It is Time!

Time is Now

 

It is time to be a listener.

It is time to look

And see.

It is time to know the difference

Between opinion

Fact or

Dream.

Yet it’s also time to tell some stories.

Time to let the mind roam free.

Time to open hearts

To conversation

To let imagination

Be.

And it is past all time

To hold compassion.

It is time for patience, too.

Time for kindness

For remembering

The essentiality

Of holding

You

As well as

Me.

 

 

For The Daily Post

 

 

Find Your Pace

rollercoaster

“I think life is moving too fast. I can’t keep up.”

My friend’s face on the chat’s screen was drawn. She has been through some hectic times. Her father fell and broke his hip two weeks before, cascading into issues that required not only the logistical reorganization of everyday life from an independent elder to someone who would not be likely to return to his home of 60 years; but also the emotional and psychological support for both herself and her father at this sudden change. An active retiree, her father was usually out and about, fishing, carpentering, flirting with a few old ladies at the retiree club he frequented. My friend lived only 15 minutes away, and visited often, but he rarely asked for her help. When he did, she suspected it was more as a point of connection and to let her “feel needed” than due to actual need for her assistance.

One burnt light-bulb later, and it all changed.

Life’s pace for both of them shifted. Her father’s life turned mostly idle, his days passing with him sedately in his bed, or at most in a wheelchair. Where he had counted months and weeks and days in plans and projects; he now counts hours as he waits for meals, physical therapy, and his daughter’s calls and visits. For my friend, life sped to calculating minutes into which to fit things. She juggles her job and two children, her home and preparing it for winter, the recent flooding of her basement, coordinating the care for her father, orthodontist appointments for one son, college applications for another, all while trying to manage the stress and grief and worry without losing so much sleep that she is no good in the morning.

Things do not let up. Her father is to be discharged from the nursing home very soon, and he will need a long term placement where he could continue to get care now that other systems in his body have decided to give in to old age. To top things off, she just found out there is a problem with her car that will require her to leave it for repairs for several days. The logistics of a simple car rental outdid her just the night before.

“I can’t keep up,” she stated, sadly shaking her head.

“Maybe you don’t need to–or at least, not with everything,” I suggested.

She glared at me a moment. Then her eyes softened–she knows I understand a bit about overwhelm. “How?” she asked, voice shaking now, maybe with just a hint of hope that there can be a way off of the roller-coaster and into calmer rides. “How, when it all needs to get done …”

We brainstormed, and she realized that she had accumulated quite a few vacation days. The original plan was to use the lot for a cross-country trip with her kids–and her father–but these plans may  well change some anyway. It could do more good to take some of those days now. Even three days off would give her time to check out retirement-homes in the area without the stress of rushing from work to try and get catch administrators before they left for the day. It would allow her to learn more about the financial and logistical burdens her father will now face and what support can be made available. No less importantly–a few days off will give her just a bit of time for herself.

She decided to take four, luxuriating in the concept of creating time.

The realities to juggle did not change but her pace did. She found a way to slow it just a tad to give herself some sense of traction. Renting that car no longer seemed so daunting. She laughed that she would see if they had one in red, just because she always wanted do drive one that color. She friend relaxed just knowing there’d be an opportunity to catch up, pay bills, cook everyone’s favorite fall stew, drink her coffee sitting down, take a bubble bath.

“I forget,” she noted before we hung up our Skype connection. “I think so much about making sure everyone else has time to decompress, that I get squashed and do not notice until I am frantic.”

“So many of us do,” I told her. “I think this is where we can hold a mirror for one another and remind each other how to find a better pace.”

I am no longer worried about my friend. She found her balance, as she had helped me find my own once in a while. We do that for each other, calibrating pace.

Life rushes. We all rush on, attempting to catch up … But for today, may you find your best pace. A place to pause, a breather in the midst of life’s amazing and yet often tiring long race.

Rest your mind, calm your heart

Three’s Company!

friends1

A little boy on the street this morning: “Mommy, when can I have a play-date with Bobby and Martin?”

Mommy: “You just did on Sunday. Don’t you remember? In the park?”

Little guy: “Yeah, but its already more before than yesterday!”

Mommy (chuckling): “Okay, let me call Bobby’s mom and see if you can play with him later this afternoon or tomorrow.”

Little guy (pedagogically admonishing): “Martin, too, Mommy! We’re friends together!”

 

Ah, friends together! Best friends are immensely and unquestionably lovely, but in my view–and this little guy’s clear statements–the third wheel theory is wildly overrated. Philosophically speaking, a third wheel can indeed offer an extra level of stability … Truth be told, there’s nothing quite like triple decker fun: gales of laughter multiplied, mischief bubbling like a shaken soda-bottle … Not too few and not too many (and if you’re a skipping gal, enough for double-dutch!)

I can see then in my mind’s eye. Three little fellas: this curly top boy, Bobby, and of course, ‘friends together’ Martin … There they go, conquering the playground and marshaling a bench for headquarters. The Three Musketeers. The Trio. The Triple Besties.

Come to think of it–when is the last time you got together for a tricycle of laughter. How long has it been since you had a play-date of ‘friends together?’

I know it’s been a while for me, and overdue for some revision. How about you?

Three’s company. Pick up the phone. Do not delay. Go play!

friends2

Perspective …

Life rushes by.

Essential tasks tick looming.

Hardly a single second left to breathe …

Slow down … take heed …

Even in the midst of chaos,

the heavy endless canyons of dark asphalt,

and sky-high gray concrete,

even in the angry honking of a thousand yellow taxis,

in the press of harried people on the streets,

in the tasks that frustrate waiting,

in the overwhelming wish for time and needs–

Pause now.

Find perspective.

Take a moment.

Change your point of view to rise above

and slow the moment’s speed.

It’s there. Believe.

Even in the concrete jungle

There’s a wide green lung

Awaiting, present; a potential reprieve

A slower pace

A gentler space

Reminding you to pause and breathe …

nyc from above

Quietude

Take some time to be quiet.

Quietude. Do you remember what it is?

“Impossible,” some say. “Unrealistic.”

“Maybe the next time I am on vacation,” others lament wistfully, “… don’t know when … maybe next year. If I can manage it. Somehow.”

In this world of ours, it may be difficult to imagine taking time for quiet. Maybe harder still to figure out how. Logistics, you know. The noise of churning plans.

If you must, make a quiet-date with yourself. And keep it. But if you can let yourself release a moment of control and grab a quiet moment, do so. Today. Now.

Just do it.

Take a minute. Take two breaths. Take five minutes if you can. A half-hour if you’re extra-lucky and the stars align. A few hours if you’ve won the My-Time-Lottery …

Find a bit of quietude. This day.

A bit tomorrow, when you can.

And the next …

Whatever brief respite you clear up in your mind–take it. Make it yours. Be quiet in it. This is worth it for you, but will also pricelessly teach others who need knowing, who forgot the way to be quiet, who maybe had never learned how.

Little ones, too, need quiet time.

Some of them do not know, either. About silence. Constant beeping, typing, video, screen time, phone time, entertainment, play-dates, lessons, coaching, characters and things that move and ping and chime and replay high-pitch recordings.

Brains need quiet like they need oxygen. Like they need love. Like they need soul.

Show them you believe that quietude is important. Show them you know how … begin now …

Oh, I know it is a rare thing; silence.

In this busy, hustle-bustle, to-do lists and beeping phones, email, texts, chats, calls, meetings, reports, social obligations, family events, work mingling, and information pouring in through every moment, every pore … there is noise just about everywhere. A hiss, a buzz, a murmur, background hum of electronics, cars, people, needs, demands, small children, needy neighbors, ailing parents, crises calls …

It is because of all of that that it is all the more important to take time for quiet.

To re-align your center. To restore the foundation of yourself–of who you are and where you’re going and what makes you who you are and what calms your body why and how. Yes, all that in a moment of quietude. For once not in words, but silence.

Take time for quiet.

Let quiet in. Allow it home, again.

Take time for a calm, clear breath and momentarily emptied mind.

A pause for calibrating a brief neutral.

Be silent. Lower volume on your inner critics (they can use a moment of silence, too!).

Just take a moment. Listen to nothing but the beating of your heart, the music of your soul, the nothingness that holds the breath of life around you.

The pulse of nature.

The space between the spaces.

Silent. Powerful. Whole.

quiet

How did THAT happen?

tom looking for ball

Kids are wizards of pointing out minutia of life that can seem quite arbitrary to us. They note things we missed completely. They seem to ‘insist’ on irrelevant details like the way the plate is organized, who got to open the refrigerator this time, or what touches what. Everything takes far LONGER to do with a little one around …

In good part it may well be because their life moves slower. Time is yet to be shackled onto watches and the ticking of a schedule. They pause mid-sleeve, pondering the way light filters through the cloth, unconcerned with how rushed the morning is. They stare in wonder at a pigeon when the light changed and it is time to cross the street. They have an urgent question or need just when you finally sat down to eat.

And they notice. Everything.

They collect each leaf and pebble. There is no such thing in their vocabulary as a “quick run to the store and back” … not when there’s a big exciting world out there. There is endlessness to explore: Cracks in the pavement. Bits of paper flown by winds. Funny people. Yippy dogs. Horns and beeps and squeaks and windows with wonders and when finally at the store, multitudes of candy at eye-level … How could it be that this was not what you came all the way for? …

They teach us patience, that’s for certain.
They also teach us that time is what we make of it. That stress can catch one breath, and relaxation ride right in upon another. That one can laugh before their tears have dried and emotions coexist and flow without a judgment.
They hold a mirror to the things we have forgotten or have misplaced our truth about or have given up on trying to critically examine.

They listen. Even when they do not seem to.

More than most anything else, they note the mismatch of expression, the ambiguity of tone and matter. The odd things our mouths can say and we do not hear.

In part it is because small children are so literal. They get confused when they listen to the WORDS we say and find it not to match the words’ MEANING. Their reaction (and ensuing cuteness) can have us realize hidden ambiguity. They reflect what we once saw and now are almost blind to: how the world works even though words so often mean things they do not really mean.

Want a few examples?

A father talked about his mother looking after the children when he and his wife had to both be away. “She has a heart of gold,” he gushed. His preschooler daughter piped up and added, “no daddy, you forgot. Nana’s TEETH are gold …”

A mother had forgotten something she needed to ask me. “I’ve had it at the back of my head all day,” she sighed, frustrated. Her three-year-old scrambled up onto the couch and took a look, exclaiming, “No mamma, it is nothing there!”

“It is all politics and money,” another parent moped when a kindergarten admission did not go the way she’d hoped, “there’s absolutely nothing new under the sun!” Her almost kindergartener son looked at her sideways. “That not true, Mommy,” he said, rather accusingly. “I have new Spiderman shoes! You forgetting my new Spiderman shoes?!!”

Then there are the cats and dogs that do not really rain; the invisible pins and needles one can be on (and no wonder one’s child refuses to sit where the parent sat a moment prior!!); the feet in mouths (“You can’t do that no more, Daddy. You’re too old. You can’t reach like baby Deena!”); the bleeding hearts (think on that …); the pants on fire…

Language is a treasure trove of meaning, and learning symbolic language is a big task. It calls for the ability to hold two lines of listening: one for the words, another for the context. Children get very good at that around age 5 or so, though they get thoroughly confused before they realize that “listen to what I say” is far from straight forward.

Kids practice logic. They spend a good bit of their time making connections, figuring out how things work and what brings on what. If you pour too quickly, you spill everything. If you push your brother, mom gets cross. If you don’t stop whining, you may lose a privilege. If you mix milk with chocolate syrup magic happens and you get chocolate milk!

They get right fast at figuring out what makes what, and a never-ending list of ‘why’s helps them figure things out. They realize there are desired outcomes and less favorable ones, some adults that are easier to get things from, that there is misfortune and consequence. They get uncannily creative at hopeful attribution of fault …

They map their world into cause and effect. Into how things happen. Who does what.

And sometimes they make connections that are not quite as we would have put them. … Like the little girl with the (newly) pregnant mom, who asked quite loudly and in public: “Daddy, how did God put a baby inside mommy and didn’t tell her about it until she peed on the stick?”

The B&Bees

The B&Bees

Write the breathing of your heart

writebreathe

People ask me how I find the time to write. Though I know they often come from a true query, it never fails to puzzle me … For I don’t see how I could not find the time, when to me writing is like breathing. Writing is my heartbeat.

“How do you find the time to breathe?” I want to ask them back. “How do you make time to see, or hear, or learn, or live, or laugh?”

My heart beats in words. It strings them into sentences and puts them forth into the keyboard or the page. There is magic in writing, certainly. It is not something to claim to own but to allow the flow of. It has in it old life and lives that never happened or might or have not yet been found. It embroiders the fine threads of reality and mystery, interwoven as they are through the uncountable miles of words already written by those who came before: their words that I’ve read, their books that scratched their essence into my soul and changed me, the writers who forged manuscripts out of molten core, the teachers who chiseled rawness into finery, the poets who strung words into daisy chains of soul.

It is a force of nature, writing is. A cumulative tide. A mirror of what is and what could be and what still is hoped for. It is a pool of stillness and a roiling sea.

Writing does gather light from the eyes that read it. Through them it reflects the recognition of what unites all spirits, amplifies the rhythm of all hearts, connects the pace of tides, anchors the pull of moons into the hopes and dreams and grime and steepest climbs. Reading eyes infuses writing with continued life. It strengthens words that last into tomorrow. It is as it should be. Writing is meant to be read.

In its nascent state; however, writing unfurls shoots of new breath into pages for the pure joy of its birthing. It evolves for the very marvel of the stem unbending and the leaves uncurling and the buds of something that could never be imagined until it came through, come true.

“Where do you find the time to write?” I’m asked. “I wish I had the time to write, as you do,” some say. “It must be wonderful to be able to make time for writing,” they comment.

And I don’t know the answer for the ‘where’ or ‘how’ or ‘when’ questions. Nor do I have the key for finding more time (though I wish I did, with writing a vast ocean and only splattered drops finding their way into the daily grind). I do not know where one finds more time for living, when life happens to move through already, interlocking stories as we go. The wonder of the writing I do get, however. The deep gratitude for being allowed the magic in the heartbeat, in life’s pace.

“Writing is like breathing,” I want to tell them. “I can no more cease to do it than I can hold my breath. Oh, for a moment, surely, but not much more. For the words fight back and breathe me and sneak out … as they should. They are my heartbeat. The pulse that crosses time and space to hold together human thought, invention, wonder; life.”

I write because I breathe.

Why do you write?

dandelion

Make Memories Together

by etsy

by etsy

One of the best things you can do with children is … well … to DO with children. Children–like all of us–learn through experiencing. Even more than us adults, they are wonderfully open to new learning. Their brains are literally forming as they grow. They are shaped and influenced by what they see, do, hear, feel, perceive, experience, understand, sense, have opportunity for.

Doing with children is not measured by how many classes you sign them up for, how many play-dates you arrange, the kinds of electronic gadgets or software or toys you have, how many flashcards your child can recognize by age one or how early they can recognize letters or write their names. Academics are important (though maybe not as early as some seem to push for), but they should not come instead of making memories. Of taking time to do together.

It is not about school or homework, either. It is about playing with them, spending time with them, reading to them, acting out the stories, building with blocks or constructing castles from cardboard boxes together, making forts from couch cushions and blankets, being silly, going on backyard adventures, telling jokes.

Feeling too short on time? Incorporate doing into household chores. Yes, the children may slow you down, and there may be more messes to clean up or some doing over to complete after their eyes close at night. However, your children will learn, and they will learn from you, and with you: spending time doing things together can be some of the best memories you can give. Children of all ages can benefit from ‘coming along’ or ‘doing with’ (oh, sure, preteens may make a face, but secretly they crave more time with parents, especially if that time is not for formal instruction or ‘grilling’ about school … and you’d be surprised how many conversations happen when hands are busy with a task together).

Every task can be adapted to a child’s age and ability. Baking cookies or making dinner? Depending on your child’s level, you can measure ingredients (cup, ounce, pound, liter, gallon, teaspoon, pinch, dollop …), list items, sizes and order, read or write down a recipe, watch the clock together to learn time, plan a meal, research unusual cuisines. Going for a walk? Pick leaves of different colors, count cars of various colors of identify specific vehicles and the occupations they serve, stare at a pigeon pecking on the sidewalk and compare birds to bugs to mammals to reptiles, compare views and favorites, discuss endangered animals. Folding laundry together? Sort by color, size, material, season, types of fastener, talk of fashion and media, of fitting in and being fit. Empty the dishwasher (silverware, dishes, saucers, bowls, serving platters, large-medium-small, glass, plastic, ceramic, good china, the best meal and the worst experience, school lunch, social tensions in the cafeteria …). Grocery shopping? A bonanza of options: food groups, colors, shapes, containers, ingredients, numbers, top-middle-bottom, left-right shelves. Write down list, read it aloud, check off what you put in the cart, learn about coins’ value and paper money, budget, making choices, sticking to a plan.

Make memories. Your child may not remember how many flashcards you read to them or the name of all the tutors you got for them or even all the places that you took them to … but they may well remember the time you spent teaching them how to sew a button or built a tent in the living-room, helped them bake their first ‘from scratch cookies’ or let them make a mess in the kitchen while you listened to the conundrum they had about a friend and did not judge. Want to reinforce a memory? Take a photo, write a caption, make a book together: “Michel’s First Cookies”–document the process, print the photos, tape them onto paper, write the story of them underneath. Read and have the child ‘read’ it to someone else who was not there with you (grandparents make excellent captive audiences …). Enlist older kids to make photo books or edit images into a video together.

Find wonder in small things. See and seize opportunity. Snowing? Research the unique shapes of flakes, make cutouts, hang them from the ceiling for some ‘indoor snow’ (extra memories credit for glitter …). Raining? Re-create the water cycle, demonstrate gravity, check out about steam and condensation. Grow avocado plants, sprout potatoes (learn of more than one meaning for ‘eye’ and get curious about other multiple meaning words–spring, trunk, bark, nail, key, slip, pen …). Learn together. Try new things. Fail and err and laugh and try again.

Make time for making memories. It’s hard, I know, but find the time. You don’t have to take off from work or travel to a different country. You can pluck time from the tasks you are already doing and turn them into time spent in building your child’s connection with you. You’ll also enrich their brain, skills, confidence, know-how, and sense of worthiness.

Time flies. Kids grow. Before you know the mess is gone and they are flying solo. Give the gift of sensitive, involved attention. These memories will be what they can pack along ‘to go’.

Photo Credit: S.L.

Photo Credit: S.L.

No learning is ever wasted

No learning is ever wasted.

No experience is ever for naught.

It is what meaning we find which makes the difference

Between what we believe was useless

And what can in fact be used, quite a lot.

Hardship breaks the heart open

It splinters the spirit

But in the spaces then made there is room more to grow.

There is pause for refocus, for remeasuring hope

For finding compassion, for opening of doors

For a new understanding,

Improving the focus on all of life’s scopes.

No learning is ever wasted.

No true lesson is ever for naught.

experience