Family, Marriage

pursuing adventures of a lifetime

table chairs

The hubs and I found ourselves sitting in the little kid chairs in the crowded room; intently staring as the numbers flashed upon the screen.  My number soon appeared and in I went.

Within five minutes I returned and the hubs and I walked out into the bright light and heat beyond; the weekend beckoning.  He proffered his arm, as all military men do, and I looped my own within.  Three days later I walked into our offices; the piles of work awaiting.  I quickly logged onto my computer and the Valentine’s screensaver filled my screen; replacing the Windows login.  And then the phone rang and my day began.

The week ended with another phone call; one I kept missing and not really wanting to receive.  In the midst of a task, the hubs heard my questions and sat alongside; my notepad filled with squiggles and doodles.  I thanked the nurse and replaced the phone on the cradle, turning to my hubs and sharing what I had suspected.  I matter-of-factly told him of the scheduled tests and appointments; only looking away when his eyes filled with liquid.  Life happens I say to him; the busyness of our business erasing the moment.  He stood and quickly strode away.

said I can’t go on, not in this way
I’m a dream that died by light of day
gonna hold up half the sky and say
only I own me
and I feel my heart beating
I feel my heart underneath my skin
oh I can feel my heart beating
cause you make me feel
like I’m alive again
alive again
oh you make me feel
like I’m alive again

turn your magic on, Umi she’d say
everything you want’s a dream away
under this pressure under this weight
we are diamonds taking shape
we are diamonds taking shape ~ Coldplay

structure

I sometimes feel like I go up and down stairs not really getting anywhere; stuck in-the same place.  That deja vu feeling stayed with me these past few days as I finally completed the last of my unwanted financial tasks.  The audit now sits complete and packed away in a bag; ready to hand-off.  It is done.

I crank up the Coldplay song and let it fill me, as only music can; filling the void.  Life has hardened me to its ability to take things away and at a young age; I had journeyed alone.  The bff across the miles understood this as we continue to live our parallel lives and it was only when my paths crossed with my future husband; that I shared the adventure of a lifetime.  There were years where our paths diverged as he served active duty and I remained home raising three young sons.  But being an only child taught me to be comfortable in solitude and I found strength in being able to do it alone.  We’ve weathered our storms, over the years, but I know this man always has my back.

walking

It’s Lent and so each day I receive an email on “What to Give Up.”  My goal was to discipline myself to not take second portions.  I fought the physician’s orders to take the med which will, most likely, cause weight gain.  I read the bff’s text, and all that it implied, from 2,000 miles away; from a gym as her daughter scored another point at her basketball game.

Vanity is a small price to pay.

I stood in the crowded courtyard, silently watching as my eldest huddled in a group of teens and leaders in prayer after a weekend confirmation retreat.   I was surprised, on Tuesday morning, when he wore it to school; this son who only wears solid colors and polo shirts.  To Pursue.  Romans 14:17-19. NLT.

pursue grouppursue Nate

17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

The message:  To continue to pursue his Catholic faith in a society that doesn’t value it.  To pursue his dreams in a world of chaos and instant gratification.

The definition of the word pursue is to follow, catch or get involved with something over a prolonged period of time.

Our children have been raised in a world where everything is instantaneous and now.  My sons are not accustomed to having to look up words in a dictionary, search for topics in an encyclopedia or use cards in a library.  They build relationships online via gaming, texting or Skype.  Gone are the days where you see teenage boys with arms around one another; working together and most definitely not in prayer.  The Catholic faith has taken a beating in this last decade and as a parent I struggled on how to keep my sons in my faith.

It was as he walked out the door to leave for school that my eyes welled up; heart overcome.   He chose to wear his t-shirt.  I hope he continues to pursue who he is, his faith, and his dreams.

dreams

b :  to follow up or proceed with <pursue an argument>  “Pursue” Def. 4b. Merriam Webster Online, Merriam Webster, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.

I found myself in another office, in a discussion I had hoped to resolve last fall.  To my surprise, my opportunity had come to pursue this sensitive topic once again, at his request.  I quickly mentally weighed the pros and cons; pondering if this discussion would provide closure for myself or for the person involved.  I chose harmony and building him up versus words and details that were unproductive and would wear him down.  I am a person full of words who yearns to share them.  I fought the urge to let them fall where they may.

There are times in life where we need to know when we need to pursue and when to let things work themselves out.

The adventures we live are sometimes not of our choosing.    My life isn’t always full of joy and peace or goodness.  It is our attitudes, on how we choose to deal with life’s obstacles, that makes life worth pursuing.   To those who always have my back, I thank you.

if we’ve only got this life
this adventure oh then I
and if we’ve only got this life
you get me through
and if we’ve only got this life
in this adventure oh then I
want to share it with you~ Coldplay

Advertisements
Family, School

and the wheels turn

wpid-img_20140421_152128.jpg

So many thoughts whirl about in my mind; waiting to be unleashed.

Thoughts like, does beauty pay?  Does a good looking person have more opportunities than the average looking person?  Are they more successful?

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970203687504576655331418204842

Questions like how our educational system is run. How can our students become critical thinkers and compete in a global society?  Is the Common Core of State Standards (CCSS) the answer?  And what about our teachers?  Are they adequately trained or compensated?

How do I parent sons to be self-motivated?  To find their voices and navigate in our instant gratification, social media world?  To be good stewards to the environment.  To continue to grow in their faith and be good citizens in our society?

Chatting with my two girlfriends about all of these things; one turned to me and asked, “What is it that you are searching for?”

I am full of questions and too few answers.  She handed me a book about teenagers which I will immediately begin to read.  They applaud my efforts to pass responsibilities to others. But this is a slow process.  I am a servant; this quality ingrained from my own mother.  Acts of service is my love language (from Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages).

wpid-img_20140425_170212.jpg

I search for balance.  The ability to let things go.   Simplicity.

I am still in transition but I am beginning to wonder if I will ever feel like I’ve arrived.  Because isn’t every day of life about change and transition?  Another gray hair arrives upon my head, my boys continue to grow taller.   I desire a simpler life but distractions constantly fight for my attention.  It’s hard to shut out the white noise to focus on what’s important.  I can’t escape to Walden’s pond or Muir’s granite-cliffed Sierras.  Our Maui spring break seems like years instead of three weeks.

IMG_7425

These musings leave me frustrated.  I want to tell my sons, who are realizing the power that beauty wields in adolescence, that it doesn’t matter.  But it does.  I expound the virtues of brushing teeth, trimming nails, presenting a clean appearance and deodorant.   To put their best foot forward.

I asked one of our salesman this question about looks and if it produced more sales.  Without hesitation he answered with a resounding Yes!; citing examples in our male dominated workplace of manufacturing.   It was my son who posed this question and I consider how I will answer him.  I want my boys to value intelligence, a work ethic with follow-through, and communication.  To not be fooled by beauty and appearances.

IMG_7411

I continue to research and observe how our school district is managed.  Because right now my local district really doesn’t have the students’ welfare on their minds; only the almighty dollar that sits in the coffers.  I’ve learned great teachers are barely making a decent wage; many who are leaving our district to better provide for their families elsewhere.  I’m discovering many disgruntled parents who feel that their voices are not heard and are not being informed.  Everything seems to be under the guise of the new Common Core curriculum; a distraction from the real underlying problems being swept under the carpet.

And it all returns to money.   It crumbles established institutions like marriage, religion and education.  The worship of flimsy paper is the panacea for all things.  It can make you beautiful.  Powerful.  I work to have it; bringing comfort and stability to my home.   The deeper you get in it; the tighter its grip.

I laughed as my girlfriend shared how liberated she felt as she gave away her vast collection of shoes.  It gave her great joy to shop for them.  But it gave her greater joy to be rid of them.  I am on this same glide slope.  It has given me great joy to serve and contribute.  I am working on giving these things up to allow me the time to focus on what’s important.  But I am not there yet.  This parenting-marriage-relational thing; it never ends.  I continue to fight for the balance; not just in my budgets, but in my every day.   I have a lot of unfinished business yet to do.

 

 

Family

my works of art

IMG_7057

It was all I could do, on Friday morning, to get my youngest to wear his designated outfit for school.  He was supposed to match his two other twins for twin day.    Two days prior I had received the phone call from another parent telling me that her son had made plans to be twins with someone else; but they would change their plans to accommodate my son.  So when he asked me, again, if I had spoken to the other parent; I had to let him know that his friend had already made plans.  It was later that the mom told me they would accommodate my son.  His friend never told him a thing.

And so my heart sank for this child; totally understanding.  I watched him sit amongst the Chris Burden Urban Light exhibition at the museum; knowing his mood was still somber from the days before.  As a parent I’ve learned that the kids need to coordinate these things; but apparently I needed the reminder.  The hard way.

Katy Perry’s song, “Roar,” played in the car and I cranked it up.  I turned to this son, who likes to dance around with me, cajoling him to sing; hoping to dispel his mood.  The catchy pop song began to work its magic and as he sang the lyrics, tears filled my eyes.  I need to teach my sons to be confident.  To know that whatever life throws at them that they can pick themselves back up.  I don’t want him to feel like it’s the end of the world when he is excluded.   I want him to rise above the ashes and find his own way.  To own it.  To be thankful for it.  People come and go but if you know who you are and can atone for your actions, you will always shine.

You held me down, but I got up (hey!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready ’cause I had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!

Slowly I could see the light return to his eyes.  I didn’t question him further and decided to let things go.   I am hoping this son will find his voice.  To sing it loud.

It is painful to watch your kids maneuver through the little cruelties of life.  My eldest had undergone many transitions with our multiple military moves.  He has learned coping mechanisms and I continually help him with social cues.  It is a slow process but he is more adaptable to change than his younger siblings.  If left to his own devices he no longer thinks a friend will make things right.  He is able to be on his own and find his way.  This son is going to be okay.  It is a plus that he had now found a niche.

IMG_6865

Meanwhile I continue to discuss body image issues with the tweener.  As we walked away from an outdoor kids marathon event, this son brought up the size of a former girl teammate from another school.  Unfortunately, he chose to make these observations, aloud, with a fellow female classmate nearby.  These hidden cues about image and beauty create unrealistic expectations and is especially damaging during these tweener years, when the hormones begin to surface.  And so I berated him.  This is intolerable.  Cornered within our vehicle the hubs drove quietly as the son questioned back.  What’s wrong with that statement?  The girl didn’t hear me.

Au contraire my son, I retort.  Let me be clear.  I hear you.  I am a female and remember those years when innocent remarks like crater face marked my psyche.  All girls find fault with our frames and appearances because we are socialized to put ourselves down.  We learn to hide our insecurities with clothes, disguise them with make-up, throw-up in bathroom toilets, shovel food into our mouths, choose risky behavior for attention or take substances to dull the ache.  Never, ever put down a girl for appearance, I raged, because if that’s what matters then I have failed you as a mother!  My sons heard me roar.

Frustrated I quickly walked in the drizzle towards the buildings, wondering if this outing was a mistake.  The wear and tear of the past week had finally worn me down and even the thought of Katy Perry’s song didn’t get me out of my funk.  I had thought our fun Friday night had dispelled my ill temper but, alas, this was reality.  This is the every day of my messy life.  It’s easy to get tunnel vision.

IMG_6896

But sometimes this focus allows me to remember what’s important.  There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  Amongst the gray drizzle I found the silver lining.

IMG_6907

The kaleidoscope of color was a stark contrast to our mood as the hubs completed membership forms.  It had been years since my three boys sat at our dining room table creating arts and crafts.  I recalled the mess they made, finger paints on wooden chairs.  Handprint Valentine’s day cards, rock mosaics, water painting on easels…the years flashed before me.  The hubs and I sat quietly in the corner observing the artistic creativity of kids and parents, alike, as the rain drizzled outside.   An hour and a half flew by.

IMG_6961

We ventured into the Art of the Americas and beyond.  David Hockney’s painting Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio beckoned to the middle son while the eldest walked back and forth in front of Julio Le Parc’s Mural,  Virtual Circles.

IMG_6959

The heaviness of the week fell away as we gazed at objects of antiquity and beauty.  The hubs was drawn to the limestone artifacts of Egypt and Mesopotamia; a reminder that we are just an infinite speck in the vast world beyond.

There is more beyond my own life and it was in admiring others’ works of art that I could appreciate my own.

IMG_6951

The boys & hubs in front of Matta’s, Burn, Baby Burn.

And though my creations are flawed, they are also beautiful.  It doesn’t matter what they look like because I know what lies within.  They continue to grow towards the light; blossoming.  These are my bubs, my creative works in progress.

Had we followed the directions of our GPS for a dinner destination we would have been stuck in Hollywood traffic.  At the last minute we changed our destination.  Unknowingly, we would’ve been within a mile’s radius of the Oscars.   The Oscars were last night?

IMG_7051

Today I am tasked to find $1 frames for the boys’ tempura based paintings.  They want to hang them on our walls to admire their works of art.

Family

strewn clothes

wpid-IMG_20140226_142402.jpg

Towards the end of my morning walk the cell phone,  with my eldest’s ringtone, rang.  Mom.  Where are you?  I need help finding clothes.  I quickly jogged home to find my eldest amidst clothes strewn across the bedroom floor.   Yesterday the flyer came home, belatedly, informing parents that formal pictures were taking place, today.  Not one article of formal clothing fit on this son’s rapidly growing frame.  Distressed he raided his father’s closet searching amongst the suits and ties rarely worn; except on the hub’s ushering Sundays.

This same scenario had just transpired last Sunday as the middle son raided his older brother’s wardrobe.  Nothing fits.  The argument ensued.  You’re bigger, to which the other replied, are you calling me fat?  It got ugly…look at those things all over your face (zits) to which the other retorted about the white dry spots on the middle son’s face; that reoccurs during the winter.  When the youngest tried to intervene the older brothers called him the skinny skeleton.  Finally disgusted with the whole affair I bellowed from my bedroom down the hall.

Enough!

Body image.  It is a fallacy to think that only girls feel this pressure to look thin and beautiful.  My three sons, all with different body frames and profiles, were just as affected by these issues.  With rapidly growing body parts, raging hormones (or lack of them) my sons were tearing  each other’s appearances apart.  All this to find adequate church clothes to wear on Sunday.  But what is more disconcerting was that the older two boys altar served, and so these clothes would not even be seen beneath the robes and crosses.

And so I took the time away from my harried morning routine to help the eldest.  He fretted and groaned and finally we attempted to awaken the hubs from his deep sleep.  It mattered to this man/boy that his Dad leafed through his closet to find something for him to wear.  But in the end this son had to wear his tight and short clothes.  Nothing fit.  Thankfully his picture would be taken in second period, and he packed his normal clothes, to change into,  in his backpack.

Our kids pay attention to how we view body image.  I am always careful to not make remarks about others in front of them.  But they do hear me lament my shortcomings to the hubs.  To his credit, the hubs loves to rub his rounded torso jokingly; teasing the boys to get into my belly! (Austin Powers).  My boys hear me talk of aging; saggy belly, stretch marks, dimpled thighs and facial “laugh lines.”   A family member, several years back, underwent gastric bypass.   When I do hear the innocuous comments of various sizes and shapes I listen intently.  Each and every time I remind them what defines a person.

Beauty comes from within.

wpid-IMG_20140226_131936.jpg

And though I say these words I continue to self-berate myself.  I talk-the-talk but need to walk-the-walk. I do not look at others and judge by appearance;  I truly do look deeper to see if a person has depth.  But I exclude myself in that process.  The blade always cuts deeper when I wield it.

As I talk this out with my girlfriend, today, I realized that this statement isn’t totally true.  Yes, I am vain.  But what drives me to wake up at 5 AM in the morning to walk, bring it or dig deeper isn’t solely for vanity.  I want longevity.  I want to grow old with my health; to continue to be active.  I envision dragging my hubs on early morning walks before sunrise.  Hiking amidst foliage to gorgeous valley overlooks.  Snorkeling and swimming in warm, tropical waters.  Traveling to Stonehenge, the Great Wall and walking the halls of the Vatican.  I’ve met active centenarians in my studies in gerontology.  One can age successfully.  I know this and have seen it.

Each morning I gaze into my closet.  I tend to choose the same, boring clothes to wear week-after-week.  My triple door sliders were full of clothes that I held onto for sentimentality.   Last September I had also strewn them across my bedroom floor; packing them in bags and giving away the days where I could fit into some of them.  For years they took up space, taunting and flaunting the youthful body I used to own.  The form-fitting outfits that dominated my wardrobe became matching sweat outfits; the days when I chased my young sons around.  The business suits are now delegated to weddings, funerals or church holidays.  These days my uniform consists of jeans and hoodies; my work attire of choice.  Preferably, black.

wpid-IMG_20140225_113623.jpg

But I emphasize to my sons to be accepting of all shapes and sizes: short, tall, round, angular.   I’ve been watching the week long segment on my morning show about selfies; and learning to love them.  Rarely do I take my own selfie shot; usually the hubs is in it with me.  It takes, at the very least, eleven camera shots with photo image filters altering the lighting before I stop the madness.

Later I asked the younger sons; who had helped their Dad clear the building roof before the rain, to define terms of skinny and fat.  It was quite a learning experience; listening to the words they hear on the playground each and every day.  How clothes and brand names define a person’s worth and status.

wpid-IMG_20140226_131831.jpg

Their images of beauty are based on what their peers see and I wondered if they could look beyond the superficial to discover the person within.  We talked of social roles, ideals of popularity and acceptance; as well as those on the fringes.  I want my sons to be able to maneuver through all of these things;  plainly and simply, with compassion and empathy.  I want them to see beyond the veneer; just as I want my sons’ defining features to be the beauty that emanates from within.  Social graces.  Humility.

But you can only be beautiful if you are happy with whom you are.  This is a work in progress for all of us.  The strewn clothes are carefully being picked up and folded.  Tonight we are going clothes shopping to find something that fits.