7 Quick Takes: Volume 17

Welcome to Friday! You made it, I made it, we all made it. Please visit Jen at Conversion Diary for her Quick Takes and links for everyone else is playing along.

~ 1 ~

We are going on a field trip today to an art gallery! A local artist is featuring his watercolor work. Oh, and the local artist is my dad. I'm not sure if photography is allowed, but if it is, I will post pictures later. You can also view his work at this link.

~ 2 ~

I am currently reading The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. From what I had heard of this book, I had the impression that it was a very heavy psychological examination of a dysfunctional family. And I suppose, it sort of is, but it's so much more than that. First of all, as Homemaker Man told me in a comment, it is very, very funny. And again, it's more than funny, too. I am struck by Franzen's observations of people and relationships, and his searing way of describing them. He is one of those writers who dares to go where most of us do not: straight into the dark and funny heart of what he sees. Sometimes, my reader response is sort of half "wow, I can't believe he really just wrote that" and half "wow, he just hit that nail right on the head!" The characters he has created are alive, kicking, screaming and gnashing their teeth. And yes, the family is dysfunctional, but only in a way that we all recognize because we're all that way to varying degrees, and yes, it might be called psychological, but a better word is probably existential, because none of us can easily escape the burdens and boundaries we experience.

So, I am enjoying it immensely, and I highly recommend it.

~ 3 ~

I have never been much of a meditator. I do pray, but my prayer sort of follows my thought process, and I've heard meditation described as a cessation of the thought process. I can't make my mind go blank, and I can't seem to really get in the groove of all that awareness, clarity and bliss. But I think I could get into my 6 year-old daughter's version of meditation.

The other day, while visiting with my brother and sister-in-law, she struck the meditation pose and intoned the "Ommmm." She held her hand just so -- with both middle fingers proudly extended.

Now that's a meditative attitude I can relate to!

~ 4 ~

I took my daughter to get her new eyeglasses today (her others broke...for the second time), and in our travels we drove by a local elementary school's Halloween parade. They were parading up and down a main shopping street, and they were darn cute. There were quite a few police officers around, since the street was blocked off and the traffic had to be redirected. I noticed a group of three or four police officers, one of whom was in costume. He had a hat on his head that was fashioned to look a milk carton. His face was framed in one panel of the carton with the word MISSING in large letters across the box right above his forehead.

Really? At a school parade? I was little appalled. How exactly did he respond to the 1st grader who asked him what his costume was? "Well, little Cinderella, I'm a milk carton that is publicizing child abductions in the hopes of finding stolen children, arresting the crazy, mean, awful kidnappers that are out there in the world and bringing the kids safely home!" Doesn't that sound just a touch inappropriate to you, dear readers?

~ 5 ~

Three cheers for me! I finally, finally re-did our chore chart! No more haphazard "Uh...you do this! And you there -- you do THAT!" We have morning chores and evening chores, and none of it is getting done perfectly (as in, my way) but most of it is, in fact, getting done. I will tinker with it a bit, to add things that are more important and take out things that are proving a little meaningless, but I'm pretty happy with it. The kids are still getting used to it, to varying degrees. There is still way too much complaining. But there is a lot more work getting done, too, so we are definitely going in the right direction.

And it only took me forever.

~ 6 ~

I heard an interview today with Ingrid Betancourt, the one-time Colombian candidate for president who was taken hostage by Colombian guerillas and held for 6.5 years in the jungle. She has a new book out, Even Silence Has an End, and is on quite the interview circuit; this is the third or fourth time I've heard her interviewed.

She spoke eloquently about one way in which her captivity changed her. It taught her that no matter what you are faced with, no matter the limitations, obstacles or deprivations, you always have the freedom to choose what kind of person you will be. She talked about how before her kidnapping, she was an ambitious candidate for office, with a high sense of who she was and what she was capable of. Being held hostage deprived her of the freedom to make even the most basic choices; the only thing left to choose was who she would be in the face of her situation.

She talked about how that helps her now, after being rescued. She described how she has the freedom to choose how to respond when someone wants to talk with her and she thinks she doesn't have time for them, or when she really wants to go to sleep, but her children need her at that same moment.

Well, those two specific examples sounded quite familiar. I will never be a hostage in a Colombian jungle. I will only be a hostage of my own fears and insecurities. Hopefully, I can walk through the world today, and the next day, and the next, with her words in my mind. I have the freedom to choose who I will be for my children, my spouse, my friends, for strangers, and for myself.

Thank you, Ingrid.

~ 7 ~

As I said in Quick Take #3, I do not meditate, but I do pray. My prayer this week is quite focused: I am trying very hard, for the millionth time, to live with the delayed gratification of motherhood. I've written before about how motherhood (parenting, really, as I'm sure this is not the sole experience of women) is like planting seeds and trusting that they will bear fruit. The problem is the long, long waiting for the seeds to sprout. I get impatient. I doubt. I fear. I worry. I forget the nature of planting and harvesting.

So this week, I pray that I can trust the soil, trust my planting, trust the rain and the sun that come to help, and I pray that for the moments and days I am living in now, that this will be enough.

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