Is This the Start of Something New?

As I laid in bed last week with the flu (worst sick ever) and I could not do anything more strenuous than sleep, I had a moment. An epiphany if you will.

I thought, “God is preparing me for something GREAT,” in an out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new sort of way. A cleansing perhaps. As if by starving my fever and feeding my cold, or is it feeding the fever starving the cold, that He could somehow jump start this lackluster stage of my life.

Visceral.

Dramatic.

True.

My lucid moments were spent evaluating my life. Maybe because if felt like dying – again worst sick I’ve experienced.

I wondered how am I doing as a mom and a fairly new homeschooler who works full time away from home. I tried to measure myself as a wife and friend; sister and daughter. Heavy thoughts while physically drained and emotionally vulnerable; which contributed to the sense that God was trying to tell me something.

Of course, it didn’t take long before that self reflection turned to my writing life or let’s be honest my non-existent writing life. It’s been two years since I’ve focused time and talent toward writing with intention. WRITING:  a thing I’ve come to avoid, a thing not to speak of …

At least not until my oldest questions me:  “Mom, when are you going to publish your book?”

I haven’t finished it.

Or when my husband buys me the most thoughtful Christmas gift, a new computer, citing, “Hopefully, it will inspire you to start writing again.”

Then there’s guilt because my response is vague, “I don’t know. We’ll see.”

But what I really mean is, “I afraid.” I don’t want to be. I want to be a good example to my son when it comes to:

  • Finish what you start.
  • Chase your dreams.
  • Keep fighting, never give up.

Quitting than wasn’t a real option but I’ve gotten talented at postponing and deflecting … a dream deferred or whatever.

All the same fears from 2014 still haunt me:  should I, could I, am I? My self talk isn’t positive and while I have fear, the possibilities energize me.

Now the question has surfaced and demanded my attention, I have to wonder what’s in store. Wonder, if there is a greater plan in the works.

Is this the start of something new?

But probably not.

Maybe it’s the start of something old … a continuation … a love for words that may spill over into something more.

No promises,  only hope.

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Return to Snail Mail: A Personal Handwritten Letter Campaign

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint 

2014 started as my year of gifting good stories. Buying books for friends and family members – mostly my mom and my boys, providing moments of escape from their every day lives. Or sending recommendations of interest to those who keep a running list like I do.

Slowly this gift is morphing into stories of my life via handwritten notes and cards, like a personal history or memoir through correspondence. I’m not quite sure why …

Maybe it’s the thrill of “real” mail or the fact that simple things are important.

More than likely it’s due to seeing old friends and realizing our interactions are social media driven only. We could call or write but why when Facebook feeds run like a life highlights newsreel? Because Facebook is usually the good times without room for the difficult and sad, the intimate moments of life.

It could be the fact that while on vacation my dudes sent postcards to some of their friends, whose parents told me of their excitement upon receiving the quick note. How can we not spread that joy again?

Maybe it’s because we have friends spending a year abroad. Wouldn’t it be sweet for them to get letters from home? To feel connected and not far away despite the distance?

Or it could be thanks to my dear friend, whose daily walk includes checking the mail with her infant. A tradition in the making, I think. Of course they need mail to retrieve from the box.

The reason doesn’t matter much. Only the desire to send some love: signed, sealed, and delivered.

I’ll still give books but they may have a personal story penned in my own hand, tucked between the pages.

Here’s to great stories!

Dandelion Fluff and Other Stuff

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

Nostalgia … rolls around in my mind; flows out of my pen, and falls from my lips like bouncy balls in the middle of the grocery store; an awkward chain reaction … A weird déjà vu I can’t shake …

How easily we fall back into a former self? A scent, a place, a phrase, a word, or a picture, can evoke sensations of who we were and what was important to us once.

The Road Home …

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to California for work. I didn’t get to see my family but the trip brought images to mind that I hadn’t thought of in years.

Like, how I hate to drive in rush hour traffic, not that anyone enjoys it.

Nostalgia speed by as familiar places appeared on exit signs: Manhattan Beach, I-15, Redondo Beach, 110 freeway. Nostalgia rose with familiar neon signs announcing fast food joints I frequent when I visit the Golden State: In-N-Out Burger, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco …

My traveling companion wasn’t moved by any of these things. Inching closer to our destination in bumper to bumper she could have cared less.

But for me … it was miles of memories spanning ages.

Naiveté

My yard was covered with white puffy balls until the lawn service showed up and mowed. Crazy that these seemingly insignificant bulbs made me think of a simpler time.

Nostalgia peaked out from the grass to greet me.

I loved blowing dandelion fluff until one day, who knows when, I started seeing them as weeds, allergens.

I used to call them beautiful flowers. I would pick the bright yellow blooms by the bunch; keeping the stems in a wet paper towel to keep them from dying. Sometimes drinking the white liquid that we called “dandelion milk”.

The sight of my lawn with its snowy vegetation generated a flashback of that white halter top with the red trim I had at the age of five. Playing in the front yard with my older sister who was wearing her white halter top with the red trim. (Mom dressed us alike and people thought we were twins.) Our heads thrown back in laughter as we polluted the air with our wishes. Twirling.

Remarkable … I wonder if she remembers.

Summertime

Summer has finally made an appearance in Michigan; temperatures topping the 80s. I can sit outside listening to my dudes’ laughter while being eaten alive by mosquitos.

Nostalgia calls to me with loud, overly bright, music from squeaky speakers.

Chasing ice cream trucks and riding my lavender bike with the white basket to the library. Dinging and scraping up my toes because I wore flip-flops instead of closed shoes when I rode. Chocolate covered fingers as I tried to ride and read and eat all at the same time. Stopping at every street corner trying to lick my fingers free of the mess.

Footloose and fancy free. My favorite time of year.

Father’s Day

Summer brings with it a time and privilege of celebrating fathers. When soap-on-a-rope and nose hair trimmers and Old Spice or Brut after-shaves are plentiful.

Nostalgia creeps up on me, playing a sad song of “I miss him.”

My mind’s eye flashes images like a slide show of dad holding a beer and grilling chicken in the back yard. Smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee over the morning paper, specifically the sports page. Running to the corner store to get lottery tickets before 8 p.m. Puttering in the garden and telling me to shoo the birds out of the fruit trees. I was happy to play human scarecrow for his sake.

I still dream of him.

Bittersweet holiday.

Pathways

There are many other examples where triggers like these sent me on a mental migration to another time; another me. All of which serve to remind me of how carefree life can be when your only responsibility is to be a kid and make memories.

We are just weeks away from our family vacation. I will not work. I may spend some time writing because I’ve been negligent here and my nine, soon-to-be-ten, year old keeps referencing my “good book” or at least what he’s heard of it. Asking: When are you going to finish?

More than anything … I want to start the collection of experiences that my boys will later look back on and label “nostalgic”. Dandelion Fluff Occasions.

Lazy days away from our normal routine. We will visit new places and some old. We will spend time with my family and reminisce about childhood:

  • Feast on the flavors of home.
  • Savor the sounds of long ago.
  • Embrace the echoes of innocence.

Nostalgia … What voices of the past sneak up on you? What childhood stages do you want to relive? What are your dandelion fluff occasions?

I Read White: The Issue of a Single Story

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

When I first started writing fiction I wanted to be intentional about representing a diverse cast of characters: race, culture, and socio-economic levels. For my first novel, which is still in process, my main character is black, her best friend is biracial and another central character is Latina.

Despite my desire to be intentional, I was also concerned about promulgating the stereotypes associated with race. This hope to handle well a people’s culture and race, a people’s story, has been one of the constant sources of writer’s block for me. What if I failed? What if I made a mockery of someone when I wanted to be honoring?

My reasons, of course, for being purposeful in character selection were well founded. I wanted to create a story that would have resonated with the eight year old me. A story that wasn’t accessible to my younger self but could fill the gap for another child.

I wanted to write a story where someone who looked like me, sounded like me, and acted like me, would take grand adventures and do amazing things in far off places. I wanted to write a book where main culture and lifestyle weren’t reserved for a single segment of the population but where anyone could take part in it. Such high hopes.

Every child deserves such a story.

My juvenile literary exploits were limited. Partly because of the topics that interested me and partly because of what was at my disposal More than anything, I had a fascination with white stories even though I wanted to see myself on the page.

Unfortunately, I read white. Regardless of how the characters are described, my mind generates Anglo images and I have to reframe what people should look like each time they appear in the story. It’s terribly annoying.

Sessions at the Festival of Faith and Writing 2014, like: It’s Just Fiction: Reading and Writing About Race, Culture, and Power with Mitali Perkins; The Power of Suspending Disbelief: Why I Read and Why I Write with Pam Munoz Ryan; and Issues Facing Writers of Color in Christian Publishing with Edward Gilbreath, Marlena Graves, Al Hsu, and Helen Lee; as well as the myriad of presenters, opened my eyes to a greater challenge …

As much as I encourage my dudes to read, I am guilty of raising another generation to read white. Looking at their bookshelves is a clear indication of how I’ve grossly neglected diversity in their literary lives.

How had I missed this?

I guess I could make excuses. I could say it’s because there isn’t enough diversity in their areas of interest. A sure sign that we as writers have work to do and we as readers need to support what is available.

How is it that I could be acutely aware of this injustice in my reading experience and miss the signs in the singular experience I am delivering to my dudes?

How had I, one who’d been victim to single story, been negligent? How could I see the importance of raising readers as a response to my personal history described in a recent post, yet overlook this distinction in theirs?

I could make excuses, but I won’t.

Honestly, I don’t know how I missed it. The good news is there’s time to change their reading trajectory and mine. I need to apply the same intention to selecting books for my family’s reading life as I’ve attempted with my writing life.

And, there’s so much more to “diversity” beyond what I’ve previously stated, like: religion, sexuality, politics, gender; the possibilities of variety are endless.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie beautifully conveys the issue of a single story in literature in this Ted Talk, recommended during an FFW session. I encourage all of you as readers and writers to take the time to watch this video.

Ahh! Awareness!

During teacher appreciation week I usually buy books for my boys classrooms. Mrs. B. responded to my inquiry for what books she was hoping to add to her class library with, “Of course, any books with multicultural characters.”

A wonderful reminder to me for which I am grateful.

Since hearing this cry for diversity at FFW, I notice it everywhere. My Amazon trolling looks different, my search criteria for a good book is broader, but it’s only the beginning.

Another reminder I am thankful for is the #weneeddiversebooks campaign that is currently storming the social media world keeps the issue in front of me. This article is one of many that shows how important it is to tell every story.

I wish I could accurately express how I feel realizing that I’ve fallen short. I wish I could help you understand how far we’ve yet to go. But it starts with being aware. It starts with passing it on.

Help me change the way I read. What books would you recommend, for my dudes and me, to expand our horizons and build a richly diverse library? How have you battled this issue? Please share…

Celebrating: Two Years and One Week Later

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

I’m just a girl … sitting here holding balloons and confetti … wearing a party dress … sipping a cocktail … waiting for the cake to get done.

The streamers and sign are hanging on the wall.

The punch bowl is full.

Where are the Party People?

Oh, I forgot to send the invites!

Because I missed the fact that there was something to celebrate. Oh well, better late than never.

Last week was my two year blog-o-versary.

I signed on to wordpress.com to post what I’d written about Seattle and there sat a trophy icon. It’s the small things.

How exciting to make it through year 2. I almost threw in the towel but ended up sticking it out. Re-framed my expectations and moved forward.

Now, I am looking forward to what year 3 will bring.

Thank you for being on this word-filled journey with me and for letting me be a small part of your social media life. CHEERS!

 

 

 

Slapped Style-less in Seattle

You can imagine, I was looking forward to my trip to Seattle, using airports as my personal social petri-dish. Excited for the first in many planned opportunities to gain creative perspective.

Only the perspective I glimpsed wasn’t flattering. It smacked me in the face hard, laughed, and walked away.

Let me start by telling you, this is not an issue of vanity. Consider it instead an issue of maybe self-value, definitely self-awareness. Really it’s about being all of me and not merely one of my life roles …

I never considered myself frumpy (dare I make an Ugly Betty reference here), but I wasn’t haute couture either. I wasn’t a fashionista or a trendsetter but I would have called myself stylish.

I liked what I liked and stayed in tune with the what’s-hot-what’s-not type of lists, you can find in magazines like Glamour and IN Style, to avoid embarrassing myself much.

People who knew me in my formative years, could probably pick things out and say, “This is something Gail would wear.” I had my favorites within every trend. My style was definitive.

Post kids I said, I wouldn’t be one of “those” women who “let herself go” because their role in life evolved and they added a new title to their resume: mom.

SMACK!

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

The truth is I’m a little less Gail-tastic and a lot more Ugly Betty (this is the best place for this reference). I did the very thing I said I wouldn’t do. I became one of “those” women.

While I still frequent the salon for my hair and nails, leave the house wearing makeup and give off the air of being put together, my wardrobe is lacking.

Here’s what happened in Seattle … I walked through a high-end department store watching my colleague shop and thinking: “I don’t get these trends,” and “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that.”

SLAP!

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

As I touched various items: dresses and skirts, shorts and shoes, scarves and necklaces, I realized I have NO style. Style-less in Seattle.

Strolling through the women’s department, with a dismissive attitude, I systematically wrote off every option. I mean we’re back to parachute pants?

Okay, I found a few things I liked: grey cardigan, kelly-green scarf with bright yellow polka dots, and a hot pink D&G trench coat (not an ensemble people, individual items to weave into my wardrobe). All of which were left adorning their chrome racks.

I was too shocked to impulse buy and sensible enough to forego the buyer’s remorse.

My closet can be divided into two categories: work and not work; nothing in between, neither of which is inspired or gives the sense of “who is Gail Hanson?” and if it does I’m afraid of what story it’s telling.

SMACK!

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

When did this migration from bright creative frippery to functional clothing happen?

Even my shoe lust waned. I started looking for comfortable shoes rather than the type of shoes that aren’t for walking but for showcasing with crossed legs or ankles?

I guess partly, in a world open toed shoes, which I can no longer wear, it’s hard to find a cute closed toe high heel. Shoe shopping is less fun when your options are limited to a quarter of the available selection. But I digress.

Maybe the migration can be attributed to the yo-yo 20 pounds I drop and gain annually. Regardless, my style revelation mortified me.

DOUBLE SMACK!

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

I need an intervention. I am that mom.

Why did What Not To Wear have to choose 2013 as the year to call it quits. I need Stacy and Clinton’s help, desperately. What are their style rules again?

  • Fit the body you have now.
  • Shine, texture, pattern, color.

Dramatic, but I was freaked out to recognize my wardrobe is “safe”. Where were the iconic colors and silhouettes of a daring, zealous woman with wildly imaginative streak?

I said this wasn’t about vanity and it’s not, please understand … There was a time when appearance was priority and I measured all aspects of life by outer beauty, the objects I could put on to mask the virtues I lacked.

In my teens, I wanted to be with the “pretty people”, perfectly coiffed, polished and poised, wearing the latest and greatest, so that everyone would know I was somebody.

A poor measure but often in our teens we want to fit in and to be popular. We don’t want to be laughed at or mocked, our self-esteem wrapped up in the way we look. Appearance gave us a false sense of control.

Shallow and ignorant. I didn’t just want to be with the “pretty people”, I wanted to be one. Sad, I know, judging a book by the cover (I had to have a bookish reference). I was in my twenties when I learned that true beauty comes from the inside out; that the dust cover is a mirror image of what’s inside.

BACK-HANDED SLAP!

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

Yet, I’m real enough to know that our culture, our world values beauty. It’s an extension of high school that I didn’t anticipate. I acknowledge that to be relevant my style matters.

Although I’ve come back from Seattle a little bruised and battered, I also come back aware. Aware that my style needs an upgrade but it can be unique and trend breaking and appealing.

I need a revival. My style should be reflective of the artsy, bolder, wiser, and sassier self.

*HAND TO FOREHEAD, AH-HA MOMENT*

Crochet Crazy

It’s been almost three months since I shelved my novel.  And more than six months since I’ve done any serious writing.

But my creativity needs to spill out some how. It needs a place to flow.  Where?

Well I’ve poured my creative expression in to crafting … I’ve been crochet crazy …

I don’t have a lot to say today but thought it would be fun to share some of my completed projects (Note none of the patterns are mine. I’ve gotten them from books or online. But all the color combos were personal choices) …

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

Work in Progress © 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

Work in Progress
© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

Writing is still on the back burner but I am registered for some writing events coming up in March and April. I am hopeful that something new will spark as a result. I’ll keep you posted.

Until then … happy creating, whatever form that may be for you!

Being Selfish

Have desk, will write

Have desk, will write (Photo credit: Bright Meadow)

I wish I could say that my two months absence was due to writing furiously; especially sense my last post was titled “Back-To-Writing”. 

Alas, it’s just because life is life. We’ve been busy. Too busy to think creatively elsewhere thanks to:

  • Work volume that’s unseasonably high.
  • Dudes going back-to-school and the realization that I am not smarter than a 3rd grader (seriously, 3rd grade homework will be the death of me).
  • Catching up with friends I haven’t seen or heard from in a while.
  • Volunteer commitments which are important.

At the end of most days, I don’t have much to give. Right now, no one is getting the best me. My employer gets first dibs on my energy just because it’s first in my day. My dudes get marginally less than my job. My hubby never gets the best me (which is sad). And me … I don’t get any of me (which is pathetic).

I know, I’ve told you this before. You’re wondering, what’s new? Nothing’s changed. If anything, the pace of busy keeps increasing.

Back-to-writing didn’t go the way I planned.

What I learned in the process is I am not effective at writing every day. Every other works better. It allows me time to refill the creative bucket. Then brain dump the next day and keep moving.

I am thankful to have this writerly knowledge of myself.

Now, I’ll stop whining and tell you what I going to do about.

I am attending a two day writing conference this coming weekend. Hello, Breathe Christian Writers’ ConferenceHere I come!

The countdown is on. This year’s theme: Let It Out!

I’ve already registered for the workshops I’m interested in. Purchased new pens so I can fill as many blank pages as I can, with advice, thoughts, and maybe even new novel words.

Yep. It’s a big deal.

I am ready. I am going to be totally selfish and not worry about anything else for two days.

Our youngest dude is in a play that I will miss. His disappointment almost had me caving in; almost compromised my selfish ways. But it would have meant missing the keynote address on the first night of the conference. A topic I need to hear about: The Rule of Three

Thankfully, my husband reminded me that it’s okay to give myself this time. As a matter of fact, he’s excited because there’s a school event on a night he doesn’t have to work. Bonus. They will video it for me and we’ll watch it back as a family.

I’m going. No guilt trips.

Both of my writing partners were planning on attending with me. We’d all saved the date and talked about how great it would be when we could all gather together under one roof. Except, life happened. Babies, family, worthy things happened. Now they’re not coming.

I’m going anyway.

I turned my attention to two acquaintances who I met at the same event last year. I figured I’d still see some faces I knew. But one has a schedule conflict and the other decided not to go.

I’m going friendless … but I’m going. Wait … I’ll make new friends.

I don’t have any new story ideas; not starting a new project. I’m working on the same novel as last year this time (and the year before and the year before). Of course, I’ve made progress. Maybe not as much as I would like but …

I’m still going … hoping to be inspired.

Speaking of selfishness, I splurged and purchased new frocks to wear. I can always use more clothes and shoes but what a wonderful excuse to do so.

I’m going in style.

This is my gift to me. A writerly respite. A vacation from day to day. A writer’s retreat. A reboot if you will.

And, when it’s all over, I will share with all of you. Whatever I learn or think or feel … I will share with you. Community is a beautiful thing.

You’ll be hearing from me soon.

~Gail

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The Boys Who Stomped a Hornets’ Nest

European hornet with the remnants of a honey bee

European hornet with the remnants of a honey bee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve never been stung by a hornet, consider yourself lucky. Because each sting is like the prick of a needle followed by the sensation of molten lava bubbling beneath your skin as it spreads out setting fire to everything in its path. And then it gets painful.

As you can tell, we weren’t fortunate this weekend. We were closing what had been a fabulous weekend.

Let me start our story with a brief history:

Every year for the past 3 years my husband has taken a daddy-and-me date with each of the boys which makes room for me to have a mommy-and-me date with them too. A whole weekend, one on one, of Daddy’s or Mommy’s undivided attention.

Hubby took our oldest to Chicago for Comic Con. They went to the Field Museum of Natural History and saw T-Rex Sue. They went to the Lego store and grew his mini-figure collection. He had the chance to ride on the top deck of a double deck bus. And they visited with friends.

The youngest stayed home with me. We went to the movies and watched SMURFS 2. We ate at the restaurants of his choice and he didn’t have to negotiate with his brother. (In case you didn’t know, Taco Bell is a restaurant). We also managed to make it to an end-of-summer / housewarming party for some friends. He was allowed to spend his money after being in what I call a “spending freeze” for several months.

So what could be a better way to end this memory-making-happy-fest? Lunch by the river with friends? Yes … we thought so too. And that’s what we did. 

Our dudes were happy hanging out with their friends. Splashing at the water’s edge. Playing in the woods. Exploring and having adventures. Laughing and shouting with joy like only children can.

Until that moment when they kicked a log and stomped through the hornets’ nest.

We warned them to be careful and watch for poison ivy but we should have warned them of something else, something far worse.

I’ve yet to experience anything more overwhelming as a parent than watching my dudes careening toward me, in real and imminent danger, wearing the face of true terror, and bathed in black and yellow fury. Swarmed.

9YO: They’re gonna get me.
Me: Let me help you. Take your shirt off.
9YO: No, then they’ll KILL me.
Me: They’re on your shirt and I can’t get them off you unless you take the shirt off.

Stinger of an european hornet (V. crabro), whi...

But I had no idea how to help or protect my boys. In my ignorance, I assumed hornets were like bees, sting and die. Nope. Their sticky little bullet shaped hornets’ bodies clung to our kids’ clothes and hair; repeatedly stinging.

And buzzing is not the dull hum of day to day life in a hive or colony as you see in documentaries. Buzzing is a collective voice of ferocity, shouting:

  • Who do you think you are?” and
  • How dare you?” and
  • I’ll show you.”

And show us they did. Punishment, plain and simple, doled out for invading their privacy; for disturbing their home.

Not knowing if they were allergic, I gave my little ones Benadryl (which I always have with me) and we took them to the ER. The entire car ride they were distraught with their suffering:

9YO: It’s all my fault brother got hurt.
Me: No, it’s not. It’s nobody’s fault.
9YO: Yes, it is because if I hadn’t gone exploring, brother wouldn’t have gone exploring.
Me: It’s still not your fault.
6YO: When’s it going to stop hurting?
Me: I don’t know, but Momma’s here.
6YO: It hurts so much. My arms. When’s it going to stop?
9YO: Oh, I hurt my brother.
Me: Please calm down.
9YO: Don’t say that to me.
Me: You’re right. I just need to make sure you aren’t having a reaction. It’s easier to do if you’re not screaming.
6YO: Are they gonna give me a shot?
Hubby: No, they won’t give you a shot. You’ve been stung enough times today.
9YO: Mommy, just promise me I won’t die.
9YO and 6YO screaming and crying in agony!

At the hospital, they took us right in. They gave them each a dose of steroids to stop the inflammation and Tylenol to alleviate the pain. Thankfully! Then both boys dozed off and slept for a few hours.

hornet

hornet (Photo credit: beckymaldonado)

Physically, dudes seem to be better. Minor itching and discomfort.

Now my outdoorsmen are done with nature. My dudes, who just a few weeks ago were chasing fireflies and giggling with delight, are shaking with fear at the mention of leaving the safety of our 4 walls. They are unwilling to be out of doors longer than what’s necessary.

Racing to the car as we head out in the morning, is no longer a playful act or friendly competition between brothers. Instead it’s a matter of survival.

9YO: Don’t make me go outside until I’m mentally ready.
Me: Okay. Fair enough.

How do you respond to that?

Hornet

We all sustained injury but the youngest got the worst of it. He’s chosen to believe that hornets don’t live in the city we live in despite my telling him it’s possible. Maybe he’s in denial.

My oldest is in avoidance mode. But I don’t want them to be afraid.

I know they’re traumatized. So I’ll watch and wait … Because forcing them outside at this point would be like stirring up a hornets’ nest. (Pun intended).

I’m open to suggestions that may help little people adjust. Feel free to throw advice my way!

Photos from Zemanta via WordPress

… chasing fireflies …

Fireflies 1

Fireflies 1 (Photo credit: ShutterSparks)

Curiosity of children is an amazing thing.

I love seeing their imaginations at work as they reason with and negotiate through and interact with their world.

The simplest concepts can become complex mysteries that want solving; like fireflies lighting up the night in a petite fireworks display.

That’s how we spent last week … chasing fireflies … entertaining our 2 nieces along side our 2 dudes. (Remind me to tell you later about parenting 4 kids for 10 days when you’re only used to 2 kids. Ages: 9, 8, 6 ½, and 4. Yeah, we were busy.)

What makes fireflies light up? Bioluminescence!

The kids all understood, at a high level, the complicated truth thanks to the children’s movie Curious George. It’s a defense mechanism.

But at it’s core, the elementary truth, is that it’s fun. They want to capture the light between their fingers and watch it blink in their hands.

And so, we spent hours waiting in the fading sun, trying as the sky darkened, laughing with hope and reaching for the little miracles.

When they were successful, they would preserve their prizes in plastic water bottles and plastic sandwich bags without air holes. In their enthusiasm they smothered the little bugs, forever extinguishing the light and lives.

Sad. I know. I tried to explain the value of life but to no avail.

From their inquisitive point of view there would be more fireflies to chase the next night … and the next day … and the next day. Youthful optimism.

This experience made me think of dreams. Okay, I had some help. Yesterday, blogger buddy, Britt posted a little ditty titled:  What’s Wrong with Having Dreams Anyway? She says it brilliantly. Which made me think of this post I’d started.

A post which I originally thought would lead to me telling you the story of how busting my bout of baby fever but instead it’s turned into a post about running hard and fast after something as elusive as fireflies.

Dreams, if your lucky come true.

Wait!

That’s not right.

Like chasing fireflies … if you want to catch your dream you have to be diligent and patient. You have to put effort into the result you want. You have to accept the fact that you are not like everyone else.

Being a dreamer is not easy. It’s not for the faint of heart. But I’ve said something like this before, here.

Dreams can be snuffed out if they’re locked away in an airtight container or ‘real life’.

Isn’t it odd how quickly we give up our dreams? How they end up by the way side? To Britt’s question I say, there’s nothing wrong with having dreams.

I’m a self-proclaimed dreamer. And that may be weird to some of you. But I embrace my weird.

My big dream is finishing my novel, being recognized as a best selling author some day. My small dream is to write every day.

I know … it’s kind of a single track. But like my kids this past week, hanging out in the front yard while darkness descended; chasing fireflies … I am chasing my dream …

I’d love to hear from you … What fireflies will you pursue? What dreams will you reignite?

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