Archive for February, 2013


indigo hard

February 27, 2013

It’s been a while since I posted a few-words-wednesday indigo-orange.  Today this one called to me.

“Okay, then.  When you have to do something hard, you may as well run toward it.”

sage advice from 9 year-old protagonist Molly in The Magic Half


shakespeare in love

February 14, 2013

Fair warning.  {especially to all the new evolving peeps.}  This is a slightly off-beat post.  Previous Valentine writings {here and here} were sweet reflections on love.  Please click on those if you’d rather read that genre of post today.  My feelings won’t be hurt.  I promise.  No broken hearts on 2.14.

This one is, instead, has more of a 10-Things-I-Hate-About-You vibe.  Mr Willy Shakes meets goofy with a nod to deeper truths.

I took one part high school writing assignment style + actual middle school dance events = valentines 2013.

Because sometimes, you just have to step out of the box.

Our play begins in the dark of night
On an evening’s end
No more winter light.

A gathering of youth portends
Of evil thoughts and heartbroken ends.

The stage’s been set so long before
By glances and looks of hearts deplore.

So now, as our curtain is pulled aside
Feast your eyes upon young love’s tide.

Enter first Lysander, fast and brave
Noble heart and fair locks wave.

It is for Hermia his heart beats true
Always quick her mind, and fleet foot, too.
A young woman full of compassion’s ride
Witness her care for creatures- fur and hide.

The intimate two become a plural ‘us’
When met by humor’s persona Demetrius.
So beset his heart, for Hermia it is aflutter
And thus our tale tastes slightly bitter.

Two persons more do appear
Not connected, just as Orsino fears.
As for she?  We’ll wait and see
What is Olivia’s motive?  Her vision?  Her dance?
To bribe his friends or be coy on romance?

What sound is this?  What clock does chime?
This year is not 1609?

But twenty-13 me thinks, it’s true.
Time to lay aside quill and rhyming, too.

The players remain, so aptly named
Full of symbolism and in a place where privacy reigns.

{intermezzo.  Hermia has made an appearance before here.  But all the other players are new to you, sweet Valentine audience.  And so, without further ado, I present to you their tale.}

On a crisp fall night my son Cole Lysander attended his first middle school dance.  It involved nerves, excitement, and a new doublet and hose pair of slacks, dress shirt and tie provided by his wise fairy grandmother.

Wait.  Autumn?  You wonder.  Last fall?  Why did I wait so long to spill the beans act as scribe?

Well, like any good Bard, Lysander took his time relating the tale.  Details slipping from his tongue in quiet moments, punctuated by long silences.

Six.  There were six slow dances that evening.  The ever-egalitarian D.J. concocted a brew of equality- a mix of girls asking and boys asking partners to dance.  Lysander and Hermia each asked each other once.  You remember the middle school slow dance, right?  That awkward pose of hands on one another’s shoulders, then shuffle-sway left, shuffle-sway right.  Mirrored repeats until the music dies, and the awkward transition back to tempo.

Ever hovering is Demetrius.  Prowling in tightening then expanding circles around the couple as they shuffle-sway, shuffle-sway.  Pacing, his agitation fully evident, even to other students.  A third slow melody begins.  Demetrius’ chance arrives.  He dances with Hermia.

Great joy!

But then he is left wondering:  why were her palms fully on Lysander’s shoulders, when only her fingertips touched mine?  He questions Lysander.  No gentle answer can be offered.  Questions circle questions of intent, reason, repercussion.

And the three other slow songs?  I asked.  Lysander did not dance.  Why?  He had exited to the outdoor theatre to attend to Orsino.  Orsino, found prostrate on a picnic table, bemoaning his fate.  For his true love Olivia had denied him a dance.  Lysander, not wanting to leave his heartbroken friend, remained by his side.

Enter an unknown courier.  A tween with a purpose, but here no name.  Messages hastily ferried back and forth as time marched steadily towards the end of the night.  Would Olivia reconsider?  Would her position soften?  A return volley.  Yes. Only…Only if another young man would dance with her fair maiden friend.

Did they dance? Memory becomes murky.

All actors reconvene upon the primary stage.  The dance floor.  And just before the bell did toll, the D.J., wise and bold, proclaimed “Give a hug.  To the one you love.”

Two stood side by side.  Yet neither body turned.  No arms embraced.  But one hand reached, as a pendulum swings, crossed the boundaries between bodies and squeezed.  The fingers of cupid’s mark.  Reflexively and with full heart the squeeze was echoed and returned.

True love, dear Bard?  Is this how it begins?  No crowns, no titles.  No princes, no kings.  Just love and hearts.  Rulers of all things.


I was intrigued by how many romantic truths were being played out on one evening, with five actors, ages 11 and 12.  On their tiny sixth grade stage were all the complex themes of love and loss that will reverberate for years to come.

Sometimes we just click with another human being, and there isn’t any explanation why.  Sometimes, the fit only happens from one side.  We’ve all been there.  {well, I know I’ve been there.  I hope I’m not alone.}  Where you pine for someone who, seemingly, has no interest in returning your affections.  How is it that one set of hormones can be off the chart in love and the second set is flatlined?

And what of the girl that said no?  And then changed her mind?  On the one hand we could easily say:  it is only a dance.  Be polite.  Why not say yes?  But on the other hand:  good for her, a young girl becoming a young woman, for standing up for herself, for her body, and saying No.  I don’t want to do that.  I don’t want to be touched in that way.  By you.  Or maybe she was shy, and didn’t know quite how to handle it.  And by inviting his friend and hers she was able to mask her feelings behind the numbers.

Then there is the power of friendship.  When do we willingly step away from pursuing our own happiness to attend to the suffering of a friend?

I think my imagination was most caught in the squeezing of hands.  The D.J.’s directions were clear.  The message was strong.  And yet, these two moved their bodies not an inch.  They stayed true to themselves, and found a way to communicate the beating of their hearts without having to participate in a way that was culturally expected.

How will things change in the years ahead?  From sixth grade to age 16?  I suspect each actor will swap roles for multiple stagings of this play.  Each will become the other.  Lysander becomes Orsino morphs into Demetrius and back to Lysander.

And you, dear Valentine reader?  To whom does your heart belong?  Hopefully, no matter the other actors in your play, you live the words of the original Bard.

To thine own self be true.  Happy Valentine’s Day.


night swimming

February 8, 2013

For the past 3 ½ weeks everyone in my family has had clean underwear.

And fresh socks.  And sack lunches.  And homemade dinners.  Every day.  Every night.  Now, while this may feel like a shot from polite acquaintance to faaaarrrr too much information in 29 words or less, there is a point in {over} sharing.

On January 17th I expanded my business from the cozy home office into the world of Piper’s Playground.  Piper’s threw open its doors the very same day.  Zero to 60 for everyone.  Crazy long hours.  And I’ve been slicing my hours into shifts.  The work-at-work shift and the work-from-home shift sandwiching the be-with-my-kids-from-after-school-to-bedtime shift.  And I’ve been staying up waaaaayyyy too late.  {which may account for my stretching out words.  Maybe not so much for emphasis, but because I am nearly falling asleep as I write}.

I’m not writing that to try and invite you to a pity party, please don’t RSVP.  Because I did it on purpose.  My logic was this:  the riptide of irony was going to pull me right under if, while trying to expand my business as a parent coach I wasn’t, you know, being a good parent.  So I thought being there mattered.

It did.  The problem was, I wasn’t.

You see, there is a vast ocean separating ‘here’ and ‘present’.  My body was here, my mind- not so much.  You could see the flotsam of evidence.  Double-check-the-flier notes.  Add-this-to-the-presentation notes.  Be-sure-to-blog-that notes.  {don’t worry Jill, I have since implemented a system, in your honor}.

And last night I got busted.  By the request for a band-aid.

Eleanor tends to dawdle at the table.  Everyone else had long fled to other obligations.  Mine at that moment was the dishes.  We were chattering about this and that when I glanced over and saw that she was pinching herself.  Tiny little fingers were trying to break the skin on her arm.  ‘Mooooommmm.  There’s blood!  I need a band-aid!  {insert-name-of-classmate here} cut me at school.’

For a moment I was spun up in an emotional typhoon.  What?  A classmate?  I just saw you try to hurt yourself.  A band-aid?  But I can clearly see there is no blood.  What?  You are hurting yourself?  At age 6? {ok, 6 ¾}.  Are you going to be cutting as a teen?  Are there warning signs this early?

Instead of opening my mouth to exhale my thoughts, I took a deep breath in.  And again.  And I remembered words from a page I had read just hours earlier.  They had been written in reference to a toddler’s tantrums.  Yet seemed to me they could work here, in this present.  The essence is:  look beyond the crashing wave to see what is happening under the water.

So I turned off the tap and dried my hands.  I returned to the table and sat as close to Eleanor as I could.  ‘You seem incredibly distressed.’  A nod of agreement.  ‘Are you feeling isolated?’  another nod.  ‘Would you like me to sit with you while you finish eating?  Would you like me to rub your back?’ a third and fourth nod, followed by the shyest of smiles.

‘Can I still have a band-aid?’

Another deep breath for me.  ‘No.  You don’t need a band-aid for the spot where you pinched yourself.  But I will give you lots of emotional band-aids for all the places you feel raw right now.’

And so we spent the rest of her night quietly connecting.  Taking the here and making it present.

And, as I was drifting off to sleep too many hours later, I wondered.  How often do we see the crashing waves but fail to slip beneath the spray and foam?  What would it look like if we paused and asked instead of assumed?  If we simply set aside the turbulent surface and dove underneath.  What are you feeling?  What do you need?  What if we could answer those questions for ourselves?  What am I feeling?  What do I need?

Maybe the pull of dreams made it seem too easy.  Maybe it was night swimming.  But what if?  What if you stand on the shore and reach for your child?  Grasp feelings and needs and hold tight to hands.  Watch as storm surges mellow to sweet waves you can jump over together.  Why not try?  And please, keep me posted.


Coumadin kind of love

February 1, 2013


Welcome to February.  Which of course means we’re getting close to Valentine’s Day.  So let’s talk about…

blood clots.

Blood.  Red.  Heart.  See?  There’s a connection.

Actually, seriously, a friend’s father just discovered a blood clot.  Well, what he discovered was that one thigh was 4 cm in circumference larger than the other.  Wise man that he was, he recognized that wasn’t good and got himself to the doctor’s posthaste.  Thus it was the doctor that found the clot, but I think her Dad scored major points for the assist.  This man is only 58.  And yet, there is the clot, running groin to knee.  And given its size, this is no small concern.  Despite every advancement in medicine, despite the blood thinners and daily injections, what ultimately is the prognosis?


What?  I was rather taken aback.  The real work to deal with the clot is not done by chemicals or arthroscopy.  It is done by the body.  His body simply now needs time to reabsorb the blood. How long is this going to take?  Well, there is no prescribed length of time.  It takes how long it takes.  Every body is different.  Every clot is unique.  There are no predicted parameters.

{Seemingly jumping topics}

This past weekend I was putting the finishing touches on my office by adding a filing cabinet.  Have you priced filing cabinets recently? Sigh.  The beautiful lateral double drawer robin’s egg blue one with a butcher-block top?  Double sigh.  Since dropping a huge chunk of change on a new one wasn’t an option, we (ok, he) climbed up into the attic and pulled down an old 4-drawer industrial metal one.  Two cans of apple green spray paint and a few hours later and voila!  Given that I am no Martha, I was apprehensive of my inaugural foray into refurbishing.  My concerns were mislaid.  I should have placed them on the contents of the cabinet, not its exterior.

What was inside the cabinet?  Think ‘The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’.  File upon file of incredible clues, important information, all linking circuitously to events long past. There was a file called ‘great writings’.  Another marked ‘spirituality’.  A third filled with references and recommendations of a girl gone by- and yet still me.  All four drawers were similarly filled.  Some files slid easily from my hands into the recycle bin.  Some went straight to the shredder.  Some have come full circle and will travel from the file labeled ‘parenting’ to those titled ‘parent coaching’.

But the others?  The papers with heartstrings attached?  They were once useful.  May still be meaningful.  Where do they go?  Because right now they are strewn all over the home office.  And the living room floor.  Did I mention the treads of the staircase?  Yes, there too.  Spilling over into parts of the kitchen.  Any horizontal surface, really.

What happens when there is a clot-creating event in our lives?  Once spiritual triage, medical help, and band-aids of food and love are applied, what then?  How long does it take for our lives / minds / hearts to absorb the incident?  How long do we need to carry the emotional paperwork of the past before we can let it go?  These files of events record who were were, but they cannot fully tell us who we are.  We need to make room for now.  Thinning the influence of the past removes the restrictions of who we were and it makes room for who we are becoming.

To keep your heart healthy this Valentine’s Day, take a moment to reflect.  What’s clotting your life?  How burdened is your filing cabinet?  What drawers of your past are ready to be cleaned out?  And what of our children?  Are we allowing them to let go as they grow?

Reduce.  Recycle.  Reabsorb.  And above all- Release.  Give yourself time to choose which parts of your past are vital, and where you want space to grow.  How much time will it take?  No one knows.  Every body is unique.  So be gentle with yourself.  What did you find and keep?  What will you let go?  Keep me posted.

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