Thursday, July 16, 2015

This is the Scenic Route -written with all the love in my heart for my handsome and individual sonshine Jude Kohlmeyer

     So I've said it before and I'll say it a thousand times more. It's all in how you look at things. It's all about PERSPECTIVE.

I was reading a book to my son Jude. He is so beautiful and full hearted, but the is definitely the one who challenges me day in and day out. I was reading him a book called, "The Phantom Tollbooth." In all my years, and all my books, and all my college, and all my "English major" studies, How have I never read this book? This book is the story of Jude. I swear it. I thought it the whole time I was reading it, to the point of actually feeling great AWE at times. Milo is Jude, Jude is Milo. The boy who wants to take the short cut and misses the exit. The boy who (hopefully) eventually learns the lessons that the road of life has for you. I am not sure Jude really got it. But I do promise you this, I will read it to him again. Later in his life, and again... until he does. It's my job. To make sure he gets it. My job to help him along his journey and keep him on the road.

That got me thinking.

No parent ever plans to let her kids fork off on that path that takes them the wrong way. So where and when does that happen to people? The lady on the corner begging for change, who looks from behind to be 21 but who's face had the wear of a 60 year old? That man who sleeps under a tree with a cart of metal he plans on selling for cash. I'm not jumping ahead and wondering if Jude will be homeless or anything, don't get me wrong. I just can't help but ponder how any of us ends up where we are. I look back on the endless myriad of choices we have had like a maze of veins, forking in all directions. Each choice bringing us to a new path. And I wonder about fate and destiny and I wonder if all our choices really matter or are we destined to end up where we are.. do all roads lead us here?

I am pretty happy about where my life has lead. I really would not change a thing.

I read somewhere. I can't quite remember... that a person can say they have had a good life if they can look back and say that they'd not change a thing. Not that they did not make mistakes but that they understand that those mistakes made them who they are and that they liked who they are.

I understand that each and every choice I have made has lead me here and even though some of those choices were not great, even though some hurt, burn, scalded... I am here and I like what I see when I look out of these eyes. Of course things could be better. I could have a better house, a better car, a 100 less pounds, more money in the bank. I could spend half a day comparing myself and my achievements or lack of to others around me. I could measure myself be someone else's ruler. But I choose not to. I choose to look at life with this heart and from these eyes, and the view from here is pretty spectacular.

In the book Milo comes upon a boy who is floating in mid air. A boy named Alec Bings. The boy talks to Milo about perspective.  He says, " certainly can't always look at something from someone else's Point of View. For instance, from here that looks like a bucket of water (pointing to a bucket of water.) But from an ant's point of view it's a vast ocean, from an elephant's just a cool drink, and a fish , of course, it's a home. So, you see, the way you look at things depends a great deal on where you look at them from."

Don't waste one more second thinking about what you don't have, be grateful for what you do. Don't waste one more second on complaints about things you don't like if you've no plan to change them. Don't waste on more minute on judgement of anothers life, because maybe it's exactly where they want to be, or need to be.

I wonder if those people that I see on the corner got stuck in the doldrums. I wonder if they are lost in the foothills of confusion. Or perhaps are they exactly where they choose to be? Perhaps from where they stand life looks beautiful?

Perhaps the road Jude goes down will be completely different than one I'd choose for him, perhaps it will be hard, perhaps it will be fraught with danger and mistakes and pitfalls...All I can ask is that he learn from them, grow from them, build on them, and eventually look in his rear view mirror at them with great thanks. It's only when we get stuck in them and can't find our way out that we are truly lost. Jude's heart is always a compass for me, and I know it will serve him well. Jude may take the scenic route, but I know he will be all the better for it.

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Driveway is Magic

My Magic Driveway…

Okay so I know I’m a weirdo but it’s totally true, my driveway is magic and this story probably reveals more of my insanity than I should actually be sharing.

Where to begin?

When I was like 27 or so, I was watching an episode of Oprah (because all good stories begin with and episode of Oprah, right?) It was about finances and how all of your financial views could be traced back to your very first memories of money as a child. (uh oh is right!!)  It was about teaching our kids now how to handle and be responsible financially. I started to think back about my first memories, not having kids of my own yet to screw up, I wanted to see what damage my parents had done to me. I was blown away. My very first memories of money were that of my magic driveway.

We lived in a small house in a neighborhoody neighborhood. We had a white fence and our tiny house was sunny and yellow. Our driveway started out as gravel and sand and then was paved as it sloped closer to the garage. When my dad would get home from work, he’d empty his pockets of change in the gravel and leave behind pennies and nickels for me to find later. I thought it was magic. I’d go out later and I’d plunder hordes of treasure thinking I’d be the richest kid in the vicinity.  It was fun to me. I was five or six at the time and my world, and my driveway were great happy places.

I can see however, where this woman on Oprah was going and how accurate her suggestions actually were. I had made it to my late 20’s at that time, and deep in me I still looked for the magic money. I opened every envelope hoping to find a large check, I checked my mailbox with secret anticipation, I always looked for change on the ground, and I never missed a chance to by a raffle or lotto ticket, knowing I’d be a winner. Saving, scrimping, and budgeting be damned because, “Hey! Money comes to me by magic!” After the episode I did some major re-hauling of my life and bank account. Because damn it, if it’s on Oprah well, you betta recognize! Major changes were wrestled through. Life got better, it actually did and I grew up! I did.

But my driveway is still magic. I can not explain this phenomenon. Now much older (yes.. I am old-er) the driveway of my current home still manages to produce some very interesting treasure. We have a tiny house to in a similar less neighboorhoody neighborhood as the one I grew up in (in an entirely different part of town.) Every day is a surprise. What will it bring now? I decided I had to write about it some months back when it produced a rather large and fluffy white rabbit. I put it off thinking I was being silly but three rather weird and challenging gifts later, my driveway will no longer be ignored. It must have its story told.

Months back my husband pulled into the back of the drive at the same time I pulled into the front. The kids were so happy he was home, they jumped form the car. He came around front with an astonished look on his face asking if I’d just seen that giant white rabbit. Alice is that you? I laughed and said WHAT? He then swore that he’d just seen a huge, all white with pink eyes, bunny jump under our third car. I did not believe him until the fuzzy nose poked out from behind a tire. The kids then spent the better part of the next week plotting ways to catch it and inventing new rabbit traps. Eventually the poor thing wore down and surrendered. He lived with us for weeks before he became the class pet and eventually found a more permanent living arrangement.

 But I could not shake how funny it was to find a big ole pink eyed bunny in my driveway. It’s not like we live in the country! Obviously someone’s escaped pet he’d found us and thus his new saviors through the magic driveway portal.  Next came the same sized brown bunny. Nope, not even kidding- not one little bit. He proved much more difficult to catch. Jude spent weeks. One ENTIRE Saturday was whittled away in contraptions. That bunny was just too fast. But again, the cold weather and the lack of greenery must have worn down the little guy. Jude finally captured him with a few carrots as bait. He and his puff of a white tail found a new home with our neighbors grandkids.

So you’d think the drive would be satisfied. But alas we have now been gifted a pretty fluffy crème colored pooch. She showed up there just two days ago. I was beginning to feel a bit like my Grandma Jerry who had an entire circus of stray animals who called hers home. People would drive to the end of her country road and dump off puppies or cats and they’d find their way back up to her house. She always loved and fed them. That house was becoming my house. All except I live smack in the inner city and this circus was popping (and pooping) up in my driveway! The crème colored beauty is still here. She has decided my dog is her bestie and we will probably either keep her or find her a home. (Man this is becoming a full time gig.) Crash (my dog) even has relinquished ownership of his dog house to her. He was found sitting outside of it when it began to rain a night ago and we went to bring him inside. He was just sitting there letting her stay warm and dry. He’s sweet like Jude. They are spirit animals I swear.

But that brings me to last nights treasure! It’s a weird one… I mean what are the odds…

I have to jump back just a bit on this one too. When Ricky and I started to date, we discovered that as kids we had a mutual hobby. We created skits and shows with our cousins for our families. (OMG he is going to kill me for this)  One of his was to the song Xanadu! So was mine! I loved that movie! I loved that movie, I loved that song and man did I want to be Olivia Newton John. The skirt, the leg warmers! Oh I wanted to be her! Raci Buchman and I for hours in my basement singing and dancing and even roller skating around! So being the joker I am, I’d call Rick way back in the beginning of our time together, and leave a recording of myself singing Xanadu! …. Now we are here in Xanadu-ooooo.. Xanadu your neon light will shine…. for you Xanadu.. 

The love, the echoes of long ago
You needed the world to know, they are in Xanadu

Aheeemmmmm.. sorry I got carried away in song there for a moment. I still leave him that message now and then.

He comes in the house last night and he’s all freaked out, calls me and asks if I’ve been home. He thinks someone may have broken in. He checks all the windows and as I am coming up the porch stairs, just getting home, he opens the front door and asks me if I still have my old Xanadu record.

(DUHHH.. of course I do.)

He wants me to go get it. And because I’m a freak I can and do in like under 5 seconds. Here she is… complete with lyrics… ahhhh.

He is puzzled.

Why I ask? Then he tells me that there is the same Xanadu record in the driveway. I am absolutely not kidding- not even one bit.  Here is picture proof.

And now you see that my driveway is magic, that I could ignore this no longer, and that the world must obviously know of its great powers.

So sometimes the first perceptions you form at 5 or 6 are absolutely correct. Sometimes there is magic in life even if it’s totally weird and pointless magic. And sometimes, nay- all the time Xanadu is a great thing to find in your driveway! (seriously what ARE the odds?)