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Observing the Toddler

My granddaughter loves to run from the bath tub to her bedroom naked. During this obstacle course down the hallway of extra boxes and 4 foot canvases she grips her butt cheeks making weird snorting sounds. I don’t know if I am proud or really confused. I didn’t teach her that, and I am certain no other adult runs around holding their but cheeks. She even does it when she has clothes on. Lately, she tells me every time she farts. I am standing at the kitchen counter cutting tomatoes up for homemade sauce.

“Grandma, I just farted.” She causally mentions. No laughter, or twinkling eyes like other potty humor jokesters. Nope, a matter of the fact statement from the girl who runs naked holding her butt cheeks.  She is four years old and the middle child of three.  I met their mother over one thanksgiving dinner almost 5 years ago.  She showed up with a four year old blonde bombshell and a one year old big eyed quiet baby. Her heels were high and her makeup layered like the fake smile she wore for company. The newest in a long line of girls my wife’s son had hooked up with for the past four years. Something I never understood but then again I wasn’t a boy nor did I get shallow relationships.

The worst part of the moment was I looked at them and knew it was another con. One more rescue attempt for an already drowning boy. Only this time there were these two gorgeous girls and somehow I didn’t know how to combat my instantaneous love. My wife says, I have more maternal instinct than her and their mother combined. I don’t know if that is true or if I even know how to define maternal instinct.

I do know that I saw Anabelle in a dream once. She held a watering can and danced through the cactus garden giggling. I helped her water the flowers starting to bloom in my newly planted cactus garden that thanksgiving. Because of this dream and my feelings towards dreams, my wife insists I created this new reality. Which is the result of the 4 year old running down the hallway naked. She laughs when she says it. I am certain that somewhere in all of this crazy, ordinary life there is a gift of healing for her too.

So many things changed in three years. Their mother now wears simple eyeliner and a shorter hair cut with sensible work shoes. She didn’t give up the booty shorts but she traded the con artist for getting to know herself. Our youngest granddaughter, her third child and her sisters all live with us in this amazing house purchased by my father in law. Then there is Jack, the Queensland healer who prefers dirt baths to water ones. We all figure out some way to exist here, learning, growing, expanding and retracting. I have a thousand regrets for things I have said, not done and wished I caught each night when they go to sleep. I pray that I don’t screw them up and somehow these girls survive growing up. I am also, grateful, so deeply touched that each of them wrap their arms around me and call me grandma. You just can’t buy that in any form of drugs.

My Grandchildren

My granddaughter loves to run from the bath tub to her bedroom naked. During this obstacle course down the hallway of extra boxes and 4 foot canvases she grips her but cheeks making weird snorting sounds. I don’t know if I am proud or really confused. I didn’t teach her that, and I am certain no other adult runs around holding their but cheeks. She even does it when she has clothes on. Lately, she tells me every time she farts. I am standing at the kitchen counter cutting tomatoes up for homemade sauce.

“Grandma, I just farted.” She causally mentions. No laughter, or twinkling eyes like other potty humor jokesters. Nope, a matter of the fact statement from the girl who runs naked holding her butt cheeks.  She is four years old and the middle child of three.  I met their mother over one thanksgiving dinner almost 5 years ago.  She showed up with a four year old blonde bombshell and a one year old big eyed quiet baby. Her heels were high and her makeup layered like the fake smile she wore for company. The newest in a long line of girls my wife’s son had hooked up with for the past four years. Something I never understood but then again I wasn’t a boy nor did I get shallow relationships.

The worst part of the moment was I looked at them and knew it was another con. One more rescue attempt for an already drowning boy. Only this time there were these two gorgeous girls and somehow I didn’t know how to combat my instantaneous love. My wife, Aleshia, says I have more maternal instinct than her and their mother combined. I don’t know if that is true or if I even know how to define maternal instinct. I do know that I saw Anabelle in a dream once, with a watering can. She walked through my cactus garden and helped me water the flowers. My wife still blames me for creating this reality. She laughs when she says it. I am certain that somewhere in all of this crazy, ordinary life there is a gift of healing for her too.

So many things changed in three years. Their mother now wears simple eyeliner and a shorter hair cut with sensible work shoes. She didn’t give up the booty shorts but she traded the con artist for getting to know herself. Our youngest granddaughter, her third child and her sisters all live with us in this amazing house purchased by my father in law. Then there is Jack, the Queensland healer who prefers dirt baths to water ones. We all figure out some way to exist here, learning, growing, expanding and retracting. I have a thousand regrets for things I have said, not done and wished I caught each night when they go to sleep. I pray that I don’t screw them up and somehow these girls survive growing up. I am also, grateful, so deeply touched that each of them wrap their arms around me and call me grandma. You just can’t buy that in any form of drugs.

 

After 40.

 

That was after 30, those photos above, a world I created from sheer will and desire. And now its after 40.

There is a house, children, grandchildren, zoos, hospitals and chest pains. Smoking is the enemy now. Work is a vacation from home and somewhere I felt the after 30 me sit down. Or leave, maybe go to sleep? I can’t tell. Listening used to be easy and suddenly I am unable to hear because I am back in control of my life again.

Yeah that is answer, hmm.. Interesting, in control and I feel lost. Out of control and I am right on par with everything necessary to create my dreams. I must have momentarily lapse of CRS, is that possible for a yogini, spiritual, bulldozer?

The grandchildren bring me back to center faster than anything or anyone before, except my own meditation which apparently I haven’t found ten minutes for lately. Slowing down, stopping to rest, taking breaks have somehow become my enemy too. In my brain a switch flipped and stopping means death or ungrateful or not good or not in control.

Ahh… there it is again, control.

Its been a minute since I wrote on this blog. And as always writing brings me home to myself. Thank you Universe.

Love,

ME.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign Policy

Dear Reader,

We approach a division in the topic politics, despite alliances and ethnic backgrounds. These different countries present different cultural aspects that fuel our righteous beliefs. If these beliefs clash hard enough without an understanding on either party then the inevitable outcome is war.

What about family? Is it a weird concept to apply foreign policy to a family?

Have you sat in the midst of a gathering of people related to you and thought that perhaps there are too many distinct lines that are drawn and you are tiptoeing through the intersection of borders?

fun_dysfunctionalWhere do allegiances go? Are they even necessary? How do we negotiate the mindless arguments in order to evolve out of the dysfunctional relationships?

 

Where does the mind stop playing the old tapes and the newly formed synaptic responses take over. they are all obstacles which we can overcome, but first we  must look past the lines. There are no borders, only hurt feelings, bruised egos and perhaps the occasional grief from the loss. These definitions are not normal, we as a culture do not abide by our personal involvement in a dispute. Much like a country, we react with the knee jerk response which causes another escalation. Back and forth, again and again until something or someone breaks. Though we may not see the physical breaking or the internal emotional stress but that is only due to a lack of self awareness.

We all know this story, whether we live one within our own families or we read about another family. The story most familiar is that of Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare.

The story of two lovers from opposite sides of a war between two families.

Moral of the story: Love bridges the gap between drawn lines of indignation and self-righteousness.

Hatfield and McCoys, two men bonded in war and through fear of death or worse one flees. Two friends are forever separated by the mental processes of fear and courage. This feud cost many lives until; two children bore a love and child that destroyed not only themselves but their unborn child.

Moral of the story: unwillingness breeds contempt to which the only result is death.

Foreign countries, like families brought together through marriage or adoption, are often a land of mystery, newness, exploration, and danger. The lines become blurred as children are born, thoughts and processes are evaluated, parents decide their choices will not be the same as their parents. Children grow up knowing two foreign countries and if they are lucky never see the civil war.

Despite 30 minute sitcoms and drama movies most of us are not that lucky. And just like any war between nations, people will reduce to basic survival after the toll of  stress, death and fear become insurmountable.

 

How does love bridge this gap?

How do I, being love, bridge my family of broken promises, unfulfilled dreams and skewed perceptions?

 

 

 

 

 

Bicyclists in Arizona no all to well about goat heads, stickers and hot tar. Eros, the lovable floppy kitty does not seem to care but does expect a through combing from his human slave after every outing. In case the human slave is not readily available or is completing another task, Eros seeks out the human slave’s bed. After a long day, the human climbs into bed with only panties on to discover stickers and goats now in her back and legs. 

The combing commences.

Michelle Campbell, a friend of ours and who witnessed the baby Eros first cuteness died two days ago after suffering an asthma attack. 

She was on life support for four days and when her daughters came in I had the honor of picking them up at the Phoenix airport. I didn’t know Michelle as well as our other friend did, one of those parties that brings people together. We met once, twice then had phone numbers exchanged and our little family grew by a few more people.

Although she died peacefully, the process of watching people through the death was intensely strange. The reactions ranged from quiet brooding, flamboyant gestures, secrets professed to strange sadistic jokes about her toes needing a pedicure; badly. I knew no one who came to the hospital save our friend Cynthia who introduced us to Michelle. She had known her for over 20 years, their children grew up together. 

In the end, the girls decided to end their mother’s life due to almost no brain activity. The decision is hard to make without some idea of knowing what the person wanted. Michelle had discussed it with Cynthia and her daughters and they knew that pulling the plug on her life support was the decision she wanted. 

We showed up for the support of one of the girls, she requested we pick her up and take her away from the hospital. She didn’t want to watch. We arrived at the hospital, to wait on the doctor only to discover a surprise.

Your mom is an organ donor. If you wish to honor these wishes, we will have to conduct tests on her body and organs. This will take another 12 24 hours, here is the salesman to talk with you about the process.

The relief to come at her passing was suddenly ripped away and they sat in a conference room with a man who facilitated the process. 

Did you know that in order to verify a body able to donate you must  take them off life support just to see how fast their blood pressure goes down? After that, blood is drawn to see if tissue samples, tendons and other parts of the body is available for transplant. Then when its time, the family is called in for their last goodbyes, morphine and anti van are administered via iv, and the plug is pulled from the wall. The patient is supposed to die within 90 minutes in order to give their organs, the prep team is standing by to put Michelle into surgery. 

That was on Thursday.

Friday we crept through our yard, over spent with emotional energy and tired from driving through Mesa. (Its a hot state). To which we walked inot our home only realizing that the grocery trip was forgotten. Placating the animals with the last of the dry food mixes. we climbed into beds ready for a well deserved sleep. 

“FUCK!” 

The human slave yelps as she leaps from the bed. Vigorously sweeping the sheets with her hand to remove the stickers, muttering under her breath. Eros jumps lightly onto the bed, flicking his tail deliberately. The Human Slave cocks her head while placing her hands on her hips, the verbal conversation ensues. Eros looks at her for a moment and then rolls over softly pawing the air, the Human slave tells him cuteness will not save him. She then picks him up to carry him to the living room and commence the grooming ritual. 

Such is the life of a cat, he always gets what he wants, always.

 

Shingles to Stars

Dear Reader,

 

She is my little girl.

She is my little girl

 

 

In a moment I have found subtly to break a new ground in personal relationships. Such ideas of caring, compassion and insights to living have fallen on premature babies in their quest for remaining deaf and blind to the world.

Little things, the way I see them, comment on them, quietly or out loud brings about this strange phenomenon of love and hate in one extreme or the other.

My granddaughter plays in the pool, still uncertain of how to swim she wears those floaties on her arm. The game among st the adults is get away or save me from them. Its only a game and she is interactive with others, it is her birthday after all. But a five year old playing “save me” or save the “princess” creates a dynamic in the mind that boggles me. Simply put I choose not to play. Perhaps this would be easier if she weren’t apart of my created family. Yes, random strangers are easier to walk away from but those who are my friends would tell you, “Thats never stopped her before.”

She asked me, “Grandma! Grandma, ” as I turn toward her in the pool. “Save the princess!” and she flails her arms to simulate desperate need of rescuing.

I can’t just walk away from that, nor can I participate so I do what I know to be real. I tell her the truth, another joyful characteristic my friends find ironically funny and irritating.

My granddaughter flails in front of me, other adults from the party whom I don’t know watching and I say, “I don’t play victim games, sorry.” Promptly grabbing her and tossing her into the pool further away from where she was flailing. Walking through the water to the other side of the pool.

It’s simple really, and something I must thank my father for, I don’t apologize for being who I am nor do I perpetuate a stereotype that will hurt someone later on in life. If you don’t like me? That is okay because my desire to be liked is outweighed by the need to speak the truth.

“Oh come now, what harm is there in a  little game?” Tony asks.

“The harm, my friend, comes from allowing the child to play “help me” when she is perfectly capable of swimming. And it is her future I see when she flails around screaming “Help ME!” The future of a woman who lets others fix her problems and finds no place to stand on her own. No distinction between help and victim, no understanding that trying and failing is just as important as trying and succeeding.

So Tony shuts up and I ask myself, is what I am doing a benefit?

I may never know that answer, but I do know I didn’t perpetuate the stereotype and that is enough.

I took a part time job last summer to fill in the gaps between semesters at ASU. While job hunting I found Goodwill was holding a job fair, so I dressed to interview and went down to my local thrift store.
After signing up for a goodwill account and filing out an application I waited for my turn with the HE rep from Lowe’s. The interview went well and in two weeks I had a temporary job as a weekday team member. My job was perfect for my needs: 10 – 2 pm, and I walked around the store helping customers. During training I spent a week in every department learning about products. After a couple of months I felt right at home. LOWE’S gave us ample training and supplemented it with videos, one on one, and handouts. There mission stacrest err f a sense of pride and empowerment for me: “Our goal is to provide customer valued solutions.”
There was room for improvising, thinking outside the box, and even old fashion elbow grease.
During my last 5 months I took part in safety barbeques, employee lunches, and volunteer service work. As Christmas approached we began to gear up for the season. I am not oblivious to business needs, and expected black Friday sales to be typical of the commercialization of the holiday season. However, I was very surprised at the value system of the corporate machine. They changed little things in a few months that ripped at the fabric of their own mission statement.
First the cheer at morning huddle went from “never stop improving” to ‘”sell some stuff”. Then the pep talk of pushing sales for unnessacary items. After the sales and inventory reports came back, the entire store was emailed with the amazing news. We broke almost every one of our records. Our store was a success and in the email from our own store manager the success was a direct result of associates stepping up to the challenge, digging deeper and upholding our mission statement. We had successfully separated ourselves from the competition by providing superior customer service. In the bottom line model we made more money, increased sales and found ourselves in another bracket: the 45 million dollar store.
Its December 8th and my inbox shows an email about employee appreciation week, an extra 20% off for us. WOW! That new freezer for my family is looking more affordable.
That’s when the bottom fell out of the illusion of a corporate giant making people first instead of money.
With only two weeks till Christmas Lowe’s announced they were cutting 400 payroll hours. Several full timers with over 5 years were fired and there was another employee lung scheduled with a Wii tournament.
Suddenly the store was vacant of red vest experts  and customers  wandered the isles hoping to find what they needed. I went from 30 hours to 15 almost every part timer was down  to less. Fulltime associates worked without backup and their departments left abandoned so they could take their lunch. For the last  three weeks I have worked a total of 6 days and while I have a secondary source of income many  others do not.
This treatment of people will undoubtedly trickle down to customers and the once valued asset: people will be the one cutback that costs the store millions. It is this very reason why corporate America continues to decimate the economy: the greatest resource in business is people. If the value of the bottom line outweighs the camaraderie of human beings then we shall perish in refuse of our greed. Continue Reading »

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