humanity

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I’ve got a batch of granola in the oven. Tomorrow, when I return to school for my first teacher in-service day,  I’ll bring a glass jar full of it to my teaching partner. A little something from me to her.  A small sharing of something good.  The tiniest of reminders: we’re in this together.

And we are. All of us. Strangers and friends and colleagues alike. Men, women, children. Races and religions. Military and civilian. Haves and have nots. This community and the one across the border. I am human … and so are you. We are human and we’re all in this together.

Maybe it’s time to spread a little more of that humanity around. Probably it’s even past time. It’s never too late for a kindness, though, and now’s as good a time as any to bring such thoughts right smack to the forefront of my consciousness.

As the only humans living here, it’s our responsibility to make the world a better place. Each of us. Your world. My world. Our world. The world we all live in. The world we raise our children in.

The world I’m about to teach my students in.

What do I want those children to know about being human? How do I live humanity out in my own life? In what ways can I be more giving? Who needs my help?

And how?

It is human to help: There are as many ways to help as there are people who need help. Think about family, friends, neighbors. New moms and dads. The elderly. Is there a meal you could cook? Laundry to be washed? A resume you could write? A lawn to be mowed? Who could use a babysitter? A ride? A quick trip to the grocery store? A smile?

It is human to give: When I think about the most giving people I know, it’s easy to see what they all have in common. For starters, they’re good listeners.  They’re quick to recognize need when they see it, and they’re first in line to help. And there’s so much to give! As humans, we have so much to offer! Our time. Our respect. Our attention. Friendship. Love. Guidance. Gratitude.

Of course there are many more ways to be human.  I’ve written about the verbs of kindness before and reaching out in humanity is sort of similar – it’s just that humanity is also understanding the commonalities we share, the hand-to-hand-to-hand connections between us, and the knowledge that I see you and honor you … and I hope you see and honor me too.

So I’ll be looking around more consciously human than ever before.  I’ll be more consciously looking to see, honor, help, and give.

And maybe that’s what I want my students to know first: I see you and honor you.  I will help you. From one human to another … I will give you my best.

And we’re all in this together.

 

 

 

 

it’s time

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Got a minute?

I’ve been thinking a lot about time. (Because I’m about to have a lot less of it wide-open to my whim … and much more of it scheduled and spoken for.)

Think of  verbs associated with time:  manage, save, spend, use. We make time for this, that, and the other. Fit people and appointments into our schedule. If we’re not multi-tasking, we’re doing one thing at a time. We waste time, fritter it away, and wish we had more. In any daily life, there’s a time to rise, time to work, and maybe a little play time if we’re lucky. And thankfully, at the end of the day, there’s bedtime.

And all of the time … I’m trying to find time.

As though time hides somewhere out of sight. And maybe it does. But maybe all I really need is a moment. A conscious moment. In the present. Here. Now.

Give me a minute and I can restore a bit of order to the kitchen counter.  Give me another, and I can pluck a flower from the garden out back to brighten the table. In a minute’s time I can brew a cup of coffee or tea. I can sit on the porch and catch my breath. Or make that call to the dentist I’ve been planning to make – when I get a minute.

Just a moment ago, I spread some lotion on my dry hands and a bit of balm across my lips. In the minute after that, I remembered to take my vitamins and drank a full eight ounces of water. Sixty seconds of self-care. Easy to do … and it only takes a minute.

I’d rather life be less time-management and more time-enjoyment.

Time waits for no one and never stands still, but I can slow it down a bit when I live a little more intentionally.

More aware of the minutes, and savoring each – one at a time.

 

today

About 14 hours will pass from the time I leave home this morning until I return much later tonight. And as I’m about to start walking the thousands of steps I’ll walk in this day, I find myself wondering how I’ll be changed by the time I return.

So much of life changes slowly, too slowly almost to recognize any change as it’s happening.  But I wonder if I focus on the noticing of the steps, minutes, and hours in this day, I’ll be able to observe more closely the subtleties of a life — my life.

Because sometimes, of course, life change is more dramatic, sudden, and infinitely more unpredictable. According to the Ecology Global Network, 210,000 people will be born in the 14 hours I’m away from home and 88,424 will die. Beginnings and endings. And every bit of living in beween.

In the 24 hour revolution of this single day, the earth journeys 1/365 of its way around the sun.

And we’re all along for the ride.

Day up to down, wake to sleep, we’ll live the day we’ve been given. We’ll speak, daydream, smile, share, hug, read, write  and maybe pray.

Hopefully, we’ll listen – maybe even more than we speak. The people in our lives have a lot to say.

We’ll worry, debate, and weigh our options. We’ll answer and ask questions. We’ll plan, opt-in or out, and make decisions.  We’ll talk, text, email, and call.

We’ll think. We all have a lot on our minds.

Some of the day’s 24 hours are scheduled. If we’re lucky, we choose how we spend the rest. We’ll eat, drink, sleep – some soundly, some restlessly. Maybe we’ll spend the day inside. Or out. We’ll exercise or not. Adventure or stay home.

Come what may, we’ll find our way.

The world’s out there waiting for me … and you, too. Ler’s walk out into it – arms wide open and willing to change and be changed.

One thing’s for sure: no other day in your life will be lived exactly like today.

life lessons: at the far end of mothering

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I almost never see a dandelion patch without thinking of a little child – student or son – arm outstretched with a loving fistful of droopy, yellow dandelions for me. And since it’s been awhile since I’ve received one, I’m caught a little surprised at how nostalgic I feel about the prolific yellow bane of our backyard.

There are scads of books on mothering and parenting and raising children.  How-to tomes. What to expect, what to avoid, how to be hands-free and all that. Maybe mothering today’s a bit more complicated.  Or so it’s probably always been to anyone who’s living it.

Personally, I’m at the far end of the mothering spectrum. And I’ve found few books to guide me. There’s a few about boomerang kids, but not much else beyond transitioning through the teen years and we’re past that too. And as far as flying objects go, I’m not much worried about boomerangs and more concerned with balloons.

I’ve had a whole handful of four, beautiful, bright, helium-filled, boy balloons and one-by-one each string loosens from my grasp. One day soon, the final of the four will lift, floating off free. And away from me. As should be. After all, independent, self-sufficient, productive citizens are the end-zone goal.

It’s just that when it comes to expecting … no one ever talks about what to expect at this point in the child-raising timeline. Saying goodbye is  not something you think about as you rock your infant, chase after your toddler, or sit across from your child’s teacher at a parent conference. Honestly, raising children is about as in the moment as it gets. Who has time or energy to think about the future when the here and now is so very consuming.

Truth is, the little dickens start leaving and living their own lives from the very first defiant, No! They have thoughts, dreams, and ideas of their own, and sooner or later – you’re in the way. You know it’s coming, but somehow you don’t expect it. Each milestone stands on its own, a point on the timeline toward departure. And once that last balloon wrests itself free, you watch it float skyward and wonder whatever in the world you’ll do next.

It’s been a wild ride couple of decades through each age and stage, but no fair lasts forever. Near as I can figure out, mothering young adults feels no less puzzling than the first years did. It’s another stage, another question mark in the life-long series I signed up for. I’m guessing I’ll be finding my own way just as my children find theirs – each of us simultaneously starting a new stage of life, on our own – together.

The Verbs of Kindness

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A verb:  an action or a state of being.

No grand gestures here.

To do. To act. To be.

Kind.

In no particular order:

  1. help
  2. respect
  3. include
  4. encourage
  5. care
  6. welcome
  7. listen
  8. smile
  9. praise
  10. notice
  11. offer
  12. share
  13. greet
  14. thank
  15. give
  16. invite
  17. compliment
  18. accept
  19. honor
  20. love

If you need a verb in your day … take one.

If you have a verb to add … leave one!

Thanks.

 

Only, and Just Barely

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It’s cold and dreary today. The temperature’s just north of freezing, and there’s drizzle.

In an unusual twist, however, I slept nine hours last night.

In a row.

(Look out world.)

I never know quite what to expect on the backside of a rough week. Saturday morning could arrive all kinds of grumpy and disheveled. Or maybe humbled and weary, but grateful.

This morning, I feel a little like the Cat in the Hat; I pick up all the things that are down … the cake, the rake, and the gown. A week’s worth of dishevelment awaits all around me. But I wander here and there throughout our home, setting things to rights, not in the least bit resentful – surprisingly – of the dishes once again left in the sink or the two-week high mounds of laundry in varying states of dirty, clean-but-not-folded, or folded-but-not-put-away.

Because in this Saturday’s clarity, I understand:  It’s all temporary.

The tough week. The busy. The shifting priorities. The dishes. Even the cold and drizzle.

Because like our ever-changing New England weather, what’s here today will likely be gone tomorrow. And who knows? Tomorrow may arrive sunny with scattered resentment. Or windy with a chance of anxiety.

But that’s for tomorrow to resolve. And it, too, will pass.

Today, I understand that eventually my laundered and folded shirts will nest again in my dresser. If not today, then tomorrow or the day after. Soon.

Today, I pleasure in the smoothing of sheets and the sorting of mail.

Today, my hope remains undaunted by tomorrow’s forecast.

Because this Saturday morning’s arrived hopeful and expectant.

There’s a whole new day out there just waiting to be lived, and it’s only, and just barely 8 a.m.

 

Making Peace

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It seems like I shouldn’t have to try so hard to feel peaceful.

Shouldn’t Zen just sorta flow or something?

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Honestly, sometimes  I turn the most mundane circumstance into Much Ado About Nothing.

So I’ve been working pretty hard to simplify. And again, that feels sort of oxymoronish – should simplicity feel so complicated?

I organize. Purge. Usher all the ducks to their respective rows. And wipe clean my surfaces. (Almost) every morning begins with a clear desk. So to speak.

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But sometimes finding peace … means making peace. With yourself.

I chucked the very-long-list the other day and went for a walk in the cold, bright blue with my camera.

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Peace made.