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Election Day….Find the Cake!

I may be unusual in that as a child I would sometimes lay awake stressing about the cold war, acid rain, and other issues potentially threatening the future of mankind. Being sensitive, also, to my parents peace of mind I didn’t want to bother them or anybody else with my spiraling thoughts-

So, mostly,  I carried my fears alone.

 

Now, I have no trouble speaking out and I understand that keeping it all in is not particularly healthy, but I still hold a fierce desire to protect those I love from heart-ache.

 

My 11 year-old son is my kindred global worrier and will sometimes come home concerned about some teacher’s dire warnings about the hopeless state of our environment or current affairs, and I have to talk him through it,

reminding him that there are very clever people working very hard on our biggest problems and that he may even have his own contribution to make someday –

 

though silently wishing in those moments that the message, still acknowledging that relaying evidence and information is crucial,  had been more around inspiration and positive call to actions.

For how can we ever deny our impressionable and listening children the idea that there will always be hope and that there is good and important work waiting to be done in our world?

 

At least six times I have sat down to blog about the political climate here and in the United States as it has very much been on my mind, and at least six times I have scrapped much of what I wrote,

realizing I was criticizing, complaining, judging and obsessing.

 

Somehow, I needed to separate myself from all of the endless chatter and find some light, some reason,  some quiet,          before I could say anything at all.

 

What I have come to realize, too, was that every single time I have expressed fear and disgust around the state of our politics and future,

I have sent the message to my kids that their future is something to be feared rather than anticipated.

 

Shortly after my mom died, I had a vivid dream, one which I will never forget.

I was standing in the kitchen in the house where I grew up, though mom was clearly already gone. Suddenly, I discovered that there were cakes hidden in every cupboard, on every shelf, in every single available space…

beautiful, home-made, joyful and gorgeous, always more and more cakes, and they were mine, ours, to just keep finding and pulling out –

 

Birthday cakes, Wedding cakes, Holiday cakes, My-Goodness-Look-at-What-You-Just-Achieved cake, Life-is-Good-cake, Happy-Tuesday cake, We-Are-So-Grateful-Cake,

 

and then even still more cakes.

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our most recent celebration cake

 

Though it feels as if I have read hundreds of political articles in the last few months coming from every angle, here is one I loved –

the Dalai Lama giving his bit on what is happening in the Western World right now:

Selflessness and joy are intertwined. The more we are one with the rest of humanity, the better we feel. This helps explain why pain and indignation are sweeping through prosperous countries. The problem is not a lack of material riches. It is the growing number of people who feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies. ..This pattern is occurring throughout the developed world — and the consequences are not merely economic. Feeling superfluous is a blow to the human spirit. It leads to social isolation and emotional pain, and creates the conditions for negative emotions to take root.

 

What if I put my energies towards the things I know make me brighter, stronger, and less fearful  –

stretching, reading, walking, eating together, putting down my phone, talking to kids, playing, laughing, drinking tea, writing, making wonderful plans…..   ?

 

Then, spreading  kindness, and contributing where and when I can.

 

And yes, using my  voice for positive change,

but how much stronger and more effective my voice is  when it comes from a place of compassion and self-awareness.

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And remembering to keep on finding the light, the cakes, the reasons to celebrate,          the joy.

 

This is the seventh version of this post. Finally, I think I have it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On report cards, solstice, and my summer reading list…..

Report Cards

This week I actually had a dream that I was impatiently and anxiously waiting for my report card. However, there was a constant and annoying stream of obstacles and delays resulting in me not getting to know how I did.

This drove me crazy. I was actually livid in my dream.

I so desperately wanted my success to be measured in a report.

I wanted it all neatly summed up, whatever it all is.

When I woke up I was still frustrated but also a little mortified by the immaturity of my unconscious mind. Am I really still that consumed with outer perceptions of success? At the age of 41, do I really need to take so seriously someone else’s version of how I am doing?

And what exactly am I being marked on…..

my value as a mother, a wife, a friend, a family or community member, a woman?……The dream didn’t specify.

When I taught grades one and two, I really struggled with making up report cards for my young students.

I found is so impossibly difficult to just sum up a kid.

To make up for the marks that I felt were a woefully inadequate measure of a beautiful little being, I would write reams of anecdotal comments describing what I saw in each kid,

describing their strengths and struggles, their shiniest bits, their quirks and gifts.

I went on and on and on and was completely exhausted by the end of it,

because I felt like I was pulling out this information from the tips of my toes and the depths of my soul, so true to these kids did I want to be.

(Thank you, teachers, for ALL of your hard work).

This week my kids are getting their final report cards of the year and I am noticing something rather ironic….

I am not particularly invested in their marks one way or another nor do I expect lengthy and rambling comments, though I do look forward to going through their report cards.

But as their mother, I already know who they are.

I know how hard they have worked,

I know what they are capable of,

I know where they shine and where they struggle.

I have had conversations with their teachers and I know where everybody is coming from,

I also know that we live in a society that values and requires marks,

and that structured assessment practices are still necessary so that instruction can be planned and coordinated.

Our education system is far from ideal and we all know that, teachers and administrators included.

Report cards can’t even begin to sum up a person nor should we ever presume that they do.

A few pages of letters and numbers can’t possibly document all of the lovely little triumphs, friendships that faltered and grew, areas of subtle but certain growth, issues that were worked through, non-academic skills that blossomed, passions that were discovered, and insights that were ultimately found.

These things need no officious report. They are simply known,

but are so very worthy of a celebration as this end of the year milestone is reached.

And, perhaps, rather than waiting for my dream report card to come (I may be waiting for a very long time), I shall be my own teacher and simply and peacefully congratulate myself on another year’s full and beautiful journey as well. It has been said, after all, that every character in a dream is some version of yourself.

Students, teachers, parents….We all made it!

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Solstice

There is something so magical and enchanting about Summer Solstice and all of those extended hours of light~

and the promise of an abundant summer before us.

My heart and deep inner Celt wants to create playful and symbolic rituals incorporating flowers, herbs and delicious seasonal foods.

My first day of summer reality was a kids’ soccer game and a retirement due indoors.

No matter. It was a lovely day and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Still, in honour of ancient rituals, magic, flowers, wondrous nature, and the multiple blessings of summer, I offer you the image of this tiny fairy garden that Olivia created last summer in Waterton under the shade of a big evergreen,

perfect midsummer fairy habitat….

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My Summer Reading List

Here are just some of the books that have made it onto my dance card this summer and that I will be carting around. I crave a wide range – fiction, non-fiction, memoir, etc….depending on my mood, the time of day…. They are my companions, my sources of inspiration and recreation. My sweet beloved books.

I would dearly love to know what everybody else is reading too….

Fiction

My Best Stories by Alice Munro

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Poetry

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

The Gift by Hafiz

Graphic Novels (a seriously blossoming and highly acclaimed genre for adults too)

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Memoir

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith

The Memory Palace: A Memoir by Mira Bartok

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Non Fiction

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s  Search for the Truth about Everything

A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker J. Palmer

Non-Fiction (photography, art journaling, paper art etc)

A Beautiful Mess: Photo Idea Book

Inner Excavation: Explore your Self Through Photography, Poetry and Mixed Media

Happy summer reading!

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