Ten

Transient

Ben, you are ten today and you have been anxiously awaiting your new age for weeks. I am still shaking my head in amazement that my little boy is now in the double digits.
You are still very much a Lego fanatic, although now your play is more about fighting orcs and toilet humour, preferably at the same time. It had to happen eventually...
You continue to be the kindest and most generous soul that I know. You would give your last treasure to your sister without question if she asked, or sometimes just to make her happy. You delight in making people smile and you spread joy freely. You remember to tell people every day that you love them and give them hugs. A while back we were getting ready to leave the house, and in the hustle and bustle I noticed that you had stopped moving and were just staring at me. When I asked what was the matter, you said, “Sometimes I look at you just because I love you”. My heart exploded right there on the spot. Karate and swimming lessons continue, and now we have added piano. You have taken to music very naturally and I was bursting with pride when you played at the school talent show. You never complain about practising and you love the feeling of the keys and experimenting with sounds and tempo.
You continue to progress at school, slowly but surely. You love to read comics and write your own stories. Your art is fantastic and creative and shows your enthusiasm for making. You love to venture out and see and discover. This year, we ran a 12k for charity, pretty amazing! You also conquered your bike last summer, so now we can explore on two wheels. I feel your confidence rise with every independent step you take as the months go zooming by.
And yet you still request a cuddle every morning, and it is still my favourite time of the day.
Your inner light is still the most dazzling, brilliant glow of any little boy I know, and I am so proud you are mine.
Happy birthday Benny,
Love,
Momma

You don't know how lovely you are

I heard Willie Nelson playing this song today, and he couldn't spoil it for me. One of the most liberating feelings in the world is loving people without fears and doubts and hope of reciprocity. Love is lawless and faithful and is returned in the most unlikely ways sometimes. The act of giving love is a leap, a show of vulnerability that makes you stronger. I have foolishly put conditions and demands on love and been crushed by the weight of disappointment, when I should have let the joy of the giving itself lift me up and teach me something. We do not realise how selfish we are so much of the time. I wish that I could live outside of myself for just one day and see how my actions, and inactions, effect the world and the people around me, strangers and people I love included. I know I would have a lot to learn from that day. And I would want to start again, do things a little differently, be truer to who I want to be, to who I am becoming.

Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart
Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions
Oh, let's go back to the start
Running in circles, coming up tails
Heads on a science apart
Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start

The Scientist by Coldplay on Grooveshark

The Scientist by Willie Nelson on Grooveshark

Meaning

One of my girlfriends shared an article with me from The Atlantic entitled, There's More to Life Than Being Happy (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/). It is one of the things that I have been pondering off and on for the past year. I keep talking about being happy and trying to figure out how to be happy, but after reading the article, I realise that what I was calling happy is actually having meaning and purpose in my life, and not the actual goal of happiness. My brain shouted, "Yes! THAT'S what I meant!", and a peace settled down on me, and then an excitement because I really want to think about this some more.

Allow me to recap the article without repeating, because it is well worth reading: Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps (most of his family perished) and wrote a book about it and his theories on what makes people resilient - Meaning. Meaning and purpose give us a reason to exist, a responsibility to something outside of ourselves, a task that is uniquely ours which makes us indepensible. Suffering may be involved in that purpose, and so might happiness, but these are merely moments of time experienced with no real importance. And yet, we make happiness important - endless books and articles on how to be happy and achieve happiness, but happiness without meaning "characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life". Living a meaningful life involves giving rather than taking, and leads to more satisfaction and fulfillment down the road.

This year I have been taking my life apart and examining the little bits and pieces from all sides. After considering this article, I realise that I have been asking myself the wrong question, or at least I was not wording it correctly. I want a life with meaning, so how am I creating that now and how can I continue to do so? The biggest meaning right now is my children, but that cannot be my only responsibility. There must also be what I contribute to others through my photos, my words, my actions - they contribute to a purpose that will be with me long after my children are grown.

I'm not done thinking about this, I feel there is so much shifting for me at the moment. Seriously, read the article if you didn't - hopefully you'll be as excited as I am about it :-)

Resolve

IMG_5988-4.jpg

It's the beginning of the new year, so it's time for resolutions and reflections. When I woke up this morning, I thought the following: I am happy to be waking up in a warm bed, in a cozy dwelling. I am not hungry, I am not sick, I am alive and I can see the sunlight on the trees and the snow outside, making them sparkle. I have two beautiful children who dazzle me with their growing and person-ness. I have family who loves me and tries to take care of me. I have a few friends, just enough, who support me and love me in everything I do. I have a mind that thinks and creates and dreams and loves impossibly beautiful things.

Everything that I need or I want in this world is possible for me to grasp.

I am so very fortunate.

I just need to remember, and truly believe that. That is my resolution for this year. I will believe that I am fortunate, that I am beautiful just the way that I am. I will do the things that make me happy, and work from a sense of purpose rather than a sense of duty. I will believe in my friends' dreams and cheer them on as they climb. I will listen more. I will encourage my children and try to be the example. I will be my heart, I will listen to it and appreciate that it is unique and crazy and marvelous.

And I will try to ignore the parts of me, and the parts of others, who tell me different.

All the best for 2013. It will be a good year :-)

Do I give you something too?

IMG_3218.jpg

I was on a train somewhere in Spain Sometime in the night

I drew up my knees in second class

And watched in the blue light

Strangers beside me, strangers across from me

They've closed their eyes

So far away from home the empty stations echo

As we go dreaming by

I miss you like crazy

I wish that you were here holding me

In the Blue Light by Jane Siberry on Grooveshark

See-through

I would like to live everyday of my life with a chest of glass - come world and look at my heart, see it pumping with excitement, swelling with pride, huge with love, and sometimes crushed and broken with disappointment - but look at it, see it continuing to beat and thrive and thump on without missing a beat. See only the best people drawn to it through its good intentions and endless hope and joy, and listen to its infectious rhythm as I smile and dance and sing in a snowy park at sunrise, my laughter ringing out over the dawn.

IMG_5287-6.jpg

Seven

My little girl, today you are 7. Seven, what a year it's been! A year of kindergarten where you took over the class and were commended for helping other students; a year of Irish dancing which, well, you seemed to have fun with; a year of creating, and learning, and laughing, and make believe. You are still your brother's very best friend, and the two of you make worlds of fictional characters come alive. You live in a land of super heroes and Lego and barbies and stuffed hippos, each new story and game coming out of your mind in a flurry of rampant imagination. You point out the beauty of the moon, bright and still under the clouds, you laugh at Picasso and tell me he doesn't know how to draw a face properly, you sing along to Bob Marley in the back of the car, and dance to a beat that is yours and yours alone. You make friends without fear or judgement and have a way of making even the toughest playmates comply and you fill the world with the joy and wonder that you find all around you.

I love listening to your insights on life as we walk to the park, drive through the country, cruise the grocery store, and hike through the woods. There may be one too many fart jokes now, and the "Muthurrrrr" refrain has already begun, but I find your humour and silliness charming when paired with your mischievous grin and the twinkle in your eyes.

You are in a hurry to grow up, wanting to imitate the older girls, make yourself exotic, be the dramatic centre of attention - but when you and I are alone, and it's quiet, you lay down next to me and hold my hand and we talk and all the personas fall away and you are just you, and you are so damn beautiful that I want to gather you up and hold you forever. Never stop being you my little Noo, because I love the person you are and all the things you want to be and cannot wait to see where tomorrow brings you.

You are a fantastic, amazing girl and you make me proud to be your mom, you always will.

Happy Birthday

 

All my love, Momma

Blue skies

IMG_1160.jpg

I took the day off today to get some things done, run on one of the last warm sunny days of the year, have a long lunch with a friend, and to pick up my kids early and go and do something fun. This time last year I was telling myself to enjoy my free days as much as I have enjoyed this one, but only a few weeks after being layed off, it was a much different world. I felt dejected, rejected, used, and a lot of other negative things that no longer matter. I look at all the things that have happened over the year, and I am wondering why I am even thinking about it at all. When I try to be retrospective I realise that there's nothing to see back there, everything's ahead of me or standing right in front of me. Hang on to the sweet memories and the love and the smiles and let the earth swallow up everything else. The memory of bad things may be good to prevent future wars or mass tragedies, but have no place in an individual life. Holding on to the pain, bitterness, and anger only weaken you further and steal your future happiness. When they happen, let them come, but when they are gone, let them go. Enjoy the sunny days, make time for the things that matter and feel how amazing most days can be.

Readin'

IMG_2284-2.jpg

New York was wonderful! The energy of the city makes me spastic and I want to rush all over and stand in one place simultaneously. I could have spent a few days in the subway stations capturing images like this one. The subway even provides the framing, how thoughtful! I really enjoy Humans of New York and I am so intensely jealous of the people who are allowed to roam the streets with cameras at hand every day there - what a tremendous group of opinionated, open people, they really are a breed apart. Every place I looked I saw images that I wanted to take home with me, so many stories to tell.It has been an exhausting couple of weeks, but pretty eventful - I won some awards for my photography, spent some time in New York with my friends, hiked and biked in the beautiful autumn sunshine, and accepted a job. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I feel pretty good right now. What I am missing right now is some time to be perfectly still and think while someone tells me a good story. Volunteers?

rain

We are having a huge storm here - thunder shaking the house and lightning illuminating the night. When I was a kid we had a screened sun porch with a tin roof and my dad and I used to sit out there during storms. There was nothing he liked better, he used to say, than the sound of the rain hitting that tin roof and I could understand why - it created a sound that was enveloping and loud, filling your ears, yet gentle when mixed with the wind in the branches. I can still feel the cool air on my cheeks, swirling and gusting through the screens. Sometimes we'd get quite wet out there, sitting in chairs with our feet up on the cooler we used as a coffee table, watching the lightning flash and outline the trees and the distant mountains. My dad gave me a great love of storms, and when there's no threat of being struck down by an act of a god, I like nothing better than to be out walking in them on a hot summer night and feeling the rain fall on my face, my neck, my shoulders, and feel the shivers of delight when the breeze creates goosebumps along my skin. I feel so much more alive and life seems more clear, as if the water is washing away the dust that's accumulated in my brain and from my senses.

IMG_0827.jpg

I wonder if my dad remembers telling me about his love of rain on the roof, or if he remembers sitting with me on the porch. Perhaps it's a silly thing to wish, but I hope that he does. It is so strange to have a person sitting in front of you, seemingly as he's always been physically, yet knowing that he may not remember all of the things that he's told you, all of the stories he has filled your mind and heart with your entire life. The loss is felt so much deeper when there's a blankness in the eyes of someone you love so completely.

I know they cannot disappear and yet the memories are so fragile, clinging to the thin threads of love spinning out in all directions and at the mercy of elements we cannot control. Someday I will only be able to remind my kids about how Poppy loved the sound of the raindrops on the roof, in much the same way as they will remember how I used to walk in summer storms and smile.

Nine

Oh Ben, you are nine, where does the time go? I have blinked and another year has zoomed by and you are bigger and still so very beautiful.You continue to spread love and joy where ever you go, touching people and making the world kinder and sunnier. Your ability to notice and understand the feelings of others borders on telepathy and is a rare gift, rarer still considering who you are. You always have a kind encouraging word for friends, and you would share anything with your sister to make her happy, and you still walk up to my bed every morning and ask "for a cuddle please momma". Your selflessness continues to inspire me and proves to me that a gentle heart can have a much greater impact than cautious one.

Grade three was so much better than two: an enthusiastic teacher and two lovely helpers who appreciated your gifts all gave you room to be yourself and encouraged you to believe in yourself and now you are a confident and enthusiastic reader and a creative writer. You made up your own poem on a walk home one evening and everytime I look at it framed on my wall I burst with pride.

You can converse about Spiderman, story plots, and The Magic Flute. In addition to being a scientist and inventor, you have recently added Lego master builder to your c.v., and I believe you are on the right track about that, the bricks dance between your fingers and become worlds that I marvel at. In addition to your academic and creative achievements, you also managed to complete a 10k run for charity and have started karate which you are patiently teaching your sister at home.

With every accomplishment you are becoming more mature, more aware, and more able to perceive and challenge things in your life that you feel are unfair or wrong. You can stand up for yourself and are a loyal friend and these traits will protect you when you need it most.

You are everything you should be and so much more, your light and sweetness are unique in this world.

I love you more than ever, Momma