A friend said to me; You’ve been your son’s only parent for a long time. How old is he now? I replied; He is 33. She said; That’s like a marriage. Well, not really. He is my son and one of my 5 adult children, but unable to go out into the world on his own. His other parent stepped out of his life 13 years ago. And really what other choice did I have? He is my son and he requires aid.

I believe we have choices in this life… and I have tried to choose on the side of loving kindness (chesed) and with the thought in mind; what would I want if I were in the position of needing help in order to live my best life?  NateBowlingTrophy2013

Holidays have been difficult times for me. I miss the noise and bustle of my children when most of them were home. Yet I remember wishing for peace and quiet, which has only come since they’ve all grown up and left for their own, independent lives, away from me. Ironic. Beware what you wish for, it may come true and then you wonder; is this truly what I wanted after all?

And much to my chagrin, I once told a friend I couldn’t deal with too much of her “wonderful marriage talk” because I haven’t had that option. I am — have been alone for 21 years, a considerable length of time. Of course I haven’t been alone at all. I raised each of the 4 others until they turned 18 and stepped off the edge of the world of childhood and into the pool; of life as an adult. Only my Nato remains and he currently has a busier life than I do.

I now have the somewhat idle life I dreamed of through the years I had to be 2 loving, sane parents to my children. Those were the days I had to have unlimited patience and tolerance, and keep a “clean-enough” house and work outside of it to pay for necessities of living; clean underwear, auto insurance, mortgage payments, summer camp. Now I am my son’s calendar minder, appointment setter and chauffeur and not least; soother and/or interpreter of his temperamental outbursts.

Living can be messy, contradictory, full of anguish, a time/place when dreams are so far away as to never be obtainable, yet it is also so many other things; our one and only life to be clay in our hands, filled with the awe and wonder of nature at best and worst, and everything, anything, in-between. CardJuly31- 13

What I love most about living is the wonder, the unexpected joyful moments, the gratitude that drops on me like a soft gauzy curtain; not obscuring reality, but reminding me of the worth of unexpected joy especially in the midst of a life of service to another.

I choose service because the options are not affordable. Neither to “place” my son with strangers who may not be patient enough to allow him to be who he is, and hope they use gentleness to curb his extremes, nor… But there is nothing else.  I have looked high and low. I could send him to another state far away, depend on financial assistance, take out loans, bankrupt the rest of my life, and again hope that strangers will treat him with dignity and credit him with knowing what he wants, but none of these are options seem right.

And so, life is both the past which is already written, and the present which we live moment by moment, and the future which is ephemeral, a dream, a hoped for unreality perhaps awaiting us, perhaps not. Nato and I, are I think, engaged in each living the moments, occasionally laughing at each others jokes, and what I’ve come to realize; enriching our days with the presence of the other. And thankfully we each have our art, we have music, we have laughter…

I want to end with a poem by W.H. Auden, entitled September 1, 1939.

And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
*       *       *       *       *       *
Picture of Nato with bowling trophy, and handmade card with saying by Bob Dylan; May your heart always be joyful, may your song always be sung.

10th April 2009
One of my favorite holidays has arrived. We are now eating matza at every meal. Matza: a thin square of flour and water baked before it can rise, traditionally eaten by Jews during the spring holiday of Passover (referred to as Pesach in Hebrew). Many think of matza as inedible.
We, on the other hand have a few favorite casserole type dishes like Matza Pizza and Baked Matza Fruit Tzimmes (compote) necessary for proper, er, bowel function after eating so much…matza! This picture is the Seder plate that is a component of the religious service conducted at home before eating the holiday meal on the first two nights of Passover. Each food item on the plate has a significance to the historical basis of the holiday.

I’ve been playing on the computer/Internet this morning, though I’m sure there’s more pressing matters to attend to, so let’s say I’ve been taking a necessary break from responsibility.

I came across an interesting new book called, Put your Dream to the Test. To read about it, and the author, here’s the site: http://www.thomasnelson.com/dreamtest/ The quote I absolutely loved from the chapter I read online is this: “Everyone has the potential to live way beyond average. As Robert Kriegel and Louis Patler write in If it Ain’t Broke…Break It! ‘We don’t have a clue as to what people’s limits are. All the tests, stopwatches, and finish lines in the world can’t measure human potential. When someone is pursuing their dream, they’ll go far beyond what seems to be their limitations. The potential that exists within us is limitless and largely untapped…when you think of limits, you create them.’ ”

From there, through some twists and turns on the subject of creativity I arrived at the next bit. The article is called
“Stuck With an Old Sewage Plant? Remake the Neighborhood, BY Cliff Kuang (Apr 9, 2009) published on http://www.fastcompany.com. Please go there and see this incredible reincarnation. Also click the link to Arons and Gelauff Architects’ dormitory-climbing wall which is really neat too. It’s on the http://www.dwell.com website. And what a creative answer to the question, how to deal with the post-teenage abundance of energy that could lead to sex, drugs, crime and who-knows-what?
unicycle-woman With my own children–which means five teenagers over the years, I came to realize that challenging them in healthy ways was good and maybe even necessary. Who can eat the hottest pepper or ride the scariest roller coaster? A teen is trying to sort through who they are and will be, what they’ll value and do with their lives. Not least of all, is setting themselves up as independent of their parents, and often in their own minds, as better than them too.

This past week I got into trouble while teaching art in the public school’s after-school program. I told a big boy he was not to use the word “hate” when speaking to the little girl next to him, or anyone else, while I was teaching. A little later I told him he would not accuse the little girl or anyone else in class of “telling lies.” Finally I said there would be no more chances, just a move to the table by the door, and no more art for him. He responded well to my authority. The teacher of the after-school group did not. Oops, obviously I stepped on toes.

See here’s the issue, she was trained, and I am, after all, just mashed potatoes! I so dislike territorial politics. What’s important? Dealing with the child. This boy’s aggressive language told me 1) that people, probably family member talk to him like this, and 2) the class teacher did not recognize his speech as abusive to the other children. How many of us grew up hearing someone else was better than us, or we were a pain, or we should disappear and stop bothering our parents? Quite often I felt this way and I’m sure others did too.

I’ll end on an upbeat note, circling back to John Maxwell’s book about dreams. There’s a neat contest of sorts. You can find out more at the website: http://www.scribd.com/dream
Someone who enters will win because their business dream is chosen, and they’ll receive $10K for start-up. Wow. A dream come true, for sure.