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A new direction

December 4, 2018

One of the things I’ve been working on recently since forever is a focus on the positive.  Here’s my new plan:  I’m going to keep a running list of healing, inspiring, or funny things here.  When I reach 10 (that was the plan, then I didn’t have time so this time I’m up to 12), I’ll post.  Here’s the latest installment:

  • Friendsgiving:  Baby time.  Joyful noise.  Loving presence.

Alan’s still got the Dad Reading magic: here, with Ellie, baby Matilda, and Jacob.

  • At the grocery store, I asked the cashier how life was for her.  She told me about being excited about moving to a new communal space where she and her housemates would cook together and she could walk to work. I wished her luck in her new space.  And then I went back after I was almost to the door, to tell her that she had made my day because her energy was so kind and positive, and she told me that she had been stressed about moving but my wishing her luck helped her feel more positive.  We made each other’s day better.
  • Theresa said:  “The way you show that you love someone is to treat their body how they want it to be treated.”  Also:  yesterday she built a “castle” out of Jenga blocks and announced that it’s the home of “Dolphin and his husband Shark.”
  • Audrey brought flowers to her Sunday school teacher for no reason, just to appreciate her.  And she created a tablecloth of packing paper and invited our guests to write what they were thankful for on it:

    Audrey’s table cover, complete with things many of us are thankful for (books! family! hobbies! nature!).

  • Watching The Muppet Movie and listening to Kermit the frog sing “The Rainbow Connection”–“our” lullaby–was the best.
  • Ten days ago, I went for an hour-long walk by myself.  At start, I thought:  I could fold that laundry first.  But cooking makes me happy too.  Those essays won’t grade themselves.  And then I overrode those voices and just left.  And as I walked, I paid attention.  A red door in a white house.  Shaggy nest high in a leafless oak.  A Mondrian-painted garage.  The interesting architecture of houses and yards built into hillsides. This pinecone.  Light rain skittering on fallen leaves.  A release of obligations.  A return to joy.

  • Strong legs to walk and run.  Strong arms to lift and occasionally carry my children.  Strong lungs to huff up steep hills.  Strong mind.  Strong heart.
  • Surprising Alan at his 8k cross-country race on Saturday morning.  Loudest cheerers:  the Frindells, of course.
  • Jamie and Audrey played Candyland with each other for multiple rounds, each telling each other “Good game!” afterward.

  • Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead.  Best read-aloud book we’ve read in a long time:  magic, friendship, funny characters, and this message:  “Keep moving toward what makes you feel most alive.”
  • In the pouring rain and terrible traffic and being hangry, I was telling the kids I was trying to look at the positive things and commented on the twinkle lights in downtown Bellevue that we could see.  Jamie: “The lights make the trees look like dancers.”  And he has been telling us such great stories about Transformers, about trains, about secret agents (the series Secret Agent Jack Stalwart is quite popular).
  • A week ago, I left to pick up my girls at the bus stop–I had been working on my lesson plan for the next day, and time was tight.  I was a block away from the bus stop when I saw the school bus drive past the stop and keep going down the street.  My watch told me the bus was exactly on time, and I was still too far for the driver to see me, and it was raining so maybe he couldn’t recognize my umbrella…and what do bus drivers do when there are no adults to greet young kids at the bus stop? I had no idea.  And only one option:  to run down the bus. Six blocks later, the bus pulled over on a major street.  I dashed across an intersection against a red light (frantically waving and shouting at the passing cars to stop for me), lungs and legs burning, to bang on the door.  This was when I saw the number: it was the wrong bus.  The unfamiliar bus driver came to the door, surprised and perhaps dismayed to see this panting and now crying woman waving her umbrella and asking about our bus route.  “Don’t you have a walkie-talkie or something to radio the other bus?” I asked him.  “No,” he said. “You can try going to the bus stop.”  Six blocks away, and now I was really late for pick-up.  Still crying, worrying about my girls and their feelings of uncertainty and fear around where’s mom? what’s wrong?, I called the kids’ school as I started jogging back the six blocks to the actual bus stop.  The school secretary, who is the World’s Most Wonderful Elementary School Secretary, was in the process of calming me down when I saw the girls coming down the hill towards me with another little boy from our bus and his grandma, who was going to take them all to her house until she could get a hold of me.  The girls were mystified but not as upset as I was, and they said comforting things to me as we walked back to our house (and then Theresa asked for hot cocoa, to which I enthusiastically replied yes).

And now it’s Hanukkah, and we can light the menorah (without my knocking over the lit candles…yikes).  It’s also Advent, and we can get out and light our Advent wreath.  And celebrate our village, and kindness, and strength, and all kinds of light in the darkness.

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