Changing Tides and Good Tidings!

My youngest children, my twins, turned 10 last week. I don’t believe that I’d thoroughly prepared for that milestone as it had gotten shuffled between the craziness of life, sports, school schedules and the harried holiday season. Sure, I’d remembered presents but it has always been a flurry of gift-buying at this time anyway for the large family and extended family, so it wasn’t like I was totally unprepared. It was more an emotional wake-up to no longer having kids under 10, which put me in a different parent category. It may just be in my paranoid mind, but there seems to be less sympathy for parents who have older kids vs. younger. It’s as if other parents think that we somehow lose our memory of how hard those years were and that we can’t possibly “really know” what parents of toddlers are going through. Again, maybe just my imagination,but as a parent of twins, let me tell you that those young years are indelibly etched in my mind!

At ten years old, the gifts have moved quite a ways from crafts and toys, to clothes  and whatever’s new in electronics. When we had the family birthday party, minus both of the older sisters for the first time in their lives, it was different, for sure. There were 4 minor things for them to each open, one after another of mostly clothes that they had picked out themselves. Before they had received their main present, my wife decided to play a bit of what seemed like emotional torture on them as she asked our daughter if she had a nice birthday. “Yes,” she beamed, which made me even more uncomfortable for her. What if she was secretly hoping for something she hadn’t gotten but was afraid to seem disappointed? I could wait no longer and instructed their 12 yr. old sister to fetch their surprises. I had worked hard to find them both gently used iPod touches on eBay, outfitted them with new cases, and wrapped them up tightly and repeatedly so that the suspense would be prolonged. The excitement and surprise were beyond my imagination and their thankfulness made me proud. Of course they were from both my wife and I, but I also knew that electronics aren’t her thing, so the blissful time then (in my mind) would probably not last long(in hers)!

Several days later and we’ve got app addicts. After we give them a week to work out their excitement, they will need them confiscated every day before school, before meals, and before bed. They may even go to a reward system sign-out sheet if after a week this drug-like desire does not wane. “No, I do not want to FaceTime with you while I’m making dinner.” “Yes, I’m an adult, when you get to be an adult you can take your itouch into the bathroom with you too, but right now, it stays out here!” And, “yes, I’m coming up to put you to bed soon but just let me finish down here before you text me again!!” We’ve created monsters. A new generation of soon-to-be adults who will no longer be able to communicate without abbreviating!

Ten years ago, on the day that my wife gave birth to our twins, the most vivid memory that I have was in the pre-dawn hours when she woke me to say that her water had broken and she was in labor. We were ready with a bag packed and contingency plans in place for our then 2.5 yr-old who was asleep upstairs, but we had not planned on a snowstorm that night. I got up like a flash, ascertained that my wife was capable of getting ready to leave by herself, and dressed to go out and get the car warmed up. At no time the previous day were there warnings of an impending snowfall, so imagine my surprise when I opened the garage door to see at least 8 inches of white stuff blocking our exit. I quickly ran back into the house to tell my wife, call the neighbors for help, and to quiet my panic. No answer across the street. No other friends would be able to get to the house to assist unless they had a plow. Did we have a plow company to call? I didn’t handle that job, my wife did. I didn’t want to panic her… “Honey, I’m just going to go back out and shovel us out a bit.” “No, it’s not bad. I’ll be done lickedy split!”

I returned to the task, which seemed insurmountable at the time, but resigned myself to making quick work and getting to the hospital safely. I surely didn’t want to deliver them at home and knowing that a C-section was pending gave even more fury to my shoveling!

As I looked down the street, my eyes seemed to be playing tricks on me. I saw one golden light haloed by the falling snow. It was moving towards me ever so slowly, quietly, but coming nearer until I could see the outline of some sort of tractor. It was our new plow person, a farmer, apparently, who my wife had just the day before arranged to plow us that winter! I didn’t know him then, but he will be forever known as our angel who guided us by plowing the entire 2 miles to the main road. We still don’t know how and why he was there at that time with that singular purpose, but we are grateful that our treasured spirits were watching out for us and got the message to him!

We attended the annual family Christmas at my in-laws the other night. It has been a zoo every year for 16 of the years I’ve attended as the 8 children, 24 grandchildren(probably more…) and increasing numbers of grand kids and great nieces/nephews under 3 were underfoot in the small house. It seems that every year at this festivity, we mark the day with the memory of one who is no longer with us. It is a reminder to me of my own pending mortality as I imagine the day when these new parents will be seasoned parents and maybe even grandparents, mourning the passing of us middle-agers.

New babies arrive, older relatives die, and the cycle goes on. At the other end of the spectrum, my wife’s dad, who in his mid-eighties is the oldest and the patriarch of the family. He has been spiralling downhill in the last year and will likely be the next to go. The loss of a friend or relative near a special holiday or occasion seems to leave a permanent damper on one’s soul. I/we could use to get through this season with no more sorrow to add to an already emotion-filled time.

As the Christian holiday approaches, and those who are religious as well as those of us who either practice another religion or cling to the residual effects of an upbringing laden with spiritual overtones, I hope that we can all remember the joy as well as the memory of those who have passed and who will forever be in our hearts!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Mele Kalikimaka!

When a sign is more than a sign…

My nine-yr.old daughter asked me the other night as I was putting her to bed, “Mommy, do you believe in ghosts?” “Yes, I do,” I said, “but I prefer to think of them as spirits, not ghosts.” While that could have been a simple question, it then evolved into the subject of lingering spirits after a person dies, people who have channeled voices and teachings from those who have already died, and homes that feel weird as soon as you walk into them. I then shared with her about the idea of opening herself up to feel/see/intuit some of that energy. I tried to explain to her about auras, and how I’ve seen them around people and how the colors have different meanings. I could tell that she was only half-believing me. For any of you who think this is all mumbo-jumbo, you can stop reading now!

It made me think of the busy-ness of my life and how I rarely do take the time to center myself anymore to open up for receiving that energy, and when I do, it’s short-lived. For a little background, I started my working career in the 1980’s as a business owner and then proceeded to burn out in the restaurant business 4 years later. In response to that stressful work, I did a 180 degree turn and studied and practiced massage therapy – a holistic, mind-calming period of good vibes. Throughout my 20’s and 30’s, I had a fascination with stones and gems and their healing properties. I used them daily and often still do to bring me calm and centered-ness. Back then, it was a natural fit, before the craziness of motherhood. Skipping through the next 20 years which I’ll surely get to at another time, I now sit at a desk all day long and manage a natural stone counter top business. Funny how it came around to the earth again…

Today, on my disco-enhanced, mad-walking morning exercise, (sometimes even checking my email or surfing the web or often typing in notes on my phone), you might think it’s a miracle that I notice anything around me, but I did see a sign.

Today’s sign said “STOP.”
Yup, I should STOP. I should stop getting pissed off at drivers who do stupid things, or waiting on hold for technical help by workers whose jobs are now in India, or yelling at my kids because they yell and fight too much. I should just STOP, sit, meditate and be at peace…

But as I approached that STOP sign, with the rising sun partially obscured by the metal, I saw a beautiful spider web that had been woven connecting it to the pole, reflecting the silken threads so that it shimmered in the new morning light!

I momentarily reverted back to my childhood wonder that I once had, and immediately became one with nature and the universe. OK, so it didn’t magically transform me into an enlightened one, but I did feel calmer and my philosophical mind started churning. The symbolic web of life- the interconnectedness of all of us and our universe is so esoteric that I couldn’t fathom it as a child, nevermind as an adult. I did stop and snap this picture, which, by the way, for my wife and all of you other anti-technology snobs, would not exist without my phone, so there!

I remember when I was a youngster, probably somewhere around 9 or 10, and first became aware of the seeming permanence of dying. Where did I go? Would I be back? If I did come back, would I remember the last time I was here? If not, what was the point? I had so many questions and no answers. I think that was the beginning of my journey to find as many answers as I could- to read as much as I could find on the subjects of reincarnation, psychic healing, channeling, oversouls, out-of-body and near-death experiences, etc.

So back to my daughter and her questions…I believe that we’re all connected on a soul level to each other and to our surroundings. Crazy Michele Bachmann says that God is sending politicians a message with all natural disasters we’ve been experiencing, although I think the message is a little different than the one she’s been hearing. I think that “God,” or “Goddess,” “the Universe,” “Mother Nature” whatever you want to call this force is saying “Look at the mess you’ve all made! I left this beautiful place in your care and look what you’ve done with it!”

I do believe in the interconnectedness of our actions and the subsequent repercussions. All of those folks who deny climate consequences due to the greed and carelessness of our country and many other countries, can deny it to their grave, but it doesn’t change the fact that our children’s lives and their children’s lives are forever changed. When I lamented to my 19 yr.old daughter who has been working in the Climate Change field all summer, about the hopelessness of our world and the constant bombardment of bad news, she promised me that she would send me links to hopeful stories when she went back to college. I’m ready to soak them up like the rays of sunshine on my spiderweb!

It may be past the time to reverse all of the damage, but it’s not time to give up. It’s not too late to have hope. That’s what I have to remind myself of EVERY DAY. It’s not too late to change the things that aren’t working right. There is still time to make a difference in the world one person at a time. If each of us weaves our web of kindness, caring for ourselves, each other, and the environment, then connects with others to form a larger web of energy and kindness, it will spread. And when it’s my time to go, I’ll be lingering around, whispering messages in peoples ears to get up and move.

Stop to get centered, but don’t ever stop hoping and working for a better tomorrow!

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