Archives for posts with tag: growth

“Raising a kid is part joy and part guerilla warfare.” -Ed Asner

 

Hahaha. Well said, Ed.

I’ve often reflected that there is nothing on earth for which an individual would be completely unprepared if he/she had first had the opportunity to be a parent.

Child-rearing requires an extensive personal resume consisting of various skills; everything from tolerance and patience to impressive ingenuity.

We parents have admirable mediator skills and are intuitive psychotherapists. We act as motivational speakers, executive chefs, CEO’s, tutors, nursemaids, professional organizers and more.

There is no vocation requiring a greater range of abilities or a more diverse skill set.

And the hours are ridiculous! No nights off. No free weekends. Forget a forty-hour work week.

And don’t even think about calling in sick. I’ve tried. For some inexplicable reason, children still need parents regardless of your inability to hold your food down.

Go figure.

Despite that, there’s NOTHING I would rather do. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a firm believer in having a rich diversified life replete with varied interests and pursuits of personal growth outside of my role as mother. Few things make you a better parent and partner than becoming a more fulfilled person. Embracing the opportunity to evolve alongside your children, each of us can be stronger, more complete individuals and thus better serve our posterity.

These are things I often find myself thinking as we near the end of summer. The lower temperatures and abbreviated periods of daylight, are harbingers of the coming autumn; a time of resumed school schedules, wardrobe replenishments and all the social milestones this period provides.

It’s a reminder that time is fleeting. That childhood doesn’t last forever and that each day is but a brief expanse of time that all too quickly tumbles into the next.

The days are long, but the years are short.

At the beginning of each year, I choose a box and scrawl the year and school grade on the side. Initially, it’s nothing but a box–a six-sided, cardboard structure bereft of physical contents; holding nothing but expectations for the coming year. Slowly over the years I have composed a structured wall of mismatched boxes bearing the labels kindergarten through fifth grade.

And now, I’m writing the words, “2011-2012. Sixth grade,” on another box. I could invest in a plastic one and have them all be beautifully coordinated, but I am nothing if not a gifted re-purposer and I love anything old. There’s something lovely and romantic about knowing an item had a life before I found it.

Yes. Even a cardboard box.

But, I digress. This year’s box will house fanciful short stories, homespun craft projects, artwork composed of diverse and likely unexpected mediums and highly-informative reports.

You know–all the things that really only mean something to the actual biological relations of the child.

But to me, these things are possessions valued above almost everything else. They’re memories in a more tangible form. My memory alters the inanimate nature of these things and turns each of them into these vivid recollections I have of the numerous bygone eras her life has already presented. These items are representative of all the various stages of growth I’ve seen as a mother.

Not only her growth but mine as well.

So each year when she returns to those hallowed halls of the local elementary school, I pull a special journal out of my desk drawer; one dedicated exclusively to my yearly fall resolutions. They’re a more evolved version of New Year’s resolutions. The preceding months have honed my perspective and the pending emptiness of my home reminds me of a need to school myself in whatever courses the Universe sees me in need of at that time.

I am, after all, currently working toward an advance degree in Awesomeness from the University of Life. I just recently had a grueling final in the form of cancer. For those of you who are curious, I aced it! FYI.

So I’ve decided to dedicate many of September’s blog posts to this whole experience of educating oneself for the sake of self improvement. Developing some good, ‘back to school,’ habits in the interest of graduating to a better version of ourselves.

And, because I’m hyper-aware and super-sensitive, I’ll shed more than a couple tears as Allie returns to school and my life shifts from the lazy, relaxed days of summer to the more rigid, ordered days of the school year.

It’s also yet another opportunity for the Universe to remind me that I’m a work in progress. Just on the offchance that I had forgotten that. Not likely. 😉

“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” – Tom Bodett

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“Every tree has got her root and every girl forbidden fruit
And has her demons.
And the path I chose to go,a different girl so long ago,I had my reasons. In all the black, in all the grief… I am redeemed.” -Charlotte Martin

Are all sins or mistakes ones from which we can gain redemption? Are there ones that are so malicious and so far-reaching; negative actions that affect so many that they are beyond the parameters of gaining any sort of redemption? Can anyone be saved or is it just not in the nature of some?

I’m inclined to think that nearly everyone can be redeemed; that everyone can change. But, let me qualify that statement with the following: everyone can change, but not everyone will. An important, albeit slight, differentiation.

There actions perpetrated by others that have caused me immense pain; that have left an indelible mark on my psyche and have colored the eras that proceeded them. I suffered painful and searing betrayal, deceit and abuse. There were years that I found myself fighting a constant inner battle to wrest control of my life from the victimizations of my past.

Like an exhausting tug of war, I strained myself for years before I gained any semblance of well-deserved peace.

And then there were my own wrongdoings. Now those were demons that required every ounce of my inner fortitude to surmount.

And it’s a process. It’s not overnight. It’s not instantaneous. It’s an arduous, ongoing, time-consuming, growth-inducing experience that involves days, weeks, months even years of your life. It’s the journey that makes the ultimate destination less and less predictable and less and less relevant.

This is what I do–literally–daily:

I look in my mirror and I imagined myself garbed in some sexy–albeit highly-effectual warrior costume composed of some mystical leather-esque material capable of deflecting deadly onslaughts from my wily, demonic enemies.

Something very Lara-Croft-meets-Keira-Knightly-in-King-Arthur.

I give myself a rallying pre-battle pep talk. It entails a list (some days I come up with longer ones than others) of my greatest attributes; of all the trying hardships that lie conquered in my past. A sort of, “Hey, Holl, you can totally do this! You’ve already been through so much more, etc. etc.”

Then I imagine myself slaying these metaphorical dragons and mounting them on the imaginary walls of the great trophy room in my mind.

A current dragon, cancer, has a place already awaiting its anticipated arrival post-battle.

This visualization makes me giggle, it ratchets up my confidence, it induces strength.

I find the process of overcoming my trials and flaws gives me perspective; it allows me the opportunity to gain forgiveness for myself and others and that–I’m discovering is the key to finding peace.

The years are great teachers, so are our enemies. Struggles and trials serve an effective, though mildly- irritating, tool for growth. And, ‘growth,’ is just another name for happiness.

So I work on redeeming myself from my past wrongs and simultaneously endeavor to offer that same courtesy to others when my human heart can. I am not always successful; in fact as I write this I’m somewhat mired in a place of mild self-criticism. But it’ll pass. I’ll work through it.

I am nothing if not resourceful and tenacious. Some call it stubborn. I call it adorable.;)

So, because I can’t over-state it, let me publish again–forever to nestle its place into the world of all things cyber:

I am a work in progress.

I’m growing increasingly more comfortable with that.:)
XOXO

hollie

“For my part I believe in the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of ignorance.” -Adlai E. Stevenson


“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams; live the life you imagined.”-Henry David Thoreau

Inspiration is everywhere. Everywhere. It lies dormant in every fragment of the human experience and in the simplest, most mundane of interactions. I found a sliver of it recently at

Taco Bell.

Recently my hunger-ravaged tummy found itself jonesing for a Beefy 5-Layre Burrito, so I took Agnes, the Rover, for a short drive to the nearby Taco Bell. (Spelling layer, “layre,” makes me feel like I’m eating foreign fare rather than something that is likely laden with trans fat and sub-standard ingredients. Is it obvious yet that I have a tendency toward over-thinking?)

Because the drive-thru line was abnormally long, I ventured into the establishment in hopes of procuring said burrito. Made nearly opaque with grimy fingerprints and smears of heaven knows what, the glass door presented a germophobe, such as myself, with a serious quandary: do I forgo burrito bliss in an attempt to avoid touching the handle that without a doubt harbors at least as much bacteria as the door’s windowed surface? Or do I chance dying of some communicable disease spread by people who at best wash their hands every other day then go to public places and insist on spreading their disgusting germs for all of the rest of us to contract? Yes it’s mean, but so is spreading E. coli.

I felt like I was in a “Choose Your Own Adventure,” book (which, consequently, I consider to be some of the finest American literature to ever hit bookstores) and was faced with a decision that could either lead me to the unraveling of a sordid and exciting mystery, or guide me to a certain death.

I decided to take a chance and enter the fast-food, “restaurant.” Does anyone else think that when fast-food establishments are referred to as, “restaurants,” that perhaps that’s a liberal use of the term? I generally reserve the term, “restaurant,” for places where the “furniture,” (another liberal use of the word) is not composed of some hard plastic that likely will be discovered to exude copious amounts of carcinogens.

At any rate, after braving the door handles of not one, but two doors (why do they have to have double doors? Is is just to ensure that you have double the opportunity to contract H1N1?) I headed in the direction of the counter. Bedecked in a color scheme of teal, mauve and a lovely shade of peach, Taco Bell was the perfect picture of late-eighties, southwest decor. Planters teeming with faux greenery that unsuccessfully attempted to “cascade, ” from their boxes, adorned the tops of pony walls designed to guide throngs of eager eaters into a serpentine line where they were expected to await their turn at ordering all the tacos and burritos their expanding waistlines could handle.

As I waited for the woman ahead of me to conclude her ordering, I watched as the employee struggled with the cash register. “I’m sorry,” the employee apologized. “It’s my first day.”

There are certain things that a person can say that will IMMEDIATELY garner my complete understanding and unparalleled sympathy. “It’s my first day,” is one of them. I have had enough jobs (I often tell people that short of pole-dancing and prostitution, I’ve done it all. Hyperbole, of course, but it certainly elicits an entertaining response.;)) that my heart goes out to anyone making a concerted effort to forge a path for themselves in a new, “career.” Again, perhaps liberal use of the word, but to each his/her own.

Once my turn arrived, the employee and I engaged in the banter of ordering and discussing the difficulties of beginning new employment when, out of the corner of my eye, I spied a woman–the manager–watching the exchange. I noted immediately the high cheekbones and fine brow of the manager. She also had the most beautiful eyes. They were a crystalline shade of smokey gray and had the most indefinable twinkle.  Her lips were this pale shade of mauve and curved to a perfect pout.  She looks like a she could be a model, I thought. I hadn’t noticed that she had been studying me as closely as I had her.

“You are such a beautiful young woman,” she said to me. “And you have amazing eyes.” Okay, so that was weird. She was thinking some of the same things about me that I had about been thinking about her. You know what else was funny? That the most flattering thing about her compliment was not that she called me, “beautiful,” but rather that she called me, “young woman.” I guess my vanity’s leaning in the direction of preserving my youth at this stage of the game.:)

We began a brief, but enlightening conversation in which I returned her compliments with even greater emphasis than she had delivered hers.  Then things became decidedly unexpected. Delightfully unexpected.

After I told her for probably the third time how beautiful her eyes were, she said matter-of-factly, “I used to be a model.” Well duh, I thought. Of course you were. That much seemed obvious. The trainee who had rung me up, however, found this little revelation to be shocking and made no attempt to disguise that fact. Her mouth parted and her eyes widened and the surprise her face wore was nothing short of insulting. Turning to address her subordinate, the manager spoke with an amusing sense of irony.

“I haven’t always worn a Taco Bell uniform,” the manager said, her voice barely able to contain a cynical laugh

I haven’t always worn a Taco Bell uniform. The words bounced around in my brain like an echo in a cathedral. Sure, that was clear, but there was something in the way she said that incredibly obvious statement that made it seem so much more poignant. Something only her voice, her tone, her inflection could convey.

And I walked, then, my steps heavy with thought. I absently planted myself in a hard, plastic seat enmeshed in layers of filth and bacteria and assimilated the story that I had just heard. I cannot look at people and not wonder at their stories. I can’t help but find my mind meandering down silly paths of, “I wonder if…” But this woman and her life, the twists and turns it had taken that seemed nothing short of unexpected, they somehow struck me with a surprising impact.

As I waited for my number to be called, I watched a man and two sweet little boys arrived. With eyes the color of ash, there was absolutely no mistaking the parentage of the boys. The man and two children were the manager’s family. She beamed at them as she took a break from work to enjoy this unexpected surprise and I watched the scene with rapt attention. There was no wistfulness, no regret, no insecurity in her gray eyes. If there was ever a doubt as to which path she should tread, it seemed to have flown with the arrival of her children.

I just found myself feeling sad, not because I would be arrogant enough to know what’s best for someone else, because the older I get the more that becomes a moot point. And, as I’ve blogged in the past, I would NEVER trade being a mother for anything. The thing that was just a little heartbreaking was that she seemed to have given up on her dreams; that she had written off any life that diverged from her current one.  I think that anyone who works hard to make an honest living is someone to be respected and Lord knows that I’ve had far crappier jobs than nine out of ten people you’ll meet (not, unfortunately, hyperbole) but, I just hate seeing people discount their ambitions and relegate them to a place of impossibility. The annoyingly persistent optimist in me refuses to let that idea go. I understand the need to be realistic and to put food on the table, etc. I have made sacrifices I would never want anyone I care about to have to make . But I know–I know–that there’s something more; that life is more than some pragmatic need to live hand to mouth. It’s not easy–I know that better than most–but I just want so badly to see people move in the direction of their dreams.

At any rate, I guess I just had throw this tale out there into the great recesses of the cyber universe; to know that other people had heard the story of this beautiful woman and her current circumstances. I suppose I just had to express my hopes that, whatever her life becomes, that somehow her dreams find some small place in it. Maybe I’ll be able to use it as an effective reminder to make room for some dreams of my own.:)

XOXO

hollie

“Even if I don’t reach all my goals, I’ve gone higher than I would have if I hadn’t set any.” -Danielle Fotopoulis


“I would give the world to you.” -Ian Axel

For some people who are not parents, becoming one can seem  not only daunting, but repressive; that the responsibilities it entails are so limiting that there’s no place for it in a life of excitement and independence. I won’t argue that parenting can be restrictive.

Gone are the late nights of freewheeling abandon and the ability to engage in social merriment at the drop of the proverbial hat. But that’s only because it’s how the Universe opens you up to something else.

Sacrifice is giving up something good for something better.

Trading in a bustling social life for early bedtimes and parent teacher conferences can seem, to many, to be a little…unappealing. But, if I’m being honest, those were some of the reasons I was terrified of becoming a parent. I knew I would miss the freedom to do as I pleased when I pleased. And, while this is not everyone’s reason for not having children, it was a particular fear of mine. Call it selfish, but there it is.

But those aimless years of flitting from one social event to the next, of having no one who relies upon you, become emptier with time. The  glitter fades. The ability to invest one’s time and energy according to whim and fancy is a vital part of the human experience; a crucial part of growing. But as a long-term goal, it lacks substance (George Clooney.)

Don’t get me wrong, parenting is not for everyone. There are plenty of people who lead richly rewarding lives who never foray into the adventure of parenting. And likewise, there are plenty of d-bags who become parents who I’d sooner seen drawn and quartered. The evening news is replete stories of abuse and neglect at the hands of undeserving parents.

But, ideally speaking, I wish every good person who wanted children, would have the opportunity to join the fray of parents far and wide; that every person of good character with a kind heart could bring a child into their home to raise. I wish that every wonderful person I knew who wanted children and couldn’t have them, for whatever reason, was able to. To have the chance to have a person depend upon you for–literally–everything is humbling and fulfilling.

It is nothing I would trade and something I often wish I could have had the opportunity to do again.

I have an indescribable love and appreciation for my daughter. She gives me purpose in a potentially rudderless world. She embodies the hope and optimism that seem to fade as we age. She is Prozac in human form; I take her daily.

Her blue eyes and smattering of freckles are priceless art to me. She grows and evolves hourly and as I become excited at this prospect, I daily mourn the loss of each stage of her development. I have these ridiculous moments where it hits me: she’s not a baby; she’s not a toddler. I might never have that again. Even as I type that I cry.

And when I clean out her closet and cast out the clothes she’s outgrown, I cry more. Because she’s growing and shedding those years of childhood. And because I’m succeeding to no small degree in achieving one of the main things I believe the Universe had planned for me: helping her become the incredible woman she was intended to be.

I may not be prolific in my mothering, but it’s quality not quantity that are imperative here–and in that quarter I’m doing a damn fine job.

She is everything good in me and everything good I wish was in me. I finally understand unconditional love. There is nothing–nothing–that she could do that would ever diminish my love for her.

I think that’s the gift of being a parent. That’s the gift she gives me every day.

XOXO

hollie

“In the end we have each other, and that’s at least one thing worth living for.” -Ian Axel

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