Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Today's quote

Here's the quote that's on my mind today:

Is there more to life than increasing its speed? -- Gandhi

I was packing a lot, oh, I mean A LOT into the next several weeks. I just decided today to let some of it go. Disappointing. Very, very relieving. I will, after all, be moving states this summer. Again. I need to just let that unfold and then move on to the next project and embrace the journey.

I'd like to read a really good biography of Mahatma Gandhi. Can you recommend one to me?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

And then she changed her mind

I am collecting stories of people who were well along a path--career, ideology, life style-- and then woke up one morning and changed it all. I don't mean when you're young (who didn't change majors in college?) I mean a well-established adult who may have even garnered some degree of fame and/or success in her current identity. And then she chucked it.

Why? Because stories like that interest me. But, also, because I'm going back to school on the eve of my 40th birthday. I'm getting a PreK - 3rd grade masters/licensure (I dream of teaching Kindergarten). I already had a masters in writing, and a perfectly good plan to teach composition and ESL and creative writing, while writing the great American novel.

Well, you know, I changed my mind. I take comfort knowing that so did...

Arianna Huffington. Founder and CEO of the Huffington Post, a go-to source for left-of-the-aisle political news and thought. She first stepped into political limelight by campaigning for her then-husband, a Republican California gubernatorial candidate. She wasn't a kid when she was stumping for the GOP, and her position wasn't unexamined--she just later changed her mind.

And a blogger named Melissa, who is also a wildly talented crafter and owner of the Etsy shop Little Pink House. She was well into her 30s, a professor of creative writing on a tenure track at a small, prestigious liberal arts college, when she looked around and saw a lifetime of department meetings and passionless student essays and said, um, no. She moved her family to a small town in Maine, and now she sews, blogs, and raises her daughter. My favorite part of this story is that her sewing projects aren't postmodern, un-constructed gallery pieces that represent a angst-filled intellectual poem in another medium. No, she sews lovely wall-hangings that sweetly, quietly, celebrate family and home. To look at her work is to take a deep breath and feel at peace. There is not a shred of Ph.D. poetic irony in them. She left that kind of thing behind--she changed her mind, and seems to be completely happy with it. Awesome.

Got another example for me? Add to my collection!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day from a baby bird

Found in my children's playset in the backyard. They've generously agreed not to play there for a few weeks, while this feathered family gets its start.

Does this little guy remind any of my mama friends of their scrawny, hungry, newborn nurslings?

Happy Mother's Day, friends. Hope you had the chance to gather your babies back into your nest and kiss them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Change as a lifestyle

We move. A lot. A LOT.

Even other military families think we move a lot.

We moved here to Ohio just last summer and bought a house, thinking we would be here for years. But my husband's office reorganized. Fortunately, he was able to get a position back in the DC area, where we just left last summer.

So, we are moving back to DC. This summer. We pretty much move annually.

We've moved in 1991, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, and now 2009.

That's twelve moves.

We've lived in San Antonio, Boston, England, Indiana, Ohio, Hawaii, Washington State, Alabama, DC, Ohio again, and now DC again.

Is this insane? This may be completely insane. This may explain a lot. This may be the excuse for everything.

But I refuse to think of it that way. You can be wounded from all this change, or you can gain strength from it. You can embrace!

It is very easy for me to embrace going back to DC. I loved it there. I loved my children's school, our neighborhood, our friends. I didn't love our rental house so much, so now we've got a different house that's pretty amazing. Near Metro! Near the park! Walking distance to school!

I am a very lucky person, that I get to go live where I want to live. When I'm on the other side of this move, I will feel luckier.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May Day and middle age

This post has two unrelated topics. Or are they related? You be the judge.

First, yesterday was May Day. My daughter made a lovely May basket at school, the grass is lush and the tulips are at their apex. Wonderful! I must make mention of my maternal grandmother, Dorothy May Hart O'Hanlon, who was born on May day, 1919. She died in 1996. Every May Day I think of her a lot. She liked to laugh, joke, play games, tell stories, share gossip, eat sweets, purchase small and shiny baubles. She was a dream of a grandma--always thought I was interesting and smart and pretty, and she sneaked me as much sugar cereal as I could handle. Love you, Grandma Dot. Thinking of you.

Second. Middle age. I will turn 40 later this year, and not a day goes by that I don't ponder that. I hasten to say that I'm not at all afraid of turning 40, in fact, I'm comfortable with it. But I would like to wake up on my birthday and know that I'm living authentically. Hmm, that sounds pretentious. I just mean that it's important to me that I'm not spinning my wheels. That I'm not waiting for anything. I'm doing.

And while I was thinking these middle aged thoughts, I came across this poem. Oh, this poem!

"Foreseeing" by Sharon Bryan, from Flying Blind. © Sarabande Books, 1996.

Middle age refers more
to landscape than to time:
it's as if you'd reached

the top of a hill
and could see all the way
to the end of your life,

so you know without a doubt
that it has an end—
not that it will have,

but that it does have,
if only in outline—
so for the first time

you can see your life whole,
beginning and end not far
from where you stand,

the horizon in the distance—
the view makes you weep,
but it also has the beauty

of symmetry, like the earth
seen from space: you can't help
but admire it from afar,

especially now, while it's simple
to re-enter whenever you choose,
lying down in your life,

waking up to it
just as you always have—
except that the details resonate

by virtue of being contained,
as your own words
coming back to you

define the landscape,
remind you that it won't go on
like this forever.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Best definition of the universe I've heard yet

My daughter's first grade class is assembling a book on geography. Each child was assigned a geographical concept to look up in the dictionary. Then they write the word on their page with the definition and draw a picture of it. A few kids were assigned two pages, so all the concepts would be covered. Leah got "prairie," and then she got "universe."


She diligently looked it up in our illustrated children's dictionary, (there was no illustration on this one, by the way) and copied down the definition in her best handwriting.

The whole of everything that exists, including the earth, moon, sun, all the planets, and all the stars.

I talked a little about how no one knows how big the universe is, and many people think it's expanding. All that we can see with even the most powerful telescopes is still just the tiniest fraction of the universe. As she began to draw, she stopped and pondered for a while. Then she said this.

Mom, I think the universe is God's mind. The universe keeps getting bigger because God's mind keeps getting bigger. I think when someone dies, she's still in the universe, because she's still in God's mind.

Blew. Me. Away.

Friday, April 24, 2009

This one's for my fellow English majors

"The purpose of a liberal education is to make one's mind a pleasant place to spend one's leisure."

Joseph Joubert