Life's meanderings, wonderings, inspiration...sending it out to the great "marketplace of ideas."
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I still believe courage is perspective…it’s where you are in
life, what you’ve experienced and how long you have lived.And I imagine the mind of an 11-year-old
struggling to find his place would sound a little bit like this:
Today I woke up to a
rainy day.It was just like the day
before and the day before that.Though I
could see no puddles on the ground, I know it was raining just the same.The clouds were dark and angry…grey and
foreboding.And I can’t remember the
last time I saw the sun.
And it isn’t even an
interesting calm leading up to a perfect storm.It’s just raining and dark…with no end in sight.
My family and friends
tell me the sky is blue…that the sun is shining…and that I should feel the
warmth on my skin.I should be riding my
bike and embracing life…hanging out with friends.
But all I see are
clouds.Impossible to get past, hanging
in the air everywhere.I fall and give
in to a downward spiral.Even as I cling
to the hope and love of my family, it’s not enough.It is never enough for me to escape from this
constantly dismal landscape.It changed
and moved so swiftly, I had no choice but to keep following along, and try to
be okay.And so today, I finally fell
down and gave in to the dark clouds, increasingly aware of being separated from
what I had come to believe was my normal life.Now I am exposed, freed from the mask I’ve worn for months, trying to
hold on and make everyone happy…knowing deep down it would be an epic fail from
And now I can begin
again…but I need your help.Stepping out
of line mid-point, I’ve lost my way.I
worry about what my friends and other people will think.I’m not sorry I found the courage to ask for
help…will you have the courage to meet my gaze, help me move forward, and get
back on track?Because what I have is
not really something you can see.It’s
not even something you can experience and feel as I feel.Because we all have clouds blocking our
view…and we all see the same thing completely differently.
For me, help meant
having a watcher…someone who wasn’t too close to me or cared too much…a
stranger…a watcher to let me “be” and sleep and dream…to wake and get back
But watching wasn’t
enough…because they can’t see me on the inside, and I didn’t know how to
explain how I was feeling to the outside world.I only knew it was more than I could take and I couldn’t breathe.I’m not sure how I feel about having
“problems.”I’m not sure how you will
feel about me as a person and kid if you find out.
After my watchers were
finished checking on me, I learned that having the courage to get help can
sometimes leave you completely powerless, and at the mercy of adults and
medical professionals…and that even if I say the clouds are gone, no one will
listen and believe me…and now I need to make a list.I need to write down how I can keep from
needing courage to ask for help again…I need a safety plan to feel safe at home
again.I have to talk to people and
convince them I have an umbrella within reach if the storm clouds return.
I still have a ways to
go…I know I am a constant worry to everyone who loves me.But I’m trying my best.
This is the conversation I wish that every parent could have
with their child before that child reaches the ledge of despair and gives way to
full-blown crisis mode.These are my
thoughts and impressions the past several months of clouds around my son have
left me with.You come to realize what
is important, and suddenly, the commitments you think are unbreakable, the
meetings that are critical…well, they are the ones with counselors, social
workers, anyone that is carrying an umbrella that might shield your child from
The others, the ones that pay the bills and keep a roof over
your head…come into a new perspective when you consider even a single moment
you might have to live without your child living in it.
Today the sun is shining…at least as far as I can tell.A little overcast maybe, but the sun is
peaking through and casting shadows on the ground.
For every child that has awakened to a day immersed in
clouds…may there always be countless watchers and caring human beings to offer
umbrellas along the way.My hope is that
we can all consider each other’s perspective a little more.And specifically, make eye contact, and meet
the courage of countless children with acceptance and understanding.
I am most grateful for the morning sunrise, reminding me
that what truly matters is still intact, there is still hope for a better
tomorrow, and my child will continue to grow and move beyond this passage of
time when all he could see were clouds because of the kindness of others…not
in spite of the indifference of others.I still believe courage is perspective and that kids really do know it
all…and we must help them when they lose their way and their current
perspective is not enough.This is my
sunrise moment.What will yours be?
Have you ever really thought
about what “privilege” means?If you had
asked me as a kid growing up, I’d have told you that it was anyone but me.And I guess my perception of reality then made
that statement true.I’d seen privilege
through the lens of other peoples’ lives.I don’t remember ever being envious…just in possession of a strong
desire to fit in and blend with the crowd.Not because I wanted more…but because I didn’t like the feeling of not
There is the kind of
privilege you are born into…and the kind you earn.And I don’t believe the two are mutually
exclusive.I believe that the person you
are determines your work ethic…and that whether you were born into privilege or
are a self-made success, how you handle that responsibility is entirely within
your control and character as an individual.
So I have to wonder why,
when I think about privilege, more simple and ordinary things come to
mind?It’s a mixture of some great
opportunities and the underlying moments … simple moments that have left a lasting
impression on me.
My own life is a funny hodgepodge
of humility, gratefulness, and surprising privilege intermingled throughout my
life, where I have experienced great struggles at least as much as I’ve enjoyed
success, recognizing that those times of struggle often led to a deeper
appreciation of the successes realized later.
I’ve been blessed to have
been able to travel to other countries, and grow my perspective in a way that
let me embrace new cultures, traditions, and people…unique like me, but in
My standout moments, though,
even in considering all of the people I’ve met and places I’ve been, are more
focused on the privilege we can all enjoy if we can look past the lens of
societal expectations and focus on what we consider to be real and true.
My short list of great
My dad always had difficulty
with his feet.He struggled and had
numerous surgeries.Towards the end of
his life, when he was diagnosed with cancer, I remember a day when I went for a
visit and performed an almost ritualistic gesture…gently washing his feet and
bathing them in a pan of water.I can remember delicately patting them dry with a towel.And I remember his emotional response,
recalling a memory of me as a little girl, when I wore corrective shoes
positioned within a metal bar as I slept at night in my crib.He used to sneak in after I was all tucked in
and take them off…as he recalled the memory, it was bittersweet and we shared a
few tears and an immense amount of love and respect.And I silently acknowledged the transition
that had occurred in turning from parent/ child to a sort of role reversal.I remember this over 20 years later…with love intermingled with
sadness…knowing that this brief moment in time was one of the greatest
privileges I have experienced in my life…gently washing my dad’s feet. It was more than a simple act of kindness…it
was an act of unconditional love.
Giving birth to my three
sons…and being able to watch them become amazing unique individuals…the kind
I’d be proud to know even if I wasn’t their mom.
And when I think about my
travels…I’ve been to places that terrified me from the moment the ticket was
booked. But from the second I stepped
off the plane, I was part of a captive audience, open and embracing new worlds
and cultures.Sure, I almost always get homesick.But I deliberately pause to think
about every moment while I am there experiencing new privilege…taking pictures,
thinking about the people I have met, and looking forward to going home.
Costa Rica is one of the first
places that comes to mind…I traveled a few days ahead of a business trip to
experience the rain forest and a natural hot spring near a volcano.But if you ask me what was most memorable
about the trip, it would be the breakfast I enjoyed sitting at a rickety metal
table surrounded by the most beautiful garden I had ever seen, with an exotic
flower in a small bud vase…and the best beans and rice I’d ever tasted.Breakfast was my favorite meal of the
day.We tried tapas foods (Spanish
cuisine, served as a variety of appetizers to make a meal) and exotic
restaurants…but for me, the quaint little stone cottage we rented before the
business side started…and the beans and rice with eggs on the side, represented
a kind of universal comfort food.The
kind that translates to feeling at home in any language.Because it’s about the gesture extended to
you as a welcome guest and new friend.
And of all the memories of
trips and travels, that simple meal of beans and rice I enjoyed in Costa Rica still
resonates as the fondest of memories, having found a new appreciation for a simple
basic staple of food.
A few months ago, I dropped
in to visit a friend.It was last minute
and I interrupted dinner.But there was
enough to share…and I found myself once again enjoying a simple meal of beans
and rice.No one else could understand
why this held special meaning for me.It’s about being gracious.It’s
about sharing what you have…quiet companionship and the level of comfort you
only experience with the best of friends…the ones who have celebrated you at
your best…and still stuck around when you were at your very worse.It’s the act of generosity in giving what you
have and can…and not worrying about pretense or putting on a show for guests.
I’ve had the honor of
visiting beautiful and luxurious places…but if you ask me about privilege, I
won’t hesitate to share the real privilege I’ve experienced in my life…sharing
a make-do dinner with a friend, knowing we have all been born into the
privilege of being able to get to know and care for one another.
And if you ask me the
greatest privilege of all, don’t laugh too hard when I tell you that beans and
rice will always be at the top of my list.