Archive | blogging RSS feed for this section

Nature’s Hideouts

13 Oct
B45E5F30-C261-42E0-96D7-5C8B8FECC5AD

During a hike I had to take a minute and appreciate nature’s hideouts.

The rejuvenating powers of nature work its magic when you’re hiking, biking, or running the trails. Probably why I’m a big fan of Bear Grylls and his adventures. They inspire the exploration of the Great Outdoors.

Granted you don’t have to jump out of helicopters or rappel down cliffs as Grylls does to appreciate the beauty and magnitudal effect nature can have on you.

Living in the city, I’m still able to find nature’s hideouts and be wowed by its effect.

Sometimes the experience is so great that I end up in the moment and forget to snap the shot. Other times I catch up and I’m lucky enough to remember.

Photographer Louie Schwartzberg’s short Tedx Talk Gratitude speaks about his project Gratitude Revealed. He captures these breathtaking shots of nature as well as the connection and gratitude he feels being surrounded by it. These time lapse captures took time and patience. When he put them together in the film with the older gentleman’s narrative  the reaction, including my own, was a collective appreciation of the day and its possibilities.

It connected you with parts of the world that made you mindful that you’re part of something much bigger. Reminding you of the blessings that come with the day was the backdrop of the landscape.

Living in a big city, it’s important to find nature’s hideouts and escape in the early morning before I tackle the day. Watching Schwartzberg’s talk reminds me of the importance of mindfulness and the place that helps me get to that frame of mind faster is within nature and any of its hideouts within the city.

 

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

 

Advertisements

Writer Wednesday’s: Storytellers at Their Best

10 Oct

The good ones are found in the nooks and crannies if you look hard enough, and I found one today. A good one.

You see most people think they can tell a story, and some can. But only a few are really good storytellers, the kind you get curious about, the kind you want to get to know. Chris Stapleton for instance. He hit the country scene a few years ago and people were wowed with his songs and ability to tell it with heart and soul. Paulo Cohelo and Laura Esquivel weaved journeys into epic stories that captured my attention and inspired. Kurt Sutter with his Sons of Anarchy and Vince Gillian with Breaking Bad imagined worlds with deep, complex, strong and flawed characters in powerful stories that humbled me as a writer.

You get stories in songs, books, TV shows, and movies every one of them requires a special something. I like it when I discover or remember one. I see them and it inspires me to get off my ass and be better.

And that’s what happened today.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I recently was gifted a Hulu subscription, and found a new treasure chest of stories. Some good, others not really my style. And in this search to find the good I rediscovered my interest in documentaries. I watched a couple great ones, but the one that stood out today was Page One: Inside the The New York Times. I imagine it may be similar to the one I have yet to see, The Fourth Estate, but focuses on different parts of the journalistic world.

PageOne_

Page One: Inside the New York Times

In this story I found the great storyteller I had forgotten about I had lost. David Carr is a gritty, humble, and staunch defender of journalistic integrity and the freedom of the press. But beyond that he was a great storyteller, based in truth, and I was reminded of that after watching the film, and inspired to continue my journey no matter how difficult it may be at times.

It’s a difficult period for the press, especially when it’s being attacked by people who don’t like being called out on their lies and who fail to take responsibility for their actions in addition to those complicit in their behavior or cover-up. The press, when it’s at its best, acts as a mirror and uncovers the truth behind the dark corners of what people are hiding. Some people confuse news stories with columnists and that at times is the problem. There is a difference. One is news, one is opinion. People forget. The press itself  is a good check and balance for those in power. And I’m glad that this documentary reveals the hard work that goes into being a reporter.

I especially admired Carr, who at one point in his life hit the ultimate low personally and professionally, but was able to turn the corner and find something he was passionate about: storytelling. He not only asked questions, but he asked the right questions. And that’s when you know you have a good one, because not only are they passionately curious and smart, but they’re in this invested in this quest for truth.

When you witness someone bring that sense of integrity and honesty to storytelling, it gut-checks you and makes you wonder, where’s your story?

And so I find myself getting back to it.

 

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

 

Finding Your Ninja Warrior Strength

5 Oct

You ever feel like that slow-motion action sequence in a film, where there is impending danger and the camera takes it frame by frame to capture your reaction and record your sense of urgency that equals the speed of an explosive Bourne Identity car chase?

Yeah. I had that moment today.

Now I normally don’t get lit up with anger by other kids at an elementary school pickup. Most of the time I’m just annoyed with the moms who show up an hour early to take up all the parking, leaving me to park two football-field-lengths away. But anger was a good description for today. You see, when one kid decides to grab my daughter by the shirt with a kung fu grip as she’s minding her business playing hide and seek with her other friend, I got a little fiery.

However by the time I walked over there, the kid had disappeared into the crowd of blue and yellow shirts, and I was left with a confused 7-year old wondering why this kid scrunched up her Ninja Warrior shirt.

Maybe as some people would put it, he’s just a kid, messing around, he doesn’t know better. Maybe he didn’t like Ninjas. I don’t know, if you’re old enough to play Fortnite or use Pokemon strategies to earn more cards, I think you know better, you just don’t do better. Otherwise he wouldn’t have run away.

But regardless, I’m not in the habit of having my kid be messed around with in that manner no matter what the reason. I’m in the habit of teaching my daughter that no one puts their hands on her. So, I investigated the situation. Apparently she stopped her hide-and-seek play to stare at the kids wrestling by the tree. Some kids don’t like being stared at I guess, thus the unnecessary roughness and my quest to find the offender.

I didn’t find the kid or his mother, but when I asked my daughter if she would be able to  remember what he looked like, she told me if she saw him on Monday she’d point him out. And so I would have words with this kid’s mom. Lots of them.

But what I didn’t understand was how my very vocal daughter who defends her Legos to the death remained silent as this transpired. She didn’t yell. She didn’t push him off.  She didn’t punch him. She stood still. Quiet. Looking confused.

I was like … what happened to you?

Surprised. She said she was surprised, sort of shocked that someone would do that. She didn’t expect it. She didn’t know the kids and she says she was staring at him because they were wrestling. And that’s when the kid stood up and grabbed her by the shirt ready to rumble.

So I wondered where that confident girl who spoke out at home against the injustice of losing in Connect 4 or Battleship had disappeared to … the girl that likes Muay Thai boxing and is fearless on adventures … I was like what happened? Were you scared?

I was just surprised. Maybe embarrassed.

That’s what she kept saying.

I explained to my daughter that sometimes you’re shocked when people behave aggressively or in an abnormal fashion. But she needed to snap out of the shock as quickly as she could so that she could defend herself and not let anyone hurt or disrespect her again. She had nothing to be embarrassed about, the boy was the one in the wrong and there was no way this kid was going to turn this around and play the victim.

As a mother you don’t want your kids getting roughed up, or worse, beat up, or assaulted, and you want them to set boundaries and find a balance. You want to make sure they stand strong and find courage, when someone is trying to hurt them, demean them, or make them feel weak.

I wanted to make sure my daughter knew that she didn’t do anything wrong and that the kid shouldn’t have done what he did, and that this boys-will-be-boys mentality is a cheap excuse that will never be a justifiable reason for misbehavior. Ever.

Speaking up is not tattle-telling, especially when someone is getting hurt.

She was worried that if she defended herself, his mom would get mad or yell at her. I was like you Rocky Balboa your way out of that situation any time and I will handle who ever comes your way. No one has the right to put their hands on you. Don’t ever be afraid to stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to be strong.

Who are people you think are strong?

She answered … Ninja Warriors.

So then Ninja-Warrior yourself, I said to her.

She smiled and we hugged it out.

Now even though she left feeling like she could conquer Stage 4 of the most Ninja-est obstacle courses I was still on a mission to find this kid and his mom. Don’t know if I’ll find them on Monday, but at least my daughter is better prepared for this kid if he tries anything again.

 

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

 

 

Feel Good Friday

28 Sep

I didn’t expect this Polaroid moment from my youth to bring about the Feelgoods on a Friday.

During an after-dinner walk with the kids I discovered a small comic book shop my son wanted to explore. We cruised the scene and then at the end of our looky-loo session, I discovered the back room which was a quaint little take-you-back-in-time place featuring Star Wars, Wonder Woman, and Batman goodies. And in an unassuming corner of the room, there it was … a piece of cool … waiting for me to claim it.

B648AAF7-A0C7-46E3-83C1-F487179C23DC

The awesomeness of Bruce

I was having a John Cusack-High Fidelity moment and enjoying the rediscovery of records.

You see,  I was one of those kids loving the Glory Days and Dancing in the Dark, trying to record the Top 40 Countdown on my boombox and make an awesome mixed tape without being interrupted by Casey Kasem.

I remembered my Trapper Keeper, locker days, and the Jake Ryan of my life. I remember my Uncle Erick’s record player and hearing the vinyls on Friday nights, sitting on my brown shaggy rug, with headphones. I remembered a piece of my childhood I had tucked in a corner and it made me smile.

Bruce was a good find and I think I’ll be visiting my secret record finding place next week, just to see what else is waiting for me.

Buen Camino my friends!

I Found My Little Moment With Anthony and Korean BBQ Tacos

26 Sep

So during my unintended hiatus I rediscovered my checks and balances, as in what I needed to do in order to turn things around for my own peace and sanity after a tough day of parenthood, rejection letters, or run-ins with everyday jackasses. I rediscovered the limits of my tolerance level for elementary school-parent drama, or people trying to take the spring out of my step.

Aside from my need of morning runs, walks, or swims to attain a Zen-like state of my mind, I found that hanging out with Anthony helped me remember. You see during this hiatus I caught up on some storytelling and was able to catch Anthony Bourdain’s travels new and old. His fearless spirit for journeys through Parts Unknown was a great way to connect with people and their stories. He did it through food and the awesome way in which he weaved words together in order to make a connection, to help you gain perspective of other worlds.

And so when I ran into one of the culinary discoveries he had featured, I felt the need to dive right into the cultural fusion. Most people might have just seen a good meal, but for some reason I felt the connection to this amazing world traveler and discoverer, who ultimately lost his battle with depression this year.

Storytellers are complicated people, filled with layers of emotions and when you can find a moment of Zen, of peace, even in a simple meal you should take a moment to appreciate it and enjoy the feeling and so I did, as he did many times on his show.

I found my moment with Korean BBQ tacos in the middle of the city, and I sat there enjoying the fusion of flavors between two cultures.

 

I sat remembering the story of this chef and how he got started, and of Bourdain’s interview and the spotlight he shown on the possibilities of a vision, of what can happen when you believe in an idea that nobody else thought of and you go for it. I remembered my spotlight. I re

I sat there, eating my tacos, feeling glad to have found that Anthony Bourdain episode during my sabbatical, feeling glad that I had found my little moment of the day, feeling glad that those tacos were so good, soooooooo good. I felt so filled with Zen that I had enough good vibes to lift me up until the stars came out at night.

Here’s hoping you have your own little moment.

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

 

Accidental Sabbaticals, Broken Chains, and Storytelling Comebacks …

19 Sep

I broke the chain.

One day became two, then three, then four, then it was two weeks. You write everyday and you end up building links that connect, and at the end of the month you have this long chain of events that contributed to the creative spark that fuels your storytelling nature. You build something and every time you log onto your computer or tap away at your typewriter, you add another link to your creative works chain.

sabbatical

But I broke the link. And now I have to start over.

I didn’t think I’d be one of those Missing In Action writers as I tend to roll on in consistently, but it completely snowballed here in sunny California. I fell off the creative wagon for a bit there to churn out some grant-writing pages and the energy for anything creative slowly drifted away as my head hit the pillow and snored away until the next morning. Now I don’t know if they’ve gotten the funds yet, but I sure hope they do.

But while I was testing out the philanthropic waters and trying to do good for others, I lost my mojo there for a bit. I lost my juice. But I’m working my way back. Bit by bit, one day at a time.

It’s not a big deal, as the world of blogging continues to spin and people keep moving forward, and discovering new sites as old ones fizzle out, but for those wondering about my accidental sabbatical … it’s over for now. I hope to not have another repeat. Someone told me it’s good to step away for a bit and recharge your battery, even if it wasn’t intentional, it’s still good to gain new perspective on your storytelling ways. I’ll find out if that’s true.

In the meantime, I’m still finding the funny in the not-so-funny situations, or at least I’m trying to, and I’m weaving experiences into the best kind of stories I know how to tell. Like with my washer ordeal and the battle with Sears and their Customer Service department and how Sebastian over there is not in favor of customers or service, or warranties. I relied on comedic moments to help me return to a state of Zen.

And while on this unintentional break, I did have something good happen. A couple actually, but I’ll save one for the Friday Feel Good Post. This one is reserved for recharging batteries. And I found that being surrounded by good music, good food, and people that make you laugh works its magic like chocolate.

I hadn’t on a Girls’ Night Out in probably a year, there really hadn’t been one. Everybody has been so busy with life. So when I got invited to go to an outdoor concert, I wanted to go, but paused for a minute as sometimes I fall into the … “man that’s too far, or parking is gonna be a nightmare, or I’m just too exhausted from parenting to go,” categories. In fact sometimes I just don’t feeeeeel like going. But I remember getting the invite and then remember an old Jim Carrey movie where he ends up saying yes to everything, and all these experiences take him on a new journey to a new self, a new perspective. They help him find his way, even though he gets lost somewhere in the middle, all those yeses leaded to something good in the end.

And so … I said yes. I said yes to Los Tigres del Norte.

And I found something good in the end. I found something in the accordion playing, the brass of the trumpets, in the strumming of the guitars under the starry night sky, in the gritos of the crowd cheering for more from this legendary group.

I found the good of the night and gratitude for the yes, and for the enjoyment.

Something about hanging out and getting good vibes made me smile and jump on in feet first. There were a few ladies I wished had been able to make it out there, but I was still very much in good spirits and feeling  the vibes of the outdoor amphitheater and the contagious laughter that comes about when people get together.

I was recharged, for my storytelling comeback, and I’m hoping to keep the chain strong this time.

 

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

 

Sunsets, Sunrises, and Sprinkles of Enjoyment

19 Aug

I wanted to watch the sunset and feel that moment of exhale marking the end of the day.  I wanted to see the sun in the early morning and feel the tranquility of the quiet among the warmth and nature.

And the Grand Canyon gave it to me in the best way.

After our little adventure in Radiator Springs we took the train to the Grand Canyon and that was the second part of our adventure. The kids hadn’t ridden the train before and it was a great way for them to travel and see the landscape. Now there was a mix-up with the reservations, and in truth, that burned me out. They gave us the wrong car, when we had actually paid more to be in a different car, but the kids didn’t seem to mind, and in the end we were reimbursed and our reservations on the return trip were secured. Those small details were just that … small. The kids were busy enjoying the ride itself, the thought of being on vacation,  on a train, and the adventure of travel.

And so to break away from the mood, I looked out the window and got lost in the scenery. It’s a good way to travel, especially with kids, and especially after the long drive to across state lines.

 

When the train pulled up to the station and we walked onto the platform being there, knowing that we had made it, felt good. We roamed around a bit before heading toward a viewpoint … an amazingly breathtaking viewpoint cast with clouds and shadows and the cool sprinkles of monsoon season.

Experiencing the Canyon during rain and lightning is a pretty amazing way to meet nature. It was a welcomed change from the 100-degree heat I was experiencing.  So I was one of the few people standing out in the rain, letting the drops hit me, checking out the Canyon, and breathing in the fresh air.

Now when the lightning began to pick up every few minutes, I thought it would be safer to catch that show from the safety of the bus, as did my kids, and the rest of the family. We cruised through the Rim of the Canyon and made it to the cabin to relax a bit before dinner and sunset watch. The rain was only supposed to last few hours so the sunset would still be an awesome moment for us.

And I don’t know what it is about sunsets that makes me find Zen in them, they happen every day. Maybe it’s the fact that all kinds of pinks, purples, and orange shades fill the sky and enhance your surroundings. It’s a call for the end of the day and for things to wind down. It’s a call to remember that the day is done, and now you take a moment for gratitude.

6D417081-7662-4B8A-93E3-09A9675422AE

Just amazing…

So we sat there at the edge, overlooking the Canyon, watching the sun go down, taking our pictures and having a moment worthy of the Awesome Jar. We walked through the trail to the outdoor amphitheater and listened to one of the Nightly Nature Ranger Talks. That night we learned about the amazing vertical leap and long jump capabilities of the the Mountain Lion. Even if you think you’re far enough or high enough … you’re not. That Mountain Lion will catch you if it wants to … luckily most times it doesn’t want to.

Now I really enjoyed the sunset and evening lecture, but I was looking forward to the early morning run along the Rim. Being up that early, surrounded by the quiet, and awesomeness of the Canyon filled me with peace and awe. It was the kind of morning where nature and the Great Outdoors affects you, where if you’re feeling a little lost you manage to find your way, where you realize things are possible.  It tells you that today was no accident, today there was a purpose.

I found gratitude during moments of sunset and sunrise and that helped set the tone for the rest of the adventure. The days were filled with hikes, fossil walks, Native American Dancing, visiting landmarks, getting Junior Ranger badges, purchasing souvenirs, and exploring the rest of The Canyon.

It was a good adventure, the kind of good you needed because it was missing for a little bit, the kind of good you still feel after you’ve left someplace because that someplace still gives you peace during chaos, the kind of good that leaves sprinkles of enjoyment throughout the rest of the month when you close your eyes and remember.

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

 

Shark Week Welcomes 43

29 Jul

I don’t know how you could forget, but apparently it happens.

I didn’t do anything extraordinary on the last day of 42, wish I had but it sort of snuck up on me … I wasn’t paying attention to time and before I knew it, there it was … the last 24 hours of being 42. Even though I didn’t wine and dine myself, I did take a moment to pause at the end of the night and breathe in moments of gratitude throughout the day. Hanging out with a friend who made me smile … that was something to be grateful for and binge watching episodes of Shark Week? Dude. C’mon! The fact that Shark Week landed on the week of my birthday?! That was adventure enough.

I love Shark Week. It infuses a great sense of curiosity and admiration for all the great whites, hammerheads, tiger sharks, blue sharks, makos … all of them out there. It’s an appreciation for the adventurous marine biologists, shark experts, and camera people swimming out in the deep trying to capture the breach or tag and track and discover other amazing facts about this animal.  I love the excitement of it all and the intensity of the powerful and beautiful shark.

Plus I always love the metaphor about life that often comes during this time …

 

 

I enjoy hanging out and watching this every year with my kids. So on the eve of my birthday I sharked out! The next morning we took a staycation to the beach and checked off another bucket list adventure. My kids and I had been wanting to do for a while and seeing how it was Shark Week, I felt it was totally fitting in with the theme. Plus can’t go wrong going to the beach during Shark Week. It’s definitely meant to happen.

Standup Paddleboarding.

Considering that it’s been in the 100-degree-heat range in my neck of the woods, the early morning cool cloudy vibe at the beach was a welcomed site. But I just didn’t want to relax and hit the boogie board, I wanted a little something extra and so I booked a little hour and change adventure that even my daughter would enjoy. Standup Paddleboarding was something my son and I always wanted to try, but we just never got around to it, or my daughter quickly vetoed the idea.

But we found a way to make it happen this year and it was a good way to start the birthday morning. The fact that the waters were calm and we saw two giant seals swimming alongside made for an even better outing. We couldn’t believe how close we were to these huge animals and the thought of them bumping the board or flipping over didn’t occur to me until my daughter mentioned it. But I assured her that they were on their way and we were on ours and everybody would be fine. Everyone’s just enjoying the ocean. There was balance.

And finding balance was key that day, and I was glad that we made it out to the ocean that day, glad that my feet felt the cool water on the board and I wiggled my toes, glad that I found peace in a cloudy morning, glad for my kids mastering that boogie board in the afternoon, glad for the Happy Birthday song my kids sang to me, glad for the crunchy fish tacos for dinner, glad for the awesome DJ skills I had and the feel-good-songs that infused me with positivity and nostalgia on the long drive home, and glad for the chocolate cupcakes I baked for myself and the birthday wish that went along with it. Glad that I found the moments that day, moments that made me live like it was Shark Week. 43 …  Shark Week welcomes 43.

IMG_8955

Nice view on a birthday during Shark Week …

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

10 … It’s A Moment

22 Jul

I saw him, still asleep in his Star Wars pant pajamas and green Pokemon shirt. His bedhead hair looking like the best Flock-of-Seagulls-Billy-Idol masterpiece in desperate need of a haircut. But as he puts it … I’m on vacation mom.

It had been a decade and I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was gonna happen, I mean with science and time and all that, I knew 10 would be coming. It comes for everyone if you’re lucky. Every birthday matters, but this one sat with me a little longer.

I was in the moment. I stopped and looked at him for a bit before his sister came in ready to hug and squeeze and squish the birthday boy until smiles and laughter filled the room.

I was trying to stop time with my Jedi mom mind powers. Just for a moment …

He woke up to hugs, smiles, and our annual birthday song, courtesy of the Beatles. The day had officially begun and years 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, were gone. He was in double digit territory now, but that didn’t mean the years were lost. They were still there sitting beneath the surface, nestled in his heart … 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 with all the memories they created.

The chocolate cakes with the chocolate frosting, the love for jumping in the pool and the power of the cannonball and it’s amazing splash potential, the fun in water slide adventures, the love for Word World, Wonder Pets, Sesame Street, and Mighty Machines, and how that turned into a love for America Ninja Warrior, Running Wild with Bear Grylls, Forged in Fire, Shark Week and anything involving STAR WARS, Superheros DC or Avengers. The enjoyment of those plastic golf clubs and baseball bats and how that developed into hockey, tennis, and anything where you get to hit a something.

10 brings up hundreds of books and night time reading favorites. 10 brings memories of his laughter that starts as a giggle and then turns into a full blown crack up. 10 brings memories of his early-riser pleasant nature, nothing grouchy about this kid in the morning, and his love of morning cartoons. 10 brings memories of meeting his baby sister in the hospital and being excited to see her. 10 brings memories of all the feel-good songs he used to get his day started and pump himself up, of the awesome dance moves that came with those songs. From One Direction, One Republic, Maroon 5, Cold Play, Michael Jackson and U2, to Aerosmith, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Earth, Wind and Fire, and The Beatles. 10 reminds me of all the Famous Amos and Oreo cookies gobbled up after pizza, pasta, tacos, or burritos, of the chocolate chip pancakes in the morning, and grilled cheese sandwiches or In-and-Out burgers at lunch. 10 reminds me that something special just happened and I better hold on to the rest of this ride … it’s gonna be an epic.

And we created a new memory, a Sandbucket List Adventure to celebrate double digits.

After morning celebrations and birthday present unwrapping, we headed off to the Go Kart race track where my speed machine revved his very first engine.

IMG_2394

Even though I was a little nervous seeing him up against teenagers and preteens and the speed in which they zigged and zagged, I didn’t have that crazy mom moment. I just smiled and said good luck, and remember the red lever is the brake. He only crashed four times on the hairpin turn in his first race but still managed to come in third place. His competitive nature propelled him forward in his other races. He inched his way to first place in his last two races. Four races in all and he felt awesome after each one.

And I was glad to have witnessed it.

Year 10 was filled with Go Kart Driving adventures, XBox challenges on NHL 17, and dinner at our favorite Italian place. Chocolate gelato included.

The birthday wish was saved for the chocolate cupcake at home. The birthday song was just like every year, loud and happy, but this chocolate frosting felt a little more chocolatey.

10 …. it’s a moment.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

 

Finding A Way

3 Jun

It wasn’t intentional but it happened anyway. I stepped away for a minute.

Apparently I’d been carrying a heavy emotional workload and was unaware of this burden. It was emotionally draining and produced an unexpected writing sabbatical.

The last week of school happened and emotions were fully charged in everyone’s hearts.  Some fifth-grade moms in tears, some fourth-grade moms with emotional anxiety of what was to come next May. I overheard countless conversations about how these moms didn’t know how they were going to handle their kids graduating from elementary school, how their kids turned 10 this year and how fast that decade passed. This realization hit them as the school-year came to an end.

But this wasn’t something that made me sad.

The year hadn’t gone by fast at all. Our family had the power to stop time when life was good, with gratitude talks at night and notes in The Jar of Awesome. We also found a way to move ahead when life was crappy and things didn’t pan out the way we had hoped. The year moved at just the right roller-coaster speed.

But I was happy the school year had ended.

While it was an amazing year of triumph, growth, energy, and awesomeness for my daughter, it was a time of heartbreak, rough edges, disappointment, and life lessons for my son. This year was the most difficult for him and we haven’t even gotten to middle school.

That seemed to worry me.

I was happy for my daughter, but sad for my son. A tough spot to be in for a parent, but I imagine not the first time I’d be feeling this exact feeling. I imagine it happens often for parents. The ups and downs of family life.

And I know we’re supposed to go with the flow, but in truth I was relieved when the year ended. I was glad that my son didn’t have to deal with the harshness of friends who were no longer his friends, of eating alone during lunch because he didn’t know any of the kids in his new class, of kids who friends with him when they were in the same class, but who turned into acquaintances that sometimes said hello and sometimes didn’t because they no longer sat at the same table, or because he was into sports and they were into video games, or of being with a teacher who didn’t see his potential and wasn’t as inspirational as Stand and Deliver, but he still managed to find a way to get good grades make it to the end of the year.

The thing was he seemed all right. These social difficulties didn’t dent his spirit, as he’s always been independent. I’ve always tried to tell him not to follow the crowd, but to follow what makes him happy whether it lines up with what’s popular or not. He often played sports at lunch and got along well with the underclassmen. It was just difficult to see him have to find a way to get through the year instead of it just being a good year. It was the finding the way part … I thought that would happen when he was much older, but this lesson came early.

The year ended and relief set in and I had to take a moment.

As a parent I tend to worry a lot about what’s going on with my kid, is he doing all right, what happens at recess, how’s it going in science, why is this kid not your buddy anymore, how’s it going in class. All these questions pop up when I think about him, but when I was going to school, I don’t remember thinking any of these things myself as a student. I just went to school. I learned. I played tetherball and basketball. I studied. I don’t remember wanting to be cool or worrying about playing by myself. I always just played. I found a way to make it through school.

I had to remind myself of that. I had to remember that he’s a strong kid and that sometimes I worry more than I should about the ups and downs. And although there were times when chocolate ice cream and hugs needed to be there after school, most of the time fourth grade was all right. It wasn’t a spectacular year, but it was all right. He found a way, we found a way.

This year will still mark a decade of his life, but just part of it, the part filled with love of science and math, of playing America Ninja Warrior, soccer, and basketball at recess, of eating alone at lunch sometimes and being O.K. with it, of working on more book reports and oral presentations than any other class but being great at it, of knowing enjoying board games and Pokemon cards, of trips to the beach on Sundays, of watching Wild Kratts, Animal Planet, America Ninja Warrior, Star Wars, and Forged in Fire with his sister, of Boys Scouts, hockey games and baseball practice, of still letting me hug him before school and giving him my blessing, and of him charging me and hugging me tight everyday after school.

As we reached a milestone I was reminded of his innocence and resilience, of his heart and of his strength. As life didn’t turn out the way we expected this year, he found a way, (well together we found a way) turn things around. Hope you’re finding your way …

 

Buen Camino, my friends …