Thursday, January 17, 2013

California Stars

Sometimes I get a song stuck in my head that gets me daydreaming about other places.
And, sometimes it's nice to daydream about those other places.
But, it's also really nice to know where home is.
And home is a fine place to be.

One of my favorite songs by Wilco and Billy Bragg from Mermaid Avenue

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

my bookends

How fortunate that my bookends are so close despite the 13 years of stories between them. The little one has a mile long guide book to reference that older brother has scribed with a first born child's failures and success and an underlying theme of  how to be a kind, compassionate, decent human being. Always emptying the penny jar for those in need.

He has recently volunteered to help with her evening bath. It has made her a more independent bather because brother is not ready to wash all of her yet. They have a routine- he pretends to drink the bath water out of the red cup we use to wet her hair. And she admonishes him, “ Eww, that’s gross. You’ll get sick!” But if he forgets the script, she yells at him to Drink the water!

She can be fickle with him- pushing off his brotherly advances when he just wants to give her a hug as he leaves for school. There is a desperate force within him to get all of his time in with her- leave his imprint. When the time comes that he is not here to see her wake or go to sleep, he’ll know his love is always transcribed on her little heart.

So when she asks for ice cream when he’s looking after her, I try not to get in the way despite the fact that she is a horrendous eater and dessert is not justified. They tip their bowls and celebrate the messes on their faces. He will always be her treat- not just another person in the house to contend with for attention and time.

She came into our lives at a big turning point in his adolescence and he learned to make sacrifices. But he never minds sacrificing his dignity to entertain her- dressing in my old clothes and her bonnet. She beams with pride as he adorns her with a real baby giraffe fur coat that he hunted down for her.  So, even though he is supposed to be watching her and keeping her out of my hair so that I can finish a project, I am compelled to pause when he calls for my attention. Look at us, we are ready for tea! He must truly adore her because he knows as I am snapping their picture, I will upload it to Facebook in a few minutes.

He didn't know, when she was born, how much she would matter. What a gift to have someone to help you delve into and appreciate the chapters that reside and unfold between your lives. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

here we go

On December 31st, as the world celebrates completion of another year, I declare my goals, my vision for how I want the next 365 days to play out. I mull over the statements. They sound good. Feel good.

None of it is drastic. I'm not expecting to gain the power of human teleportation or find a cure for cancer. Just small steps to a better end. Harness the ideas that have been making a playground of my mind- publish more, get more work, make more money,  become more financially stable. Push through the fear of getting behind the wheel of my car and driving farther-on highways and thruways- merging- making left turns. Put myself out in the world more- with grown up humans. Just simple things that others seem to have a handle on.  

But by January 2nd, my attainable declarations feel like a manifesto chiseled in stone. Heavy words which hammer with the hands of a ticking clock. Get going! Get doing! It chimes with urgency.  Fear seeps in. What if I can't? What if at the end of this year, I am no further ahead? What if I never publish another piece of work or another illustration? What if I never arrive at the destination by my own vehicle? The beast of the self I think I should be starts to bear down, knocking me to the ground. 

Each day that goes by without proof that I am further ahead on the path- makes a daunting task of moving onward. I stumble through the seasons and eventually begin to trip over basic qualities like patience, compassion and kindness toward others because I am angry with myself.  The pressure of self- doubt erodes my mountain and I crawl into the cavern carved of my own anxiety and disappointment. All the while the clock is still hammering away- vibrating through my head, my heart, my hands.

By the time the darker days of November and December settle in, I have resigned to fooling myself into believing that I am comfortable there- in a state of regret for an unaccomplished year. I feel the residue on my fingers- traces of opportunities that I might have let slip through because I was focused on the other things I thought were set in stone. But I can't fool that gol dang little instigator- that agitating clock. Each urgent tick and tock- a twist and knot in my gut. A feeling of being sticky and stuck. And black and blue from beating myself up.

An alarm starts to sound-pelting me right in my safe place. Get up! Get Out! Life is moving on. And on and on. You made your own self stuck. YOU imprisoned yourself in a time frame.

It pelts me again and again- taunting me out of the cave. It pummels me so that I must face the crisis of faith in myself as the days decked in light and jingle bell dance out of December. You know who you are and where the strengths and weaknesses lie on the spectrum of your being. 

They are just words, abstractions that you are pining after. No one is grading you on the achievement of the vision you painted in your imagination.

Stand up and take stock in the fact that each day that you wake is an opportunity to re-set the timer. Or smash the clock. Haven't you always told your children- 'Open yourself up to learn more- know better, do better, be better. Grow'? 

It is a difficult thing to do-to let go- to give in to opening myself up to possibility without a plan. But, I have to break the vicious circle that I have been running in. No one gets anywhere that way- just makes you dizzy.

So here we go, 2013.