Monday, February 27, 2012

Clean-up in Pew #13

I'm not really a "churchy" kind of gal, and my "religion" is an amalgamation of many beliefs, tolerance, and agreements. But my heart is in the right place, and for the most part I try to think about and do what is right. When I slip up, and I definitely do, I try to apologize, reap the consequences, and learn the lessons.

I started taking the kids to church a couple of years ago. They like it and I am grateful that we have been very welcomed by our little church family.

I have taken my son to "big" church three times. ~Flashback to about a year and half ago...

The first try... As I was searching for my money for offering, he grabbed the little change purse that he and his sister had been playing store with all weekend. How cute, I thought. Now, I also thought this contained their fake money. I could not have been more wrong. He had taken an opportunity when I wasn't looking to replace that fake money with the brand new marbles that he received from his Pappy the previous evening.

As the service began, he opened up the bag and dumped the marbles onto the floor. Until that very moment, I had never realized we had wooden floors underneath the pews. We sat in the back so we could leave if need be without causing too much commotion. "WeeeeLL><isn't that speeecial?" The Church Lady's voice rang in my head as my good intention just flew right out the window! Even the preacher ended up returning a marble and I'm pretty sure I expressed all the shades of pink I could turn within 30 seconds.

The second attempt, I knew better. He stayed for a little bit. I brought something paper, crayons, etc. But the singing got him (which I get, it was a bit dramatic), and we made a calm and casual exit. Ten minutes later, one of the mothers from the nursery came to get me. Evidently my darling little heathen had decided to hide out in the bathroom and then suprise-flash the girls when ever they came close to the door and total chaos had ensued in the childcare room. GRRRRReat! " the FRU-IT's of the DEV-IL," the Church Lady echoed in my head.

At this point, I was kind of waiting for a call from the preacher. It never came. My guess is that maybe the thought was that we probably really "needed" a little more churchin'.

Flash forward to yesterday...

A year has passed and we've made some progress. He was the shepherd with a somewhat devilish grin in the Christmas program, and we've been to the early morning, smaller service with success and no major interruptions or loss of clothing.

So yesterday we went to "big" church again to watch his sister perform during the Children's moment. All was well until the director asked if there were any other children who wanted to come forward, and up he went. Now, I thought he would be ushered to just sit and watch. But, noooooo! He hopped on the stage wasn't directed to the steps or front pew or anything. "Oh! This is bad," I thought.

Well... he proceeded to perform his own version of the song and sign language. I began squirming and blushing, the congregation began laughing, and he HAMMED it up all the more because of the prior two facts. At some point, you just have to smile and go with it, and fnd yet another lesson of humor in humility.

Thank Heaven, for little boys... and easy-going steeple people.

@ Dana Carvey(aka- The Church Lady), eat your heart out while you perform your "Superior Dance!"
-And if you don't know that I just referred to, I'm totally judging you, so look it up on youtube ;-)

Weellll, isn't that special?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fat and Happy

Happy Belated Fat Tuesday, for today we purge.

I've been doing ab exercises with a friend. Then she gives me homemade cookies. I go swim and feel like my heart might explode, then I find my little one-time-a-year girl scout goodness staring at me when I walk in the door. Oy vey!

It's a constant see-saw. I actually think I work out to eat. I'm pretty sure K.D. Lang wasn't talking about chocolate when she sang "Constant Craving," but it runs through my head whenever I get around sweets. I totally eat and regret too.

Well, today for lent and for good, I'm giving up my lovehate relationship with my tummy. I'm still gonna eat, but I'm gonna enjoy it! My little Buddha belly and I are making piece. I will embrace my body, where it is at, regardless of the imagery society places around me of touched up stars and photo enhanced loveliness. May we all choose life instead of regret, and live it well, with lots of belly laughter, a healthy dose of cookies, and a joy for who we are inside our own unique skins!


Monday, February 20, 2012

"Aren't you a little short to be a Stormtrooper?"

Me: What do you want to drink son?                Son: Beer

Me: No, really. What do you want to drink?     Son: Wine

Me: Okay, we have milk, chocolate milk, (and I continue to list all age-appropriate beverages)

Me: Beer is an adult beverage. You are not having beer.
Start of a temper tantrum- cue the foot stomp.
Son: I want the beer, with the bubbles? You know? That we put on ice cream?

Cue the light bulb and mommy's deep sigh of relief, that pre-mature alcoholism has not set in with my four year old baby boy.

Me: OOOOOOhhhh, you want Root BEER!
Son: Ye-es!!!! ( hands out and open all innocent as if I thought you'd never figure it out)

Cheers to all!
May this be the first of many misunderstandings that end in laughter.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Strummin' On the Old Banjo

I dreamed I could play music last night. I mean really play. Enter the *sigh* -  This was only a dream, but I woke up thinking I could pick up any instrument and wail. It felt good and it's going on the bucket list.

I've always loved music. I grew up in the country and my parents had music playing all the time(THANK YOU, parental units). I remember working my little fingers through their albums and my dad sweating bullets thinking I might mess them up. I remember the day he finally gave in and just taught me how to properly handle and play them. I loved looking at the covers, hearing the scratch of the needle, and anxiously awaiting the sounds to begin.

I coveted my own little crayola record player and my tiny suitcase of 45's, all of which I still have. My godfather was manager of a Record Bar and so I had the "hook up" when it came to promo single albums. I had a Menudo record before anyone in my small southern town had ever heard of them. Wait! Who were they again? Many of those promos are probably still unknowns to my fellow townsfolk.

I was exposed to and liked all kinds of music and still do, but one instrument has always stood out in the inner melody of my brain...the banjo. I fell in love with the sweet twang when I was but a wee child. I loved Jim Henson's Rainbow Connection having, banjo playing, singing, froggy persona and Steve Martin claw hammering away on SNL when I could sneak a peek. To me these men were finger pickin' heroes.

As I got older, I learned to love the genius of Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, Jerry Garcia, and Bela Fleck, and I sought out their music and performances too. At many a bluegrass show, the banjo player always gets the brunt of the jokes. Banjos are in constant need of re-tuning and they are a peculiar instrument. When Rachel Griffiths named her kid Banjo, I thought it was great while others only considered Tuba to be a worse choice. But still, I hear a Foggy Mountain Breakdown or an Orange Blossom Special and I just can't help but smile.

I WILL "folk"it up one day. For now, I'm all ears. If you have any banjo-rific song selections, please send them my way.  A good friend shared this one, so if you too are a fan, enjoy.

Just a'twangin!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Aa-at Laaast....

Dear Valentine's Haters,
I have been one of you, so for your convenience feel free to stop reading now.

This was the first time I can remember actually looking forward to Valentine's Day. I got up early and made heart-shaped pancakes for my little loves. I walked into my job to having the door opened and was greeted with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates from three of my students. A cupcake was waiting on my desk, I listened to a beautiful music mix, received my first bouquet of flowers at work (a beautiful one, I might add), received lots of sweet goodies, and watched great art students drawing "love"ly drawings. After work, I taught a heart-opener yoga class, got to have a homemade dinner, go Salsa and Tango dancing, and then finished off with snuggles, a glass of wine, some girl scout cookies, and the new episode of Inkmaster. And the rest is filtered. This was a good day. (Aa-at Laaasst...oh, sing it Etta!)

In Valentine's past, I dreaded them, never quite knowing what to expect, what to give, or how to react. The build up of romance always kind of seemed like a stress and a let down all at once. Yesterday, I woke up with no expectations. I didn't really care one way or the other. My goal was to just express joy and gratitude. I was not quick to judge or anger and just attempted to see the good (even when my son got angry and yelled at me over the heart sticker I put on his sticker chart because he wanted a car). I've found that once I get my head into a space of  "I-am-going-to-have-a-good-day-no-matter-what," it usually turns out pretty great. It's just getting it there that is the daily challenge.

Here's a lil' history (or herstory, for my feminist pals)... Today, women purchase almost 85 percent of all Valentine's cards, but according to legend, the original letter it is said was written by a man named Valentine who was imprisoned for helping Christians escape the harsh Roman prisons. The oldest known valentine still in existence is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife also while he was imprisoned.

Really? Imprisonment? How does this connect? Do we only express from the heart when we are in that place of feeling trapped? Is this why people have affairs? Is this why we stay in relationships that cause us pain?This makes me think of one of the fluffychickflicks I leave on if it's on to fold my laundry. It's the Wedding Date and Dermont Melroney (sigh* I love his crazy Elvis lip) plays the hired hand, Nick.  In the film, Nick tells his "employer" that people have the relationships they want and what keeps them from having fulfilling relationships is the inability to let go of basically their own imprisonments.

And then here is his method:   Nick Mercer: Close your eyes. Close your eyes. Close... your... eyes. You're safe. You can relax. I'm not going to kiss you. He's gonna be so sorry he lost you, so stop worrying. Forget the past. Forget the pain. And remember what an incredible woman you are. You do that and he'll realize what he lost.
Kat Ellis: Holy crap. You're worth every penny.

So, when you are feeling that imprisonment in your life whether it be in a relationship, a job, etc... Why not just let go? You can't really control it all anyway. So don't fight it. Take the time to stop, identify what is hold you back, and just open up and ask for what you need for yourself. It's worth a try, and as I coin the phrase to my kids (much to their chagrin)- "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."
So I'll leave you with this. Hopefully I'll be able to heed my own (and some borrowed) words and keep connecting to this road of "at last." I know I'll slip up and end up in a few ditches here and there, but thankfully there's people out there who I share love and a common thread to help me get up, brush off the dust, and continue. Everyone has them and they need us as much as we need them, and that what love is all about.

To all my loves, a note from a favorite for you.
When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.    -Kahlil Gibran


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The art room smells weird.

If I had a quarter for every time I heard,  "It smells weird (or insert adjective of choice here) in here," I would have my kids' college tuition paid.

This conversation just happened today with one of my art students. "J, it is always so quiet over here in front of my desk. Then you decide to move here and chaos is ensuing." And my chaotic student just turns and looks at me and says with a big grin, "Awww, thank you!" I can't help but laugh.

I feel pretty blessed because most of the time, I really enjoy what I do. I get to guide students to create and figure out problems and I get to see them light up when they have made something really cool and they know it. Sometimes during a pure work day, they just let go and become immersed in what they are doing. They forget I'm there just because they are creating.  And... the best part of the job is... they are hilarious.

These are actual comments I've heard just in this week:
"Wow! That is amazing and scary at the same time!"
"Look at what my grandma let me have for my art project, isn't it cool?"
"Have you ever thought squirrels look like ninjas? I saw one do a roundhouse kick."
"He may be cool, but there is no way he can hold a chihuahua like I can."
"Who named it a smock anyway? It sounds like a disease that gives you warts."
"Did you see M's project, it is really awesome. You have to go look at it."
"That is straight-up creepy. How did you do that?"
"Is my clay on fire yet? Can I see it?"
"You are so weird sometimes, but I like it."

It is an amazing place. We discuss interesting topics and current events and we listen to all different genres of music while we work. Sometimes we work quietly, sometimes we work outside, sometimes we stand, and sometimes we are on the floor. I wish all classrooms could foster this kind of environment. It makes learning memorable. Unfortunately, it isn't conducive to the rigorous schedule of testing that looms over many a teacher's plan book.

I tried a new project this term. I was cleaning a closet at school and found two giant garbage bags that contained old boxes for a fundraiser. At first I thought "just recycle them," but then the artist in me shouted, "What!? what!" So we have been literally going "outside the box" to transform their boxes into something else. It has been awesome to see what they come up with and very cool to see that an open-ended project where the possibilities create so much interest for them.

This isn't a job for everybody.

First of all it is messy and you have to be able to both encourage chaos while keeping chaos under control. I breathe clay dust and cough for weeks, I get covered in paint and ruin my work clothes, and I have found glitter in places I won't name. I write grants every year for materials because the small amount of money I get each year doesn't begin to pay for what we use in the first nine weeks of school. I come in on nights and weekends to make sure a kiln has shut off and make runs to get a specific paint color that a student needs to finish their masterpiece.

Students have gotten angry with me and me with them. Students have come to me with problems and all I could do is give them a hug and let them cry  and be strong for them and then I go home and cry because I wish I could just take them with me or do more. At the end of the day, regardless of what has happened, they know I care.

Secondly and sadly, this profession is under fire in ways that I would have never imagined when I chose to pursue a career in education. The things that really bother me are mostly coming from people who haven't really spent much time in a classroom, have no intentions of doing so, and really just want things to look good on paper so they can take the credit if they do and then have the safety-net that blame can be placed elsewhere when it doesn't (Take that run-on sentence, fools!). In the words of my retired teacher mama, it inhales greatly, but sometimes I just think it SUCKS.

The bottom line is... I work hard and I teach because I love it. I enjoy my students, they ARE the reason I teach. They are not trying to increase or decrease my pay based on their test scores, they just want know that when they come to school someone cares that they are there and wants them to learn something. They don't want to be bored and they want to know that what they are learning will be applicable in their lives beyond the school day.

I may not the best teacher they will ever have, but I will do the best I can and I will help and encourage them to do the same. And occasionally, I may spring for a new air freshener.

Art is prettty baaaaad! (the good kind of bad!)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You don't know me, but...

Sometimes I meet my edge with the realization that I need to create a new energy within myself. I usually feel the need for action to get my blood pumping and my brain moving. So what do I do?

I the graveyard.

I've always felt a true sense of calm in a graveyard, and I recognized it at an early age. I loved learning about my ancestry out in the old country church graveyard with my mom on Memorial Day and Christmas. I like the flowers, wreaths, sometimes toys and trinkets, and other decorations. I enjoy seeing the very old headstones with moss growing on them mixed in with the very modern graves with pictures and elaborate etchings. The graves with little lambs on them always soften my eyes and the obelisks make me dizzy, but I like them all.

I love reading all the names from different generations and noticing which old fashioned names have become popular again. I cherish the verses and sentiments that loved ones felt so inclined to engrave to honor those who have passed. All of these facets draw me to graveyards and each time I visit even though there is a strong sense of the old, I always leave with something new.

When I started running again, I began to work my runs around two different graveyards, one public and one for veterans, a small open-to-the-public meditation chapel, and a bridge over a natural spring. These are the places I rest when my heart is pounding and my legs feel like jello. This is where I collect my thoughts that I've been tossing around as I try not to turn my ankles on the broken pavement of crumbling sidewalks. This where I cry, pray, laugh, sing, create, critique, process, and get inspired. These places help me remember that I can and will keep going no matter what obstacles may be in my path.

I feel called to these places and while I'm there, I am connected. I think about the wisdom gained during one's life, the lengths of life cycles, and how we move beyond the shells of our bodies. I make rounds, visiting a marker of a friend who left too soon, wondering what folks were like based on what I see on and around their graves, and occasionally seeing and sharing with a friend a memory at the grave of his amazing wife who lost her hard-fought battle with cancer.

I really like the idea of a bench as a marker and I can still remember the day I found my favorite place to sit. I ran by it, stopped, ran backwards, stared, and eventually sat down. This was bench made of stone, it had two small ceramic urns with bright daisies in them and the script under the name and dates said, "To Be Continued..."  On the top there was a deeply carved labyrinth. I sat down and breathlessly said, "You don't know me, but...."

I have shared some of my greatest fears and hopes with the owner of this bench. I have laughed until I cried and have felt waves of grief lift from my shoulders while sitting on this bench. I have walked a little taller and moved more gracefully after sitting on this bench. I have traced my finger on, studied, and constructed several labyrinths because of this bench. I can go there in my mind even if am in another country. It is my ice cave where I find my power animal (straight from Fight Club, (Slide!) ), my sunset on the beach with a delicious fruity beverage, and my bank of blooming hyacinths beside my childhood home.
Yes, I realize that to some all this may sound a little off, so feel free to judge if you are so inclined. But I look at it this way...
I'm not hurting anyone, it helps me without worrying about placing my burdens on any of my friends and family, and I find humble awareness in these spaces where I can rest from the stresses that hold me back from who I truly am.

May you all find your places of peace so you can play in this life, even if it is among the memories of those who are no longer living.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hot Lips

Lip balm, anyone? I keep Burt's Bees in business.

My son can't stop kissing. He is an affectionate little bug. He loves to cuddle, must have a good snuggle before retiring in the evening, and gives fantasic hugs. When I leave him in the mornings, two goodbye kisses and hugs just will not do. We have a minimum of three. I know the time will come when he will no longer want to give me a hug or a peck on the cheek if anyone is around, and I truly dread it.

However, we may have a small problem. Apparently he loves all the girls and he is the kissing bandit, stealing sugar left and right as he swings his way through the monkey bars. He has pulled cards at school because of his insatiable urge to smooch.
We have talked about this in length at numerous times during his life and he just can't esssplain himself, Lucy! He will resist for a short time when scolded, but then he is back at it within a day.

He has always luurrvved the ladies. When he started walking, he would follow my more apple-bottomed friends around to pat their bottoms as they had just become reachable. It was like he had just been waiting to walk for that purpose. A cassanova to the core, or perhaps a better description is a pint-sized Pepe le Pew!

So what does this say about the man he is to become? Perhaps he will be a lover, not a fighter? Maybe he will be a fantastic husband one day, the kind that tells his wife how beautiful she is and really means it. Hopefully his heart-openness will serve him well in life.

I keep telling him that, "Son, no means no, you can't just go around kissing people that may not want to be kissed!" My friends say he will learn and maybe it will just take that early experience of trying to steal a kiss from the little girl who lays him out on the playground.

For now, I'm issuing a warning. Parents be warned... Pepe is on the loose and he may try to kiss your daughters. He means no harm, he is just full of affection and likes to lavish it on those who happen to be within a vicinity of a playground near you. I'll do my best to help guide him towards being a good man, but honestly, I'm just grateful that he is past his biting and flashing stages(fingers crossed at I type that).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Moving On

I have kids doing yoga in my living room RIGHT NOW! They asked to do it, they put in the DVD, and they are doing it. This is soooo cool to me. The smell of crab, feta, spinach quiche and pumpkin bread is seeping from my oven. We spent the afternoon playing soccer and climbing jungle gyms in the park. This was a good day. Maybe good doesn't cover it. This is stellar in my book.

Yesterday I was blotting my eyes to see if anyone could tell I had been crying before dinner at church. It is simply amazing to me how quickly life can change directions.

I saw a little quip today about a comedian who told a joke and the whole room laughed. Then he told it again and again and again until no one was laughing. And the moral was... if we don't laugh at the same story so many times, why do we cry over the same thing time and time again?

So, why do we? Those kids in there doing yoga are not holding onto the things that upset them at the park. They move on. The don't remember the times they have really had their feelings or pride crushed. They move on. They keep trying new things and trusting themselves and others simply because they have to do it in order to grow and growth is ultimately what childhood is all about.

My hope for myself, my family, and my friends is that even though pain can feel as though it will never release it's grip sometimes, that we will have that knowledge of growth, that choice of moving on, and that promise of the next day.

...Cause when you stop dreaming, it's time to die. -Blind Melon

From The Start

One of my favorite quotes is,
"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
  Love like you'll never be hurt,
  Sing like there's nobody listening,
  And live like it's heaven on Earth."  William W. Purkey

I'm sure you've heard it before, and it's one of those that you either really resonate with or you just don't. These are words that come into my head in moments of pure glee and joyful wonder. Granted they are not always at the front of my chatterbox of a brain, but somewhere even through some of the thickest muds, they are there... waiting for the chance to come through and bring that little playful part of my soul back where it wants to be.

So, that's my start. I'm just a woman on that path towards light, towards laughter, towards joy. It is not easy, but I know it is worth it.

While a lot of my Joy comes from within, my surroundings definitely have influence. My daughter and son surround my thoughts often, so I'll just give warning, if you read this blog, you're gonna hear about them. So, here is the brief intro... Daughter is a fun little girl who loves to read, learn, and try to boss her little brother who does not want to be bossed in any way and does want to climb, jump, splash, and spill and never clean up! They are both pretty typical and true to themselves and like to wrastle me to the ground so they can try to poot in my face! Make a "life is good" shirt out of that!

As for the other facets in my life, I will surely elaborate. Don't worry, I'm gonna blog like no one is reading.