Something came up in a casual conversation the other day that I’ve been pondering ever since — whether people are fundamentally good beings that sometimes make bad choices or not.
I was surprised to learn that a couple of folks I know think that people aren’t good, that being good is a choice and that, usually, people choose bad — because it’s easier, mostly. At least that’s what I got from the conversation. I was reeling a bit, as it was an unexpected revelation.
Fortunately, it reaffirmed for me my belief that people are good. We are made of God. We stray from our knowledge of that at times. But we prefer to move towards our divine selves, rather than away. People make bad choices and, because of that, carry out actions and say words that hurt themselves and others. But they are still good. Their fundamental nature hasn’t changed.
Which brings me to me (of course!). No matter what I’ve experienced or have been through, my divine nature is unchanged. I am still good. And I am not broken.
Sometimes life leaves me feeling a bit battered. But I have to remind myself that I’m not broken. That the things I’ve been through haven’t stained me or made me anything less than the being I was when I was first born, fresh into this world. I think about my children and holding them and newborns — they were so old and so innocent at the same time. I cannot imagine my view of their divine nature changing just because outside forces influence them and impose upon them.
Of course, it could also be said that, while completely innocent in any of the crimes (of the law or the spirit) that I’ve been subjected to, I also called them into my experience for whatever reason. Maybe I needed to learn that I was still pure God-light, no matter what.
One of the things I’ve done throughout my life to deal with difficult times is turn to music. As a child, I just listened and sang. In my early 20s, I learned to play guitar. For a while, I gigged at local coffee shops, restaurants, bars, bookstores and even a co-op supermarket.
I found, though, that most of the songs I liked to play and sing were…well, a bit mournful. For some reason, once I had children, I put my music away. Things got so tumultuous for a while that I didn’t know how to access much, emotionally. Plus, I had small children. Ever try to make it through an entire song with a toddler at your feet?
Now that I’ve decided I want to rededicate myself to, well, myself, I want the songs I sing to raise my spirit–and that of the folks who hear them. So, here’s Hands by Jewel. We are never broken.
Today marks one month since my back surgery. (It’s also the 3-month-a-versary of our wedding. What a summer.)
I’m healing well, physically. My incisions are turning into scars, I’m going to physical therapy twice a week and working on core strengthening, and I’m back to work full-time. And I’m almost completely off pain meds.
I’m pretty wiped out by the end of the day, but generally, each week, I have more energy. I’m in much less pain and taking much less pain medication than before surgery. So things are going well.
Emotionally, it’s been a wacky month.
I’m not sure what to attribute it to: having my insides exposed in an operating room, anesthesia, or having 20+ years of back pain go away. I feel like I’m being given an incredible opportunity to let go of all the pain from the last couple of decades — and not just the physical stuff. All sorts of emotional stuff has been shaken up lately and come to the surface.
I’m a lucky woman.
Because I’m finally in a safe place in my life where things can come up, I can look at them and decide what to discard and let go of.
Being in physical pain is really hard. It affects your emotional life so much. And often makes you (ahem, me), a less than pleasant person. My body isn’t totally sorted out only a month after a major operation, but I know I’m headed in the right direction. While my incisions still hurt and my lower back aches at times (and my hip smarts from the bone graft!), it’s different. The severe pain that just kept getting worse is gone. I’m ready for joy to come in, in its place. That’s a good feeling.Miscellaneous | Comment (0)
I picked Berry up from ballet class today, along with Duncan and our new after-school nanny. She was crying for a reason I didn’t quite ever get–something to do with trying to do cartwheels.
As I hugged her and tried to cheer her up, I talked about doing ballet myself as a kid. I took classes from age 4-7 and loved it. I was quite the little ballerina. And then I stopped.
And the natural question was asked, “Why did you stop?”
What is Berry that asked? Or Duncan? Or a parent of another child? I don’t know now–the shock of realizing I couldn’t answer it must have prevented the memory from forming.
I came up with an answer of sorts. Not a good one. Not one that prevented more questions. “Something disastrous happened.”
Well…the simple truth that I couldn’t say was that something really bad happened. I was in the changing room of some community center after a performance and some old man (the janitor? a grandparent? some dude off the street?) got me in an adjoining room and did unspeakable things to me that should never happen to a 7-year-old. I have an idea what. I still don’t fully remember. I know he said he watched me on stage and couldn’t take his eyes off me. That I looked lovely. Or something like that.
I know that afterward, on the way home, I cried hysterically. But I wouldn’t tell my Mum why. She tried for days, but I wouldn’t speak about it. And I refused to go to ballet ever again.
I know he threatened me or my family. I have a feeling I fought back — because that’s what I do. Which is probably where the threat came in.
And then I locked it away, somewhere in my head, for years.
It didn’t keep me off the stage, in the end. Although I think it’s still part of why I refuse to let my light shine too brightly.
But what do I tell my daughter? Who I let go to ballet and perform in shows. How do I teach her to fend for herself but not be afraid of everyone?
I haven’t figured that one out yet.
I love the kids’ innocence. But they need to know that sometimes people make bad choices that really hurt other people. They need to know that most adults are OK. But that if someone ever touches them in the wrong kind of way, it’s OK to hit and kick and scream and bite and do everything they can to defend themselves. And that any secret an adult tells them to keep is one that they need to tell. That’ll make surprise parties and presents a bit tricky, but they’ll figure out the nuance one day.
I don’t want them to grow up afraid to be without me. Because I can’t be with them all of the time — I’ve got that work thing to do and it would drive me insane. And it’s not healthy.
So I’ll ponder that one for a while and hope she forgets about it while I do. At least until next week.Kids, Writing | Comment (1)
I got a good amount of my “things to do while the kids are away” list done. The baby books didn’t quite get finished (although I did order the photos).
I’ve had a new list lately: things to do before surgery. I’m having spinal fusion on Monday morning.
It’s an odd experience — the countdown to surgery. A list of things I want to do now because I know I won’t be able to for a few weeks afterward. Gardening, henna-ing my hair, school supply shopping, getting the kids’ hair cut, finally getting my “well woman” checkup (only 8 months overdue).
Having a deadline makes things happen in my world.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about having surgery. I’m hopeful it will make things better. I don’t fancy being sliced open for that to happen, but I’ve tried almost every other option available. The ones I haven’t (such as spinal decompression) just don’t seem worthwhile at this point.
I know I won’t like feeling incapacitated afterward, unable to bend and lift, being super careful getting in and out of a chair, not being able to work at all for at least a week. I checked email on my 5-day honeymoon.
But it is what it is. The world around me will keep revolving. As long as someone feeds the kids, gives them baths and puts them to be relatively on time, we’ll be OK.Miscellaneous | Comments (2)
On Sunday, Duncan and Berry go to their Dad’s for three weeks. Twice a year, I get a parental reprieve. I enjoy the first week. And then I miss them so much it becomes distracting. I can make it through the second week. After that…
I usually cope with times like these by staying busy. So here’s a list of things to do while they kiddos are away:
- Learn to play the ukele (after buying one)
- Update the kids’ baby books
- Sort through photos and order a photo album from whenever the last one left off
- File the pile of bills upstairs
- Go on a honeymoon
- Celebrate Adam’s birthday
- Go on lots of dates
- Eat out anytime I don’t feel like cooking dinner
- Hem the new curtains for the living room and dining room
- Do gardening
- Play guitar and piano
- Sleep in
- Get the hedges trimmed
- Get the sprinklers fixed
- Tidy the kids’ rooms and basement playroom
- Donate lots of stuff to charity
- Sell the inversion table
- Sort through wedding photos
- Print a wedding album
- Write and send wedding thank you cards
- Shop alone at Target for clothes for myself
That should keep me busy, right?Kids, Various obsessions | Comments (2)
Yesterday evening, as I drove to class, I saw a bird splashing and bathing in a puddle.
Time expanded for a few moments. And I was connected. To the bird (I’m not sure what kind. I’m inclined to say it was a duck, but then I wonder what a duck might have been doing in the middle of the road?). To the puddle and the pavement and the earth.
I felt joy in those moments. Joy for that connection. And joy, also, for my awareness of it.
And then I drove on, because time keeps moving forward, bring that sent of joy and connectedness with me.Spiritualism | Comment (0)
Or: Because apparently I like filling my children with sugar
Berry has been begging me for marshmallows. I’m fine with kids having treats. But I do object to them eating ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and food colorings (also artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils and MSG – my list of nos is fairly short).
It’s surprisingly hard to find marshmallows without those first two ingredients. We did, for a while, at Market of Choice. But then they stopped carrying them. The best I could find are Dandies, which list corn syrup (at least not high fructose) as the first ingredient.
So I decided to make my own.
Rather than go the no-refined-sugar approach (by making them out of $20 worth of maple syrup or agave nectar), I went with plain, organic, somewhat brown sugar.
I’m finally found a recipe that called for only sugar (not light corn syrup which contains HFCS) at Marshmallow Chef Sticks (#6). I decided to use this one as, when I went to look for the candy thermometers other recipes called for, I found them both cracked. Adding mercury and/or little bits of broken glass seemed like a bad idea, so out they went.
2 envelopes Knox gelatin (o.5 oz/14 g)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1. Boil sugar and hot water together until thread stage (which I think is around 450-480F if you do have a candy thermometer). Note: I didn’t actually look up what “thread stage” means, but I decided it’s the point at which you can see the sugar mixture visibly change and thicken and a thread of stickiness hang from the spoon. This takes a while — a good 10 minutes at least.
2. Mix gelatin and cold water together to dissolve (do this while boiling hot water and sugar). It will swell up.
3. Add gelatin/cold water mixture to the hot mixture. Stir.
4. Add salt and vanilla.
5. Beat until thick, white and fluffy. Mixture will have cooled down at this point.
6. Cover baking pans with powdered sugar. Pour mixture into pans 1/2″ to 1″ deep. Allow to cool.
7. Loosen edges with a wet knife. Turn out onto a sheet of waxed paper covered in powdered sugar. Cut into cubes and roll in powdered sugar. Store in an air tight container.
Note: My experience with step 7 didn’t quite go as prescribed. The marshmallows didn’t gracefully slip out of the pan ready to be cut up. Marshmallows are sticky. I cut them into cubes, then pried them out of the pan with a spoon, then rolled them in powdered sugar. It ended up working out fine, if not exactly according to directions.
This is what the mixture looks like when it’s done (and a little girl is helping you clean up and do quality assurance testing).
I used half the mixture to make marshmallows and half to make rice krispie treats.
Rice Krispie Treats
Melt butter (about 1 TBSP). Mix in gooey marshmallow. Add rice crispies and mix until well coated. Note: Use fresh cereal, not stale cereal. The end result will be much better.
I didn’t use exact or measured amounts, as I simply emptied the box of cereal into the marshmallow. I added some natural red food coloring to make them pink (the color Duncan picked).
Empty bowl into greased pan and spread. Allow to cool. Cut into pieces and feed to children.
The cooling concoctions:
Food...mmmm, gluten free, Kids | Comment (0)
In November 2011, I finally graduated college. It took 16 years from start to finish, three enrollments (Florida State University, Rochester Institute of Technology and SUNY Empire State College, and several declared majors (theatre, communications, multidisciplinary studies, cultural studies).
And Adam gave me a Kindle as a happy graduation present.
He had no idea what he was doing. A spark was ignited within me and I rediscovered my love of reading. It had been denied to me for years — ever since the kids were born and I stopped going to my monthly LitWits book club.
My Kindle is small. The battery lasts forever. The screen is so easy to read. It’s like paper. But it’s not. It’s magic. If I love my Kindle so much, why don’t I marry it? Is that an option?
What I love is that it breaks down the barriers to reading. I can carry it in my handbag and whip it out any time I need to wait anywhere for anything. I can read while cuddling the kids to sleep. I can even read on the toilet. When I’m in the midst of a really intense book, I can read walking around the hallways at work, on my way to the office upstairs; or while brushing my teeth. (I may have a bit of a reading problem.)
I’m not sure I can count the number of books I’ve read since November. I started with Nora Roberts’ Bed of Roses (book 2 of the Bride Quartet) because it was the first thing I could find that was available at the Eugene library for download. Then I went on to a series of unfortunate romance novels (available for free download on Amazon.com).
I finally got smart and asked my Facebook friends for recommendations.
I then raced my way through books 1-7 of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I got books 1-6 as a set from the library on a 21-day loan. I was finished with them before they were due. I’m not sure I’m very good at writing book reviews, but I might give it a try, in my own way. Another time. I’ve got book 8, Proven Guilty, calling to me on my Kindle now…Books | Comment (0)
In an attempt to get kids off the computer without a fuss, I suggested we make cuddly toys, aka stuffies. It’s come up a few times so today seemed like the day.
I’d purchased some various plush toy material for Emma for a class project and had leftover material from Halloween. Duncan chose the brown fuzzy stuff to make a hamster. Berry went for the pink fleece to make a kitty.
I would post patterns but, basically, I asked them to draw what they wanted it to look like. Then I made a pattern on a piece of paper and cut out 2 pieces. The body was one piece. The tail was another.
As neither child knows how to sew, I gave them a quick sewing lesson — running stitch for Duncan, over stitching for Berry (is that even the right word?) — knowing I’d need to go over it for them so all the stuffing wouldn’t fall out, but wanting them to get some practice and participate. It went fairly well, considering.
After stitching, we turned them right side out and stuffed. That was probably their favorite part. Then I sewed them up and added tails. I put a thick twisty tie I found in the kitchen drawer into Berry’s cat’s tail to give it some curling ability.
For some reason, Berry decided her cat should have fluffy white eyes. I recommend felt, not fuzzy white fabric. Fortunately, I talked her into felt for the mouth. Duncan insisted on ears and feet for his hamster (note that Berry’s cat doesn’t have legs…).
Once completed, and ready to become inducted into Sonic the Hedgehog’s band of Freedom Fighters, all that was left was giving them names. Duncan went for something simple: Chocolate. Berry, however, wanted a full and complete name for her creation. Kitty Cutie-Cat wasn’t enough. It needed a last name. Gustina was rejected. As was Freedom, as Robotnik would immediately know that the cat was out to defeat him if his last name was Freedom. So I suggested Evil, to fool Robotnik. And so Kitty Cutie-Cat Evil was christened and sent forth into battle.Craftiness | Comment (1)