Love in my cup

The other day I was attempting to have a cup of tea, while it was still hot, and attempt to relax.

I sat on the sofa admits the madness of my life. Deep breaths in and out. Smile. Smile. Smile. Smile.

After my tea, I was in full tilt mama mode. In the middle of juggling too many things and thoughts, my daughter started jumping up and down. She ran to me with my cup. I had left it on her play kitchen.

“Look Mama there’s a heart. For you mama”. And there it was, in the bottom of my tea cup. Must mean something, right?

4 Lines!

Update on my journey teaching shakespeare to my kids. This is exciting. Truly exciting news in my little chaotic existence. As I stated I began reading Ken Ludwig’s book about teaching Shakespeare. Originally when purchased I was reading to teach my students. When I quickly assessed that he used it for his own kids, I thought, hey why not mine?

One day while I was a couple of chapters in, Juliana asked me what book I was reading. I showed it to her and explained what it was about. She was smiley and said, “I want to learn.” Now, I originally thought I would read the whole book first and then give it a go but abandoned that because she was willing, eager and in a good mood. For parents of toddlers – you know take those opportunities when they come! She is 4 years old and spunky as all hell.

I explained that she would repeat after me – she can’t really read yet so this is a bit of a challenge with the sentence strips. I pointed to the words as I said them so maybe we could get some sight recognition practice too.

We started with “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows.” We said it a few times with the book and then I put the book down. but she wanted more. We went back and gobbled up “Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. It became a cute little phrase we danced to, sang to, cooked to and cuddled to throughout the day. She thought it was fun.

Then life happens and things get in the way. Shakespeare took a back seat to doctor’s appointments, work, dinner, diapers, toys, little brothers and everything else. About a week later I was getting ready to text one of my dearest friends in this universe. I was missing her and just needed to say it. She lives in South Carolina and we are in New York. Sunny was getting ready to perform in a production of Midsummer. On a whim I looked up at my daughter and said “I know a bank.”

Can you believe my astonishment that my four year old looked at me and smiled without missing a beat and said with a bucket of pride and sass, “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows. Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. I almost cried with joy.

I quickly recorded it for Sunny and sent it to her. What a perfect way to say I love you and celebrate my daughter possibly embracing a shared love and passion of her mom and Auntie. It was magical. We played with the phrase and then left it alone. I was so excited that my daughter had two lines of Shakespeare tucked in her heart, maybe forever. She and I will be bound to Midsummer as long as we breathe. I was in an instant so grateful to Mr. Ludwig for reminding me that love and learning are seeds of happiness.

Thankfully, it doesn’t end there! A few nights ago, my husband and I were sitting on the sofa in the throng of bedtime prep for Juliana and her 1 year old brother, Colin. Their grandmother was on the computer having a quick video chat. Juliana came over to us and said, “Mommy, I want to learn more Shakespeare.”.

swoon.

My mother asked her what she meant. She retrieved Ludwig’s book and opened it. She pointed to what I thought a random phrase and started to recite I know a bank. When I looked down, she was pointing to the words I know a bank!!! WTF. We got off the computer and began “Quite over canopied.” We created some hand gestures and within 15 minutes we were four lines of Shakespeare stamped on hearts.

The following day my mother sent emails of pictures of woodbine, oxlips and the other flowers. Juliana decided we should plant them in our garden. I agreed.

We are now on our way to having our very own Shakespeare’s Garden. Love is growing.

 

 

Delicate Balance

On several Channel Markers in the Indian River, Florida, families of Osprey make their nests. It is a beautiful site and if you are fortunate enough to be able to ride aboard a boat, you may get a very close look at the parents and babies in these nests. Be warned that the parents will rise, squawk and push their shoulders forward as if they are about to take flight – aiming for your face. Please go slow or idle for a few moments and then move along. These birds are majestic, fierce, delicate and sweet all in one moment. Their nests are very large intricate installations of art in some very precarious places. Two of the nests we photographed were built atop channel markers that triangular. It seems impossible that these enormous woven nests can dangle atop the peak of a sign…and yet they do with such stability and strength that I was left in awe.

Isn’t that what we strive for in our lives. We have somewhat messy lives, homes and hearts that are held together by available scraps and hope. I looked at these Ospreys and thought of myself. I was reassured. I feel like my life is a bit tattered, thrown together and teetering in the wind. I saw them working as a team to protect, build and feed and fly. I have a new vision of my sometimes chaotic and unraveling life. I am that Mother Osprey. I am proud of my nest  with its moss and twigs fluttering in the breeze. I protect and cherish my children and work with my husband to keep the balance, keep the strength, keep the majestic power of our lives.

Osprey Nest

Osprey Nest

EJECT

Recently my good friend has been struggling with his communication, his interactions, his relationship with a woman he was dating. This whole process from the moment I found out he was dating this woman has been strained and stifling for him and well for his friends who watched this emotional destruction. I have been supportive and nonjudgemental as long as possible. However, the past few weeks have had me speaking firmly to him. I have condensed my ideas and advice into one word: EJECT. It has become a mantra as he vents. we say “eject, eject, eject. ” I think this helps us both feel at ease as we help him have permission to walk away.

This has been a very insightful and rewarding experience for me – helping him to close the door on an unhealthy relationship. I recently did the same in my own life and it was excruciating. I stayed in an unhealthy relationship for years. I became a different person when I was with this friend. I became someone I did not like. During the thankfully last tumultuous spat with this person, I found myself exhausted, fearful and almost emotionally paralyzed. Another close friend tried to stay impartial but very graciously said, “it doesn’t have to be this awful. You are not this person with anyone else. Its time to stop. Its OK. You are not a bad person if you recognize you cannot change the toxins but it is bad if you keep ingesting them. It’s OK – hit the eject button.

I did. Without a lengthy goodbye or discussion. I just did it. Eject. I walked away and closed a door – whatever metaphor you want to put on it. I was sad and torn. I didn’t get a chance to tell this friend my side of anything or hash out my feelings and frustrations. I didn’t respond to accusations, blame or delusions. I didn’t try to compromise, console, or attack. I just hit eject. It sounds like exactly the wrong way to do it but it wasn’t. Sometimes it is better to just stop. Another great person in my life said, “The thing about banging your head against the wall is how good it feels when you finally stop.”

So recently I found myself stronger and more insightful and humble. I was able to tell someone else that although it can be draining, embarrassing and horrible to be entwined in a toxic relationship, just know that it is ok to simply hit the eject button. Eject, eject, eject. I care very much for my friend and it is difficult to watch him caught in a whirlpool of toxic faux love. I know I can’t tell him whom he should fall for or date. I support him in his decisions but I also can’t stand by and watch someone else diminish the person I care for and admire.

He has hit the button.

He now is more direct in his statements. Owning his actions, his feelings and contributions to all of his relationships. It is amazing how wishy-washy and self deprecating he had become. (It is very reminiscent to what I was doing all the time not so long ago.) I am very reflective of how far I have come this year in my own self worth and appreciation because I am able to help someone I am friends with let go of a demon. Eject. Eject. Eject.

I know I will come back to these realizations for me and in helping him. It is now empowering because I am coming out of the haze of defeat and guilt. I am emerging into a new phase of loving myself and honoring the good that I put out in the world. I hope I help my friend get there too.

Love each moment

My little one is sick. She has a cough, sniffles and is generally miserable. We are cuddled up on the sofa watching some movies. I am holding her and doing my best to be patient that she is reluctant to eat and refuses medicine. It has been a trying weekend with her attitude and now I feel sad because she may have been beginning to feel under the weather.

However, when I think about the tantrums or the refusing medicine, I thank God she is here , no matter how difficult she may be at times. On my drive home from work, I listened to the news and reports and reflection about the recent terror attacks on school children in Pakistan. It is devastating. Just days after the two year anniversary of the school children killed in Newtown CT. My heart aches for the families and the state of the world.

Violence, terror and crime fills our daily news and lives. I look at my little girl and I am filled a desperate hope that she will be safe, healthy and happy for a long lifetime. I cannot imagine how families cope with such loss. My life is full of joy and purpose because of my daughter. She is my reason for living as a better person, every day.

I pray for peace. I pray for those families in Pakistan that they find a way to cope and find inner strength. I pray that terrorists and criminals no longer harm innocent people. I pray that my daughter can be safe and maybe even sheltered from this devastation. Every parent should have years and years of “I love you Mama”.

come in from the cold

Aside a dancing bonfire in our garden I was reunited with the warmth of my happy soul. The flames flicked and raged cutting through the bitter cold air. The logs piled onto of a snowbank with an icy trail cut around for dancing. Lounge chairs sunken into the frosty snow with a view of our semi-frozen river invited me to rest and learn to warm myself from the inside out.

It is true, I will never be perfect. Not even close and that is fine. I will be warm, I will be loved, I will love.

The people we spend our precious time with is crucial to our inner warmth and strength. I lost my way on this recently. I vowed this year to get back on track and I know I am on that path. I am dancing around a fire in the frigid night air with a smile on my face and laugh in my heart.

 

A Good Cry

She was napping. I was using that time to get things done. A common attempt in our house. I was crossing the room wondering how long she would sleep when I heard the first howl.

It was if the Banshee had entered my daughter’s body and was signaling the chariots that my glimpse of free time was dead. Over. Kaput. Yet not without an interesting lesson to learn.

I opened her door and called her name ever so sweetly. She wailed and kicked. I went to her bedside and told her I was there and that I love her. My little girl thrashed and yelled. I asked if she wanted me to pick her up and she said No. I tried to stroke her and she said go away. I left the door open and went out of the room. She continued to scream and wail. I called to her and said I am here, I love her and when she is ready I will come get her.

The yelling continued for some time, it is hard to tell how long. Any amount of time my child is in distress feels like an eternity to me. I went back into the room giving her space but letting her know I was there. She asked, Where’s Daddy?” I reminded her that he was working today and would be home soon. I asked if she wanted to get out and come in the other room. To which she screamed No and continued to sob.

I stayed and sat with her. I gave her soft soothing words, telling her of my love for her. I moved to the other room and got some cozy blankets together on the sofa and some grapes. I called to her again and said I would love so much to cuddle her. When I approached her bed she was sitting up clutching her purple blanket. She put her arms out for me.

I scooped her up still crying. I changed her diaper while she cried and yelled. I smiled and said I want to understand what she is feeling but I will wait. I bundled her back up and embraced this siren sounding girl in my arms. We sat on the sofa and snuggled into our blankets. Soon she saw the grapes and her crying slowed. She took one and put it in her mouth.

I rubbed her back as she let the tears and grape juice stream down her face. I kissed it all away as she calmed. I closed my eyes and breathed deep breaths. I continued this meditation until she sweetly said, “Mummy, I want more grapes, please.”

About two hours later we were playing and having a wonderful time. She stopped  to say, ” Mummy, I was crying.”

“Yes, my love, you were.”

“I needed to scream Mummy. I needed a good cry.”

In that moment I was overwhelmed with love and astonishment. I was so proud of her for understanding this about herself and proud of me – for not making her feel that she had to be quiet or stifle this expression. We were at home, just us – sounds like a very good time for a good cry.

How is it that my two year old has a better awareness of herself and confidence in her needs and expression than I may ever have? I alter my thoughts and feelings so I won’t impose on others. I stifle, stuff and suffocate my feelings. I over think, over explain and let others over power my needs. Here is this little person so full of self awareness and self esteem. She is teaching me and I can only hope I will be her best student.

reflection on Thursday

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” -Nelson Mandela

I was deeply saddened and reflective upon learning of Mandela’s death. I was home from work and my husband saw it on Twitter moments after it was announced. We had just been having a discussion about something he said to me the night before. I didn’t feel it was very kind and yes, I was a little resentful. We were talking it through – rather I was talking it through. He was listening and then waiting until I was through and changed the topic – usually how it goes. Usually leaves me feeling unsettled and resentful.

Then Mandela died and I was overcome by a flood of memories. Memories throughout my life of learning about this man. I have always been an admirer. He has been an inspiration through out my teenage years and beyond. I sat down and turned on the news. I listened to the President speak. I cried a little. Then I turned off the tele and went to pick up my daughter from daycare. I embraced her with the love of ages. I silently tried to transfer a respect for Mandela’s journey and what I have learned. I gave thanks that education is and always be an opportunity for her. I soaked up the sight and sounds of her to carry with me whenever we are apart.

Then, yesterday a co-worker reminded me of this Mandela quote. Of all the quotes that flooded to my head, this one did not…until she gave it to me. I needed it. I didn’t know how much until that moment but I needed it.

I am swirling inside with unresolved bitter and hurt feelings. They seem to increase every time I try to work them out. This weekend I am reflecting on this quote and examining myself and what I hold onto. I am rejoicing in the here and now as it is full of love and hope. I shall try to “forget the past” and leak out my toxic resentment.

Love is strength.

For the longest time I had people close to me tell me I needed to learn to be more selfish. I thought what a horrible thing to aspire to – but I gave it try. I think my efforts have failed me as I have learned to be selfish in the wrong ways. What my loved ones meant when telling me to be selfish was to be stronger in my commitment to myself, my dreams. I need to be more confident in my place in this world as a beacon of love. The more I try to please others and their manipulative ways, the more manipulative and unhappy I become. Then enter the resentment, the poison. It has been festering throughout my body and has caused me sickness, sanity and time…time that could be spent being content.

Ok Mandela. I continue to learn from you and be amazed that someone so human and so prolific has been in my world. I begin a week of reflecting on letting go and setting goals formyself. It sounds so new age and flimsy but I am inspired.

“It always seems impossible until it is done” – Mandela

Finding the Dragon

IMG_1614

I think some circumstances in my life have caused me to break down and retreat. Wait, let me go back. I KNOW some circumstances in my life have caused me to break down and retreat. When I pause today and look back, I can see a slow crumble in my passion, my self esteem, my courage, my peace of mind, my trust.

There is strength hidden inside me. I can feel it now. There is a new glow emerging from the darkness. I am empowered to find the fierce love that flows within me and release it. I can be silent, still and content and still be fierce, strong and passionate. I am all things. I am finding the Dragon. I am listening, learning and loving this release.