a person or a place for years, just taking for granted that you feel that way?  Then something happens and you are forced to reexamine how you feel.  And you find that what you thought you felt isn’t what you feel at all.  In fact, it is sometimes just the opposite.

Why not take today and find some quiet time to sit and examine your life.  What grudges do you hold?  Is there someone you need to forgive?  Are you the person you need to forgive?  What friendships are you holding on to that do not add (and sometimes greatly subtract) to your quality of life?  Is it time to let old emotions go?  What is holding you back?

What is expired?

Life marches on…

And blogging once again takes a back seat.

Homeschooling two is interesting because it is at the same time both easier and harder than homeschooling one.  I am enjoying it though. While Jack remains a quick study (provided his frustration doesn’t take over), Rebecca is more willing to try new things and takes correction beautifully.  So far, she is making it easy.  My time management, as always, could use a little help.

Helen has graduated to three half days and two full days of school per week which has been good all around.

All three older kids are enjoying gymnastics and, to the astonishment of both parents, may actually be good at it.  Who would have thought?

Jude continues to menace us all and leave disaster in his wake.  Fortunately he does this with the unstoppable power of cuteness and so manages to end each day with kisses and hugs and not being sold to gypsies.

Confession: I took the idea of the Easter feast to heart and have been eating my way through bars of chocolate and white potato fries and fried plantains and today (HORROR!  But OH SO DELICIOUS HORROR…) salted caramel ice-cream from ColdStone.  Time for a change here.  On May 1st I start a 21-day Sugar Detox to reset myself.  I have also been skipping out on the gym.  That has got to change.  I really wish my gym had babysitting, but so it goes.  Oh, and another thing – I’ve not been getting 8 hours of sleep.  Not. Good.  Focus and discipline.  That’s my mantra for the next month.

More cuteness...just because.

On a Catholic note (it is Sunday, after all), May is fast approaching and what are you doing to honor the Blessed Mother this month?  For my part, I am renewing my Total Consecration.  With the kids, I also hope to do a May Crowning here with our little Mary statue and we will start the devotion of the Three Hail Marys.

That’s it.  See you later!