Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Soul Gold

In between moments of "Do you know where crazy is, cause you're driving your mother there" and "No, no more goldfish" and "Do you want a timeout?" (Which just proves that I'm already at "crazy" because no two year old is going to take his fingers out of his brother's nose willingly and say, "Why, yes, mother...I think I do want a timeout, thank you) Anyway, the sane moments I have this week are moments I am immersed in THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho.

If you haven't read it yet...run, don't walk to the nearest bookstore and read it NOW. Especially if you're a writer. It's seriously a spiritual experience. Okay, maybe that's just me, but WOW. I can count on one hand the number of books that have touched something deeper than my intellect. This is a book that is more like an experience. An experience of seeing the invisible thread that connects us all--to each other, to nature, to the stars, the wind, the past, present and future.

It also is a confirmation for me in some ways. I've talked before about how much I believe in serendipity and how I feel that when you're on the right path (your personal right path) you will know by the way things open up unexpectedly. Like floating down a river, instead of trying to swim up it. Not that there won't be obstacles--mountain-sized boulders and man-eating fish--but that those obstacles won't matter because what's a few bumps, bruises and delays when you are following your dreams?

"When you want something (something referring to your one great desire, not the '69 Camaro you've been dreaming about...or is that just me again?) all the universe conspires to help you achieve it."

Anyway, the book is basically a fable about finding your Personal Legend. Everyone has one.

One of the parts that I liked the most was when the main character realized at one point when he's about to give up, that it didn't matter how long it took him to reach his goal, every step was a step closer.

Isn't that a great thought to ease some of the pressure we put on ourselves? It doesn't matter if two years have gone by between step one and step two. As long as you take that step, you will never fail.

This is such an important point, especially as writers. We are trying to find personal fulfillment in a business that moves at the speed of molasses. A novel can take years to write, years to get published (with odds on forever). But the only way you don't succeed is if you give up, if you stop moving toward your purpose in life.

So, take that step! Step away from the self-doubt and dare to dream. Even if it's been a year...or ten since you took the time out to write, paint, dance, make someone laugh...whatever it is that opens your heart and pours in warm unending streams of sunshine...move toward it. It's a good day to realize you are still on the road to fulfilling your purpose in life.

How do I know?

You're breathing, aren't you?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Bead in the Hand

I hear people say all the time that they wish they could be a carefree kid again. I always nod like I know what they're talking about, but truly I don't. Carefree is not how I would describe my childhood personality. I often wonder how far back I would have to go to find carefree. Five? Three? Two? Do you remember what it was like to be carefree? Before things like responsibility, worry, guilt and fear nudged their way into that space?

This week, I found it. Not by reliving my childhood--as that's not even possible, much less desirable--but by being present for someone else's:

As I studied this little face, so bent on concentration, I saw something so much bigger than the task of putting a plastic bead on a string. I saw that the bead was my child's only care in the world.

Can you imagine? One tiny bead, his only worry. The one slid on the string beforehand was already forgotten; the one he will put on next--not even a thought yet.

Translated into adult language: I can guarantee you he wasn't sitting there letting his mind wander to the playground this morning, torturing himself with thoughts of "If I would have only got to the swing first, I could have rode it longer." Or "If I would have just not thrown sand in my brother's hair, mom would have given me that cookie. I'm such a baby." Or "Maybe I can put these beads on faster and then maybe the next thing we do won't be so tedious. OOO, I wonder what the next thing is?"

That would suck the fun right out of stringing this bead, wouldn't it?

So, go ahead--plan for the future, learn from the past...but give the bead between your fingers some attention, too.

(Thanks for the reminder, boys)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just Write Tuesday

I wonder sometimes--during warm cloudless days when I'm dreaming of the ocean--if there isn't some underlying intelligence to the color scheme of our world. Blue skies above us, if we're lucky. Over seventy percent of uncharted oceans surround us, cradle us and reflect blue back to us.

Blue is supposed to be a calming color. Peace. Salve. Tranquility. Our world is painted these things. Maybe the designer (in this scenario, there is one) knew we would all feel edgy, knew all the craziness we would conjure up and knew we would need to live in a blue world. Maybe blue is nature's prozac.

This used to be my favorite color, but now it’s red.

Red like rubies and blood. Deep red. Red like velvet roses and ugly velvet curtains. Red like lava and Rudolph’s nose. Red with tiny silver beads. Red with texture. Red lipstick that tastes like cherries and red high heels that transport you to magical places of daring and dancing. Daring to dance.

Click Click.

Take me any place but home.

Maybe I am just craving the feeling of being alive, being bold.

Sometimes when you are tired of blue, red is just the thing to sink your teeth into.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Dog's Life

I've mentioned before how I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but--thanks to worshipping James Harriot growing up--I also thought I could be a vet. Animals have always been an important part of my life. In fact, there has never been a period of time in my life that I haven't had a dog. My parents had dogs, and when I moved out of their house and on my own at eighteen, the first thing I went out and got was...no, not furniture...but a dog. He was a wild mop of a dog who liked to sleep on my pillow and pee on the pizza man, and--looking back--I can't imagine making it through those hellish, hyper-turmoil years without his cuddling and silent love.

This week, something special began emerging regularly between the boys and our dog. Maybe it's because she's allowed around them more (as they are tall enough now she doesn't run them over) and they are old enough to understand why they can't poke her in the eyes.

They are all beginning to bond. It's an amazing thing to watch now that I'm watching.

I got hooked on this prison show a while back where inmates were given a rescued dog from the pound to turn into a service dog. I fell hard for this show as I watched man and beast melt under the power of unconditional love. It was amazing, not only watching how the attention turned the dog around, but how it opened up the possibilities for hope in the men that grew to care about them.

I'm hoping that's the lesson being given and taken as my boys discover man's best friend.

Here's a great example:

A moment of time-out transformed into heaven for both parties.

Oh, and this may be cheating, but since this peace and bonding at our house this week was the highlight of my week, I'm using it as my weekly F-U-N posting!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Carnival of F-U-N Friday

Two things fueled my daily grind with the twins this week. One is, I've been reading this book THE GOOD SON by Michael Gurian to try and figure out how their little minds work, because really--I don't have a clue. I know they came from me...I was there. But, I don't understand them at all. Why do they have to bite and hit and stare at me daringly while they do it? Why, when I give them a new book, do they find some way to use it as a weapon? Why is stuffing cheerios up their nose an acceptable form of competition? Maybe if I can understand them, we can all survive toddler hood.

I won't go into all the nitty gritty details of the book, but I will highly recommend it if you're raising your own tiny Rambos. Basically boys need space to run, they need healthy competition, they need to be taught empathy (this is apparently not pre-loaded software), and they are more physically aggressive than girls by wiring default. Channeling that aggression is mom's job (cuz the ex-marine dad in our house just encourages it).

The second thing was mindful F-U-N. A challenge thrown down by Between the Lines Twim Mama to make mothering a different kind of f-word.

For our first activity, I thought, what a better way to kick off the carnival of fun than with balloons! Who made up the rule that balloons were just for special occasions? We began our party and here's what I learned:

It takes exactly eight times for a twenty six pound toddler to kamikaze you will an orange balloon for it to pop and illicit a severe giggling fit from said toddler.

It takes exactly four point two seconds for second toddler to realize he can create his own challenging game of mad frustration by throwing balloon over a gate where he can't reach it. Why is this game worth playing twelve-gazillion times? Again, the male brain at work. (Actually, I sort of recognize this in my own life. Maybe I can chalk this one up to DNA)

Ah! Now this unabashed swatting was fun! (Channeling the aggression was a bonus!)

Then it was time to calm down and break out some sit-down fun, which in our house means strapped-in.

They were supposed to be painting paper plates with primary colors, artsy fun with real learning value. Ha. So here's what I learned:

When you mix these colors together, you get...mud...that you can then paint on your body in some primal need to blend in with the environment so the prey doesn't see you coming. The dog didn't, anyway.

Now that was fun!