Category Archives: Five Minute Friday

Exhale

The men kitty corner to me in this restaurant are dissecting women. Loudly proclaiming which pieces they prefer. To use. Don’t they know that this pair of breasts comes with a pair of ears? I can hear. I can feel.

Objectification.
Patriarchy.
Rape culture.
My 13-year-old child is a beauty, looking much older than the innocent child she is.
My worry. Disgust. Fear.

Exhale.

I log in to Facebook, heart sinking to read about yet another victim to the modern scourge. Daffodils sold by the ton, and yet cures stubbornly elude the smartest of us. It’s rare to feel so helpless in this day and age.

Chemotherapy.
Radiation.
Survival odds.
My loved ones are not immune, dealt a brutal hand. Again.
My worry. Disgust. Fear.

Exhale.

She browbeats my husband. Yelling, in front of our children, gesturing her disdain. “Why don’t you teach your kids some manners?” Their almond eyes, simple hearts and developmental profiles are powerless to protect them from this attitude.

Misunderstanding.
Judgment.
Ignorant cruelty.
My special kids work so hard, struggling to find their place in this world.
My worry. Disgust. Fear.

Exhale.

I shadowbox invisible foes,
bouts I cannot win.
I choke on the toxic fumes,
of a world I cannot control.
Until I learn to clear my lungs.
Let it go.
Play my part,
then leave the fight in Divine hands.

Exhale.

So here’s me, on a lovely summer holiday full of fun and adventure and ice cream, learning to spit out the ugly that finds us, even here.

This is my contribution to the Five Minute Friday roundup on the word:
Exhale.

5minutefriday


Full of Sound and Fury

A swirl of bright colours and perfect faces;
cheap laughs and predictable drama,
where nobody knows your name.

I’m drawn in,
like a moth to its shiny doom.
Here there are no expectations,
no obligations,
no need to be or do or say the right thing.
Here is an easy void.
And I fall in,
barely noticing.

It’s so easy,
so comfortable to shift mind and body into neutral;
letting time wash over me like a lukewarm shower.
Hours down the drain,
with nothing to show for it.

Click, click, click… sigh.

There’s nothing on.

couch potato

So here’s me, unapologetic TV and film buff,
but the first to admit that it’s 90% useless, pointless crap.

This is my Five Minute Friday contribution on lisajobaker.com for the topic: NOTHING. I must admit, that I went back and reformatted (totally against the rules), but after writing it, I realized it was more poem than prose.

5minutefriday


How to Make a Real Live Friend

It starts with my best face, my best chit chat, my best me. A brief warmth and pressure, hands touching, nothing more. Tentative, sanitized, easy.

Next, we test the waters. Lining up topics from lightest to heaviest. Basic information with hints of personality. I don’t always follow the rules, I overshare, I talk too much and listen too little. Did you really want to know about my day? Did I really want to know about yours?

If all goes well and life allows, we invest something. Some time. Some memory. Some effort. Venturing onto private property, dishes in the sink, lego on the floor… I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.

Time is the final ingredient. The yeast in the dough. Settling in, getting messy, sticking it out for the hard stuff. I’ll show you me, if you let me see you.

It’s not like it used to be. When “wanna be my friend?” wasn’t quite so complicated. When clicking “confirm” didn’t mean anything.thumbs up

So here’s me, where making friends at 38 is different for a whole lot of reasons, but definitely worth the effort.

Today I’m joining Lisa Jo Baker‘s
Five Minute Friday writing challenge on the word:
Friend

5minutefriday


Gift Wrapped Courage

I love getting compliments.

I hate getting compliments.

I have a complicated love-hate relationship with compliments.

encouragement

Ditto for accepting help. Even help I really need from people who really love me. Especially help I really need.

I’m not sure if it’s tied to insecurity, pride, or the constant suspicion that I’m just pretending to be a well-adjusted adult. So when you say something nice to me, or when you do something nice for me, I feel guilty for being such a fraud.

Because sometimes I yell at my kids. And buy myself a bag of candy I don’t need, which I then hide and don’t share with anyone. Because sometimes I roll my eyes when I should nod my head. And I really can’t stand Christian radio, at all, but I like listening to Eminem. Because sometimes I ignore my husband and the housework and homework and exercise when I know it’ll just make everything worse. And the other day I threw something across the room when the vacuum broke, right after giving my daughter a lecture about watching her temper, and I didn’t even feel bad about it.

But sometimes, I don’t do the lazy, selfish, short-sighted thing. And I actually get it right.

While all those nice things that you’ve done and said (and I’ve had a lot lately) might be hard to swallow at first, after I’ve had time to digest awhile, they nourish my best self. They make me stronger. Strong enough to do better. Strong enough to believe that I really am the better person you see. That maybe the real me, the me God designed me to be and is helping me become, is patient and loving and wise, and okay… imperfect, but totally cool enough to pull it off anyway.

So here’s my thanks to all the encouragers in my life; sometimes I’m uncomfortable in the face of your generosity and kindness, both the words and deeds, but you make me strong and I couldn’t do without you.

This is my contribution to the writing flash mob at lisajobaker.com on: Encouragement

5minutefriday1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

– See more at: http://lisajobaker.com/#sthash.RuQmJjtj.dpuf


Do You See What I See?

When you were born you could barely see. Your world was indistinct shapes and startling sounds. And it was yours. The entire world, yours for the demanding and needing and the taking. Babies are like that.

As you grew, your sight expanded also. It was still your world and you could see better than your old mom with her increasing prescription. As accurate as your vision was, you couldn’t see the world clearly yet. Children never can.

You see, that’s my job, teaching you to see the world. As it really is, not the airbrushed, politically palatable con that Madison Avenue pushes. As it should be and can be, not the complacent, self-absorbed placebo of sitcom reality.eye

SEE – the beauty, the profound, hiding under layers of normal everyday.

SEE – the potential, the promise, masquerading as family members, friends and strangers.

SEE – the brilliance, the inspiration, calling you to reach beyond safe and easy and boring.

Every time I look at you, that’s what I see.

So here’s my Five Minute Friday contribution. As you might guess, the prompt is: See.

Here’s how this writing flash mob at lisajobaker.com works:

5minutefriday1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

– See more at: http://lisajobaker.com/#sthash.RuQmJjtj.dpuf


It Started with a Tree

treeIt started with a tree.

One of the first stories I heard in my “Just For Kids” bible, at my parent’s knees, sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce in a circle on Sunday morning. The Tree of Life, of the knowledge of good and evil, the one tree in the Garden of Eden humanity was instructed to preserve. Of course, we didn’t. We’re not good with boundaries.

God could have chosen any symbol. A sacred cave to steer clear of. A word to remain unspoken. Instead, it was the fruit of a tree. And we ate what wasn’t ours, beyond our scope; not for sustenance (which was well provided for throughout the garden), but for greed. We became takers.

Over the years, we began to preach rights, not responsibility when it comes to nature. Instead of giving and receiving care from this world we are a part of, we strove for dominion. Environmentalism earned a bad rap in most churches – a lesser virtue, if even one at all. As if we deserved to rape, pillage and plunder the entire earth to feed our own appetites. As if this was without consequence. As if this wasn’t sin too.

We should remember, it started with a tree.

 

So here’s my rambling free write, on the prompt “Tree” as part of  lisajobaker.com’s Five Minute Friday linkup.

5minutefriday

 

If I’m completely honest, the first tree that came to mind was Yggdrasil from Norse mythology (and Marvel’s “Thor” ’cause I’m a dork like that). It exists somewhere between symbol and reality, a massive tree holding life and all the realms together. This interconnectedness speaks to me too, and sounds awfully familiar.


The Hair of Power

It happened all the time. The park. The grocery store. In line at the bank. Perfect strangers petting my head and telling me all about the one person in their life/neighbourhood/AA group who was JUST LIKE ME.

I hated it. The attention and the touching and the stories about people I didn’t care about and would never meet. I was tired of nodding politely. And I REALLY couldn’t stand that inevitable question that made absolutely no sense to me:

“Where did you get such beautiful red hair?”

At some point during my preschool years I perfected the snotty answer.Snort of disgust. Curl of the lip. Delivered in a what-kind-of-idiot-are-you-anyway tone.

“GOD gave it to me.”

Duh.

2013 602As much time as I spent as a child wishing I had wavy brown hair down to my knees like Crystal Gayle, or blond hair and a tan like Barbie, or best of all, dark raven tresses just like Diana Barry – as an adult, it’s one of the things I like most about myself. Finally old enough to dye it away like I always wanted, and I never will (highlights don’t count mom).

And if I occasionally find myself petting some strange child in the supermarket and gushing over their beautiful red hair… well, I’ve earned it.

So here’s me, with a head full of impossible, thick, frizzy hair my stylist nicknamed “The Beast”, but I still like it.

Today I took part in Five Minute Friday at lisajobaker.com

5minutefriday


Imagine

Five Minutes, the word is:

IMAGINE

GO

imagine picTrailing behind her like little ducks, a row of sweet, sticky, unbearably cute grandchildren for me to love. A man who looks at her with a smile, a twinkle of humor and just a little bit of awe. A home that is calm, but full of life. Books and dance and shades of purple, things that are all her own, beyond family. She is happy.

Artsy fashion choices and some unusual job which suits her unique character. Friends who laugh with her and appreciate her wit. Adventure and travel and maybe someone to share it with her. Purpose. A great over-riding passion which she can spend her life on. Maybe more than one. She is happy.

A smile that lights up the room. She has carved out her own place in the world. A place where she is safe and appreciated. Work that is meaningful and rewarding. A community that embraces her beauty and accepts her quirks. True friendship with someone just like her. Travelling with us, but living independently. Close enough to check in, but far enough that her life is her own. She is happy.

He is an athlete in some cool, extreme sport that gives me heart palpitations, but makes him feel like the king of the world. School wasn’t easy, but he found his groove and that bright mind shone for everyone to see. He keeps himself away from the worst excesses of his generation, because he knows what sad endings look like. He shares his adoption story with people who are interested, but in that matter-of-fact way that makes it clear it’s not a big deal to him. There isn’t anyone he can’t charm with his huge toothy grin, but he’s got his eye out for a very special girl. He’s a romantic like his dad. He is happy.

STOP

So here’s my dreams for my kids, maybe I’ll laugh someday about how off base I was. I know that “happy” isn’t a goal, just an occasional by-product of a life well lived. But what can I say, I’m a Mom. Of course I want life to be easy and smooth and effortless, but when it’s not, I hope they have imagination enough to envision a happy ending.

I’m sure God feels the same way about me.

5minutefridayFive Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..


The View From Over There

I shamelessly eavesdropped accidently overheard a conversation at the park this morning. It was between mother and daughter as they watched the kids play. The daughter (who was also the mother of the kids – clear?) was unloading about her son’s social problems, dealing with teachers at school and the struggle to incorporate speech therapy into his life. Grandma “hmmm-ed” and “uh-huh-ed” throughout. At the end she suggested that it would be a good idea to carve out just 15 minutes a day to play speech therapy games with the son. Nothing too strenuous, just a chance to spend some time together and improve his communication skills.

“What a difference that could make in the rest of his life!”

“It’s only 15 minutes.”

That one there. That’s what got my blood boiling. I mean, does she realize how HARD it is to carve out 15 minutes EVERY day. Does she have any idea how tired this poor woman is? Overwhelmed? Discouraged? It sure is easy for someone else to suggest adding this or that to an already over-packed schedule. Does this mom really need ONE more person adding to that burden of guilt and obligation? What she really needs is a hug. And a hi-five. And an assurance that she’s already doing everything exactly right and shouldn’t change a thing.

I could be projecting.

Because that woman said “Good idea Mom. I’ll give it some thought.”

Here I was ready to have her back (and who doesn’t need some creepy, eavesdropping stranger leap to their defense?). The truth is, Grandma is probably right. She wasn’t unsympathetic or demanding or guilt-trippy (cause then I WOULD have jumped into all that with a vengeance). She just saw something important that might make life easier in the long run. She’s on the other side, beyond late nights and concerned teachers and feeling like it’s all too much for one person to handle; where needs and problems loom large, because they are close up, all the time.

She sees what’s important. She sees what she regrets and what she doesn’t. She sees the big picture. She’s outside the eye of the storm.

Maybe the view from over there is worth considering.

viewpointSo here’s me, in the midst of it all, where it is so much easier to react and survive. We could use a little more strategic parenting up in our neck of the woods. Now to try and figure out what my new 15 minute habit should be…

5minutefridayFive Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..


The WORST Best Lesson in Life

It’s a game we play, and replay, a lot at our house.

“But it isn’t FAAAIIIIR!” they whine.

I act Alarmed. Affronted. Confused. “Who told you life was fair? How dare they!”

It’s not entirely an act. I happen to think that teaching our kids they are entitled to a life of ease and comfort is irresponsible, possibly cruel. Someday the real world will come calling. If they haven’t had an opportunity to build important coping skills, they will likely to fall to pieces. The small, everyday disappointments of life are an important curriculum.

stuff happensYou won’t be able to watch that movie tonight, because Dad is watching his team lose the Stanley Cup.

There’s a hole in your favourite hoodie (the only thing worse than this is my suggestion of sewing on a patch, apparently).

Your sister has a sleepover tonight and you don’t. You’ll have to hang out with your mom instead.

I’m sorry, but your sister ate your homework (true story).

All valuable lessons, if handled correctly. Somewhere between “Vlad the Insensitive, Destroyer of Dreams” and “Schmoopy the Rescuer, Enabler of Dysfunction” lies good parenting.

My parents certainly didn’t subscribe to the “protect-at-all-costs” parenting philosophy. In their mind, suffering builds character, even for kids. They didn’t push us down the stairs or pinch us when we smiled too wide. But they didn’t apologize for the reasonable disappointments life brought our way – doing more chores than any of my friends, wearing second-hand clothes, bypassing the candy aisle, bringing lunch instead of buying… a whole lot of making do with what we had, without complaining.

This wasn’t easy to swallow as a child. And if I’m being honest, it’s still a struggle. Although I wasn’t raised to believe my life SHOULD be easy, I still feel somewhat surprised and ripped off when it isn’t. “But God, it’s not FAAAAIIIIR!”

Because it’s really not. Life isn’t fair.

Lessons I’ve learned from Disappointment:

Perspective: As I write this, on my personal laptop, in a warm house, dressed in a new (second-hand, but still newly bought) shirt, after eating a filling lunch, while my healthy son naps and my well supported children attend a well equipped school nearby, I realize that whining about life being unfair is pretty, well, unfair, to the billions of people who could only dream about a life as good as mine. Nevertheless, my small disappointments gave me a taste of suffering and dose of reality. Life is like this. Bad stuff happens (the slightly less poetic, but much more child-friendly truism). There’s not always someone to blame. No one is entitled to a trouble-free existence.

Health: How many of the worst patterns/habits/addictions we hold are attempts to escape or numb the pain life brings our way? I can personally attest to the tranquilizing effects of too much food, which I begin to crave whenever things start going wrong. One of my children asked if it’s true that ice cream is medicine? Ummm… A healthy person is learning to accept this discomfort and process it in a healthy way. Cry. Pray. Laugh. Create. Throw socks at the wall (really, it works).

Selflessness: Selflessness is learned in the hard places. After we process the disappointment, we have a choice. Where will my focus be? Will I wallow in my misery? Or will I think beyond me and what I want? Without a doubt, the instruction most often handed out, but not always followed by myself is: “It’s okay to be upset, but it’s not okay to make everyone around you miserable just because you are.”

Gratitude: What comes easy is often taken for granted. When I’m familiar with disappointment, then getting what I want/need/hope for is a gift and I will truly appreciate it. Our daughter B was born the year after we buried her brother Simon. Although her diagnosis with Down Syndrome threw us somewhat for a loop, it paled in comparison to the glorious fact that she was ALIVE and healthy.

Compassion: Disappointment is very real to the person feeling it. Whether anyone else understands or not, there it is. Someone who has faced their own disappointments may not be any better equipped to understand a unique sorrow, but we are open to the experience. Where it would be more convenient and comfortable to stuff our own pain beyond conscious reach and whitewash over the pain of others, the student of disappointment is not afraid to go there.

How to Grieve: My small disappointments have prepared me for the devastations in life. Not entirely. Nothing can. But it’s a start: the basic skill to face the hurt, work through it, find the joy in the midst of it and reach out to others regardless.

Disappointment isn’t lethal.

Disappointment is a natural part of life.

Disappointment is a good teacher.

I believe it and I want to live it… but doling it out as a parent is a lot harder than I expected. Perhaps it is my generation. Perhaps I’m just a pathetic softie. It’s hard to say no. It’s hard to watch those sad little faces. It’s hard not to jump in and make everything fair and smooth out the rough edges and bribe them back to happy.

So, I’m thankful for the times we really can’t afford it. Or there isn’t enough time. Or enough energy. Or it just really grosses me out (see: pet snake argument).

There is nothing wrong with WANTING to give your children everything. There IS something wrong with actually giving it to them. Unless you’re hoping to raise spoiled, greedy, miserable brats. If so, then by all means, appease and rescue and avoid disappointment at all costs. You’re on the right track.

So here’s me, hoping we’re all disappointed just enough to build strong character and no more.


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