October 2010

The day care kids made masks today. They used paper plates and Liana cut eye holes to match the places where each child’s eyes would best look out. The children had a fine time cutting around the edges of the masks. Some made fringe. Some cut the plate into smaller and smaller circles or ovals. One two just made a beeline from the edge of the plate to the eye hole, twice, cutting out a pie shaped wedge of plate from her mask. Others snipped bits off the edges till the paper plate masks resembled eye masks or eye patches.

In the after school, my six brings a collection of germs from a school nutrition class. He tells us in the van he had collected them after the lesson. Two sixes work at the table for forty five minutes after we get home coloring in and cutting out the germs from black line masters. Then one six makes his own germ, asks me for help to find the tape to put the leg back on his Pellicillin. They remind me very much of the Pokemon figures the sixes drew and cut out last week.

What is it about certain times of year that compel children to do certain things? We didn’t offer scissors this morning or this afternoon. They were on the shelves and the children sought them out, along with the glue, sparkly things, feathers, dot markers, and silky crayons we had put out. All the children in the day care, save our one, can cut with great control. Seems when I first started doing day care many more of our children had trouble with fine motor skills. I wonder if the climber we’ve had inside, with its hanging and pull up bars, has helped our children develop greater hand strength and coordination. I wonder why the children don’t want to go in the yard on this balmy October afternoon. We were out a good chunk of the morning with the day care. The kids were outside twenty minutes or so after school. The yard beckons. The back porch door is wide open. Sun streams in. The children cut at the dining room table and play an active group game of their own invention in the living room. Their choices say October, while the weather outside says May. Makes me question, if briefly, my somewhat newly committed belief that children know what they need and that I should interfere as little as possible, so long as it’s safe and within bounds. We’ll see…life is one big fat experiment. Some days I wonder if I know more than I did when I started out or if I have more questions the longer I live.

Happy snipping. I wonder, too, if it’s like the harvesting gene, people throughout history snipping away at wheat and straw and herbs before the snow comes, urge turned loose by our children on reams of freely available white copy paper. Who knows?

I hope to add photos later. My computer is busted. iphoto isn’t working since I had a new hard drive installed on Tuesday night. Bummer. I’m still taking pictures. I don’t know when I’ll be able to upload them to the blog..

My three is learning how not to cry over every little thing, how to stop crying once she’s started. I’m learning how to help her. Today her friend did something she didn’t like, a small thing, and I think, as her voice quivers as she relays the injustice, good time to teach her new words. “You know what you say when that happens?” I ask, forgetting now what that was, because it was so minor. “Bummer!”

“Bummer?” her four-year-old friends giggle.

“Yeah, Bummer!” I repeat. “That’s what I say when something disappointing happens. Or Shoot! Or Darn it!”

The girl doesn’t try it on, but she doesn’t cry either. I think about situations when I might use Bummer instead of tears. Lifelong learning, that.


Last night I roamed the city with friends, had a lot of fun, learned new stuff, got home late all wound up. Not much time to write, but it was another one of those reminders of how rich life in the city can be, how restoring it is to step outside my little routine and world, how many places in the world there are to experience intense passion and commitment, whether in a beautiful restaurant with fabulous food or in a dance which pushes the body and emotions to their limits, and also how much we humans are eager to interact, to know about one another, to live a full life, to question our reality and the reality around us. Good to feel so deeply human and connected. Another sort of high. All for now. Back to day care and life inside my own little world. Also read Jung at bedtime, all about dreams and their place in consciousness and the psyche. Another kind of stepping out of my world into a larger one that feels exciting and good..always more ideas and conversations to explore, whether out loud or in my mind, love thinking about that idea, too…so many, many ways to live and learn and feel connected and alone.

On my drive to and from school today  I passed by the cemetery on the corner of Alewife Brook Parkway and Broadway, not the route I normally take on the way home, but I remembered at last to avoid the construction at Mass Ave and Alewife Brook by taking the Lake Street exit off Route 2. I had been wishing both directions of the ride for inspiration, for something to write about. Has been a few days of that. Nothing comes. The leaves were there both times, though, shining in the boldest golds and oranges, wet on the ground and in the trees, in stark contrast to the gray and black of the grave stones and memorial statues. I wished for my camera, might go out later for a walk to take some pictures, might not. Across the way, the meeting place for the carpool, the Johnny Foodmaster parking lot, brought me back home, wet, gray, rainy day in a wet gray parking lot of cars and asphalt and cement block. The contrast will stick in my mind as much as either scene.

Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.
Joseph Campbell

Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional

These are the bumper stickers pasted on the back of a Honda Minivan a few years older than ours, which my daughter and I both choose as our favorites out of a whole tailgate full of bumper stickers we read at stop lights driving from Porter Square Shopping Center to our friends’ house for dinner. I love that my daughter chooses the first as her favorite, and that we agree on the two as our favorites among the many, none others which I can remember right now, though they were all worth reading.

I’m past my big three year licensing renewal visit. I’m past the one year mark on living without a partner, living year two of sorting out separate holidays and birthdays and finances and decisions, year one of separate taxes, approaching the date this week when our divorce will become legal, which I only realize as I type this sentence, interesting how things like that linger inside and don’t come to the surface unless I’m writing. Always some layer of life to celebrate, loss, gain, anniversary, death, marriage, divorce, birthday, holiday, season, interesting how we humans choose to mark some with parties, others we try to bury with regret or sadness or busyness or the next good thing, funeral for the death of a partner, tears alone for the death of a marriage, or another wedding, in the case of my ex, first year also of my children getting a new mother, of my former partner getting engaged, making a new life with another woman, falling in love with someone other than me, all those unspoken things it feels too shameful or private to say, but which are my learning for the year, I realize again and again and again, no new school for me this year, though I continue to stay in touch with the charter school group, continue to pay attention to things at my kid’s transforming public school, continue to work with three homeschooling kids, to keep the challenging after school and mixed age summer care aspects of our family day care program alive and thriving. I can feel myself slipping back to being a straight up mom and family child care provider, possibly in a few years with mostly full day, early childhood care, budget of a single mother not got much space for taking risk, for adapting to home school, after school, and summer enrollments shifting and to filling spaces ad hoc, need full year, full time, full day contracts to pay the bills, to keep stable hours for the staff, perhaps also need the simplification in our program to keep myself sane, to stop the spinning plate act I find myself in at so many points in the year, juggling summer scheduling with fall enrollments with tax time and budgets and the needs of making a life for myself and my kids can leave me completely overwhelmed.

Which leads me back to leading the underwhelming life…the inward looking, day to day, small pleasures of the heart and senses and mind sort of life…as opposed to the overwhelming life I had been thinking I had wanted. The high achieving, big world changing, mark making in the larger sense sort of goals feel out the window for the moment. I wake up on a Sunday morning not thinking about the real estate I want to tour for my new school, open houses on Sunday a thing of the past, but thinking about the piles of tax papers and children’s artwork and mementos from the last two years and more which are lining the edges of my bedroom, my own piece of real estate, and if this Sunday will be the day I deal with them, sort, organize, put them in places that make more sense than the floor of my room. I think about the groceries and Halloween things we bought yesterday on our errands to Porter Square and the groceries and Halloween things that remain to buy today, with my children, the real center of my world, orbiting just around my self, which has taken awhile to get in order as a self, not as a member of a partnership, still working on that with a great deal of effort. Learning how to answer the question How was your day? has probably been my greatest challenge for the year. Angel from Montgomery lyrics carried me through a lot of that learning. Growing older without a partner, without having fulfilled a good number of my personal dreams, without having made a mark on the larger world, it really comes down to that question most of all, How was your day? Sort of my way of praying, figuring out that question, learning how to ask others, how to find someone who’ll ask me, how to listen to another, to ask myself, to listen inside, to allow the answer I give myself to satisfy, to be enough, to feel the rhythms of the day honestly and deeply and to make small changes or big ones as appropriate, to let go, to move along, to wake in the morning and remember my dreams, to let the daydreams carry some weight, not too much disappointment, to see how the night and day dreams affect the living reality.  The How was your day question can carry a lot of weight in the underwhelming and overwhelming life..

Which brings me to Carl Jung, and to the self and dreams and archetypes and patterns and threads in life..last night after reading those bumper stickers, after sharing a good meal and conversation with friends and my children, first weekend in a month with all three kids for the weekend, I was looking at my friends’ bookshelves while the rest of the crowd was doing stuff on the computer, amazing how many dinner parties end that way these days, with youtube sharing of something amazing. While my son was showing our hosts and my daughter  a video of another human being creating a portrait of a fantasy character’s face using computer drawing software, I was discovering on the bookshelf nearby a copy of Jung by Joseph Campbell, whose quote had been our favorite of the bumper stickers. The same book had been on the bookshelf at the concert last weekend, and I had wanted to read it then. This time, I could take the book from the shelf and ask my friend about it. He had read it a long time ago, and offered it to me on loan, at which point, I began looking through the timelines and titles and subtitles of the chapters of the book, finding my way through Carl Jung’s life and ideas, connecting them to my own, anticipating a clearer understanding of things only lurking below the surface right now, hoping right this moment as I write to take a few minutes before starting the day to read a few bits, having gone to sleep last night after finishing my latest treasure, Mary Karr’s Lit, a memoir about her life of recovery from alcoholism, her first marriage and divorce, and her path to becoming an established, published, widely read writer.

So many thoughts in the world to share and explore. Hard to know where to start most days. Which is  prayer in itself, if Mary Karr and Joseph Campbell are right, just that basic understanding that we are connected, that the whole wide world is worth caring about, that we ourselves are cared about and held up, if not always in ways we expected, that so much in our lives is good and right, even if we are currently living what might seem an underwhelming life. Prayer of this Sunday morning for me is to be grateful for yesterday, for making brownies with my son, nearly fourteen, for sitting beside the YMCA pool and absorbing the grace of my daughter swimming and then her tour of the previously undiscovered changing rooms on the floor above, not glamorous by any stretch, but more and better than the stall by the pool she used to change all last year or the shower room with a single changing bench discovered earlier this fall, this new changing room with a mirror and lockers and a sink and it was yesterday’s discovery and my girl wanted me to see it and I did, and for having my oldest son call his babysitting job and ask to change the day so he could be with us last night. All those were gifts worth noting and receiving, along with the money to buy the food, the time to make good meals for my kids and to share food with then and our friends, the heat that comes on and warms us as the air outside is cooling, even the ex-husband who was walking on the sidewalk in his found corduroy coat, knit hat which used to drive me crazy as he wore it all day long inside the house to save on heat, holding hands with his fiance, walking with a little pigtailed girl who was not our daughter, waving madly to our son, beside me in the van, driving home from a late morning errand to the bank, where my son deposited his babysitting money in hopes of paying for his snowboarding adventures this winter, where I deposited my child support check and the last of October tuition for the day care, checked my balances, anticipated another month, and hopefully another year, of paying all the bills. Today is good my friend always tells me, AA message to take to heart, keep on keepin on.

I’ll share the Heart Quotes I came upon when I searched for who to attribute the Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional quote to, and the list of Joseph Campbell quotes I found when I searched for the exact words along with Sorrow and Joy, which stuck clearly in my mind, along with his name. All the quotes got me inside, as quotes seem to do this year, that glorious resonance and transcendence of words and worlds of other human beings which make me feel whole and not alone and to feel that How was your day? is worth asking, again, and again, and again..

Might as well toss in Angel from Montgomery, which mixes up the sorrow and joy thing in good proportion. I like that. Not my favorite version, which is sung by Bonnie Raitt and John Prine, as the youtube video of that one is so bad it distracts me from the music, but another, early live version sung by Bonnie on her own. Enjoy. A little Sunday morning inspiration and joy, underwhelming, quiet life style.


HeartQuotes™: Quotes of the Heart

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HeartQuotes from August, 2002

Carl Jung
There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion. 

Ludwig Wittenstein
The aspects of a thing that are most important to us are hidden to us because of their simplicity and familiarity.

St John of the Cross
Where there is no love, put love and you will find love.

R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience
What we think is less than what we know;
What we know is less than what we love;
What we love is so much less than what there is.
And to that precise extent we are so much less than what we are.

Daniel Goleman
What counts in making a happy relationship is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.

Ken Keyes
Love is not a matter of what happens in life. It’s a matter of what’s happening in your heart.

Herbert Otto
We are all functioning at a small fraction of our capacity to live fully in its total meaning of loving, caring, creating and adventuring. Consequently, the actualizing of our potential can become the most exciting adventure of our lifetime.

Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’

Doc Childre and Howard Martin, The HeartMath Solution
You can never get to peace and inner security without first acknowledging all of the good things in your life. If you’re forever wanting and longing for more without first appreciating things the way they are, you’ll stay in discord.

Chinese proverb
Talk does not cook rice.

Mark Twain
I am an old man and have a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

Sara Paddison, The Hidden Power of the Heart
Stress is inner biofeedback, signaling you that frequencies are fighting within your system. The purpose of stress isn’t to hurt you, but to let you know it’s time to go back to the heart and start loving.

Hunter Patch Adams
The most revolutionary act one can commit in our world is to be happy.

Change is inevitable; growth is optional.

Carlos Castaneda
We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong.
The amount of work is the same.

Daphine Rose Kingma
Today, see if you can stretch your heart and expand your love so that it touches not only those to whom you can give it easily, but also those who need it so much.

You cannot teach people anything. You can only help them discover it within themselves.

Doc Childre
Care is the actualization of love assumed.

Albert Einstein, quoted in H Eves Mathematical Circles Adieu (Boston 1977).
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.

Doc Childre
Neutral is a state where you are not jumping ahead too quickly or moving too slow. Neutral does not mean being inactive, complacent or passive. It’s about a calm poise that allows for new information and new possibilities to emerge before taking further action. When in neutral you actually increase your sensitivity and intuitive intelligence. Neutral is fertile ground for new possibilities to grow from.

Igor Stravinsky
In order to create there must be a dynamic force, and what force is more potent than love?

Albert Schweitzer
I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.

Marcus Aurelius
Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.

Doc Childre
Remember, you create your own reality by the choices you make in the moment. Today, go for more moments of creating ‘heaven on earth.’ It’s your choice. Efficient decisions from the heart will take you there.

Carl W. Buechner
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
Quotes by Joseph Campbell, author of Jung and many other books


Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.

Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.

God is a metaphor for that which trancends all levels of intellectual thought. It’s as simple as that.

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.

I don’t have to have faith, I have experience.

I think the person who takes a job in order to live – that is to say, for the money – has turned himself into a slave.

Is the system going to flatten you out and deny you your humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of the system to the attainment of human purposes?

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.

Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.

Love is a friendship set to music.

Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.

One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.

Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.

Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. 

We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.

What each must seek in his life never was on land or sea. It is something out of his own unique potentiality for experience, something that never has been and never could have been experienced by anyone else.

When people get married because they think it’s a long-time love affair, they’ll be divorced very soon, because all love affairs end in disappointment. But marriage is a recognition of a spiritual identity.

When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.

When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you’re sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship.

Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.

Today on the way home from the park I have two twos, a five and a nine. We play our usual games and at one point, the five comes back to me and the carriage and the older two does not. The five notices this out loud, wonders why he, the five, came back, but the two did not, points out some danger or rule the two must have been ignoring.

“Well, you are older,” I say. “Your thinking is more sophisticated than his.” And I enjoy saying the word sophisticated to this five, lover of words, wonder if he will note my pleasure.

“I like thinking,” is his response.

“Yes, you do. Me, too.”

“I think I might be an inventor when I grow up. I might invent things like rockets.” and he tells me all about how he might make a rocket out of cigarette lighters and a rocket nose (although he may have had a more scientific term for that part.

I am left wondering if this boy had gone to kindergarten, rather than homeschooling, would he still love thinking so much, would his thoughts still charm me so much in their freshness. Perhaps yes, perhaps no. I like thinking about it. We have that in common.

This week we were walking to the park and my three noticed that the telephone pole where the kids stopped along our usual running game route had an especially nice, smooth, shiny surface. The kids wondered what made it that way. I wondered aloud if the other poles along our route had the same substance, talked a little about resin, though I don’t know myself for sure what the stuff was. I took a few photos of our stops at various poles. First one had black spots, which the three noted, but not that nice silky feel. Second same. Third had a beautiful brown color she said was like french toast. I liked that comparison. Learning with hands, minds, eyes, open questions, conversation, investigation, all on our usual walk to the park, which we do every g-d day, somehow always encountering something new.

Sort of the essence of early childhood work for me, that openness and wonder to the world, within a predictable routine with time and space for wandering..and here is what we saw and felt, in all our wondering glory.

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