Archives for May 2015

Sparrow Returns

cf..: Tree and Sparrow

Tweet tweet.

Hello, my sparrow.  Many moons it has been since last you alighted upon my branches.  I have missed you, all the while watching your travels from afar.  So tell me, my dear one… who have you become since last we met?

Well, my grandmother, my journeys seem to have taken me in a circle, or perhaps a spiral, to where I now see the same place as before, but from a greater vantage point, not of elevation, but of centering.

And what is the center upon which you now perch?

It is love, my grandmother.  Love in so many ways, for so many things, and people, and places, and circumstances, and stories, and ways of being.  It is a greater sense of love for those around me and the multitude of journeys that we are each traveling.  It is love for not only what is possible, but also for what is in the way – real or imagined – for the obstacles too have lessons to teach me.

Yes, my sparrow, they do.  But often, the obstacles we see are not what they appear.  They are not challenges to be overcome, but invitations to learn new ways of listening.  So tell me, what is it that you hear?

From here, I can hear the sounds of other birds in the trees.  I can hear the sound of the wind gathering strength and energy from the sun, breathing in, and then exhaling into the sky to join the clouds.  I can hear the colder air moving in to take its place.  I can hear the sounds of footsteps from fellow travelers on this journey of life.  I can hear the chatter of other conversations – many conversations – each with its own sense of purpose, for some, and wanderings for others.  I can hear cycles in all things.  I can hear cycles of peace and tranquility, giving way to restlessness, moving into action and exploration and discovery, the joy of learning, and the search for meaning.

I can hear the footsteps of the squirrels and chipmunks at my feet as they look on in wonder at what I am doing in their land talking to you.  I can hear the screech of the hawk far above that would like to make a meal of the little ones at my feet.  I can hear the noise of activity all around.  But most of all, I can hear, or more honestly, I can feel the calm in the center of it all that is rooted in love, deeply rooted in love, and reaches upwards to the sky as an act of creative self expression.  I am learning the value of stillness, of calm, and of patience.  I am letting go of the rush and hurry, and the false sense that there is an arbitrary goal, target, or level of achievement that I must reach.

I am learning that it is indeed good to have goals, dreams and aspirations, but to hold them lightly and to move towards them with the effortlessness of the wind and in harmony with the cycles of all that surrounds me.  I am learning that I am still in charge of my destiny, but that it is far easier to reach my goals by flying with the wind than against it.  And to do that, I must be still and  quite enough to sense where the wind is coming from, and where it is going.  Not all winds are going where I wish to be… so be still.  Be centered.  And throw myself into only the winds that are traveling in alignment with my higher purpose, and grounded firmly in love and connection with others.

It is time to reconnect and fly with my flock, rather than separate or apart from it.  Sparrows are not solitary birds.  Find my flock.  Because I need their help, and I don’t even know what that looks like yet.  But sparrows are not solitary birds.  Join my flock.

Tweet tweet.


Two Wheel’n with Awesome Anna

Anna, my dear, you went two-wheeling this afternoon.  Last spring and summer, we periodically went for a ride, and getting you to go was like pulling teeth.  You were slow, perpetually riding hard on your training wheels, stubborn, fearful, and an all around challenge.  Typically, since Lucas already mastered two wheels, he and I would ride ahead, and you and Mom would stay back for a delightful afternoon of frustrations and struggles.

But lately, you’ve been riding a bit better on the concrete in the back of our house, and so I had raised your training wheels. For practical purposes, they are gone, but for psychological purposes, they still serve as your safety net.  So today, we all went down to Log Boom park for a ride on the Burke Gillman trail.  Lucas was upset that I would not be riding with him, but I was committed to working with you today to help build your skills, bolster your confidence, and just spend some quality time with you this time.

You still have trouble getting started, but that’s OK.  I held my bike in my left hand, put my right on the back of your neck, thumb and forefinger on either side to help balance you, and I would simply walk my bike along as you ‘rode’ yours.  You were still so full of fear and drama (equal parts), but you were indeed doing it.  You would scream whenever I took my hand off of your neck.  But then I did it for just 3 seconds, counting as we traveled together.  “One, two, three…” and I’d put my hand back on again when you started to scream.  Then again, “one, two, three, four, five…. ” and again my hand returned.  

Mind you, at this point, I was fully confident that your barriers were nearly all psychological, but that does not make them any less real for you, my love.  And so we continued this process and in short order I was counting to 10, 15, 30, and more.  As my numbers got higher, and you were riding longer, you were also going faster.   You soon learned that it’s actually easier to ride faster, and I could no longer keep up on foot when you were doing stretches of 45 seconds or more.

And so at that point, I would merely get you going, allow you to calm your neves a bit, then hop on my bike to trail you and monitor your progress, offering safety points about staying on your side of the trail, breathing, focusing, looking ahead, and cheering you on as “AWESOME ANNA!!!”

And just as with Lucas last season, you had your little spills as well.   Once, you got too close to the side of the trail and fell off your bike.  You were not hurt, but it shot the fear right back up to peak levels.  Except that when you were lying on the ground screaming bloody murder and I tried to soothe you and figure out if you were hurt, it turned out you were most upset that you got your bike gloves dirty.  Seriously?!  I sighed, paused, and met you were you were in the moment, and made sure that you got back on again rather than letting the setback keep you down.  And with some reluctance, you did get back on and continue your progress.

One other time, again just like Lucas, you started losing control and took your feet off of the pedals rather than using them to pedal backwards.  It almost looked like slow motion, but you really were moving at just over a crawl, to the right, off the trail, down a slight incline, and… directly into the bushes.  You at least kept your hands on the wheel, but both feet were out fully to the side and you just sort of munged into the bush.  So I helped calm you down again, and again you kept going.

By the end of our afternoon out, you were most definitely making HUGE strides, my love, and all that you need now is more practice.  I told you over and over and over again how truly proud I am of you, my dear.  In part for learning to ride, but mostly for getting back on the bike again and being brave – choosing to act and practice even when you were afraid.  

At some point in your future, I don’t know if you will even remember the day we spent learning together or not.  But what I shall keep with me is the joy and opportunity I had to be by your side as you overcame something that had been a big challenge for you.  I am grateful that you let me guide and help you through your very own journey of learning, discovery, practice, and early mastery of this fundamental skill of learning to ride a bike together.

In my own case, as a youngster, I mostly remember a friend of mine named Marty who helped me with the learning process.  I also know that I never had training wheels, and that I fell down a whole bunch.  I remember that when I got my first real 2-wheel bike at the store, the salesman wanted Mom to get me a bike helmet.  He said that a helmet is a lot less expensive than brain surgery, to which Mom replied that brain surgery was covered by insurance.  However, I’m still pretty sure that she did eventually get the helmet.

When we tuck you both in at night, I make a practice of asking you what the best part of your day was, and Mom asks you what you are grateful for.  Hands down, my love, being by your side as you crossed this milestone in your youth towards learning to ride a bike was the best part of my day… maybe even my whole week so far.  I got to share that with you, and you have no idea what a gift it was, and that you are, to me. 

My darling little girl, I will love you always.  And maybe 10 years from today, we’ll go through the whole exercise again when you learn to drive a car.  Dear lord, I know that 10 years will be here before I know it.  But for now, enjoy your bicycle, your youth, and your new sense of growing freedom on wheels.


Both of you love to try sneaking up on me to go “Boo!”  It doesn’t help that when you do, I jump really high and scream like you just scared the dickens out of me, just to give you the satisfaction of having scared me.

When Mom picks you up from daycare at the end of the day, I know when you get home because I hear the garage door, and also because she lets me know when she’s coming, so that I can start dinner.  Still, you climb the stairs and walk around the far side of the hallway with all the stealth of an elephant with diarrhea, then pounce with joy each time I jump in fright.

Sometimes, however, you two will be watching something on TV when I get dressed in morning, and when I come out of my bathroom, there will be these two wriggling lumps under the covers on my bed saying “Shush” to each other just before I come out, and you’ll do the same thing.  But one morning, Lucas, it was just you, and you were so still that I really didn’t know that you were there.

I had just come out and was about to drop my shorts when BOO!  And my goodness you got me.  Except that from all my playing along earlier, you couldn’t tell this time from the others, but I knew… you got me.  The next day, however, I changed in the bathroom, and when I came out and saw the silent lump, I pushed on it.  Except that you were not under there… you were lying down behind Mom’s side of the bed and STILL jumped out and got me, you little bugger.
So I fear that I have inadvertently created a monster, and Halloween is still nowhere in sight.

But this monster is still nothing like the one that Darron and I created for Mom so many years ago when we were little.

You see, on this one particular night, Mom was staying up late to watch a Dracula movie.  She wouldn’t let us watch it because it was too scary, and on too late at night.  But we knew that when it was over, my Mom would come up to check on Darron and me, just as we both check on the two of you before going to bed.

But this particular nigh, Darron and I (well, OK, I did most of it) had built this gigantic “monster” in the hallway.  You see, we had a zig-zag  hallway upstairs with a right and then a left turn.  And around this second turn, I took a chair, stacked two bean-bag chairs on top, then capped it off with a basketball for a head.  I put tennis-rackets in the sides for arms, and I think I may have covered it with a sheet too.  It wasn’t a very convincing monster, unless it was late at night, in the dark, unexpected, and you had just finished watching a Dracula movie.

So the movie ended and I heard my Mom getting ready to come upstairs.  Darron and I were both lying in the hallway behind the monster just waiting, but I think Darron got so tired he just fell asleep there on the floor.  It was literally all I could do to keep from giggling as I heard her footsteps getting closer and closer.  Now at about this point, I should probably share that I did not really think through what I had expected to happen, and I certainly did not think much about the impact it would have on her.  And I definitely did not expect that when she turned the corner, she would SCREAM at the top of her lungs, flail her arms, back up into a closet in the hallway, and knock it off of its tracks.  Then, when the closet door started falling off and landing on her, she screamed all the more as she turned again, trying to get away from the falling door.  Except that getting away from the door sent her right back into the path of the monster which immediately started falling apart, beginning with that basketball-head which promptly rolled off its shoulders and landed at her feet.  So there, trapped between a closet door that was about to smush her, and a monster that was engaged in a vicious attack, my poor mother was left bouncing off the walls like the ball in a pinball machine.

And as for me, I don’t know, maybe 10 or 12 years old at the time, I had a front row seat to the whole affair which somehow seemed to take place in slow motion, and I started laughing hysterically as only a 12-year old can.  It was maybe another few seconds before mom came to her “senses,” if I can call it that, and what was only moments early a state of abject terror was instantly transformed into pure, unadulterated rage.  At that point, Mom became the monster, flinging the closet to the side with one hand, growing like Godzilla, and literally decimating the monster I had built by hurling the bean-bags to the left and the right on her juggernaut march to the space behind the monster where the infernal laughter of her 12-year old child was emanating.  Now, I saw this whole thing, and had I had but an ounce of sense at that point, I would have been the one in abject terror for my very life, for I can assure you that at that moment, it was most definitely in mortal danger.

I remember lying on the floor, still buckled over with laughter, staring at my gargantuan mother, arms raised so as to extinguish my very life.  Part of my was fully aware that she was quite literally going to kill me, but I could not stop laughing.  I should have run, hid under my bed behind a locked door, or maybe even jumped out of my window she was so angry.  But I just laughed from the floor, staring at the hand of death that was about to smite me, and as I stared at her flaring nostrils, something changed… she softened a bit.  It was but a moment of hesitation, and perhaps for just that moment, she was able to see the absurdity of the situation, and she spared my life.  She started to laugh too, but could not fully reconcile the fear, anger, rage, and humor all at the same time.  So she sent me to my room and back to bed where I should have been all along at that time, and I somehow managed to live to this day where I’m able to tell the story.

And so, my dear ones, as you get better and better at you little schemes to jump out from behind the corner and go ‘Boo,’ I anticipate that between now and when you leave the house for college, my mother is going to extract her revenge upon me through some little act of terror that you two have yet to even imagine.