Evolution of the Mind

January 31, 2012

It’s been two months since Paul lost his job. Watching the ink dry on his resumes has been meditative and mindnumbing. For the most part the waiting has been a beautiful preiod of growth. The longer this takes the more prepared I am for whatever change is coming. Our new world may not look like this one, and that would present a significant change in my lifestyle and the education of my children. This waiting place allows me to come to grips with that on my own pace. I have new perspective on “and Mary kept these things and pondered them in her heart.” This is a quiet period for me, and I appreciate the time.

I haven’t done well with my goal to walk thrice weekly, and I know that once I can work that into my routine the other aspects of my life will be smoother. I grow increasingly resentful of the time demands placed upon me by others. I’ve supressed it for a long time but my inner hermit is demanding his due. I’m settling into a quieter phase of my life, one that asks more introspection and delivers more wisdom and peace. I want to study and meditate. I want to learn. I want stillness. I don’t miss the bubbly, bouncy, frenetic old me; I appreciate her for who she was, but am happy to settle in to my new phase. I hope it lasts a while, and I hope I can better learn to say no to people so that I can enjoy the company of my new wiser, slower, quieter self. I think I have a few things to learn from her.


Book Talk: Nurture Shock

January 30, 2012

I had a serious perfectionism complex when I was young. I knew I was imperfect, but felt that I was expected to be perfect. Being smart meant knowing the answers (always.) Being a good “little mama/big sister” meant being reliable and in control (always.) Being Mormon meant following all the commandments (always.) For the most part I fit all of those titles and more, and I was the good, reliable, hardworking girl people thought I was. But if I slipped, and didn’t get a good grade? I specifically remember a “dictation” on which I received a 10/20 that I hid from my parents hoping they wouldn’t find out or see the burning embarassement that my celtic skin so blatantly shone. What would happen if I didn’t do well? Would all the trust be gone? Would I be seen as something less than good? Would this change everything?  Also, since everyone seemed to rely on me and my abilities, would the world crumble if I did?  That’s a lot of pressure on a young person.

It wasn’t until adulthood that I began to realize that being smart meant “learning,” not already knowing the answers, that being smart meant asking questions.  I was nearly twenty before I felt secure in admitting what I didn’t know and seeking to know more.  It’s been since then that I’ve really begun to appreciate the beauty of the journey that began when I finally allowed myself to take down the walls of perfectionism and truly work to become better.

It wasn’t until I finished reading “Nurture Shock” this weekend that I realized that when it came to parenting I was subconsciously back in my old way of thinking.  Intellectually I knew that there is no written manual for my children and there is no formula, no matter how complicated, that will guarantee my children will emerge from childhood unscathed and ready to contribute to society, but subconsciously I was still pandering to the idea that there was a way I could make it happen.  That I could be the perfect mother and raise perfect children.

The first chapter of the book deals with the problem of praise, and I was able to identify just how crippling the type of praise I had received as a child had been to me, and that I was instinctively doing the same thing to my own children (and students!)  Subsequent chapters dealt with a variety of topics loosely related to childhood in a fashion that reminded me of “Freakonomics” or “Outliers.”  Some of them supported my previous studies on the topic, some of them challenged what I had always thought (the race chapter in particular — but of course I was doing it all wrong.  I wouldn’t just not talk about morality and expect my children to figure it out, but why do white parents not talk about race in hopes that our children will grow up colourblind?)

When I finished the book I felt a mix of enlightenment and letdown.  But why was I let down?  I had enjoyed the book and loved catching up on all the recent developments in brain science that have happened since I stepped out of the business and into my own little cave.  Was I upset because I finally realized that there is no magic formula, no matter how complicated, to guarantee success in childrearing?

Suddenly it came to me.  I have thoroughly loved my journey to self-discovery.  I have enjoyed maturing, growing pains notwithstanding.  I feel such confidence in knowing I’m not the same person I was fifteen years ago.  Somehow I had hoped to save my children from their own growing pains on their own paths to enlightenment.  The conclusion of the book could not have been more clear.  Adults see children through two cracked lenses: children are not just like us but shorter, and their growth is not linear, but in stops and spurts (and sometimes a little retrograde thrown in for fun.)  It isn’t my job to make them just like short adults, it’s my job to hold their hands as they travel their own journeys.

And with that I return to the beginning of the book, to reread it before returning it to my friend.  I know I missed a million little gems when reading it with my broken glasses.  There is so much more to be learned with this new enlightenment, and finally I am prepared to accept the bad with the good.

Perfect Saturday

January 28, 2012

When I sent the boys upstairs to dress for the day they ran up saying, “Fun, here we come!”

It pretty much sums up our entire day.

We started the morning with a piano lesson playdate at the Gardners. The boys love going over as much as the younger brother of my student loves having them. And I love chatting with the mother. It’s a win/win. After a brief Scout committee meeting we took advantage of Free Museum Day and went to the Autry as a family. I hadn’t been in years and Paul had never been. We had an absolute blast. We capped off the day with dinner at the Marcuccis. Life is awesome.

The Best Laid Plan

January 27, 2012

best laid plan —
a monument of creativity
and hope —
is placed delicately
on the quicksand
we call life.

The breeze of
teases the joints
of your dollhouse.

Will it survive?
That’s not the question.
The question is:
What will you make
when it crumbles?
Will it be better
or will it stoop
in resignation
and defeat?

Rocks are not Rocks, they are the Carriers of Gems, Minerals, and Crystals

January 26, 2012

Dear Budding Geologist,

I don’t mean to crush your explorative spirit but the clothes dryer is not a rock tumbler. I love you anyway.



January 25, 2012

With how many times I’ve sent our family phones swimming I’ve been very diligent to baby our current equipment. I was astounded when my phone went on the fritz last week because I hadn’t even dropped it in a very long time. Both myself and the customer service lady on the phone were convinced it was the phone and not my sim card since I could still access the info on my card but couldn’t do anything with the phone.

So a dear friend sent me one of her unused phones. I couldn’t even get to the main screen on hers, let alone pick up a signal.

Finally Blue and I were able to get to the store this morning. Paul, who used to work for the company before it was even called TMobile, concluded it must be the sim card being glitchy, and not the phone. He was right!

Today I got the following things: a good walk, a brand new sim card for free, service to my mobile phone again, and that warm feeling that I have wonderful friends. Three out of four of those things individually are enough to make me happy.  The jury is still out about the phone service — does this mean I have to start answering it again? What of those who call my cell but never my home and I may go days without getting the message despite repeated reminders that I don’t check it? And what of those who still text me even though I tell everyone I don’t text?  It’s so much easier when I could just say “my phone is still broken.”

I’m still dragging my feet into this century, unconvinced that a cell phone will change my world.


January 24, 2012

Blue is better. I can’t tell you how relieved we all are.
That’s one challenge down, now how’s about we get a job offer tomorrow with a signing bonus and generous benefits package? Okay?
I’ll leave you to get right on that. I know we are all happier when I am happy. 😉

ps:   I know many of you may not agree with me, but I am really enjoying tonight’s State of the Union.  No matter, it’s my opinion and this is my blog.