Tuesday, May 30, 2006

12,000 Feet Above Sea Level

This past week I was in paradise...vacationing in Estes Park, Colorado, and Rocky Mountain National Park. For me, there is no place on this earth I would rather be than in the mountains (any mountains).

So there we are, 12,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by absolutely breathtaking views, pristine clear (albeit thin) mountain air, blue skies and fluffy clouds that stretched forever... and cigarette smoke. Yep, standing in the parking lot at the Alpine Visitors Center at the top of Trial Ridge Road (the highest paved highway in the continental U.S.) were all sorts of idiots getting out of and into their automobiles smoking cigarettes. Being the subtle, kind, thoughtful person I am, I of course had to comment on their questionable choices. "Here you are, in the purest air you will likely EVER experience, and you have the audacity to pollute it - not to mention your lungs - with your bloody cigarettes?!?!" All it got me was some questioning looks, a couple of nasty stares, and one "I can smoke if I want to!" To which I sweetly replied, "Of course you can, and you can also suffer the effects of your choice one day...slowly and painfully, perhaps."

I simply cannot begin to understand why you would "have" to light up a cigarette in such a majestic natural cathedral. Smoke in your car (but never if you have passengers, especially children, with you), smoke in your home, your office, but do NOT smoke outside and pollute my air! ...idiots....

And don't even get me started on smokers' habits of treating the world as their ashtrays, tossing out cigarette butts willy nilly ...especially here in the drought-stricken western U.S. ....idiots, indeed!
OK, I'll get off my soapbox (for a while). We now return you to your regular programming....

The Sleepwalker

When my son was a young 'un (between 3 and 6 years old), he would sometimes sleepwalk. At the moment he was born I became a light sleeper, so I always heard him when he was wondering about in the wee hours. One time I found him standing in our little home office, looking around the room in the dark for his bed, trying to get into the desk...I guided him back to his room and tucked him back in bed. Luckily, his sleepwalking excursions never involved leaving the house or heading toward the basement stairs.

The most memorable sleepwalking episode happened one fall night when he was around 6 years old. I heard him wandering about, so I got out of bed and started looking for him. I didn't see him right away, but I heard some very strange noises coming from the bathroom, so I went in. The shower curtain was open a bit, and there he stood in the bathtub, calling out football signals. It was all I could do not to laugh out loud. ;) I helped him out of the tub, took him back to his room, and tucked him back in bed. To this day, he has no memory of any of his sleepwalking episodes, but I sure do. Hut one, hut two!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Words to Live By #3: Get Out of Your Box

"If you don't get out of the box you've been raised in, you won't understand how much bigger the world is. "
--Angelina Jolie

I'm certainly not a "Brangelina" fan, but Ms. Jolie has a very good point. If you keep the boundaries of your life small, you'll live a small life. The world is a big place and your boundaries - be they physical, emotional, educational, spiritual ...whatever boundaries you may have - should be big as well. Sometimes I hear folks say, "I was born and raised here, never felt the need to leave." Well, OK, I guess if that works for you, fine. But how can you ever know anything about the world outside your box if you never leave it?! How can you form any opinions about things outside your box if you never leave it?! How can you experience life to the fullest inside that d*mn box?! It's a big world out there, little ones, and you need to get out of your boxes and FLY!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Random Photos of Breathtaking Beauty #3

These were all taken in my yard this afternoon:

Just makes ya smile, doesn't it?!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Find Your Bliss

One of my (many) mantras is find your bliss. Find out what you love to do, what gives you great pleasure and satisfaction in terms of a job well done, and figure out a way to make that your life's work. I have rather harped on my son for a while now to "find his bliss" in terms of his education, and I do hope one day the message sticks. ;)

I was thinking about this today, about finding your bliss and making it your life's work, in terms of those that choose careers that happen to be in the public eye and the crap they have to deal with in that fishbowl. Just because your bliss is, for example, acting that doesn't mean you have given up your right to live a private life at the expense of that bliss. Conversely, just because your bliss is being a papparazzi or a gossip columnist doesn't mean you have the inherent right to interfere with ANYONE's private life, ever. Find your bliss, by all means, but do it in a polite, considerate, and circumspect way, please.

If you read the first entry in this blog, you know that I am on a journey to find my bliss, to live a true life. You must alway remember that finding your bliss is a journey, not a destination. Now, go out there and start finding your bliss, little ones!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Random Photo of Breathtaking Beauty #2

This photo is from a trip my family took to Rocky Mountain National Park a few years ago:

Monday, May 15, 2006

...But Sprocket Stays!

My son attended the local high school's graduation ceremonies yesterday and came home talking about "when I graduate next year..." and "I wanna have an open house and invite...." OK, that had me already panicking over empty-nest syndrome, visions of him only coming home for visits, not actually living here any longer ...me wandering around his room, hearing only empty echoes, checking my e-mail for messages from him....

Then this morning he was again talking about "the future" and Sprocket came bouncing into the living room. I said, "You are NOT taking Sprocket to college, even after you get your own place and don't live in the dorms after your freshman year." It's bad enough my one and only child will be leaving me in another year, but not my dog, too!!!
"But he's MY dog," he said. "I paid for him and he's mine."
"I'll pay you for him," I said, "I'll pay you what you paid, I promise."
"Really? You'd pay me for him?!"
"Yes! He's mine and you cannot take him with you, ever!"
"OK, as long as you'll pay me." ...little capitalist

Whew, that's a load off my mind...I'm sooooo not ready to have a EMPTY empty nest. So in the fall of 2007, when my baby leaves home, at least I'll still have good ol' Sprocket to keep me company ...even if he will cost me a fortune. ;)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Important Parenting Tip #1: Read!

One of the most wonderful things you can do for and with your child is to read to him/her. When my son was about six months old, I started reading to him every afternoon before his nap and as he got older we added a nighttime story to the mix. When he was a toddler, he and I would go to the library every two weeks and get 10 or 15 books at a time. He loved to scour the shelves and find new books to read each time, as well as old favorites. He loved to sit and look at the books on his own, as well as have me read them to him. We didn't often have any extra money back then for toys, but I could always find extra money for books if he found one or two he wanted. Once he entered school, our afternoon reading times were gone but the nighttime reading stayed a part of our lives until he was in the sixth grade... and I was rather devastated when it finally ended. Our reading time was magical for me, and I hope for him.

There is no doubt in my mind that our reading time and his exposure to the written word all his life have helped him in his education in so many, many ways. He loves to read, he's a total brain in school, and his taste in authors is very sophisicated. For the past several years, he has asked for a book or two for Christmas; it started four years ago with Homer's The Illiad and The Odyssey, then Stephen Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell and The Illustrated History of Time, then Dante's The Divine Comedy, this past year it was Honoré de Balzac's Droll Stories and Les Contes Drolatiques. Shoot, he's introduced me to authors I'd never heard of or thought about before! And to think, it all started with afternoon reading time when he was six months old.

So, give your child the gift of reading; you, and your child, will be so much the richer for it!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Words to Live By #2: Make Mistakes

"Always make new mistakes." --Esther Dyson

This is probably the best advice ever! You'll never learn anything or move forward in your life if you keep making the same d*mn mistakes all the time (wish our politicians would learn THAT lesson!). Make new mistakes as you tackle new adventures each day, and you'll be on your way!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sprocket's Lessons

Sprocket has been a part of our lives for almost two years now, and in that time he has taught us a lot:

1. Life is all about play. No matter what things you think must be attended to, nothing is more important in the moment than play, so drop whatever it is you are doing and play; you'll feel so much better for doing it.

2. Walks are not just for walking. Every morning Sprocket and I go for a walk. In the beginning, I mistakenly thought walks were just that...walking. Over time, Sprocket has taught me that walks are really for exploring, discovering, smelling, listening, enjoying, and - most important of all - peeing on everything. ;)

3. Naps matter. Good, quality naps are a necessity. After the walks and the play, it is mandatory that you find just the right spot - be it the grass in front of the shed, the deck just outside the patio door, the ceramic tile entryway when it's hot ('cuz the tile's always cold), the little lambskin dogbed tucked in the corner by the front door, or the pillows on the bed - and get really comfortable (on your back with your belly up seems to be the most comfy) and sleep. Snoring is optional.

4. Unconditional love is truly heaven. Even when Sprocket has done something naughty and been disciplined for it, he still loves unconditionally. He holds no grudges, ever. And that, my friends, is the best lesson of all.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Random Photo of Breathtaking Beauty #1

This photo is from a trip I took with a dear friend - who is an awesome photographer - to Rocky Mountain National Park in April 2005 :

I'm Working, Dammit!

I have been working from home for several years now, and while overall the experience is wonderful (how great is it to walk downstairs in your jammies and go to work, if you're so inclined?!), there are a few drawbacks. Sometimes it's too easy to get sidetracked - "I'll just toss in a load of laundry, get something out of the freezer to thaw for dinner, maybe go fill the birdfeeders...then I'll work." Sometimes it's too easy to procrastinate - "I'll just finish reading the paper, then I'll get to work" - and wind up working at midnight to meet the necessary deadline. But the worst thing about it, without a doubt, is constant interruptions from family members.

During the school year both my son and my husband are busy at school all day, but come summer time they are home and often under foot. There seems to be some invisible sign over the door to my basement office that must say "Come on in! Bother the h*ll outa me - I'm not busy!" I'll be working diligently, trying to get that deadline-driven job done so I don't have to be up working at midnight, and someone (usually my son) will burst into my office with important news like, the cat just threw up again, or the mail's here... or some life-altering pronouncement like "I'm hungry, when's lunch?" - which I know all those in my household are capable of fixing themselves - or "Did I just hear the phone? Who was it?" - well, had it been for you, I would have told you...duh. My usual response is "I'm working, dammit!" Those folks in the corporate world do not have to put up with such nonsense... but then, they can't go to work in their jammies, can they?! ;)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Words to Live By #1: Believe the Impossible

"One can't believe impossible things," said Alice.
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Lewis Carroll (1832-98), English writer, mathematician
Alice and the White Queen in Through the Looking Glass, ch. 5 (1872)

There's something to be said for believing the impossible; I do it every day. Give it a try - you'll be amazed at the things you'll learn!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Boy in the Blue Shirt

My son is 17... about to finish up his junior year in high school ... already has a college all picked out (assuming they shower him in scholarships, that is). Facing his all-too-imminent departure from the nest, I find myself reflecting on his younger years a lot lately. A few things really stick in my mind - some good, some bad. This is one of the very good memories:

It was at the first practice for his YMCA soccer team: 14 little boys (5 years old), two volunteer coaches, and a bunch of parents met at a park in our neighborhood for the first time. The boys were full of energy and excited to learn about soccer and meet new friends. The parents were apprehensive of one another, supportive of the experience, and we all knew OUR child would be a soccer star someday. ;)

The boys played and practiced for over an hour. At the end of the session, the coach gathered them around and told them what would be expected of them in terms of practices, games, etc., and then dismissed them. My son came running up to my husband and I all out of breath and so excited. "I had the BEST time! All these guys are so cool, but I REALLY like the kid in the blue shirt! He's funny, he knows soccer, and I think we'll be great friends!" I looked over the group of boys and saw several in blue shirts, so I asked "Which 'boy in the blue shirt' are you talking about, hon?" "The one right over there, Mom," he said, pointing to the right, "in the blue shirt!" My husband and I looked at each other and smiled. "Oh, OK, hon, I see who you mean." Somehow, we had managed to raise a 5 year-old who saw 'blue shirts' instead of skin color. His new friend was the only African-American boy on the team, and the two of them did indeed become fast friends and remain good friends to this day, even with 500 miles in between them.

I think back to "the boy in the blue shirt" and smile ... maybe we did something right in the course of raising this young man...at least, I hope so.