The Girl and the Sea

Once there was a girl who had been holding on too tightly. This was a girl who had always been afraid of losing; losing what, she never quite knew. Her mind, her heart, her self, her future, her favorite doll.. There was just always this nagging feeling that the world was not safe and so she needed to hold on tightly to make it through.

What this girl did not understand is that not everything can be held so tight. Holding too tightly can  make what looks like love feel like suffication. Holding too tightly can leave you white knuckled and arthritic, a body cannot withstand the constant pressure to hold on so tight.

This went on for a long time and for all her efforts she still experienced devastating losses. She never loosened her grip on the things she cared about or needed to hold on to but it did not keep her safe from losing like she had hoped. Still the girl held on too tightly because she knew no other way.

One day the girl went to the ocean and was invited to step out into the crashing waves. With trepidation she followed the leader and felt overwhelmed by the power. She could not hold on out in the current, she had no control. She grasped at the sand on the ocean floor but it slipped from her fingers.  She reached out for her leader and together they were tossed by the incoming tide. She realized there was nothing else she could do so finally she let go.

For a moment she let go of everything she had been holding too tightly and watched as the ocean washed it away; in it’s place she opened her hand and found an acorn. The symbolism she did not understand at the time.

That day the girl learned that when she let go of the things she was holding too tightly her hands were then open to receive what she was truly meant to hold.

the girl and the sea

Death, Art, and Something Sacred

As mentioned in my previous post this week was rocky. The expectations for this week were one thing, the reality another and sometimes that is life.

The week recovered though, with astonishing ease in fact. I did not become a puddle. I did not allow this moment of darkness to grow into a storm that enveloped all other aspects of my life and week. It was what it was and it stayed there. I did that.

Here is what else I did..

I had a major break through with a client who I have met with multiple times and have had difficulty getting more than a shoulder shrug out of while in session. This was big. I felt like super social worker, my first big break through!

I got to be creative and brainstorm on a art project of sorts with a fellow intern.. This thing we are crating together will be displayed in our agency, we are excited about it, the ideas are flowing and it so fun.

I carved out me time which included reading, writing, getting my calendar organized, running errands related to Todd’s upcoming birthday, and watching the old Star Wars movies.

The real icing on the cake though was a visit from one of my soul friends..

It is like she sensed that I needed her this week. Our time together was enriching and authentic and everything I needed and I was grateful.

She arrived at my home right as I was getting home from internship. As she approached she had a gift in her hand and told me it was for me. I was surprised. It is not my birthday.. what is this about? When she handed it to me I knew instantly that it was art, I thought maybe she painted me something (she has done that before). When I got it open it was a painting of a boxer (which is what Lucy is) on a vibrant yellow background.

boxer-female

I was touched. I was even more touched when she told me the back story..

Apparently this piece was painted by a local artist, an older woman, who recently died. From what my friend said she had years worth of paintings she created, a lifetimes worth I would be willing to guess, and when she passed her family wanted them to go to good home which is how my friend came upon this piece. I am not quite clear on all the details but I know my friend was able to get a few pieces for herself and then saw this piece and got it for me.

My heart swelled as she told me the story. I am SO honored to be part of this woman’s legacy. I am honored to own one of her pieces and have it displayed in my home. Creating art is a labor of love. I have a special attachment to every single piece I make and I would want the exact same thing when I am dead and gone one day, give my creations to good homes. Let them live on walls and be loved by fellow artists. It is so special. I was deeply deeply moved that my friend thought of me and that I get to provide this piece with a home.

I immediately framed it and made a home for it over the fire place next to my very favorite piece in my home. This is part of this woman’s legacy.. it is such a beautiful thing.

Outside of being almost moved to tears by my friend’s gesture the rest of our time together was wonderful as well. I feel so myself when I am with her. I do not have to put on airs, I do not have to be happy if I am not, she accepts me in all of it, as I do her. I am really grateful for her and to have had time with her on such a rocky week.

Today I get to welcome my sweet husband home, I cannot wait to see his beautiful face. In the mean time I will enjoy every ounce of my alone time and the quiet within it.

 

 

Bed Wetters, It is Not a Love Story

You can be known for many things, good and bad. I am known to cry when watching TV, to be very artistic, to go on feminist rants, and for avoiding goofy hand shakes at all costs. I am also known to have terrible hearing. True story.

If you are trying to talk to me and there is a lot of background noise chances are I will not be able to hear you. Do not bother trying to tell me a secret, I cannot hear whispers at all. My TV is always to loud, same with my radio. And in general in life I mishear a lot of what people say, no mumbling please.

This story speaks specifically to that last piece. I am constantly mishearing people and having to ask them to repeat themselves. Sometimes I don’t though because I know what I heard is 10 times funnier than whatever was actually said. Case in point, Todd and I were checking out at the grocery yesterday and the young man bagging our groceries was chatting us up. He was telling us about this book he is writing, whether he is actually writing a book or not is completely irrelevant because the conversation was hilarious, this guy had a lot of personality. He asked us what the title of his book should be, I said well I guess that would depend on the subject. He then said, Bed wetters, but it is not a love story. Todd and I both started laughing. I knew I had heard him wrong but the way he said it would have been funny no matter what the subject was, I just laughed a little harder because of what I heard. He then describes his two main characters, Gerge (not George, he was very clear about this. Gerge, pronounced Jerj. ) and Rain his love interest. I then teased him, Oh but it’s not a love story.. He joked back and forth with Todd and I as he bagged up the last of our items and we wished him luck as we left.

When we were walking to the car I asked Todd, what did he say before but it’s not a love story? Vampires, Todd told me. I told him what I had heard and we both started laughing again. My version of the book would have been waaaay funnier and more interesting than his I think. I mean there are a million stories about vampires out there but none that I can think about the misadventures of bed wetters. I should totally write that story, and for the record, mine would be a love story.

 

 

Hey guess what folks, as I was looking for some kind of funny picture to capture the essence of this post (I kinda wanted a guy and a girl with pee spots on their pants holding hands) I found this! Apparently the story does already exist after all. Ah well, that saves me from having to write it. Which is good, I should be writing a paper for class if I have the extra time to write I guess.

bed-wetters

The Snail and the Sunflower

Last night my husband told me a bed time story as he sometimes does. This story has a back story I should share before I go any further though.

Recently I painted Todd a picture as a thank you for being an amazing life partner and beautiful human being. It was important to me that the picture I painted him be math and science related because those are two of his sweet spots. After lots of thought and looking over some reference photos I decided to paint him a picture of a snail in a sunflower garden. I chose this as my inspiration because both snails and sunflowers are parts of nature where the fibonacci sequence naturally occurs. I also chose this theme because science and nature go hand in hand as well (biology, ecology, etc).

I was worried he wouldn’t get the homage I was trying to pay to these subjects he loves. Not  only did he get it, it turned out to be his favorite piece I have ever made, he even named the snail in the picture Simon. It is now in our bedroom where we can both admire it everyday. I am not going to lie, it is one of my favorites I have ever painted as well. The sunflowers are warm and show good detail and the snail has so much personality. Todd says that Simon looks determined, he has set his mind to something and nothing can get in his way, kind of like the little engine that could.

Last night at bedtime he agreed to tell me a story. I offered to get a Beatrix Potter from my collection of her works but he said he was going to make one up for me. This was a special treat!

I am going to share the story now, with added embellishments from yours truly. The bones of the story belong to my sweet husband (who is secretly very creative), I just added some color.

Simon was a snail that lived among enormous trees, trees so tall he could not even see the top of them. These trees of course we know are actually sunflowers. Simon was curious by nature and wanted to know more about the world around him. Simon was yearning for something in life that he could not quite understand. One day Simon decided to climb to the tippy top of one of the great trees in his forest home. It took him an entire day but once he did he was able to see very far distances and feel the warmth of the sun. In the distance Simon saw a farm and thought it seemed very far away.

That day Simon decided to make the journey out of the comfort of his sunflower garden to the farm in the distance, he was sure whatever it was he was longing for he could find in this strange new place.

It took Simon three long days to make the trek across the sunflower field to the farm, he met many interesting insects and animals along the way. He was tempted once or twice to side track and stay a while with these new spirited characters he met but in his heart he knew he must charge on. Simon was certain his destiny lay just on the other side of the horizon, he was determined to reach the farm and learn his true fate.

On the third day Simon arrived at the farm, the first thing that caught his attention was the farm house itself so he pushed forward to see what good fortune lay ahead. Simon arrived at the farm house, all golden yellow and glowing in the sun, it reminded him of his beloved trees he left behind for a life of adventure and discovery. Simon decided the best plan was to climb up the side of the farm house in order to get a better vantage point of his new surroundings.

After many hours of climbing Simon reached a window that just so happened to be cracked open. He slid under the opening, a breeze blowing against his turquoise spiraled shell. Once inside the farm house Simon was promptly discovered by the farmer’s daughter, Juniper. Juniper loved all living things. Upon meeting Simon she picked him right up and told him that the farm house was no place for a snail, a bird could snatch him off the window sill and have him for an afternoon snack, or the farm cat Camille may think he would be something fun to torment. Juniper delicately carried Simon back into the farm yard all the while telling him about the friends he would make and how happy he would be living on the farm with the others. What others? Simon thought. And what is a friend? This was a new word Simon had never heard before.

Juniper proceeded to carry Simon to a back corner of the farm yard, far away from any potential threats like hungry chickens or curious kittens. Juniper stopped just above a smooth gray stone that was perfectly positioned among a patch of carmine poppies in full bloom. She gently placed Simon down on top of the stone, it was toasty from baking in the brilliant autumn sun. This is when Simon met another snail who looked remarkably like him, her shell happened to be a swirl of violet, indigo, and rose rather than the turquoise and gray that shimmer and shone on his back.

My name is Sally, the new snail said. I’m Simon, he replied. Would you like to be friends Simon? It gets awful lonely here in the poppy patch and it would be oh so nice to have a companion to go through life with. Without any need for explanation Simon suddenly knew in his soul what it meant to be a friend and have a companion to share life with. He also knew this is what was missing and this is what his heart had longed for back in his sunflower field. Yes. Yes, Sally I think I would.

And together Sally and Simon lived out their days in the poppy patch, on the farm, near the sunflower field, under the great blue sky.

I Hate This Cornmeal!

i hate this cornmeal

Those were the last words I sputtered before launching myself onto the couch in the sun-room this morning. I had this grand plan for breakfast that not only did not go according to plan, it literally went up in smoke. Todd came and found me face planted in the couch and snapped this shot to show me how ridiculous I look. After laughing about it together I decided this was a great writing inspiration, I was absolutely having an I show myself love when moment.

Last night while Todd and I were reading in bed I announced that I was going to make arepas and over easy eggs for breakfast in the morning. I was very pleased with myself. I have not made arepas in years so I double checked a recipe online and settled in for the night with thoughts of delicious runny eggs and warm arepas with butter running through my head. This diet is so restrictive that to have a meal to look forward to is a luxury in my life right now.

This morning Todd and Lucy woke me up with snuggles and puppy kisses and Todd transcribed while I dictated the grocery list. Once our list was complete we headed off to the store.

I found the cornmeal I was looking for but upon reading the ingredients on the back I realized I cannot have it after all. There was another cornmeal next to me that had an ingredients list I could work with so I grabbed it and scooted off to finish the shopping.

When we got home is when the trouble started, the next series of events have Calamity Jill written all over them.

I was unloading and putting away groceries when I heard a crash behind me, I turned and found my spoon/ladle holder on the ground shattered. I must have knocked it off the counter some how when I was moving groceries around. I felt my heart drop into my stomach. I really liked this ladle holder. It was one of the first home items I bought for myself when I lived alone in my one bedroom apartment. I remember feelings like such an adult. Plus it had this colorful mandala design that spoke to my inner artist. There it was, all of its beautiful colors sprayed across the kitchen floor. My eyes began to well up as Todd stopped putting away groceries to help me clean up the plaster shards.

A few minutes later I was back on track for making arepas but not very happy with myself. Not long after I broke the spoon holder I said to myself I show myself love when, as a reminder to be nice to myself – it was an accident. So I was now on to making arepas and being mindful of the inner dialogue I had going on.

I followed all the directions from the online recipe but did not get the desired result of a sticky dough, not by a long shot. I had water with separated cornmeal and salt in it. Ugh! That is when I realized this cornmeal was not meant for making arepas. I tried to keep my cool. I dumped my mixture that was unusable and decided to come up with a plan B. I looked at the back of the cornmeal container to see what the suggested uses were and one jumped out, cornbread! Great, I can do cornbread. I checked to make sure I had all the ingredients, I did, so I was ready to go. Cornbread and over easy eggs, sounds good! The pep was back in my step, I was not going to let these road blocks hold me down!

I followed all the directions, 3/4 cups if this, 1 teaspoon of that, and viola! Not really though. I expected to have a runny batter which I would then pour into my glass dish for the oven but what I had actually resembled the arepa dough. WTF? I was not going to be swayed, this was going to make cornbread damn it! I plopped the dough into the dish, mushed it around and until it was evenly distributed and prepared to stick it in the oven for 20 minutes.

This whole time the oven had been preheating to 425 like instructed by the recipe, when I opened the oven door I was almost knocked backwards by an ENORMOUS cloud of black smoke. Now choking and eyes burning I threw the dish into the oven and slammed the door shut. I stood in my smoke filled kitchen, eyes filled with water for two reasons now, and decided I had had enough!!

I hate this cornmeal!!!!! I whizzed through the living room, past Todd who was reading on the couch, and catapulted onto the couch in the sun-room. Trepidatiously he and Lucy approached, like you see soldiers approach a grenade in the movies when they are not sure if it is live or not, easy does it – we do not want to set it off. Next thing I knew I was being womped by throw pillows and whipped by puppy tail. Does this help? He exclaimed. I started to laugh.

I aired all my grievances about my morning to which he listened sympathetically before doing all the things he knows to do to make me laugh.

I was sure that when I took the cornbread out 20 minutes later it was going to be a charred mess, but I was wrong. I also realized what I had done wrong. I was so upset because I followed the recipe exactly, I could not figure out why my batter was so dense. Well, I didn’t actually follow the recipe all that closely. I substituted white flour for coconut flour and buttermilk for coconut milk. Of course my batter was going to be different. The cornbread was good though and even though I broke one of my yolks while making the over easy eggs, and we didn’t finally eat breakfast until noon, it was a success.

It was a success because I recovered. It was a success because I had loving support from my family and myself (however delayed). It was a success because I did not let all the set backs and failures get in the way of the end result, breakfast with my family and a lesson learned.

So here are my lessons learned:

Baking is a science and you can’t just change everything and expect the same outcome (I kinda knew that, which is why I don’t bake).

Broken things are replaceable but unkind words you say to yourself in a moment of frustration can be damaging.

It is okay to ask for help when you are having a hard time.

AND remember to laugh at yourself and the situation, it is called perspective!

The Crying Tree Lady

my trees.jpg

I do not remember the name of a single math teacher I had from middle school all the way through college, save one. I will call her Mrs. W.

Mrs. W was my liberal arts math teacher junior year of high school. I would not remember her either, I certainly remember very little from the actual class, except for one day in particular. She was sitting on a stool at the front of the room writing math problems onto a transparency which was then projected onto a screen (I am sure this kind of technology is considered prehistoric now). Mid way through a problem that I was paying no attention to (I was happily doodling in my notebook) she did something that grabbed everyone’s attention. She started crying.

We were all stunned. It came from no where. She was doing a math problem and then she just started to cry. After a moment she put down the marker and through her arms in the air and started wailing about this beautiful oak tree that had lived outside of her bedroom window her entire life and how that morning the tree men had come to cut it down because it was infected and dying. She was devastated and so was I. Everyone else was either quiet, completely at a loss, or snickering. No one seemed to understand her pain but I did.

I grew up on a dirt road with few neighbors surrounded by open fields of wild flowers and massive laurel and live oak trees. I spent everyday of summer and everyday after school outside climbing trees and picking flowers. I was bare foot at all times. I felt the bark of these trees in my hands and under feet and I climbed. I came home at night covered in dirt and tree sap. The knees of my jeans were always green and ripped from grass stains and rubbing too hard against tree trunks. I understood her pain.

I thought of her last week. I hope I haven’t already told this story, I apologize if I have. At any given time I can be writing between 2-8 stories in my head for this blog, sometimes I forget which ones I have actually physically written.

Anyway, I was driving to a grocery in the next neighborhood over from ours. Our grocery is little, it does not always have everything I need. I decided to take the scenic route that goes by our old rental in College Park. As I turned a bend by the lake I saw something that made me lose my breath. One part of the neighborhood runs parallel to the big interstate that cuts through College Park and for some time there had been markings on a few of the old live oaks indicating that they were to be cut down to allow for the road expansion that it currently taking place. I was heart broken when I first realized this and deliberately drove this way everyday so I could see these trees.  I wanted to bear witness to them because one day they would be gone and I wanted to make sure that I remember them and honor them for as long as they were still standing.

A few weeks after Todd and I first saw the markings we ran into our neighbor who used to be an elected official. She knows people who are higher up in local government and according to her the trees in question were not going to be cut down because enough important people made a fuss about it. I was overjoyed at this news! I stopped driving by the trees everyday. I still drove this way a few times a month but not as regularly.

As I turned the bend by the lake I saw nothing but open air where my beloved trees used to stand tall. All that remained were stumps where there beautiful bodies had been. I started to ball. I cried all the way to the grocery and considered turning around and going home rather than going in. I could not pull myself together. I was feeling everything. I was angry, I was shocked, I felt guilty, but most of all a deep deep sorrow.

I thought they were safe. Had I known I would have visited them more often. I tried so hard to remember each one of them, the ways their branches curved and dipped and each individual root system. But I couldn’t. My memory failed me and it further intensified the feeling of my failing them. I was not there to bear witness. What if no one else took any effort to remember them? It will be as though they never existed. These trees, Live Oaks, live for centuries. They have more right to be here than we do. How could we so callously cut them down? And hearing, trees are being planted to replace the ones removed does not make me feel any better. Great, plant those trees but it does not replace a life lost!

I have not been able to drive that way since. I know that many who read this will not understand. Like my classmates you will either sit in silence unsure what to make of the crying tree lady or maybe you will snicker/pass judgement. It is of no consequence to me. I know there are other souls out there who understand this pain, Mrs. W is testament to that.

Part of my sacred truth is that I am connected to all living things, trees, insects, plants, the earth. Some maybe more so than others, like trees. Among the trees is a I have always felt safe. They share their shade and shelter, you are free of judgement and come as you are, they are deeply rooted and have branches that touch the sky which is a balance I think we all strive for in life. My truth is they deserve to be honored.

Oh Captain, My Captain

Have you ever been watching a movie or reading a book that you have seen or read  a million times and find yourself hoping and wishing and absolutely desperate that the heart breaking part of the story will be different this time? Like when a beloved character dies or when a grave misunderstanding leads to some other form of tragic undoing?

Today I had The Dead Poet’s Society on in the background while I painted. I finished up the piece I was working on right when Neil gives his masterful performance as Puck and then proceeds to end his life. Every time I watch this scene I feel my heart well up with hope that this time his father will see his son as the artist he is and will embrace him with a proud heart. Each time I am let down. I am always particularly struck by Mr. Keating’s reaction to losing Neil. And as gut wrenching as it is to watch the witch hunt against Mr. Keating that follows this tragic event you are left with this moment of sweetness, Todd and the other boys standing on their desks, “Oh Captain, My Captain”.

This all made me think of my own story. For years there have been parts that I have wished could be rewritten. In my mind I play out scenarios, if I had decided to stay in that night then X,Y, and Z would have never happened.. If I had left, If I had said No, If, If, IF.. Each time the scene plays out the same though. These stories, much like the one that takes place in my example from the movie, will never change.  Neil will always die, Mr. Keating will always be fired, and my stories will remain as they are as well.

There is a piece I often miss though when I think about some of my own stories I wish I could change. They all have a Oh Captain, My Captain moment as well. Yes X, Y, and Z happened, but/and as a result A, B, and C happened, and A, B, and C are my students-on-the-desk moment. My social work journey is one of my own Oh Captain, My Captain moments in life. My meeting and falling in love with Todd is another. My falling in love with myself, another.

There are parts of stories that are hard to get through, every time you revisit them you want it to be different. Without the dramatic climax there is no happy ending though, no moment of sweetness to balance the sour. Without the darkness we would not know light. Each piece balances the other. Grateful for this reminder today.

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