Thursday, April 30, 2015

Through Someone Else's Eyes

Warning:  This is an unapologetic proud mama post.

For anyone who knows me in person, they know that I am not as close to my oldest daughter, Beanie, as I am to my youngest, Peachie.   I was closer to Beanie in her younger years. She was smart and funny and seemed to breeze through life.  She was always an honors student (although she never had to really work for it), a star athlete and won numerous awards for her volunteerism.   I was often asked if I was her mom, and it was with great pride that I would claim her as mine.  

Although she had been recruited by many colleges to play basketball, she decided she was done with sports.  She went away to school and began to party.  Hardy.  Perhaps because of the discipline of sports, the strict codes of conduct that were required along with the high academics that were expected to play high school sports, she had a need to be undisciplined and let loose for a while.  She also decided she wanted to be a forensic psychologist and started an internship in a high security prison.  

We started not knowing each other. I couldn’t listen to her stories of violent murders and rapes.  I don’t drink and have never been a partyer.  I am an introvert.  Beanie is an extrovert on steroids. And college seemed to magnify that even more. Suddenly we had nothing to talk about.   Her life became the bar scene, her rich friends and violent criminals.   Her grades were still great and she still volunteered so there was not much I could really say.   And then she spent her senior year with an emotionally abusive boyfriend that turned physical.  We spent a lot of time in family court over that. Overall, I was a nervous wreck with worry about her.

And now she is living home pursuing her Masters Degree.   I don’t see her much between her boyfriend, her school work, her internship at an inner city elementary school, where she works with kids whose parents have a lot of interaction with the criminal justice system, and her job with a not-for-profit who helps kids get back on track after some experience with the crime.  She has now decided she would like to work with at risk kids who still have a chance rather than with hardened criminals.  

A couple of weeks ago she told me she had a meeting at a local college and could I pick her up afterward?  I got there a little early and while waiting in the foyer got into a conversation with another woman waiting.   She asked we which one was my daughter and I pointed her out.  “Beaner? She is your daughter?”    And while I was once always happy to claim her, this time I was hesitant since I had no idea what kind of meeting this was.   Turns out that Beaner, who is active in the group NoMore, an organization working to end domestic violence, now speaks at local campuses to help young collegiate women like her speak up about their experiences as abuse survivors and to get help.   This mother then went on and one about how much Beaner has helped her daughter and her family go through the process of holding an abuser, and a college, accountable.  

Then recently Beaner invited me to attend a dance marathon which was a fundraiser for the not-for-profit she works for.   And once again a woman sitting next to me asked which was my kid.   Same response.  “Beaner is your daughter?   I can’t begin to thank her enough.  A couple of years ago my daughter dropped out of school and was selling herself for drug money.  Really got in with the wrong people and did some jail time.  She was court ordered to enroll in this program and Beaner took her under her wing.  In February she took the GED and Beaner helped her apply for community college and she got in!  I thought I had lost my baby girl and now she is going to college!  Your daughter gave her the confidence to think she could actually do it.”

And so I have had cause to look at my daughter through someone else’s eyes. Yes, she is loud and wild and parties too much.   It would not surprise me to see her on Girls Gone Wild.  She gets too many speeding tickets and has so many problems of her own making.  She still watches very violent, psycho stuff which chases me from the room.  She is a bundle of constant anxiety which leaks all over me.   But then there is this other side to her. The compassionate, caring, big hearted person who would literally do anything to help someone else.  She doesn’t just regurgitate some post on FaceBook about issues.  She puts her money and her time and her talents behind her beliefs. And she, in just the infancy of her career, has already helped a couple of young people (and those I don’t even know about)  in very important ways.  I can’t even imagine the places she will go.

I am one very proud mama.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Full of Grace - Farmers

I grew up in a bedroom community of New York City, right near the beach.  I understood that fish came from the ocean and we went clamming and crabbing.  I was aware that there were duck and potato farms further east of me, and we made an annual trip to go strawberry picking, but otherwise I had no real sense of where my food came from.

Then I moved to a city and was even more removed from the source of my food.  Food came from the supermarket and I never thought about it.   

When I moved to where I live and work now I had to quickly get educated on agricultural issues.  Half my town is agricultural lands and I am grateful that there were farmers here who took the time to share their knowledge and challenges with me.   I learned not only how difficult and fragile growing crops can be, how incredibly hard farmers work, how they are excellent stewards of the land and also how land regulation impacts the their ability to run a farm.   

This week one of my town’s prominent farmers passed away.  I am deeply indebted to him for always keeping me up on agricultural issues, for letting me pick his brain with a million questions about farmland protection and for the best asparagus I ever ate.   

And so this week gratitudes go to farmers for:

  • taking care of the land that sustains us

  • nourishing me and my family and the world

  • providing the amazing colors and health benefits of food

  • working from sun up to sundown, every single day, yet still having time for someone in need

  • giving me the inspiration to start growing my own food

Whenever possible, please buy directly from farmers and farmer’s markets.  It not only helps them keep farming, but the food is fresher, it has less environmental impact, preserves open space and farmland, and helps keep the dollars in your local economy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day - The Sounds of Silence

Most of my adult life I have been a backpacker - I have a strong need to get away from man made noise and retreat and rejuvenate with the sounds of nature. Yet even in my beloved Adirondack Park which is six million acres - bigger than Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Great Smokeys, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks combined, it can be difficult to fully escape noise pollution.

This video made me a little sad.

The extinction rate for quiet places far exceeds the extinction rate for species. 

When will we ever learn?

I hope you are able to find one square inch of silence in your life.  Some place where there are no fees to enter, no gates that close at night, just wilderness and the promise of quiet, soul filling refreshment.

Happy Mother Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Full of Grace

  • Taking a Sunday afternoon nap in the grass, soaking up the sun.

  • Being gifted tickets to a preview of The Age of Adaline.  The movie was okay, but oh my, Blake Lively.  I am beginning to think I have “a type”.

  • Going to a dance marathon fundraiser and watching young folk dance with abandon.  What joy!

  • Spending a rainy afternoon mending clothes and sewing on buttons.  I do find simple, quiet domestic arts quite meditative and enjoyable.

  • A massage therapist who works out the ever growing number of kinks and aches.

Friday, April 17, 2015


I rarely look at my site statistics.  Mine is a small. personal blog, written mostly as therapy, and I have never actively sought to grow it.  But recently I had cause to look at the statistics and found some strange and wondrous things:

  • More people read my blog on days I don’t post something than the days I do.  (I have no idea what this means)

  • Only about 10% of all visitors leave a comment.  This kind of surprised me because I always thought I knew most of the people reading - because they commented.  And I know I have a couple of readers who generally email me  if they want to respond or question something that I wrote.  But apparently the majority of people read and never comment.  I do that on quite a number of blogs myself.

  • Most people come to my blog from “no referring link” or from feedly or from typing in the name directly.  A scary number of people come randomly by googling something (keyword unavailable) that brings them to a post I wrote called “The problem with not having breasts” These folks never read more pages or comment.   I don’t even want to think about what they are really looking for but I am sure they are disappointed when they get to my page.

Anyway, all this got me thinking.  I have often wavered about keeping the blog up.  There was a time in my life when I really needed writing to process all the therapy work I was doing and the support and friends I found though that process was amazing.  But now my life has settled into a rather average routine and I find that I don’t have the overriding need to get things out of my head and onto paper.

On the other hand, I know that writing was one of the major keys in my therapy success and my gratitude practice of the Full of Grace posts keep me centered.  So I am also frightened to give it up.  

Then I was thinking about why other people blog and I know there are probably as many reasons as there are blogs.  But one thing I think most have in common is that they enjoy getting comments and feedback.  I know I appreciate when someone takes the time to write a few words, or just say they stopped by.  I have developed some truly nice friendships with many of my commenters and some very mutually supportive relationships with people who suffer PTSD and/or are dealing with breast cancer.

And so (yes this train of thought post has a destination)  I will probably continue this blog even though it has become rather dull (in my opinion) and I am going to make a conscious effort to read more blogs and to leave more comments for others.  

If you know of any blogs I might be particularly interested in, please let me know.  And if you are one of those who read but never comment, please, if you feel comfortable enough, say hello.  I would be very happy to meet you.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Full of Grace

Finally . . . Spring!!!

I know most of you have already experienced this but for those of us who live where winter was of unusual length and temperature and snow, please allow me this time to me to revel in:

  • 70 degrees
  • shorts and T-shirts and sandals
  • green sprouts poking up from the ground
  • the honking of geese returning
  • chirping birds waking me at 4 am
  • vegetable garden tilled and ready
  • basement flowers spending time outdoors
  • trees budding
  • the changing light and longer days
  • light cotton bedding
  • bike riding
  • and the local ice cream stand open!

Okay, you can go back to your already blooming flowers and fully leafed trees now.   I will be here, enjoying the anticipation.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Full of Grace

  • Seeing Cinderella a second time with my daughters.  (They saw Cinderella, I saw Cate : )

  • One semi-warm day that allowed me to finally plant the peas.  
  • Finally finishing my taxes but crap, for the first year ever I owe money.  A lot of money.  I am now working part time, technically as a consultant, so my employer is no longer taking taxes out of my check automatically.  Still I am grateful to be able to have the money to pay without having to sacrifice any necessities.

  • Saying goodbye to Peachie for the last time she will be returning to college.  Next we will be picking her up after graduation.

  • And most especially I am grateful for this year's Easter dinner.  Peachie invited her boyfriend who didn't want to go home because his mom is in the middle of her second divorce and it's ugly.   Beaner invited a fellow student who has a horrible home life and never goes home.  I invited Ethel, the elderly woman I take grocery shopping because apparently her family didn't invite her anywhere.  And Martha invited a college basketball player from Nigeria she has befriended.  We were quite the interesting group - our own little island of misfits toys.   I walked away from religion years ago but this to me will always be church.  As it should be, I think.