Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Ezra's birthday

Dear Ezra

Yesterday, the anniversary of your birth descended upon you, us. It was the first time you somewhat knew what was going on. Every time someone greeted you with "happy birthday," you returned the felicitations with one of your own, "happy birthday," you said with a smile. I tried to get you to understand that "thank you" was the right response. But you insisted on your own, telling everyone happy birthday when they wished you one.

We began the morning with a candle in your breakfast. You watched the candle as it leaned over threatening to roast your french toast sticks. You smiled and gazed at the flame and enjoyed your brother and mommy's happy birthday song. I sent you to daycare regretting that I had to work on your birthday.

As I picked you up, I wanted to take you home to play, just mommy and Ezra. However, you wanted your brother. So, we picked up Elijah and all went home. When Elijah gave you your present and card, you politely said, "here's your card back." This exemplifies that you are focused on what's most important with no pretenses about the card and yet always ever so polite. This is one of my favorite things about you, you're you. You know what you want, your brother to play with or mommy's full attention--not her pretend presence, sitting beside you while reading a magazine. You insist that the magazine must go by stepping on it or pulling my face to face yours. Or whether you want to get to the gift and skip the card.

You have the timing of a comedian. I've heard some of that is the result of birth order and your need as the smallest in the house to be heard and seen. Once when I told Elijah he was being mean to his friends, and we were having a silent stare down, you chimed in, "You mean, Elijah." And the three of us laughed, as did the friend.

You're also a climber-- the bed frame, the playground, the mommy. You often climb all over me, poking elbows and knees into my tense muscles. I'm not sure where this comes from, but I try to let you be as free as possible. You have chosen to be free with everything, including free from the nap, especially if your brother is around and activity is on the horizon.

I can't resist picking your heavy little body up when you insist. I try as I might to push you into independence. You demand, "Lemme do it," with everything, turning on the light, pouring the oatmeal in the bowl, stirring the pot (figuratively and literally), looking at pictures (and making phone calls) on my phone. And antagonizing your brother; once you were playing in your brother's room while he was downstairs. For some reason, you needed to make it known that you were playing with his things. It makes a better story to claim that you were consciously infuriating your brother by showing him that you had his toys, though I'm not sure if you just sought company or what. However, once you made Elijah aware and he chased you upstairs, snarled and snatched the toy, you heartily laughed from your belly, making me laugh at the brotherly brawl. Even in your mischief, you are one to behold!

There aren't words to describe what you mean and how you light up our lives. As much as I can't wait to see you grow and become more of yourself, I wish I could keep you in this three year old frame.

Happy Birthday, dear child.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On painting

Learning to paint outside the lines.

Ezra is teaching me the best lessons. His arm and paintbrush have no regards for artificial lines. He paints all over the page; wherever his paintbrush lands, he's happy with the results. He also likes to mix the paints together with no concern for keeping the colors separate. As I painted with him on Sunday, I had to restrain myself from telling him to stop mixing the colors together. I told myself let him decide what he wants to do with his paint. I watched him just enjoy having the brush in his hand and making strokes anywhere on the page.

Ezra is also very philosophical with his play-doh. He smooshes the play-doh together to create his own colors. My natural inclination is to keep the colors separate so they can maintain their color integrity. Ezra's natural inclination is to follow his instincts and put colors together without caring about color integrity. He enjoys the feel of the play-doh in his still dimply little hands and if he needs to smoosh the blue and yellow together to make a sandwich, he isn't going to over-think it, or think about it all. He is simply going to act in order to create what he wants to see.

I sit and learn from my 3 year old.

If I watch him daily and carefully enough, I will know how to direct his creative energies as he gets older. If I'm cognizant of what he tells me, I will be able to tell him to "listen to your heart, you already have the answer and purposefully act in order to create what you want to see."

If I'm smart enough, I will apply his 3 year old sagacity to my 34 year old life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

On not taking it personally

The second of the four agreements is "do not take anything personally." Miguel Ruiz writes, "Nothing other people do is because of you. Nothing they think about you is really about you; it is about them."

I learned this lesson a couple of years into my teaching career. I stopped taking name-calling and rude behavior personally and for the most part that type of behavior ceased. I projected a less vulnerable, less affected vibe, I also asked for older students, and I didn't receive half of the crap I received my first two years teaching. I sent out radio waves of "I could care less what you think of me and I'm not taking your sh&^ personally.' I would be lying if I said this philosophy is always employed by me at school. I would be lying if I said I never take anything personally. But, I try often and succeed often.

However, I'm just now applying this philosophy to my personal relationships. I think it's harder to not take behavior and words personally when you're in a personal relationship with someone. It's hard not to take someone not speaking to you, personally. I let that kind of personal affront shackle me to discomfort and negativity. Upon rereading (first time around Eckart Tolle was my enlighten-er) this idea that I should not take others' actions and thoughts personally, I realized I will become free when I stop being concerned about this person's willfulness and rudeness and I will become free when I do this with everyone in or out of my life. Peoples' actions and words are about them. Whatever story they write and tell is about their ego (Tolle) or their fear of what might happen if they have to remove the social mask and society realizes the person is no longer perfect.

I have to let go of associating everything with me, personally, so that I can live liberally.

Friday, December 30, 2011

On sitting silently

The words from the poets' mouths were entertaining. As a reader, as a writer, I've heard those words, thoughts before just in different combinations. It is the combination of the right words that makes a writer or a poet. The energy, the force, the gestures, the presence, the confidence and finally the nervous energy of the poets were all inspiring and enjoyable as I sat silently and took them in.

The words on the wall at Busboys and Poets were magnetic. Words in the air evaporate. Words on the page, in ink exist with strength in a way that spoken word lacks. But these writers share their words and themselves with an audience with reckless abandon and joy. They are saints.

The words of Dr. Mohammad Mossagegh on the writer-activist mural above my head as I watched the poets share their spirits, spoke to my soul: "If I sit silently, I have sinned."

I sit silently thinking about writing, thinking about teaching, thinking about beating some up with my wisdom, sharing my hard-earned lessons. I sit silently about friendships lost and gardens untended. I sit silently with words piling up, writing and rearranging themselves in my head. I sit silently processing, over-thinking, mourning, fearing, yearning, searching, weeping, loving...sinning.

I can no longer sit silently.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On carrying extra weight

When I "cleaned" up my classroom, I packed up so much "work" to do/"plan" over the summer. I took home several bags and then brought the bags right back to school in August. One bag, I unpacked immediately. The second bag got unpacked today, December. The bag has been sitting in a corner in my classroom for four months.

As I unpacked the bag, half of the bag was filled with papers to recycle. I had taken the bag home, let it sit in my house for two months, taken it back to school to sit for four months only to realize that half of the bag included papers to be recycled. I carried that stuff to and fro due to laziness, fear of what I might face, not enough space in my head to tackle more stuff.

I didn't even know what I was carrying and holding onto...just carrying around extra weight.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On memories...

I tear up listening to Luther Vandross' "Don't you remember you told me you loved me baby..." because it reminds me of an old love from college who didn't seem to remember a lot of what he said including how much he loved me. I tear up not over the loss of that old college love but over the strength of those memories of the love, loss and tears that I experienced many moons ago...I tear up because the song reminds me of all those feelings I once had. There's beauty in being able to remember what once was and how intensely I felt the joy and pain of that love that a song can cause it to flood my memory and find its way into my tear ducts.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

On expensive tea

Last weekend I walked past Teavana and was lulled in by tea sales associates peddling their wares via the tiniest samples ever. I usually taste and walk around the store and walk out because their tea is so pricey. But, I noted to myself that I would quickly purchase these expensive fragrant leaves for a friend and that it was time to treat myself the way I wanted to be treated.

I was worth insane amounts of money of tea leaves. The fast talking tea peddler almost sold me with "10%-off-if-you-buy-a-pound-we-can-do-eight-ounces-of-each." I was like, "yes, I love a discount." But then I did some very slow mental math and 2 oz. for the chai was $10 and for the energy booster $8 ; I love myself, but I can't spend that kind of money on tea. I wanted a cup of their hot tea to go, but refused to spend $5 on a cup of hot tea. I happily walked away with 4 ounces total for a little less than $20. I happily walked away proud of me for treating me how I want to be treated.

Then I walked my happy behind to Starbucks for a cup of $2 hot tea.