Tuesday, January 30, 2007

TREATS...

Because I rarely get time to sit quietly and read, I listen to books on CD in the car. A few days ago, while parked at Ross’ school waiting for him to come out, I realized that I had not heard anything during that day’s 20 minute drive to the school. My mind had wandered to such an extent that I had to rewind the disc to where I had left off the last time I had been in the car.

I was thinking about the whole concept of ‘Passing it Forward.’ In June 2005, my friend
this gift. I emailed her to ask her for her t-shirt size as well as for her sister Angel - the name says it all! The idea of this gift grew and grew and finally, a week before Christmas, I had a box packed and ready to mail off to South Africa. The box included gifts for Spookie and her family, Angel and her son, NMOTB and her kids and various other family relatives. Purely through the magic of the internet, this group of people have become very important to me and I really wanted to send them something that would reflect the value of their friendships. Mentioning this is not to highlight what I did. What I will highlight is what a powerful experience it was for me sharing their excitement and pleasure in receiving these gifts. They all got together at NMOTB’s house and fortunately I was at my desk at the right time. There is a 7 hour time difference so being here at the same time as each other can be tricky. I shared the whole experience with them on Yahoo Messenger and it was nothing short of fantastic. I had been in a real slump before that as mentioned in my previous post. The magic of sharing this with them, even though it was all on line, lifted my spirit right out of the slump I was in.


The gathering of the South African crew!


My thoughts while driving were of the power in simplicity. There was nothing complicated about putting this box of goodies together. There was no effort involved in sending it on to South Africa. Nothing could have been simpler. It really is true that there is no greater way to receive than in giving.

As I continued on my drive, I started thinking about those things that we tend to just float through and how we even overlook just how much of a treat they are. Those things that just fall into place without any effort or emotional struggle. I thought to myself that these little treats are nothing short of miracles because I think it is the Universe’s way of saying, “There you go, sister – here’s something just for you, just because!”

Ross’ school hosted a breakfast event and a performance by
Caryn Lin. I had never heard of this musician before so I had no idea what to expect. I invited my neighbor, Denise to join me and while we were enjoying the presentation, we agreed that having the time together to savor the talents of this woman was indeed a treat. In addition to showing the kids the magic they can create with music and technology, she spoke about the need for believing in yourself and that if you want to do something, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. She had apparently been told by a music instructor at an audition she had attended as a child that she had no talent. At the end of the show, I went up to her to thank her and told her that I loved the message she was putting out to the kids and how this part of her presentation was totally unexpected and had added to the overall treat of the experience.

While scanning the crowd with my camera, I found my little man Ross in the audience. Little did I know he had been watching me look for him. It was a real treat when we realized we were looking at each other. Don't you just love the sign language?

In the comments of my previous post, I love how Gary made reference to my ‘groove.’ Because I was out of my groove for a while, I didn’t blog at all about our holiday season. While looking through my pics for this post, I thought to myself that it is a real treat having a husband who can go from being Mr Brave Features, or DDTF as we have come to know him on this blog … to Martha Stewart Features and take it all in his stride. DDTF treated us to one of his dessert creations on New Year’s Eve. Without any effort and enjoying the sheer pleasure of the process he served up yet another winning treat.
Bananas sauted in orange juice served with crushed hazelnuts,
coffee meringue and vanilla ice cream with a balsamic caramel sauce.

Last Friday we celebrated my sister’s birthday with a lovely family dinner at our home. I went to get Ross from school and when I came home, DDTF had taken care of getting the table set. I was flabbergasted when I saw what an amazing job he had done. It really set the tone for a magical meal and evening and I hope this year in my sister’s life will follow on from that.


DDTF was promoted to Captain of his rig for 2007. Here he is handing his Lieutenant’s badge to the new Lieutenant taking over from him.

My sister spoke of how special it is to be surrounded by family and that our families are the most important thing.

Me, My Sister and my Mom

Talking to people who have a particularly articulate command of the English language is a real treat for me. My cousin, Jennifer in South Africa and my friend, Dave in New Zealand (known to readers of this blog as DovNos Bootman in the comments section) are two such people. Unfortunately distance limits our conversations to being primarily on Yahoo Messenger but I frequently learn new words from them and have my spelling corrected as and when necessary. There is no room for typing errors when talking to these two people. They pounce on me to correct things and I love them for it.

In a previous post (oh how boring it is getting that I STILL can’t link you back to one of my own previous posts at one click of your mouse … so, see LABELS …. October 23) I wrote this about my eyebrows in a photo I had taken of myself with my cell phone/camera: “I am not quite sure what the eyebrow/centipede thing is all about.”

More recently while chatting with Dave on Yahoo, we engaged in this exchange:

DAVE: That was the loveliest bit of anthropomorphism I have seen for a long time.
DAWN: What the fuck does that mean, please?
DAVE: That's the way your ponim* works, sweetheart. It means giving animals human qualities.
*ponim: Face in Yiddish.


While out to lunch, DDTF took this pic of me and Ross.



I kid you not people, this pic clearly declares me and my eyebrow an anthropomorphismist ... take that Jen and Dave!

Consider making Tuesdays your TUESDAY TREATS day. Try make all your thoughts and experiences be nothing short of a treat for yourself. That night you can lay your head to rest knowing you are now officially a TREATIST.

Friday, January 19, 2007

OUT OF THE DARK ...

I haven’t leapt off the planet. I also haven’t given up on my blog either although I couldn’t blame anyone for thinking I had exercised either of these two options.

What I have been doing is trying to recover from an incident with my step son that left me nothing short of emotionally shattered. What I have learnt over these past few weeks is that when people knowingly have issues and they choose to do nothing to resolve them, they become bullies. Behaving like a bully is not limited to young school children on the playground. Whether you are the young school child on the playground or a mature adult, the abusive behavior of a bully is hurtful and damaging.

When this dark side of my life confronts me, I close down. My creative energy grinds to a halt and I have to retreat. I need time to calm myself and to recover.

I could have returned to my blog and simply have launched into an overdue update of the holiday season. I made several attempts at doing that over these last few weeks but it just didn’t work. Part of me feels that if I were to share the in depth details of this area of my life it could be of help and benefit to other step parents. I know I get a lot of comfort from knowing I am not the only step parent in the world who very often struggles with the harsh realities of this role. I always appreciate the emails I get from people who are in a similar situation. What stops me from doing this is not knowing who reads my blog. If I were to write in detail about my step parenting experience, I fear hurting people’s feelings. While there might not be much love lost between me and my step son, I would never intentionally do, say or write anything to hurt him. I don’t know if he reads my blog and I would prefer he became aware of my feelings through conversation between us. He does not avail himself to that and in fear of doing emotional damage, I limit my discussion here.

In spite of these self imposed limitations, I hope my blog always reflects my truth. Whether those people who read it agree with it or not is their prerogative. I fear that if I were to express any more than I do when it comes to my role as a step mother, I would further complicate an already complicated situation. In that context, I feel content with the amount of information I have shared here in my attempt to truthfully describe where I have been.

And now, with that said – I find it easier to move on to lighter and more joyful news – with light being the operative word.

In celebration of Chanukah we took Ross to shul for a menorah lighting ceremony. All the kids in the congregation were invited to bring their own menorahs and candles to light. We were the first to arrive and noticed there was one lonely menorah with the candles almost all burnt out. I ask the attendant who had lit the menorah and she went on to tell me how earlier that evening, there had been a ring at the door. The man ringing the bell told her that he was not from the area but had noticed the shul and thought he would stop in and enquire about whether he would be able to light the candle of the day. She welcomed him into the building, found a menorah and candles for him and invited him to go ahead and enjoy making the blessing on the candles. Before doing so, he brought out his cell phone, got his wife and kids on speaker phone and together they recited the blessing and sang their Chanukah songs.


I found myself tearing up as this story unfolded. This story captures the spirit of Chanukah so perfectly because it is all about spreading the light outward, from within. I told the Rabbi that even he couldn’t have scripted a more profound Chanukah story. I am not a fan of electric menorahs in the home. I prefer the real items; especially like the one Ross made at school this year. However, as I listened to the Rabbi sharing this story with the children around the table, I promised myself that I was going to buy one. During the celebration of Chanukah a menorah should shine in your window so that your home can be seen to be shining light out into the darkness. I would like to know that if a stranger were alone and wanting to celebrate this holiday, my window would draw that person in.


It was a really fulfilling evening and set the tone for a joyous and special Chanukah for our family this year.

As we already approach the end of the first month of 2007, I extend belated good wishes from me and mine to you and those you love. Here’s to a happy, healthy and gentle year ahead.

 
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