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Archive for September, 2013

Feed and Water

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I read this post a few months ago, and it has stayed with me almost every day since. It is so hard in today’s society to do something you are passionate about that doesn’t produce a dollar return, to make time for something just for the sheer joy it gives you. To give that something some of your best hours, not the ones you have to cobble together around work or family or other responsibilities. Like sleep.

I interviewed a group of women recently who have taken up hockey. Hockey requires logging lots of hours just to be good enough to stand on the ice, to move around without the puck. These are women in their forties, women with children and jobs and carpools and houses to run and dinners to make. And yet they are cheerfully going off and spending hours and hours each week learning to play hockey. I asked one of them what she planned to DO with these skills (because don’t we always have to DO something with our skills? Make something out of them? Turn a profit?) and she looked at me as if I was slow, and said “I’m going to keep skating, I’m going to get as good as I can for as long as I can. Because I love to skate.”

Duh.

It’s hard to put our passions first. It makes us seem selfish, or immature, or oblivious to the needs of those around us. Lazy, even. But sometimes our passions aren’t just what we want to do, they are who we are. And when we neglect them, we starve our souls.

Don’t forget to feed and water yours today.

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Recap

It’s officially fall. We’ve made up one last batch of hummingbird food, but there aren’t any birds to eat it. The local farm has switched from selling petunias to stocking mums and is having a sale on sauce tomatoes. The crazy school-to-track-to-dance-to-soccer-to-flag football season has started.  But most importantly, I’ve switched my purse.

Not from Prada to Hermes (neither seems resistant to dog slobber and spilled juice, although I do like the latter’s saddle) but from my teeny tiny summer bag to the portable suitcase I carry around the rest of the year. In summer, to minimize my risk of permanently throwing out my back, I pare down and carry just the basics — my debit card, a lip gloss, a handful of Band-Aids (I said I pare down, not tempt fate), and maybe a few Evenfall cards.  It’s not a lot, but it is enough.

But yesterday I took my enormous leather September-to-June  bag down from the closet.  I filled it with the staples — the cards, the cash, the Band-Aids. Then I added everything we need to get through a typical day — the mini-bag with scissors, pens, pencils and tape for doing homework in the car;  a makeup bag so I can go from running to school without scaring small children; a stash of snacks in case someone’s blood sugar starts to fall; breath mints, gum, aspirin, an extra pen and notebook;  hair elastics, dog treats, and depending on the day, 1 pair of clean dry socks. (Never underestimate the power of clean dry socks to turn your day around.)  Just call me Hermione. 

But before I say goodbye to summer for good, I thought I”d do a shout-out of my favorite things of the past three months.  Herewith:

  • Favorite Sandwich: Roasted tomato, basil, mozzarella cheese, and roasted onion panini. I could eat this every day. (And did.)
  • Favorite Wine:  Matua Sauvignon Blanc.  Owned by Fosters — who knew?
  • Favorite audiobook:  A tie.  The kids vote for The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.  I’m partial to The Once and Future King, especially the first book. Best phrase: “WE are the sinners. HE is the blessed.” (Doesn’t look like much written down, but it’s pretty funny when intoned in a Welsh accent by an eight-year-old who has just been bagged for misbehaving.)

How I wish I could fit all of those things, plus this, in my bag:

Summer

Summer

How was your summer? And are you sad to see it go, or happy that it is fall?

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Missing, One Summer

Have you seen it?  It is covered in lazy beach days and afternoons by the pool. Give me a call if you find it.  I’d really like it back. 

 

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Sun and shadow

Sun and shadow

Today was the first day of school, and it’s tradition for me to drop off the kids and then bawl my eyes out. Three years ago, when my son transitioned from kindergarten to first grade, I didn’t even make it out of the parking lot. The second grade teacher on parent duty had to pat me on the shoulder and tell me to keep my sunglasses on so I wouldn’t upset the students.

But today I didn’t cry. Part of that is because the schedule is different this year: My son actually started school last week, and my daughter was with me when we dropped him off.  (At his specific request, I did not exit the vehicle.)

“You’re not going to CRY, are you?” my daughter asked from the back seat, a sweet combination of comfort and amusement. So I put my sunglasses on, swiped away an errant tear, and spent the day enjoying her company instead of my usual first day ritual, which is to take myself off to the hill where I hike.  That day, when her brother started school, the girl and I were talking about something in the future. And I said, without thinking “That will be six years. Right around the time you start college.”

“Six years,” she echoed, and we looked at each other, a bit aghast. More than two-thirds of my time with her is through — it was light years ago that she was a six-year-old, starting school herself, and light years beyond that a tiny newborn, when what seemed like unending time spooled before us.

But today it was her turn to start school, a new place where I know she will be happy, since I have researched it as only an over-protective, ex-reporter can do. And still it was more than bittersweet, dropping her off at the door where she’ll spend most of her waking days, in a sea of teachers and other students I may only ever come to know by name.

“You’re not going to CRY, are you?” she asked from the back seat, amused and a little panicked. “Because if YOU cry, I’ll cry.”  And so I put on my oversized sunglasses once more and assured her I would not cry. I offered to walk her in on this first day, and she was willing to let me, but the boy was bellowing “GO GO GO! She’ll be fine! I have to get to school too!  Don’t cry!” And so I let her go.  I drove off, watching in the rear view mirror as we moved away from each other, she growing smaller and smaller in the distance.

And then I took the boy to school, where we met up with one of his friends, and they played ball in the back seat until it was time to go in.  And then at last, in the sudden silence, I drove to my hill. There are other places that are more beautiful,  that offer a longer trail or a more scenic one, but this spot is so tightly wound into the fabric of my children’s childhood that there is no other place for me on days when I need peace or comfort. In my mind the hill is always the green of springtime, with short new grass and robins overhead. And today, my first time there in several months, that picture is what I was expecting.

But of course it was different. It’s September now, not May. The grass is high, almost to my chest, turning brown along the edges, ready for mowing.  The tall grass tunnels in, narrowing your options, making it more difficult to choose another way.   In past years I’ve run to the top, but today I took my time, winded by the humidity and a summer spent choosing beach walks over pounding along the sidewalks. It was supposed to rain, and half the hill was cast in shadow. When I reached the top, I sat and thought about all the times I’ve done this route, and how often I’ve had a baby or a toddler or small child along with me.  And I might have shed a tear or two then.

But it is hard to be melancholy with a dog, especially one who has had to be polite and on-leash for most of the summer and suddenly finds himself with room to run. The Slobbering Beast stretched out his legs and spronged through the tall grass like a rabbit, urging me on with friendly persistence until at last I got up and took the path toward the woods, the trail curving along ahead of us, dark and mysterious, with secrets of its own for us to discover just around the bend.

Happy Beast

Happy Beast

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