Thursday, March 31, 2011

Can We Keep It?

Can we keep it? Four simple words with a question mark on the end. Simple enough, right? To an unseasoned parent, maybe. For others, those four words mean one must tread lightly. The question mark on the end usually means something too, so don't underestimate it.

One of the things that I love about Hubby is that he can't stand to see an animal suffer. He especially loves the baby animals. So when the boys find "something" to rescue, it's usually brought in by Hubby to nurse back to health. The trick is to have rehab done before the patient is given a name. 

One year we nursed baby possums. The boys found the little ones walking out of their den hole. They put them back into the hole but the next day they were at our doorstep. We knew something was wrong when they were out by themselves in daylight. Our Jamaican neighbor had trapped their "Mom" thinking it was a giant rat. He had never seen a possum before. Anyway, Ozzie and Harriet were with us until they were big enough to catch bugs on their own. We released Ozzie and Harriet at a nature preserve and they took off digging to make their new home. Pretty cool. 

This year's rescue was an actual domesticated species. It was the cutest black ball of fur. One of our sons found it down in a drainage hole and couldn't get out. He figured he must have fallen through the grate. Our son's friends wanted to keep going but he told them he wasn't going to just leave it. 
Hubby got a phone call. "Dad! Bring a screwdriver and the gloves!"
It wasn't long before I could hear "Meee! Meeee!" It was a tiny black kitten with beautiful blue eyes. Hubby gave it a warm bath.When it was wrapped up in a towel it immediately started to purr. 

This is where the rehabbing of an animal becomes tricky for the seasoned parent. This is where the seasoned parent must establish the fact that we are just "fostering" the animal. It's not for keeps that we're taking care of it. 

Darn it! The little guy was just the cutest little ball of black fur. He looked up with his sweet blue eyes and squeaked out a feeble, "Meep!" Then he patted my face with both of his paws, lovey like. 

I had to shake it off. "Shake the cuteness off!" I snapped to myself. 
"Drop the cute act're not stayin' here," I said to him as he nibbled my hand. "Meep!" he squeaked. .

The next 2 weeks we took care of the little fella until we could find it a good home. My friend and her husband dropped by the house to deliver some Pampered Chef goods. Little did they know that they would fall under the little fella's cuteness spell. We told my friend about how he was rescued from a drainage hole. He began his pouncing play and purred loudly. They were hooked. 

They left and were going to seriously consider coming back for the little guy. The next few days I kept sending  "feelers" out to see what the rest of the family's thoughts were about the kitten leaving. They all were happy that it was going to a loving home. That was the goal in the first place I convinced myself.  

Another week passed and the little guy had gotten into the routine of the house. Our cats had even started teaching it their favorite naughty things to get in to. He had taken up napping space in the sunny spot under my writing desk...snuggled next to my feet. He was beginning to settle in. 

I sent my friend a message to see if she was still interested. She told me she was...if I wasn't too attached. As the little guy was biting my toes I replied, "No." 

So the morning came when he was getting picked up. I packed up his favorite toys and the box that we had him stay in until he could climb out. It was his "fort".
"This is his favorite toy", I said as I pulled out a purple mouse to show them. 
"Here's the kitten chow, although he prefers the adult food better. And here's the kitten formula. He likes a little before bed and seems to help him sleep through the night." 

Do those sound like the words of a seasoned rescue parent? No. No they do not. By the way, I had already started calling it names. Stupid names really...Little Bit, Squirt, Stinky Bean. 
Thankfully, my friend named him Malcom...for the captain of Serenity. That is a perfect name for the little guy. 

Yes...I fell in love with a rescue. It happened. I thought that I kept my guard up but somehow that fuzz ball got into my heart. Maybe next time before asking the rest of the family...I'm gonna ask myself..."Can we keep it?" 

Before publishing this post I got a ring from "the boys". They were on a mission to save the sibling of Malcolm. It had made a wrong turn in the underground tunnel drain system. It wouldn't come out of the hole for them. I pulled up and Hubby and son were hovering over the hole. I made the squeaky "meep" sound that Malcolm made. Out popped his sister's head."Meep!", she cried as she was climbing and trying to get out. Hubby's master rescue plan had worked. Hubby lifted up sissy in his rescue apparatus.
After a much needed bubble bath, a good night's sleep and some romping in the family room I'm looking down at it. I don't think there's any question this time. I've fallen for cuteness.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's Not Always In A Name

I've written before about getting this gene or that gene from either my Dad's side of the family or my Mom's. It's always easier to blame the "gene" for some stupid biological metamorphical atrocity. (stupid jawline hair, big feet, carb cravings) I rather like the green eyes and brown hair though.

My Aunt has done intensive research on my Mom's side of the family and I've loved the historical facts that she's turned up. Even cooler is that my 96 year old Grandmother's confirmed much of what she's found. The pictures and documents are fascinating to me. My Aunt Janet has the kind of mind that can twist and turn without cramping like mine does. So when she digs in she usually enjoys the puzzle of it all. 

She has recently started working on my Dad's side of the family...and has turned up some crazy factoids. My Dad's Father's side was even harder to track back because the spelling of the last name changed not once, twice but three times (and from the French spelling to the English).

It's always a crazy thing to go diggin' in the past. Everyone wishes that they will turn up some majestic ancestry line but for the most part find hard working folk. (Not that the Royals don't have a tough job) I liken this to watching Antiques Roadshow. I just love that show! I love when people bring in items that they think are worth millions only to find out the item's a fake.(Doh!) It's even more fun to see someone bring in a family heirloom just to learn more about it's history. Those are the ones that usually turn out the most valuable (and would never be sold anyway!).

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that we each have a story beyond what's in the here and now. We're like living time capsules that have yet to be discovered. Who knows where that ear for music came from or the size of said ear. However we got here, here we are. I think it's beyond our current comprehension how very connected we all are. How many times have we seen each other down that family line? Did my family's ancestors bump into yours? How cool a thought is that? 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rebuilding From Tragedy

I noticed the other day that I have a reader in Japan. This was the day that I posted my "Damn It' entry. I stopped for a moment and wondered how someone from a country dealing with such unimaginable destruction would perceive the post.

With each story that comes out of Japan I am in awe of their strength in facing such devastation. I marvel at how quickly they have moved into action. I've heard a great deal about how very well prepared they are as a country but who could have planned for an event of this scope?

The Japanese people show the true core of human kind. When faced with what seems to be an impossible disaster to evaluate and recover from- they've already begun. They immediately forged forward with such courage and strength. From every edge of the globe there are people mobilizing relief efforts.

My prayers and thoughts go out to everyone effected by the Earthquake and Tsunami. My heart goes out to those who still wait for news from loved ones and for those who have received news.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Just Might Have To Say Damn It

How many as parents have let a few swear words slip out here and there? It's always the at the worst possible time that the kiddos shout out a newly picked up swear word. Believe it or not, my son spat out a "damn it" in a Christian book store. I kid you not. I was mortified. 

The latest topic of conversation at my sister's dinner table lately is "not saying damn it". My 3 year old niece is oh so clever. The conversation goes something like this:

"Bobby was in time out today for saying damn it. Damn isn't a good word to say so the teacher put him in time out. Then Sarah said damn it and Ms. Clara put her in time out because you're not supposed to say damn it, because damn it isn't a good word to say. Only big people say damn it and even then it's not good to say damn it. Even though you might be mad, you're still not supposed to say damn it. Cuz damn it's not a nice thing to say...damn it isn't." 

One evening this week my niece was in trouble and she bellowed, "I'm so angry that I want to say damn it but I can't!"

My sister has a new plan for getting rid of the word. Princesses don't say damn it. (pronounced preen-cess)
At least one little preen-cess doesn't. (when she grows up she's gonna be a preen-cess and be reech)

I've had a couple of bad days and I've said more than my share of off colored words. "My Lord" seems to be one that I'll start out with. I'm quick to share with anyone listening that he's their Lord too,  not exclusively just mine. No one really pays that much attention to me when I pass that on. I think if Jesus was listening he'd understand. I think he's rather cool that way. 

Sometimes isn't it better just to let the tantrum rip? I do know that I bottle things up inside until I blow. My patience runs dry and I spew like one of those summer sprinkler toys. No amount of meditation or yoga is gonna get rid of that pent up frustration. THERE SHE BLOWS! 

I can imagine how frustrating things must be when you're 3 too. Maybe you wanted gumbo instead of fish sticks...Billy got the box of Mr. Potato Heads before can't do "flee-ups" off the couch. Some days are just enough to make you want to say damn it. 


Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Pat's Day

I have to admit, I love St. Patrick's Day. I love the stories that my Grandmother tells about the toughness of her Grandmother and my Uncle George would tell so many stories from my Dad's side of the family. 
Grannie tells of how everyone said that her Grandmother could do a jig on a stump. Heck, I have trouble walking a straight line some days so it's amazing that there are those genes rattling around in me. (the "jig" gene)

I'll share an Irish Blessing with you this day:

May you be blessed with the strength of heaven-
the light of the sun 
and the radiance of the moon
the splendor of fire-
the speed of lightning-
the swiftness of wind-
the depth of the sea-
the stability of earth and the firmness of rock. 
                From the Breastplate of Saint Patrick

Monday, March 14, 2011

Making My Peace With Spring

For years I was in a sort of bitter battle with Spring. As the holidays were over I began to get that sinking feeling and before long I was at war. It took me many years to even realize that I was at odds with the season of what most view as the time of renewal.

I was a gal that liked routine. Renewal was a word that brought fearful thoughts. Spring forced me to learn about grief, face inner demons, confront fear and punted me out of routine. I hated Spring for what it took from me. I was pissed as hell at it and I think it knew.

Like many wars, my battle with Spring went on for quite a few years. Until a wise person pointed it out to me, I didn't even see it was a war. To me it was a nasty argument that had just gone on too long. Epic battles usually involve more than two parties. Not only was Spring involved, but Me, Myself and I.

I suppose that clinically my issues could have been described as a sort of seasonal depression. The truth was that until I confronted the causes of the triggers I was doomed to face that challenger every year. With each year and another win under it's belt, Spring was becoming a nasty opponent.

It only takes one battle fought hard and well to regain a little ground. Once I knew to look for the signs I began to plan my revolt. Such an awakening it was for me to stand tall against my bitter rival. For me, the first signal that battle was imminent was the humid seasonal weather we have in February and March. There is a sort of heaviness to the air and a musky smell in the air. As triggers go, this was a big one to recognize.

The battle line was gained and lost. I would charge forward only to retreat like hell. It wasn't until Spring administered it's crushing final blow, the death of my brother, that I just laid down my arms. Broken and defeated I stripped bare of all my armor.

I was fully expecting Spring to gloat. I was expecting it to taunt me and pick at me. Instead seeing me all sprawled out and defenseless, it offered me a lift up.

I opened my heart and eyes for the first time in so many years. I began to see the world in a whole different light. One by one my questions were answered by Spring. I planted a little herb garden and Spring responded with morning air filled with dill, rosemary and thyme.

I began to trust Spring. I became an academic of my own spirit. God gives us so many gifts and blessings each day if we would just open our eyes to receive them. One year I really enjoyed the discussions that Oprah did with author Eckhart Tolle on his book A New Earth. For the first time I had learned how to meditate. For someone who simply could not shut her mind off long enough to hear her own thoughts, this was a huge growth spurt.

I thought to myself how simple it is really. We make it all so difficult on ourselves. Meditation isn't any harder than getting enchanted by watching a baby sleep. Listening to a baby's soft, sweet breath is so peaceful. Before too long you realize you've been sitting there watching for an hour!

With each new year the garden kept growing. The next year I was finally diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome. This might have been seen as a blow from Spring but it was the answer to so many questions. (Why was I so tired? Why did my eyes feel like they were full of shards of glass? Why are my salivary glands the size of almonds again? Why can't I breath in spring humidity? Why was I so dizzy? Was I just lazy? Why couldn't I understand that simple flow chart? And my joints? What the heck is up with those?)

Last year I really looked forward to my annual play date with Spring. I stood in my garden taking in as much of that lovely fresh air that I could. My dill was really magnificent which attracted Black Swallowtails. I had many birds nesting so the sounds of Spring was just music. After the third morning of walking out the back door to find a bird eggshell I likened them to baby bird announcements.

Yesterday I walked outside with my coffee. Spring and I spent some quality time together. We welcomed the finches back for another year and we got to meet one of my "over wintering" Black Swallowtail butterflies.

There we sat like the best of friends...Spring and I. Hello dear friend...I'm ready with open eyes, a graceful spirit and a grateful heart. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Following My Brother, Kevin Michael Junod

It's been 4 years now since my big brother passed away. He had been chronically ill for years and had really defied medical predictions. He fought a good fight against Crohns, Diabetes and Lupus. Lupus took the final shot and his heart just couldn't keep up anymore.

My brother was a very talented artist, both with a canvas and a comical tongue. He was a big brother- all the way. He took his job seriously. Teasing...there was plenty. Actually tormenting would be a more appropriate word. In all of the teasing though my sister and I knew we were loved.

He was a tough act to follow. Really. The first day of school my 4th grade year I had Sister Irene. She called out roll, came to my name and said it out loud. I sat up tall to say shout out "here" like all of the other kids. She gave me a glare from over her bifocals and shocked me into silence.
"Kevin Junod's little sister?" she asked. I got the distinct impression that maybe it wasn't such a good thing to be Kevin Junod's little sister. I managed to squeak out a yes I think. No one informed me of my brother's legendary jokester status. Would have been nice to get a head's up. Like I said, a tough act to follow.

I could tell the story about the time he left me up in the tree house until dusk but I'll save that for another time. (I was too afraid to climb down there I sat. Like I said, another time)

I would rather tell you a story about my brother's neighbor. He was kind enough to tell me how important my brother was to him. It was such a touching gift of a story that he told, it made me so proud to be Kevin Junod's little sister.

My brother's neighbor had battled cancer for many years. It was very aggressive. The man told me that Kevin's attitude inspired him so. Kevin would ask him how he was doing and he would stop to wait for an answer. He really cared and wanted to know. They spent many conversations talking about coping with illness. They must have created a special bond. My brother having done a good amount of woodworking helped the man build his own coffin.

"That's what kind of man he was", the man told me.

He went on to tell me that one day my brother spotted him sitting on the porch. He was having a particularly bad day. He asked my brother how he did he faced everything every day.
"Do you know what your brother told me?" the man asked, "He told me he prays for strength. He said that that's all you can do...pray for strength to get through. Then the next day you pray for strength again."
The man credited my brother's advice for beating the cancer odds.

That sums up what kind of a man my brother was. He was compassionate and kind hearted. Life was what it was and he stood up to it every day.

I miss my brother so much and I really do value his advice. I try to remember my brother's advice every day with my own prayers. I pray for energy most days, grace always and I never forget to slip in a request for strength.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I'm Not Too Nice, I'm Just Too Tired

I was once told in a review that I was "too nice". Looking back now, I really was. The supervisor didn't know that I knew some of her questionable business practices. I could've said something but I didn't. Everything plays out in it's own time and I figured it would catch up to her.

This whole being too nice thing popped back into my head this week. I had a problem with getting a prescription filled and really wished that I wasn't so nice. It takes energy to be "not nice" and frankly, I didn't have any energy to spare. I just wanted my medicine. 

After I got home I talked with my sister. I told her the problem that I had at the drugstore. I said that our Mother wouldn't have stood for it. She would have insisted on speaking with the manager. I said that I simply wouldn't have had the energy and how can Mom? 

My sister said that it's during those times that she slaps on her super human power pack. She commented that my niece had inherited the trait. I wondered how we had to get some of the other genes and not that one. (would love to trade up from the chin hair gene)

I've seen my Mom's Super Human Power Pack many times. We don't dare kid her about it because we all know she's come to our aid. My Mom has had to put that pack on too many times. She slapped on her Super Human Pack when my dad was sick and so many times for my brother. I think my brother wanted to use his own Super Human Pack but my mom wouldn't want him to use his own. He needed it for his fight. Now she packs it on for my Grandmother...who, come to think of it has her own Super Human Power Energy Pack. (She's 96...but she's rounded herself up to 97 already) 

My dad would handle crisis the polar opposite of my mother. My mom would already be in a reactive mode by the time my dad would realize something was happening. My mom's pack would already be in hyper drive. My dad would tend to be the calm after the storm. He would take over while my mom's "pack" was being recharged. Maybe I have some of those genes.

I had a dear friend Mellem that helped me by giving me a sort of weekend assertiveness training course. It was a crash course in not being a doormat. I was embarking on a new life for myself and my son and she could see I was a bit hesitant. We worked through many exercises and at the end of the weekend it was hard to say good-bye. In her lovely South African accent she told me how much she liked my "flat" and how it was perfect for me. Somehow really that's all I needed to hear.

When I read articles on how to "reinvent" your life I'm always taken back. I believe that if you're really ready to be your authentic self there's no invention. After all of the old layers peel away you're left with just yourself. It's your self. One step in front of the other you embark on life. You can roll with it how ever you please. I'll be meandering down my road the nice way.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Charlie Sheen's Fall

It seems like everywhere we turn these days there is another blurb about Charlie Sheen's mess of a life. It's hard to avoid the news bites of his rants- I've tried. It's not a pretty thing to watch, someone falling from grace. The unimaginable angst that his true loved ones must be going through.

My mind has turned an about face on this whole Charlie Sheen madness. My thought at first was that this whole thing was just feeding the illness, this was giving his unwell self what it thought it wanted. (No doubt, there is a "self" in there that is clearly crying out for help.) This is the face of mental illness and we need to look in the eyes of it. As a society we owe it to ourselves to really watch for what it is. We need to watch not for the sensationalism of it all but for the stranglehold this issue has on our culture. 

As this has unfolded and this story is played out for so many to see, perhaps this will begin discussion. I think it's turned a corner now and people can have a better understanding of the illness part of the story. In his manic rants it's so easy to spot classic symptoms. Perhaps some people might have that awakening that they have seen these signs in their own loved ones. 

How many people have Charlie Sheens in their lives? There are many families that are facing the same challenging, gut wrenching decisions. It's not played out for all the world to see but it's their world. It means everything to help a loved one in that condition. Such hardship and hopelessness. 

This thought is what made me change my mind about this scene playing out before us all. We've made huge strides in the issues of mental health. Laws have been changed and are being challenged every day to make getting help easier. As the story plays out there will be issues addressed that can make us all more aware of the changes that still need to be made. 

I wish anyone finding themselves in the middle of that hopeless gap a way through to help. That gap between broken and well is so overwhelming. The climb back up from a fall from grace is never quick and easy. The fall might seem like it happened over night but it wasn't. It hardly ever is. (In fact many might learn it's been a long time falling- generations of falling)

I hope the best for Charlie Sheen. I hope the best for his family and people in the direct line of fire. It would be great to learn of his recovery and path to wellness. It will be a great thing if we all could see as much of his rising to his feet again rather than so much of the fall.