I figure if I just start typing that an idea for Day 10 will hit me and I’ll be swept up in a blogging moment that will relieve the pressure I feel from this self-imposed challenge, and perhaps change your life in the process.
How about we start with one of the best movie lines I’ve pretty much ever heard, “Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Of course, it originated from Lewis Carroll’s novel, Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There – for you fellow English majors out there. Though I have to say, I woke up at 5:00 in the morning to get the firstborn on the bus to DC, so practically everything was impossible before breakfast.
Let’s try six impossible things after breakfast and keep in line with Alice’s theme:
1. There is a potion, a.k.a. coffee that can make you think – and what would some of us do without our dark roast, café latté, café con leche, macchiato or espresso? Although I began my coffee journey with café con leche years ago, my horizons have expanded to appreciate almost all types. That, my dear friends, is maturity.
2. There is a cake that will make you grow and it’s in the form of a donut – what would the morning be without that? There’s also the cinnamon roll, scone, bagel, French toast or muffin. All of which will not make you grow tall like Alice did in, but will make you grow similar to the fashion of Tweedledee. It’s just a little something I’ve learned firsthand over the years, but never let it stop me.
3. Animals, such as my dog Henry, can talk - I know his bark that warns me of the vicious squirrels outside. I know his distinct whine when he needs to. . .well, you know. And, I know that my day will be absolutely atrocious without his gentle whimper as I pet him on my way out the door. Clearly, he speaks volumes to me.
4. Cats can and do disappear – especially those feral ones in the neighborhood that somebody keeps feeding. They are everywhere and they are nowhere. What I do know is that they are jumping on the hood of my car and scratching it up. I’m pretty sure that will eliminate the broadest of smiles from anyone.
5. There is a place called Wonderland - there just has to be. Otherwise, what’s the point of everything we do? It’s all to get to our own personal Wonderland, where ever or whatever that may be. For me, that place is all-encompassing, undefined – however, it’s a place that allows my family to want for nothing, yet be grateful for everything.
6. I slay a Jabberwocky in some form or fashion every single day. It is the “ferocious maneater in life” creating our daily trials that keep the fire lit within us. Too much, isn't it? Perhaps you can call it that little negative voice that tries to convince us you can’t, but in reality, you can? Let’s run with that.
I’m beginning to think Lewis Carroll wrote his entire two novels about Alice as a metaphor about my life, right? Okay, perhaps not just me, but it sure does feel like it sometimes.
I’d love to read your version six impossible things, so do share.
All too often we take for granted all the things that hold us together in life. Our family, friends, and even our pets are the ones that shape who we are and how our day will be. And, in dealing with all of them, we can decide how much power they will have over our mood. Your spouse may get on your nerves with their annoying habit of slurping their coffee because it’s just too hot, but he’s not patient enough to wait. Heaven forbid. This really isn't a valid reason to spoil your mood. Right? Or, when he guzzles down his water as if he’s been lost for days while hiking in the Mojave Desert without a drop to drink. You know that sound - gulmp . . . gulmp. It should never get to me, I mean, you. Right?
Or, how about when your son doesn't finish his lunch that you carefully packed and leaves a half-eaten sandwich mutating overnight in his snazzy insulated lunch box. Funny how he has forgotten (repeatedly) that the dog will use his Jedi skills to pull open the zipper and ravage what’s inside. I’m only kidding, the dog doesn't use the force, he ventures into the dark side and actually chews right through the outer case until he rips what can be only described as an irreparable wormhole, leaving bits of plastic scattered under the dining table. And, consequently, this leaves your son having to embarrassingly brown-bag it. But, it's not gonna ruin my day, right?
Do you know why? Because, I've come to realize that my life is more than those annoying little moments. There are so many things I love, simple little things, that I began writing down yesterday. I carried a notebook around after I came to the conclusion that a list was warranted. And, to my delight, it simply grew on its own. As you read my list, think about the little (or big) things you love.
Just so you know, I do recognize that standard operating procedure dictates family and friends are at the top of the list, so let’s just say I’m starting my list right under that part. Also, keep in mind they are by no means in order of importance, but the first one was what made me take a moment to think how sweet my life is.
I could easily add more to this list and most grateful that it would come so easily to me. These are just a few of the things that give me a reason to smile and recognizing each one has been immensely therapeutic.
Are you making your list of the little big things things you love? If so, share a few.
This summer’s social studies assignment for my fourth grader included reading a biography, or autobiography, of someone they want to represent in an American History Wax Museum. The idea is that the kids will dress like the person they read about and be able to tell their story as if it were their own life experience. Gigi and I both sat down and made a list of usual suspects like Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin, and naturally, Elvis. I realized that my daughter would only select someone she was already familiar with so I decided to take the opportunity to expand her knowledge considering our history lends itself to so much more than the popular few. I came up with the brilliant idea to make a list that only included women who made their mark in American history.Image: NASA
I first offered Abigail Adams who gave her husband support and advice that even he didn't know he needed - “Remember the ladies” letter comes to mind. I told her about Helen Keller and, of course, Anne Sullivan - favorites of mine when in elementary school. Helen for overcoming the odds of being blind and deaf to be an advocate for those with disabilities, and Anne for helping Helen realize that she could be said advocate. Both very admirable for using their traumatic childhood experiences to encourage others. I wrote down a few others who opened doors for women, such as Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, and as an English major, I selfishly chose Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (some of you may recall Age of Innocence, it's not just a movie).
I found it a bit of a struggle to make a soon to be nine-year-old understand the accomplishments of my choices. Or, at least understand enough for her to want to read more about these fabulous women to emulate them for her classmates. So what do we do when we need more ideas? We Google it. As a list of women filled the page I quickly scanned and knew immediately who would fascinate my Gigi to the very end, Sally Ride - the first American woman in space! It couldn't possibly get more exciting than that, could it?
My daughter hasn't quite realized that there was a time women couldn't do what they wanted, so this was a sort of awakening for her. We picked up Sally Ride: First American Woman in Space from the library and it’s been a learning experience for both of us. Did you know that Sally was also the youngest American to ever be in space? According to the biography we read, Sally never considered being a female as an obstacle because her parents led her to believe she could do anything and be anyone she wanted, so she did. This is exactly what I tell my own daughter.
This isn't to say it was easy for Sally to soar above the clouds a little over thirty years ago as she was one of six women chosen by NASA in those early days, but what an amazing bio to share with my daughter. Sally made it happen because she wanted it and worked hard to achieve her goals. That’s the way it’s supposed to happen, male or female, and I want that more for my daughter than I've ever wanted for myself. I want her to believe that being a girl doesn't decide her path, but her devotion to what she wants does.
When I read the line from the first chapter of the book, “This launching marks the first time in history that an American woman will fly in space,” I felt a bit emotional. In fact, I was surprised that I got a little choked up and I really can’t explain why. Maybe I feel gratitude toward Sally, or perhaps a bit of pride? I can only describe it as that same feeling that I feel when someone sings the Star-Spangled Banner, right when they get to the part where we “yet wave” and pause for a bit. I’m good until that line of the song and then . . . hot mess, every time.Image: NASA.gov
I may be a bit more enthusiastic about Sally Ride and her accomplishments than my daughter at this point, but she did interrupt with all sorts of questions and observations. Some being silly, like “Why would Sally like Superman best when Spiderman can shoot webs from his arm?” And, more importantly, “What does it mean when the Challenger only reached a force of 3 g’s? What’s a ‘g’?” In case you were wondering, a “g” is one earth gravity, the acceleration of the objects due to gravity on Earth. There’s more to it, but that’s a whole other blog.
Reassuringly, this means my ever-so-intelligent daughter was, at the very least, paying attention. Her inquisitiveness gives me hope that I’m doing my job right so far as she never seems to consider that being a girl is any reason to not be or do what she wants. I look forward to the day when my daughter decides what she wants to be when she grows up and rest assured that I will be there to cheer her on.
"Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see."
Just a bit more about Dr. Sally Ride
- Audio of the 1983 lift-off
- "Remembering Sally Ride, Space Pioneer"
Mashable.com - "10 Badass Quotes from Sally Ride"
Sally Ride Science - Founded by Sally Ride to educate, engage, and inspire students
Women@NASA - Honors Sally Ride
I really do want to start the new year off right, however I think it would be silly to create a list of resolutions when I really haven’t scratched everything off last year’s. Actually, I’m not even sure I made a list last year. The beginning of 2012 was quite busy as I was starting my second to last semester at UCF, which was my resolution after finishing high school - get a bachelor’s degree. But, I stopped working on that one twenty years ago. Clearly I like the no pressure approach to my resolutions.
Having three kids, a husband in law school and going to school full time myself last year left no room for any other tasks to check off on a list anyway. I have, however, received my degree now, so a new resolution may be in order. I’ve been reading other people’s lists to see if I might want to adopt a few, but they’re really everyday things I strive to do anyway. Be a better person. Try to lose a few pounds. Be more organized. Be more patient with things I cannot control. Shower daily - okay, I added this one, but amazingly enough this is a challenge sometimes with three kids, therefore list worthy.
Perhaps the only thing I should really be resolved to do this year is continue to not plan anything and just go with the flow. My life not going according to my mapped-out design is the one thing that has led to resentment, which is just bad - for anyone. Naturally, a more relaxed approach to life seems like a good resolution for 2013. I found this quote a while back by writer Joseph Campbell where he sums it up rather nicely:
We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
It's a work in progress applying that little nugget of advice whether its for my kids, my marriage or just little ol’ me. I’m not referring to little things like planning a kid’s birthday party, but I guess even then it still may apply. For example, let's say you bought a piñata and painstakingly filled with sugary treats, but it won’t break despite the repeated beatings from impatient children. What's a mom to do? Well, she resorts to using her son’s baseball bat, cursing under her breath and finally ripping it apart with her bare hands. Purely hypothetical of course, and probably not what Campbell meant, but you get my drift.
So, maybe it is the little things we plan as it’s all about adaptability, right? According to Merriam-Webster, adaptation is a modification that makes one more fit for existence under the conditions of their environment. If there’s anything I have become, it’s adaptable. I adapted to marriage. I adapted to each of my three children. I adapted to five different cities. I even adapted to a family franchise business with my in-laws (don’t try to wrap your head around that one). I think my biggest personal adaptation is generating enough courage to go back to college and sit amongst students who I could have easily given birth to. In-laws don’t sound so bad compared to that, I assure you.
And, to finish Campbell’s thought, there is one other thing I can do this year, follow my bliss. A bit odd
sounding, I know, but since I fancy quotes, here’s another fabulous thing he wrote:
If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.
I haven’t quite picked it apart to make it apply to my life, but I’m prepared to call it a resolution. It’s not always easy to smile when things don’t go my way and I very much despise that old adage that everything happens for a reason. Ugh, it’s the absolute worst thing to say to someone who is disappointed in love, life or simply when their ice cream falls off the cone onto their lap. Oh, then there’s the other one people use when they don’t know what to say, “It wasn’t meant to be.” Really? My ice cream wasn’t meant to be eaten? Did you apply your study of Socrates’ method to figure that one out? I must know.
But, I digress. I just really want to be one of those people with a stupid grin on my face when a plan goes awry. Not because I don’t care, but because I have found a way to be content with my life no matter what's thrown at me. I want laugh when I accidently add a cup of salt instead of sugar to the cookies I'm making for my daughter's class party. Actually, I want to cry, but then I want to laugh because it's no big deal...even though it is a big deal because I used the last of the chocolate chips...but I can just go buy more, right?
Oh, I almost forgot - Ha...ha...ha.
See, I'm making progress already. How are you doing with your resolutions?
My photo adventures in Florida