I recently finished reading Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur. It was recommended to me by my daughter. She is ten. Usually I am doing the recommending. Usually I am gifting books or strategically placing them in her path so we can share in some of my favorite stories. This was one of those not as frequent moments where she read a book and tossed in my lap and said, “read this.”
Now I don’t like following the commands of my ten year old. However, when it comes to connecting over books or stories she has written, I am all in.
Eight Keys hit me hard from the first chapter. It felt familiar and lovely while also gritty and uncomfortable. All those complex things that start to happen when you are crossing over from simply being a kid to adolescence. It’s a tough time in all of our lives. It is a tough time especially for kids who want to hold onto their imaginations and play with the world while it seems like everyone else is trying to fit into a page of a magazine. This book explores layers of friendship as they evolve. I was delighted at the self examination the main character goes through and begins to think about her role in her relationships. This is not an easy thing to unpack with my kiddo without some tension. This gave us a key to unlock some of what might be happening for her and her friends.
Eight Keys is tender and has characters that are independent, thoughtful, and complex without being too mature or relying or sexual tension to drive the story. The characters felt real and their struggles felt authentic. It touched on loss, trauma, fear, relationships, identity and empowerment. I am grateful for my daughter’s suggestion. I am even more grateful for the chats we have had about the story. I love that she has a friend who “must read this” so they can talk about it. I am thinking about getting some copies to leave out for my students to find and pass on. -Just like the keys…
My daughter has taken to rolling her eyes at us. It was something she did only every once in a while when she was really upset but now, now it is like breathing. It is almost as if everything I say is triggering a conveyer belt of ocular motion. She is ten. Almost eleven. It makes for some difficult mindful communication practice. I want to fall into some defaults of my childhood; scream, threaten, ignite, ignore with disdain or get snarky. This morning, I am breathing in the scent of my tea and imagining a cartoon conveyer belt of eyeballs rolling and replacing the old ones. It helps me stay calm and joyful through her moment of disgust with me.
This summer I read Tuck Everlasting by Katherine Babbitt. I have read it many times before. However, this summer I suggested it to my daughter. Sometimes when I suggest a book, she is reluctant and resistant to read it. I don’t know why. It is silly of her really because EVERYTIME I suggest something that she reads, she finishes it saying, “OMG that book was amazing.” Every. Time. Tuck Everlasting was no exception. I suggested it. She said Meh. I got it out of the library. She ignored it. I brought it on vacation with us. She turned her nose up at it. So I started re reading it. In the evening I took the book from her bedside to mine and read. When I was a few chapters in she could hold out no longer. She casually borrowed it and began ‘looking at it’. Before I knew it she was walking out of my room into hers still reading. She didn’t stop until she was done. When she finished, she ran to find me to tell me “OMG that book was amazing.”
We spent some time this summer off and on referencing and talking about the story. And then I surprised her and got the DVD out of our local library. I generally am a read the book first kind of person. If possible. She was so excited. We sat and watched it. We got to have in depth conversations about director’s choice in editing the storyline and casting and locations. But most of all I love the fact that we got to have all over again the talk. The Tuck Everlasting question of would you drink the water and why? Listening to her unfold the reasoning and layer it with her new connections to these characters and their acting choices, nuances was magic. We spoke about what being together forever might mean for us or what being alone forever might mean for one. We will continue to explore what we old dear in relationships with nature and humans. I am so grateful for this. I can’t wait to read it with her again when her brother is old enough to read it to himself. And so on.
When working with children or even ourselves towards a behavioral change goal, it can be difficult to see the success. In setting a goal or an objective, one might make clear images as to how that NEEDS to look in order to be stamped as successful. However, I am learning and embracing the idea that success does not always match my preconceived notions nor does it always just “click” into place. There are steps and stages that link me to the celebratory objective fulfilled moment I am searching for.
I am training myself to celebrate and honor the small shifts. I believe that these small steps are the beginnings of the monumental change and cannot become such a wondrous thing unless we honor and motivate them.
There is so much I want to do to make my world a better place. There are so many mountains to climb and conquer. I am through thinking that focusing so intently on the big picture will get me there. I am taking much needed time to start small. Moment to moment I am thinking about what I can do to help create the things I desire. Most of the time, this is about carving out time to meditate and be good to myself. Enjoy my cup of tea. I have learned that if I simply sit and love that cup of tea, it creates a fluid sense of love and warmth coursing through my body. Now when I get up to help the kids or take on my next task I move with love and appreciation instead of rushed anxiety or emptiness.
I am practicing being with myself and savoring experiences. This is allowing me to make choices to shift and move towards something new with joy and motivation verses feeling forced to change myself and my habits. Savor the day moment to moment and move with it.
There is a voice inside me. It varies in volume but is ever constant. This voice is reminding me that I am on a journey. I am not done. I am not only who I was, but so much more I have forgotten and not yet discovered.
This is something I hear from deep within my body. my heart, my mind, my soul. When I hear these words I can become so powerful if I give myself the moment to say them out loud to myself. Honor these words and magic happens.
I drop the heavy load of guilt, shame, and judgement. I release the joy and pleasure into the universe. I make a contract with myself that there is no one beginning and no single end.
I am vulnerable and meek. I am quiet and cautious. I am observing the world and all its power. I am taking notes. I study the grace and strength of all around me. I take a pause with rage and anger. I am gentle and loving. I am pensive and full.
I am vibrating and steaming and boiling to the top. I can hear nothing but the sound of my own emotions. I spin with the force of generations of earth, wind, and fire. I am infinite in my powerful rage and fervor. I shake the core of my own existence with an outward tsunami of love and raw emotion. I am unstoppable until I am done and empty.
this voice can purify me. It can subdue me. It has the ability to motivate me to move mountains. If I listen and repeat, anything is possible. It is all inside waiting for me to breathe and release the transformative power. It is in me. I breathe. I believe.
Everyday we start again. Today I am starting with kindness inward then out. I am allowing the mistakes of yesterday to wash away with the smiles of today. I am forgiving myself for my fears, doubts, and anger. I am taking a breath of kindness inward. I know that then I will be full of the love I would like to give.