Wednesday, August 31, 2005

FREAKED OUT!

I don’t know how to articulate my feelings about Hurricaine Katrina. All I can say is we need to pray, donate, do – as long as we all just do something!

THE BIG FOUR

This time of the year is full of anniversaries for our family. The most recent addition to the list is that Monday was Marti’s one year anniversary in the country. Today, our family acknowledges our 4th anniversary in the USA.

If I look back on all the stuff that has transpired in this time, it seems more like a lifetime than a mere 4 years. At the same time, it all feels like it went by in a blink of the eye.

I have always said that reality will far surpass your wildest fantasy and thinking back on all these events and the webs our lives spin, it is a reminder how we are so not in control of anything.

Our lives hang in the balance and we go to bed each night safe in the assumption that our sun will rise in the morning, and when it does, we just continue with our days overlooking the gift that lies within the opportunity to recreate ourselves every single day.

With that in mind, I have been asking myself all day how different my life is after four years here, to when I was living in England, what have I learnt, etc. Here are some of the answers:

- I love the four seasons here compared to the varying degrees of winter in England, all year round; but I can’t stand snow and black ice!

- I live in a house probably three times the size of which we would be able to afford in England.

- I actually did learn to drive on the other side of the road but Rt. 80 still scares the shit out of me.

- My dog fetches the ball but I get my kids from school. In England I used to fetch my kids from school and my dog would fetch the ball as well.

- An interesting picture comes to mind when I think of how we would catch a bus in England rather than take the bus.

- I could never have anticipated [this] small town America’s dislike of foreigners and people who do things differently, yet I have made friends that will be in my life for ever.

- I have come to love Thanksgiving as if it is a custom I have grown up with.

- That “Hurro, pick a kurra!” is my manicurist greeting me and inviting me to choose a color of nail polish.

- That Green Cards are actually white!

I’m sure if I dug a little deeper, I could roll out some profundities, but for now, this is what comes to mind.

WELCOME TO THE USA!

Monday, August 29, 2005

ADORABLE

“Mommy, do you know that when I am in the bathroom I talk to God?”

“No, I didn’t know that you do that. What do you talk about?”


“Well, things that are hard to answer.”

“Yup, I think God is the right person to ask when you are looking for those kinds of answers.”

“Mom, do you think there’s a different God for boys and girls?”

“I actually don’t know, I have never thought about that. Which do you think God is, a boy or a girl, Ross?”


“Hmmmm, Mom, I don’t know, I guess I better ask God.”

My God-Spark!

COURAGE

Many years ago I did a personal transformation workshop. One of the concepts that was introduced said, “my relationship with you has nothing to do with you.” At first this made absolutely no sense to me. How is that possible? My relationship with you has everything to do with you, I thought.

While reading this post on Jen Gray’s blog, I realized that this concept is perfectly reflected in my friendship with Jen. I have never met Jen. I found her blog and read it every day. When she does not post for a day or two, I miss her. When she writes of being happy, I feel inner warmth about her happiness. Likewise, when she writes of hard or sad times, I am distracted by these thoughts and feel deeply concerned about what she might be going through. Nothing she ever does is directed at me personally, yet it feels as if it is. I relate so much to how she writes and just love the way she views her world and shares it through her pics.

One day I decided to send her an email and acknowledge her work. I thanked her for what I get from it and over some months, an e-pal friendship evolved. I find it hard to articulate how I feel about how this friendship formed. It feels more so as if from nothing than other new friendships I have made in recent years, perhaps because we have never met and there does not feel like any pressing urgency to do so in order to continue growing as friends. When I read the post I referred to earlier, I felt compelled to email her in praise of her bravery. While I still can’t find it in myself to call myself a writer yet, but more someone who is learning to be a writer and someone who wishes to be a writer, I know how hard it can be to be open and lay your thoughts and feelings on the line. Jen somehow does this with such a raw honesty that I truly envy her talent and ability.

Her email response ended with this,
“i wonder if i will ever have half of your beauty grace strength and perspective...
love
jen”

I was so deeply touched by this reciprocal acknowledgement that I burst into tears. I felt incredibly flattered to have received this if not a bit undeserving. This interaction somehow brought the lesson of the concept home to me. When I consciously apply it to other people in my life, it somehow makes my relationships easier to nurture because it releases the other person of all expectation and lays full responsibility for the quality of the relationship at my door. It ties in nicely with the thought that my happiness is not your responsibility, but my own.
I think you have to be strong to live by these thoughts, don't you?

pic by jen gray

Friday, August 12, 2005

SURPRISE

When Ross suggested we give David a surprise birthday party and Daniel thought it a good idea, I found myself faced with an interesting challenge. I don’t like doing something that I can’t put my heart behind and my spontaneous reaction to this request was that I did not want to do it. For those who don’t know the players in these stories, David is my step son who was about to turn 17, Ross is his younger brother of 8, and Daniel is hubby and Dad to them all.

I am not sure how to describe my relationship with David. Saying it is the hardest relationship I have had to endure in my life doesn’t feel like it even comes close to painting a realistic picture. If someone were to ask David for his perspective on our relationship, I would expect much the same response, if not worse.

This was really a tough one. I have made a concerted effort not to project any of my negative feelings on to Ross and I have always encouraged a good relationship between him and David. To Ross, David is his big brother and he does hero worship him, as all younger brothers do. Ross knows well enough that I love hosting parties and it would be very out of character for me to say this was not a good idea. Daniel felt that it would be a great thing to do as David has just graduated high school and because his birthday falls in the middle of the summer vacation, he has not had a party in the nearly 8 years he has been living with us. So, I took the time to get my head around this and decided to put all points of view aside, and with as much of the same feelings as I would do this for any other family member, I set out to bring this surprise party together.

There is something interestingly fascinating about communicating with 17 year olds. There is this kind of unconsciousness about them that truly has me confused as to how they survive in the world. While I am all for living in the now, fact of the matter is, we can safely assume that life does go on beyond the moment, and as much as I preach that this moment is all the reality we have, they outdo me in walking the talk. Outside of the present moment, nothing holds any relevance. For example, I spoke to one of Dave’s friends who was assisting me with coming up with the guest list. As much as he assured me everyone had been informed and was aware of the party, I would only be happy when I had personally spoken with them, or at least emailed them and had a reply.

Within a very short time lapse between getting the assurance they all knew about it, and making contact with some of the people on the list, astonished is how I felt that none of the people I spoke to were aware of the party. I reminded myself that I was being a tad paranoid when I started thinking this might be a set-up to make me look like the real wicked step mom who couldn’t pull a surprise party together. Sad, I know, but these young adults get your mind working overtime!

I followed up these phone calls and voice mails with emails giving clear instructions on what time the guests should get here and why timing was really important for the surprise to work. I asked everyone to please park off our street as the cars outside the house would be a glaringly obvious clue. I covered everything, because if I was doing it, I was gonna do it properly!

I did get a bit nervous when 20 minutes after the time I had asked them to be here, no-one had arrived. Daniel had taken David out and was going to call to check that the scene was set and make sure it was good to come home. I told him to delay their return by a further 15 minutes, and soon enough, the party had arrived.

When David stepped out on to the deck, he got the surprise of his life. He was stunned. He truly had no clue what awaited him and he was shocked. Once the expletives to register his surprise were exclaimed out very loud, he started making his way down the stairs to mingle with his friends. He commented on his way down how cool this was and that no-one had ever done anything like this for him before.

On hearing that comment, I was pleased I had decided to go along with Ross’ original idea and to be honest, proud of myself that I had managed to put my own feelings aside. It was good to see David enjoying himself, it was good to see Daniel enjoying seeing David enjoy himself and I surprised myself at how good this all felt!

I hope your 17th Birthday is one you will remember fondly, David




Tuesday, August 02, 2005

VIEWING

I loved 'Hell’s Kitchen'. There was no way Michael could not have won – he was so darn sure of himself from the get go. The one thing I want more than an entire series on Dewberry, is for the day when I can hear Gordon Ramsay actually say, “I am frigging out of here” on TV, instead of “I am bleep out of here”. I think that was even better than “Elvis has left the building” and a perfect way to end a really yummy show!


 
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