Northern Michigan

All of the books written about adventure are of the women and men who’ve done the hard climb, who’ve kayaked the rapids, or who’ve camped in the wilderness for weeks. Where are the books from the mothers who raised those people? That’s what I’d like to read.

We came to this spot a few days ago and my first born wanted to hike down to the water, but I said no. The sign says not to do it because a rescue boat costs a lot if you can’t make it back up, but people hike down anyways. The problem is you never know what the hike back up is like. The shoreline varies, the sand avalanches, it might have rained, or a tree may have fallen and made a pocket that’s impossible to cross.

Today we woke early and went back — we’ve done it before in years past, but this year it’s a steep cliff at the bottom that doesn’t look as bad on the way down, but that was nearly impossible to get up on the way up. The sand kept giving way and the cliff kept getting steeper. It was way more than I bargained for. At one point, when I finally found a way that we could climb up, but that either of us might fall down if we weren’t careful, I said to my son, “I’m about to swear because I need you to know how serious I am. You cannot fuck around right now or you will fall or slide down this sand cliff and I cannot save you because I can barely save myself.” Thankfully, he listens as intently as his desire for adventure is.

We made it and we’ve always made it, but it’s time now for him to read the books and see the movies where the person doesn’t make it or where they have to cut off their own arm to make it. As the first of our children, he has always pushed our boundaries, but his need for physical exertion is beyond what either my husband or I has in us, I think. He said he doesn’t think that’s right, that we have the same needs and that every time he pushes us, we learn more about ourselves and what we can do. I told him that he was full of shit because we were on the hill climbing up and I had no filter left.

We drove home, he ate breakfast, and he’s out kayaking now. I’m writing this with bandaids on my knuckles from the climb while another of our kids is sitting on my lap: their abilities to chill miles from each other even though they were in the same womb at one point.

Where is Bear Grylls’ mother, anyways? I’d like to hear if she has any non-gray hairs left on her head. 

(You can see more on my Instagram stories @annieflavin, but it’s just me sweating and scared. Beautiful views, though. Also, if you like reading what I write, it would be great if you shared it with others — through social media or otherwise. If I want to write the book that I’d like to read - and hopefully you’d like to read! - I really do need a great community here. Thank you.)

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Anne FlavinComment
Camp Drop-Off

As we turn onto the campus, my son sees the football field. The gates are open. “Can I go on it?” he asks. “Sure,” I reply, thinking that whichever marketing consultant set up the registration next to the football field knew what she was doing.

He looks huge everywhere now, but not as he runs out to touch the turf. Finally, he looks as small as he feels to me as I’m dropping him off at his first sleep-away camp.

Even if they’re old enough to figure out the camp they want and they set their own alarm on the day of registration so that they're assured a spot and they find their own roommate, it still doesn’t feel like they’re ready for it. Of course, that’s only if we’re not ready for it. I am as free range as they come — my kids are riding bikes to parks and friends’ houses all of the time — but if he wanted to turn around once I unpacked all of his things in the drawers, I would gather everything without hesitation and pack it all up and him and my heart in my car and go home, thank you very much.

He has no desire to do that; I offered. Pat shows him how to use the shower down the hall. We tell him, “Wear your shower shoes,” as if any of this will matter once we leave. He’s great — excited, with friends, completely ready. We are awkward; he’s our first, after all, and I remind him of that every time I make the first pancake a little burned. “Sorry about that. Just getting the hang of it here, you know how that goes,” I wink at him.

I remind him to drink water and to put on sun block. We find ourselves squeezing in a major talk about pedophiles on the last bridge before we turn onto campus, trying as hard as we can to dump out a lifetime’s worth of knowledge into his head while we pass over the river. My dad is at home with my mom and sister this Father’s Day, watching our other children because parenthood goes on for infinity, if you’re doing it right.

I remind my son not to eat too much junk food, that if he gets sick from that, I won’t feel bad and I won’t want to drive up to get him for that. I’m playing tough, even with tears in my eyes when I think of leaving him. He says, “Papa and Grandma already told me that if I feel uncomfortable about anything or if I don’t feel well, they’ll come and get me, so I’ll be fine.” Well, ok then. He is my first child and their first grandchild and so we are all, shall we say, uneasy about this first camp experience. On the Flavin side, he’s the 30-something-ish grandchild, the son of my husband who is the baby of 9, who tells stories about how his parents dropped him off at college: They sent him on a plane with two duffel bags taped together so it would count as one bag and a “We’ll see you at Thanksgiving!” He turned out well, too.

No matter which number kid we’re dealing with, though, the only question we ever have as parents that makes us wonder hard: Did we give them enough? Love? Care? Experience? Knowledge? And the only answer I’m sure of is terrifying because it’s: Not really, but maybe? We do our very best and it’s still a crapshoot if they got what they needed. Whatever they have or don’t, they’re on their way.

We had settled all his things in his room and I went down to make sure his buddies all had what they needed because I was procrastinating; all was well. I came back into our son’s room and I said to Pat convincingly, “Well, his counselor seems good to me.”

And Pat said, “That’s the thing about child predators. They always seem good.”

And our son said, “I think now’s a good time for you guys to head out. I love you. Thanks.”

And our son was right and we are home now.

I woke up with Randy Newman’s song, We Belong Together, from the Toy Story movie, which I have not watched in at least two years, in my head — the last time I watched it in its entirety the boy at camp was in my lap and this is how it goes, if we’re lucky.

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Anne FlavinComment
Summer

Tomorrow is the last day of school for us, which, at this point, feels like a real relief. In the last two weeks, I’ve participated in, prepared for, shopped for, and attended more school-related, end-of-the-year activities than is normal for a person like me. It has been two weeks of:

“Mom, I need a special lunch for my picnic tomorrow.”

“Mom, I need to wear a Kelly green shirt for tomorrow with no writing on it.”

“Mom, it’s joke day and I need 3 really good ones.”

Thank you for having them all year and now just give me my kids already so I don’t have to prepare another thing.

It’s all over tomorrow, thanks be to god.

Summertime begins, which scares most of us with kids, even if just a little bit. Because: What the hell are we to do with them all summer long?

I feel it, but also? Summer is my thing: I know what to do in summer. In summer, it’s 1987 around here again. We go to the pool, friends are around, and we have just a few anchored plans. Summer Bucket Lists where we pack in activities? Nope. Summer Bucket Lists weren’t a thing in 1987. We had a bucket and some water balloons one day, though, and I still remember it.

What do we give them for the summer? This is now a question for many of us. I don’t know that my mom ever asked this question of herself for us. She gave us plenty, but she gave us whatever was there: mostly, cousins at a lake and friends at a pool, and it all felt so fun. I think I still love summer because of how it all went down then.

Some of us want to give experiences that we don’t have the time for in the school year. And: Sure, fine, yes, let’s do that. But let’s be clear: What they consider a great experience and what we consider a great experience can be very different. So, let’s keep everyone’s expectations in check. And low.

The only activities we have planned for this summer are some little trips with friends and a camp for each of my older two kids. My 9-year-old baby is going away to a sports camp for which I’m not prepared, but since he set his own alarm on camp sign-up day so that he could register and figured out the roommate situation on his own, I figured that I needed to exit left with my fears. He’s ready, even if I’m not. He told me that it was time; I told him that he’s never loved anything in his whole life the way I love him so cut me some slack and get in every gosh darn picture that that camp posts on social media or I will drive the three hours and jump out of my car and start snapping pictures while calling his name. It’s sure to go well.

My 7-year-old loves animals. Coming from my womb, I thought there wasn’t a chance of that (I want no harm done to any animal, but could they please not come near me ever?). She’s going to horse camp. I’ll kick her out of the car and be on my way.

The baby? He wants to go nowhere. He has thumb-downed every camp opportunity suggested so, instead, he’s going to be attending Camp We Have A Big Family, Who’d Like To Have A Baby Flavin For A Morning? He wants to ride his bike all day and end up at a pool or a lake. And then go out to lunch. I understand this one really well for now, actually. We’ll get along great.

At different points in the summer, I have plans for them — it’ll be day-camp-like experiences, which I’m calling, “Camp Don’t Be An Asshole” Days. I really should trademark that. We’re going to volunteer and learn that there are so many kinds of human experiences on this planet and each of them is worthy of its place. Our job is to help make the world spin a little more towards kindness and that means learning from new people what kindness looks like for them. They didn’t register themselves for this camp; I wouldn’t have either in 1987. No worries, though, it’ll be good.

What are your plans? Are you 1987-ing it with me? Will my feral kids run into yours on a bike with bare feet? I hope so. Let them go if you can. We get 18 summers with them — more or less. My only job for this one is that when they read a line in a book someday that describes endless summer days and pick-up games and how the lake feels on your skin in the beginning of the summer versus how it feels in August and how it is to have friends in the summer that you see no other time but then, they’ll know what that all feels like. This is the only time for all of that. Camp Don’t Be An Asshole, too.

We can do this. All of our moms and dads did it in 1987, without the internet even. When it gets hard, hand them a sucker. Tell them they can’t bite it. Or tell them to unload the dishwasher — that’ll keep them away for awhile. Remember: We’re not camp directors; we’re parents. And our best job is to love them well. Here we go.

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Anne FlavinComment
1987ing It

Hello,

I’m here to offer what may be an unpopular option. Nevertheless:

It’s May. May is the spring equivalent to busy December, with all of its end-of-school activities, communions, graduations, confirmations, and sporting events, which is why they put Mother’s Day right in there, too, I’m sure: there weren’t enough have-tos already on our calendars.

I’m here to nicely suggest: You needn't go to every one of your child’s games, events, meets, competitions, or whatever other activity they may partake in that allows for parent attendance.

If you have children, and you want to, you may, at this very moment, be filling up your whole life doing their activities: driving to practices, watching 3-hour baseball games, volunteering at their schools, taking them to friends’ homes to hang out — all noble, and sometimes fun, ways to spend a night or an afternoon. We delivered them and we should be there for them, right?

Right.

And...

We should have something for ourselves. We can’t have anything for ourselves if we cannot find a moment for ourselves. Also, the moment for ourselves must come after 6:30am and before 8pm once in a while.

You don’t need permission from me, but maybe you need to hear it from another mother who loves her kids so much that she, too, would do, and does, the most she can for them at so many points: I nursed each kid forever and I skip their baseball games without even a reason. I love that they love to play, but their loving to play shouldn’t have to mean that I have to love to watch every single game.

There’s much discussion about children’s sports in this era: Is it all too much too soon? Are coaches putting too much pressure? Are parents? As with most issues, I believe there are a combination of factors that can make it too intense for some.

Remember 1987? I do. If my mom was at my game (and there were plenty of times she wasn’t), she was at the park with my little sister while my little sister played there and I played on the field or court. She kind of watched, mostly talked to other people, and always came a little late. Not because she wasn’t a good mother, but because she didn’t really care about every single sport I enjoyed. And that was totally fine.

I want my kids to have activities they love to do and part of that means they need to figure out what they love to do by doing it even if I’m not watching. Remember: The goal for all of our children is as much independence as they need with a hearty side of “Don’t forget how much I did for you and come back to visit me often enough.” Oh, and who decides if it’s often enough? I do, of course.

It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend here. It’s gorgeous out right now. I know because I’m sitting in my car at a baseball field, not because any one of my kids has a game, but because their friends did and they wanted to watch, practice, and play at the park. I’m alone in my car with the windows down and we are all winning right now.

Tomorrow is soccer Saturday. I can’t wait to go to watch that one tomorrow because it’s a first this season for our youngest; I’ll hit a baseball game, too, so long as it stays beautiful. And then that’ll do for a while. And they'll be ok. This won’t be the thing that makes them turn to drugs in high school, I don’t think. Also, those same people who raised us and didn’t really care what we were doing all of the time are now grandparents, and - craziest thing - now that they’re regularly sleeping through the night, they like to go to so many of these events for their grandkids. And they can cheer while we’re not there. Also, other parents who send pictures of whatever your kid did well while you’re MIA? That’s real teamwork. We all know it takes a village. Let’s set them up well in one and remember that we will never make it as the whole village for them, as much as we may wish for it to be so.

Want to join me? Take a break. Find a few minutes to have a little life other than their activities. Have them tell you all about how they played when they get home. They might exaggerate a little about how they did, but don’t we all deserve the chance to pretend we were better than we actually were? I think so.

 

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Anne FlavinComment
National School Walkout

Are you unsure of whether to have your kids participate in the #NationalSchoolWalkout today?

Do you send them to school everyday? If you do, they regularly have active shooter drills as it is. If you think they don’t know what they’re doing because you asked them once and they didn’t seem to know, ask them again. Kids know all the things if you really ask, listen, and let their answer go on.

We haven’t talked a whole bunch about all of it - the school shootings, the walkout, the lockdown drills, etc. - but the first thing my son showed me when we went into his classroom for Open House was where they hide for lockdown drills and how his classroom was better than his sister’s because it has a little quadrant that’s protected from sight from the doorway. He’s never ever mentioned that before and I thought he didn’t really know what was up honestly. He felt bad for his sister (who also knew enough to feel bad for herself), but also like he beat her because everything’s a competition for them and he won the classroom that he believes he’d be least likely to die in. They know.

I’ve heard parents explain their concern about the walkout today: Does their kid really get it? Should they push their views on their kid? Shouldn’t we just be kinder to each other and then shootings wouldn’t happen?

Well, kids don’t get lots of things, like why it’s gross to pick their noses, but that doesn’t mean I don’t tell them to stop picking their noses. I push my views on my kids because I pushed them out of my vagina myself, which makes me the deciding vote for lots of things for them.

Our children are being raised in our Irish (and a tiny bit German) Catholic family, which means all sorts of things like we make our First Communions (even though we don’t agree with everything the Church thinks) and we go to wakes and funerals (even if we didn’t really know the person who died) for the people we love who are still living and grieving. They get an opinion, they get a vote and a voice, and sometimes my vote and voice overrides theirs. Honestly, I don’t have to pull the override card often, though, because most times I explain it and they get it. And sometimes, when the universe has my back, they explain it to each other and I sit back and think, “Carry on raising yourselves. You’re good.”

As for whether our kids should be kinder towards one another, of course they should. Always. But kindness is no match for terrible gun violence prevention legislation.

You think other countries don’t have kids who feel bullied and ostracized? They do. You think other countries don’t have kids who play violent video games? They do, too. You think other countries don’t have people with mental illness? They do.

We have the same kinds of people in the same situations across First World countries, but only we in America have gun deaths at the level we do. Why? Because guns and because of our easy access to them thanks to the NRA that continually fights the most common sense, non-partisan gun legislation.

Why do they fight that? Because money.

I’ll stop now, but not before I say: If you haven’t educated yourself on the statistics, you don’t get to say what you think the problem is. Facts exist that point to the problem being our access to guns in America. Your opinion is not more important than the facts.

As for the kids, they’re always all right if we are. If we want to scare them or put our anxieties and concerns on them, we can do it without even saying it. Have you ever been in a bad mood, but not mentioned a thing and you’re still going through the motions at your house? Watch how your kids react. It’s a total shitshow. Without saying a word, you can create a whole atmosphere: Mothering (and Fathering) is the most powerful, I do believe.

Let’s give our kids a chance. Let’s let them learn. Let’s teach them, and let them teach us. Let’s give them some credit, for goodness’ sakes. We can’t expect them to become the kind, thoughtful, articulate people we want for them to be - who stand up to bullies - unless we give them opportunities all throughout their childhoods to practice that. They learn the same way we do: by doing. Nothing happens in an instant; we develop. They develop, too.

We get what we put into the world. Give it the best you’ve got.

See you on the pavement. And teachers, thanks for always standing up for our kids and for speaking truth to power. We honor your commitment to our kids everyday, today included.

EssaysAnne FlavinComment
Ireland

We returned home last week after spending a couple of weeks in Ireland with family. I wrote this while there. I'm posting this so that in a year, when it comes up in my Facebook memories at a time when I've surely forgotten that I was going to try harder in this respect and lapsed back into being a crabass, I'll be reminded of how nice it was when everyone went out of their way to be kind and fun with us, when my kids were regarded as additions to the fun instead of annoyances to someone's environment, when everyone's positive attitude made our attitudes positive. For what it's worth.

***

I haven't encountered one crabby person, one person who is put out by our pathetic driving, bothered by our children, annoyed at our presence. Every idiotic question of ours has been answered sweetly, if with a laugh. When we went down a one-way street, no one honked or waved at us with a mad face: instead, a woman restauranteur came out of her restaurant, opened the gate leading to an alley next to her cafe, and motioned for us to turn into it (we still didn't know we were going the wrong way) - and she let us in her private parking area and told us to turn around because we were going the wrong way. Thank you, we said. No problem at all, she said. As if she hadn't a million other things to do before opening her restaurant.

There is another way to talk to each other. There is another way to be with each other. Unbothered, unannoyed, without an eye roll or a heavy breath, letting things roll, knowing that everyone's trying their best, with mostly good intentions at least a great majority of the time.

Even if we get talked about behind our backs, what does it matter then? They were kind to our faces and I'd take that over the reverse, if I had to choose. And who's to say they talked about us when we left? If they did, they laughed about us and they should have. I'd have laughed with them.

We are a nuisance in a land of people who are unbothered. If necessary for our safety, they gently correct us, but mostly they live, let live, and are funny in those processes.

We are chaos in a land that isn't fussy. And this is why everyone comes back here again and again - because it's certainly not for the weather (notice our wool sweaters for an Irish summer): we learn patience, we learn kindness, we learn to laugh first, to let things roll.

My children have noticed as well, as my eldest declared, "I haven't met one grump here yet. Are there crabby people here?" His favorite friend here was my 83-year-old uncle who made him tea, let the younger siblings fill his bird feeders, gave us his home to stay in - all of this when I can hardly answer my doorbell at home without some minor frustration when it rings. I mean, really.

My uncle made his home, with all of my children and my mom and my husband, all ready for us. No trouble at all, he said. It was trouble, but he does it. They do it. They go out of their way for kindnesses.

This is Ireland. You don't come for the weather. Or the food, really (except the seafood chowder. And the really good butter and cream and milk and I've gained some weight, but #worthit). It's the people here. They make you better before you leave.

People say kindness is free and it is, but that doesn't mean that it's easy, that it requires no effort. Breastfeeding is free, too, but it's no joke in the beginning - it takes effort to get it going. Same here, I think.

And so I hope we come home with this muscle memory of smiling first, of assuming the best and taking a kind approach first, of speaking to other people's children the way our children have been spoken to here.

This is why we should travel: to learn the best the world has to give. And then to bring it home with us and spread it around.

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Anne FlavinComment
Action

What concerns me most about the Stanford rape case: it is but one. It is but one of many, many horrible scenarios that occur on campuses and elsewhere in a culture that does not protect its women. Usually, bicyclists don't catch the rapist in action. Usually, there is no trial. Usually, the victim cannot, for myriad reasons, articulate what a rape has done to her psyche.

I am angry that colleges and universities across the country are not addressing the serious issue of rape on their campuses. It is a serious issue. And we, as consumers of their education, should demand better for our daughters and for our sons.

If you have not yet viewed the documentary The Hunting Ground, please do. If you have a child who does or who will someday attend a college or university, this documentary should be required viewing. If your child is in high school and will be headed to college or headed to visit friends while they are in college, this documentary should be viewed first.

I am angry that the people who have the power to affect change are not, and are, instead, reconfiguring reporting policies so that their campuses appear safe to prospective students. I am angry that, while Brock Turner is in the news this week, next week it will be some other unrelated thing which I cannot predict, and that no change might come from what his victim endured.

I do not care about what his parents write. I do not care about him. I do not care whether he was a good swimmer (though, obviously, not a fast enough runner because he got caught). What I care about is the larger picture which has shown that this will happen again and again, that other women will suffer at the hands of other men just as Turner's victim has.

Knowledge is power. And then, after knowledge, action brings power.

We have a crisis where young women are victimized and then, to make matters worse, if it can even be so, justice isn't served, knowledge isn't provided, nothing changes.

If our universities and colleges are not acknowledging this problem, then let us help them acknowledge it. Let us let them know that WE KNOW, that hiding facts and knowledge is the antithesis of what we expect from a place of higher learning.

I submitted the petition found here:

http://www.seeactstop.org/campussurvey/

to my undergraduate alma mater as an alumna in the hopes that they will listen. Please do the same for any college or university with which you have been connected so that we can start some action.

If we have rankings of party schools, of best academic schools, can we not have a ranking of safest schools? Of lowest incidence of rape schools (where we know the school is fully reporting)? Give me that list. Because those are places I'd like to know about.

Happy P.O.'d Monday, Mamas!

***THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY. BUT, IF YOU DON'T LIKE SARCASM, DON'T READ IT: YOU WON'T FIND IT FUNNY. SARCASM IS MEAN TO PEOPLE WHO DON'T SPEAK SARCASM. WE SPEAK SARCASM AS A FLUENT SECOND LANGUAGE IN OUR HOME AND SO IT WAS/IS FUNNY TO US. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.*** I was texting with some girlfriends today and from our meticulous data and specially-special research collection, we do believe that this Monday has most mothers - particularly those of young children - feeling, maybe, a little P.O.'d - to put it kindly.

If you relaxed yesterday, then whatever work you normally do on a day, but didn't yesterday because you were going to take the day off, was waiting for you bright and early this morning. No real rest for the weary, you know. If the work is just waiting for you when you come back, does that really count as a rest day then? Remember "No Homework Coupons?" When you could hand that in instead of your completed homework? You never, ever had to finish the homework if you had one of those suckers. Those were the days.

But those are no longer the days. Shit doesn't get done if you don't do it. Or ask for it to get done no less than 5,678 times.

I have a husband who is like a lot of other loving husbands in that he loves his wife very much, but that love does not translate well into actions we might have wished for, OR BLATANTLY TOLD THEM we'd like. They get confused by us, I guess.

So, that brings us to today, The Day After Mother's Day or, as our research has pointed to - P.O.'d Monday - where we look around and realize that on the one day of the year when we might have earned a break, we, perhaps, did not.

My husband missed his flight home yesterday morning and then came home at dinner time with his head out of the game of parenting young children, and I had exactly negative sympathy for his situation. My mom did, though - bless her heart. You would think that my husband was the one who resided in my mother's womb so many years ago with the way she takes his side in every possible scenario. Like, when, after 30 hours of back labor with my first born, she commented on how hard it must've been for Pat to sleep on the cot in the hospital. Yes, Mom, that must've been really hard for him. Let me give him a massage. Oh wait, I can't because I am nursing the infant human I just grew and pushed out of my own body.

Anyways, Mamas, if your Mother's Day was a little less than you might have hoped for, I promise you, you are in some good company. Some whole parts of school pick-up lines in randomly selected suburbs around Chicago, and in Fort Wayne, Indiana; New York City, New York; Seattle, Washington; and all the way down south in Louisiana, felt the same way today. P.O.'d Monday is not restricted to any one region, we've learned.

I spent yesterday doing exactly what I always do, which I still consider to be an insane privilege, even if it is a privilege that I would've greatly desired to take a break from yesterday, but, you know, dreams don't always come true - without a woman making them happen, anyways.

Yesterday the kids and I grocery shopped together and they were, surprisingly, wonderful little children. That's them at the check-out counter looking - but not asking for - one of the millions of toys; it was a small miracle. It's like they knew enough to give me a break from their usual, developmentally-appropriate-but-annoying-nonetheless shenanigans. No one crapped their pants, either, so it really was a successful day. And, yes, my standards have now left the building.

Today, with data collected from the field, I developed a new working line of Mother's Day cards, which will have this card as a feature in 2017:

"Today I'm going to do all of the stuff you normally do, but I'm gonna act like it's a much bigger deal, because I'm doing it with a penis. (And that's if you're 'lucky'). Happy Mother's Day!"

Happy P.O.'d Monday, Mamas! It's a real thing. You are not alone. The bittersweet news is this: Our babies grow up! And the break you so wished for yesterday will be there eventually. I know this because my mom got to pee alone every time she went to the bathroom yesterday. That, actually, was my Mother's Day gift to her. I know - my generosity knows no bounds.

xo, Annie

P.S. Rumor has it that Father's Day is the new Mother's Day if yesterday was a total bust for you. Bring on June.

To Plant Something Good Anywhere

For all of the hate, there is this love.For all of the anger, this contentment. For all of the despair, this hope.

This is as real as all of that.

Each of us, to some extent, lives in a bubble of our own making. It gets punctured from time to time by ourselves, by our circumstance, by life in general, and even a tiny hole can leave us out of sorts - disenfranchised, even - by the change in air pressure around us.

We feel off, then; life feels off.

When it feels off, it is good to get back to the basics: to put down our phones, to make a meal and sit down to eat it, to turn off our television or our radio, to go for a walk, to talk to our neighbor, to listen to the people we love, to make eye contact with another living being, to smile, to laugh, to garden, to plant anything good anywhere that might become something more beautiful eventually.

Doing any of that is just as true as whatever else has occurred in the world that has felt awful that day. Adding any bit of beauty to our world counts. If each of us, instead of asking the question "What is our world coming to?" when bad things happen in it, went out and managed to perform some large or small offering of goodness, what would it feel like? What would our world actually come to then? After an offering of goodness, if we still needed to, we could ask, "What is this world coming to?" and we could look around and see something beautiful that we helped to create, that we somehow set in motion.

Instead of blaming, we'd be creating. Instead of asking loud, rhetorical questions, we'd be offering quiet, real solutions.

This sun was shining. This baby - he will always be my baby - was trying to kiss my face off. I was laughing. All the kids on the block were playing outside, yelling and running through my muddy yard. My husband was working at a job he loves.

I am privileged. We are privileged.

Terrible, unconscionable things were happening somewhere while all of this went on here. Terrible, awful things. Terrible, awful things have happened even in my bubble; even if we think we can keep everything terrible and awful out, we cannot. Even with privilege, life offers no immunity. Without privilege, you have already been exposed.

There is no known inoculation for all of the terrible and awful things, but peace can help. And peace comes from love and compassion.

And this love, this goodness is as real as anything.

Find it, spread it, offer it, give it, plant it, grow it, work on it, receive it, and make it as real as any of the terrible things we see in the world so that someday it grows into something that offers a beautiful answer to the question "What is this world coming to?"

To beauty, to love, to kindness, to goodness. From planting something good somewhere.

***

It is Holy Saturday today for Christians and it is holy Saturday for everyone because it's the only Saturday like this one we've got. Give it something good.

Everyday

Two hand-done pieces on marbleized paper (I did the marbleization with nail polish!) that were just sent out. "Where there is light, there is hope.

And so, everyday the sun comes up and its rays say to you, 'Hello again! Hope is here!'"

Every darn day - even when we can't exactly see it.

xo,

annie

photo-5 copy 14

photo-5 copy 14