Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Winds that bring change

The view from the porch is actually a collage of memory photos that I've collected over the Memorial Day weekend.
1) My daughter wading in Viking Lake State Park, Iowa. (Honestly, what else were those first-generation Swedish-American immigrant guys from Stanton going to call it?)
2) Sitting in the back seat of the car while my son drove and my dad rode as a passenger, "I don't like it over here..." Spoken like a man who loves his automobiles. But in the end, Grandpa was impressed.
3) Winding along Highway 2 through Waubonsie State Park.
4) The sea of green that is the Missouri River valley just south of Thurman, Iowa, along the Loess Hills. Iowa is truly lush and beautiful.
5) The hot wind felt at First Congregational UCC, Red Oak, Iowa... gently stirring my heart to open to the winds of change for my faith.
The Grand Army of the Republic veterans' memorial
Evergreen Cemetery, Red Oak, Iowa
6) The remarkable beauty of more than 1000 American flags flying on a picture-perfect Memorial Day, the tears when I happened across the graves of people I once knew...
7) My son driving me to Nyman for the first of many times.
8) Watching my daughter weave through the gravestones of Swedish immigrants at the Lutheran country church  that is special for my family from my great-grandparents, to my own baptism, to weddings and funerals. A cloud of witnesses...
9) Taking in the beauty of Iowa from the two-lane Highway 92, from Griswold to Knoxville.

Mt Hope Cemetery, Fremont Lutheran Church,
Nyman, Iowa
10) My cherry tree - it must be my year to enjoy the cherries. The birds usually take them all before I have a chance. That's ok. I enjoy their song everyday.

I had a moment of several moments this weekend. On Sunday evening, we were on a drive back from Nebraska City, taking in the corn that has really taken off. A mom moment occurred when we needed to find a potty for the youngest among us and thank you to the good people of Randolph, Iowa for having a portapottie in their lovely little town park. We had to walk to the far end of the park, to the edge of the trees that framed a breathtaking view of new corn and a huge field of hay. The wind was Pentecostal, hot and strong, nearly pushing me backward. It was extraordinary and it made me stop to actually feel it as it surged up the field at Randolph. It hit hard enough to make me stop and notice the life that was happening before my eyes. Life moves as fast as that wind. Pay attention. Another school year has come to a close. Those first and last days seem to come along more quickly every year. Pay attention. Every day is a gift. What will you do with your's today?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Single Mom's Guide for Raising a Young Man

This single mom's new how-to resource
It's a blind spot and a tricky deal for a single mom. 
The necktie. Oh, I can pick them out, buy them, assess the fabric and color to go with the shirt, sure. But actually tying the knot... well... not so much.
There's no shortage of resources online...
The Art of Manliness
Tie guide
Tie-a-Tie Easily!
To tie a tie
There are youtube videos. It's in the Cub Scout handbook. 
And it is no joke it is in the Cub Scout handbook, right with all the other diagrams of knots. It all sounds like a Bugs Bunny cartoon to me - the Windsor, the half Windsor, the four-in-hand, the Pratt knot, and the swanky bow tie. 
Ask any man to tie a tie, as my dear boy has often done, and you see that some men can do it swiftly and no questions asked. Others take their time, stick out their tongue a bit. Stand behind him or stand in front of him. Or simply tie it around their own neck, loosen the knot, and then slip the circle over his head lasso-style and cinch up the knot. 
He's then admonished to just keep the tie tied and slide it on and off as needed. Which is what we have done, however... he says that it is important for him to learn how to do it himself. Even though there is no shortage of resources available, because I have half-heartedly tried to tie the half-Windsor myself, it is helpful to have a person of knowledge standing there to show you where you are going wrong. 
A dear friend has reminded me of a magazine I used to love to read when I was a college co-ed because it was about all things men. Esquire has become this single mom's new resource for "how-to." Because learning to tie a good knot in a neck tie is only the beginning... 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A little rant for Mother's Day

Last week, some friends of mine and I were having conversation about the Time magazine cover... you know, this one... and one of my friends remarked that the cover and the article once again served to divide women, when we really don't need anymore reasons.

And then Sunday rolled around... speaking of dividing women... 

Don't get me wrong... I love the cards, the breakfast in bed, the picnic orchestrated for Mother's Day, all the lovely handcrafted things my children have made for me over the years that I still have. It's just that I know too many people who spend that beautiful Sunday in May silently grieving.

I think my awareness of this started in high school. My pastor said that it was Mother's Day and all the women in the church were to get a flower and she explained why. From then on, I've been aware that Mother's Day is not the holiday for families that Hallmark wants us to buy into...

For the women in our society who are not mothers, either by choice or by circumstance, are somehow made to feel that they aren't in the club because they haven't had a child. 

For those whose mothers have died and they are remembering and grieving.

For those mothers who have lost a child.

For those who are estranged or have a difficult relationship with their mother. 

For those children who are raised by two dads. 

For dads who are raising their children alone. 

I don't think I am better than another woman simply because I have had a child. I know plenty of women who would be incredible mothers and I know plenty of women who have no business being a mother. 

I'm not suggesting we boycott Mother's Day.  It is a lovely tradition and sentiment. I just want us to be sensitive and mindful of the quiet pain of others.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A lovely gift

A close friend of mine is a photographer and she took these photos of me at a particularly difficult time.

I was still married and my subconscious had already decided that my marriage was over. The rest of me had a long way to go to reach that realization. The photo shoot was to help me feel good about the awakening I was going through. And it certainly did. I am totally rocking that dress...

Today, I was chatting via email with my friend who took these photos and the next thing I knew, she sent them to me again. "I just wanted to remind you how far you have come since these photos were taken."

Speechless. I remember feeling really amazed when I saw these photos the first time and feeling really good about them. Today, I feel so much love, empathy, heartache, and more for the woman I was in November 2008. To be honest, I feel that pain acutely looking at these photos.

What a gift from a dear friend, to chronicle this time for me so that someday I would look back, as I did today, with love and gratitude for the journey so far.